Horseman VHR modifications and tips

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by psartman, Oct 27, 2001.

  1. I've searched old threads and found there is a small hard-core
    group that shares my enthusiasm for this camera. I'd like to hear
    about any modifications any of you have done. This camera is a
    tinkerer's delight. Here's what I have done over 20+ years:
    *Had a custom Polaroid back made that focus at the same plane
    as the film backs. It uses the bayonet mount for the revolving
    back. (the talented machinist who did this passed away years
    ago, please don't ask how to get in touch with him.)
    *Made a 4X5 adapter for my 6X12 back that also focuses on the
    normal film plane, thus allowing standard hand-holdable
    rangefinder focus. It uses the rectangular belows and ground
    glass back from the obscure Horseman HF 4X5 body, with a little
    digging and grinding in the VHR body.
    *Modified the viewfinder with 6X12 frames using silver slide
    mounting tape.
    *Installed two bubble levels (one for pitch and one for yaw) in the
    VHR viewfinder that can be seen via mirrors at the same plane
    as the frame line.
    *Use a 65mm with full rise and a 45mm with partial rise, thanks
    to third party recessed lens boards made by Scott Bonnett
    several years ago. (Contact Bob Eskridge, he may still have
    some for sale.)
    Why hasn't Horseman continued developement and made these
    improvements themselves?
  2. I've contacted Bob Eskridge several times over a period of many months asking if he still has any of those recessed lens boards for sale. Bob promises to get back to me with a definitive answer, but never does. I'd really like to buy one, but can't determine whether it's possible to do so. Bob?!?
  3. Paul, I'd thought I wouldn't be able to use a 45 mm or 47 mm
    with the recessed board. You're talking about the board that's
    recessed 7-8 mmm right? I've got one (currently with a 58 mm
    on it), but just by looking at the specs of the 45 mm and 47 mm
    lenses currently manufactured, I'd thought it would be too
    difficult. Did I miscalculate? BTW, my main "modification" is
    using 3 different custom designed fresnels from Robert Maxwell.
    It turns the camera into a supercharged-Hasselblad when used
    with the monoreflex viewer -- really a delight and quick to use -- I
    use the VH, not VHR. I also plan on getting a Horseman FA in
    the not too distant future to use with a 6 x 12 back, relying on the
    same lenses, in the same lens boards. Thanks for any further
    info you can give me using the 45 mm and 47 mm lenses.
  4. Howard, yes the boards I have are recessed 8mm. With the
    45mm Apo Grandagon I get infinity focus with the standard just
    far enough on the bed to grab securely. The data I have shows
    flange to focal distance as 55.5mm for my Rodenstock 45,
    59.1mm for the SA47 XL, and 52mm for the old SA 47 f/5.6. Thus,
    all but the old 47 should work. You have to raise the front slightly
    (to the red index mark) to avoid the bed showing in the frame.
    And or course, no verticals unless you mount the camera on it's
    side. (I oftern shoot horizontal with the camera side mounted,
    using the shift mechanism as a way to get lens fall, not available
    any other way.) Ths is shortcoming of the whole Horseman field
    camera family, probably a compromise for compactness. On the
    FA, etc. you can mount the camera upside down for the same
    result (alas, no top tripod screw on the VHR.)
  5. Paul, do you use a centerfilter with the 45 mm? Are you able to
    screw it on without having it hit the front of the bed? I think I'd
    need one with 6cm x 9 cm and color slide film.
  6. Howard- My 45 has a 58mm thread ( I see the new ones are
    67mm). I tried a 58mm Heliopan Center Filter but it vignetted so I
    got rid of it. I don't know if what the outer dimension of the 67mm
    Center Filter is, it might work if you screw it on BEFORE
    mounting the lensboard. I shoot mostly color neg which is then
    scanned for output. I apply a "virtual" center filter compensation
    in Photoshop that works nicely.
  7. Howard, could you please detail the reasons why you had 3 different fresnel lenses custom-made by Robert Maxwell?

    My widest lens is a Rodenstock APO Grandagon N 75mm f/6.8 and when framing verticals through the monoreflex viewer I often observe 'ghost' images caused by the standard fresnel lens near the corners, which by the way are very dark.

    I've always been wondering if/what I should ask of Maxwell to improve this situation, since calling him from overseas without a clear idea of my needs looks like an expensive proposition (given his reported loquacity).

    By the way, do you know if he would ship overseas and if he is now reachable via e-mail also?

    To contribute a bit to the subject, I have had the VH-R for a few months now and like it a lot; my only addition has been writing a program to generate a PDF file with a ruler which, printed on a sticky sheet of paper and 'waterproofed' with adhesive tape, fits perfectly on the bed beside the rail.

    I use it to accurately focus the camera and determine the optimal f-stop ... works great, is easily replaced when worn out and costs next to nothing.
  8. Since I use the Bolex H-16 movie tripod for my Horseman VH-R, I made a
    block out of hard maple and mounted the Bolex quick release disc to it. I also
    put a disc on the bottom of the body. I use the side body position when I want
    more extreme movements. I call this the "studio mode", however, it's become
    my standard mode! This way I have more lens drop then in the conventional
    My VH-R takes the Horseman 65mm f7 lens, with cam, and works well. They
    do caution about raising the lens standard to the red dot when shooting in the
    vertical mode with the 65!
    I started out in the 6X9 format with a Crown Graphic "23". I've kept this camera
    and have collected a number of Schneider Linhof lenses for it. If I lower the
    bed and place the lens standard on the front of the body rails, my 47mm f8
    Schneider Super Angulon focuses at infinity with the bed retracted to the
    infinity position.
    With this drop-bed set up I have no vingnetting or other problems. That lens is
    very sharp!


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