Linhof Viewfinder

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by david_nash, Aug 15, 2002.

  1. Hi

    I'm looking for a viewfinder that would be suitable for a 5x4"
    camera. I popped into a local dealer today, and they had an old
    Linhof viewfinder. It was variable between 90mm and 300mm(I think),
    and had a mask for 6x9cm. It also had a rotary knob on the back that
    moved the body of the viewfinder downwards to correct for parallax.
    I'm tempted to buy it, but just wondered if there was anything else
    available. Are these still available new, and if so, how much are
    they. This old one was around $300. The only other thing I might
    want, is something that will cope with shorter lenses than 90mm.
  2. I guess I'll ask a question back. What is wrong with just using your ground glass for composition? An alternative would be a focusing frame (Ebony makes these), which I think would work. Or a piece of cardboard with an opening and a neck strap to help you hold it at the correct distance. I must admit that I've never tried anything other than my camera's ground glass, but maybe another device would be a good idea. Frankly, the Linhof viewfinder sounds a little awkward and expensive.
  3. Thanks for your response, Michael. I, too, normally use the groundglass for composition and focussing, but I'm planning on using the camera hand-held, hence the requirement for some sort of viewfinder. I don't really want to use a wire frame. I could probably use a 35mm viewfinder (maybe Voigtlander), but the aspect ratio would be wrong (although I could probably make a mask), and they don't have the parallax adjustment, etc. I seem to recall that Horseman made a zoom finder, but I remember that it looked quite heavy, and seemed to be more of a compositional aid, to be used for evaluating a scene and deciding what focal length lens to use. Anyway, I'd still be interested to hear other comments.

    The Linhof viewfinder was a lot lighter than it looked - and it would be a cinch to use.
  4. The Linhof multifocus viewfinder is available new. It covers 75mm-350mm and retails at B&H for $1195.95 . Yes, that's right: one-thousand two hundred dollars less 5 cents.
  5. i love mine...

    it was a chunk of money though. you could check into other formats... like old rangefinder stuff at swap meets... see if you can find one that matches the focal length of yer particular lenses. wear a gaggle of 'em 'round yer neck on a chain and play director. but uh... yeah.

    i've found i can scout a location with it... without unloading the car... see if a winner is there and save lots of time. you'll have an idea of yer tripod height... lens selection... it's nice.

    try it mike... you'll see,


    p.s. it's the only way to go for handholding... not accurate really unless you compare it to the sportsfinder(wireframe). but close enough.
  6. mine's of late 50's vintage... 90 to 360mm.

    paid $150 for it... parallax knob and front rotating bezel is chrome... no masks. a bit of the mirror-surfacing on the frame lines is gone.

    other than that, it works like a charm,

  7. sorry but i keep thinking of things... if yer shooting a tech handheld? you gotta have the a-grip too.

    a life saver..


    p.s. got that cheap too...
  8. MPP in the UK had a zoom optical finder made by the German firm Tewe. It was called the Polyfocus. It does 90-360mm and can be found occasionally s/h in the usual place and much more reasonably than the Linhof.

    more on
  9. This subject has been kicked around many times over the last few years. While I find my Linhof finder invaluable and an important component to the composition equation in 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10, your question has two correct answers. If you can afford an older one for $150-$200, that is great. You will find it very worthy of a lifetime of use. The newer $750+ view finders from Linhof are strictly for those shooting hand held Master cameras with cammed lenses. Now if you are not able to afford one I suggest finding an old Zone VI viewing filter for B&W and tying knots in the laynard at the distance from your nose to the filter for the focal lengths of the lenses in your camera case. You could do the same thing with a piece of stiff cardboard or plastic. Without years of experience behind the ground glass, shuffling a camera on a tripod with all of the accessories to another "better" location even if it is only 10 feet away is a hassle squared. I for one want to know that when I drop legs, I am reaching for the right lens and am preparing to make a photograph, not fiddling with what I thought was going to be on the ground glass that is not what I am seeing there.
  10. I just picked up a nice Lindhof for $175 and had to come up with a way to center it over my camera but not on top of the distance scale for my Super Graphic rangefinder. Got it done and now all I have to do is drill for a set screw. Be advised that the base of the Lindhof viewfinder will cause you to finagle a solution. Some shoes fit it, others don't.
  11. I have two, mint, Linhof viewfinders of the older, classic style. I just purchased a third, the brand new model, so I could have the real field of view for my new 75mm lens. The new model is a true zoom finder. If I didn't use the 75mm,hand held, the older one would work just fine,and cost much less. My new one came from Badger, for just a little over $700. Heck of a price difference. From 90mm to 360mm the older one works just great. Richard Boulware - Denver.
  12. David: Aside from hand held, I find the Linhof VF invaluable for composition. Not just because it helps framing according to the F length in use but because it gives you a perspective that ressemples that which you obtain with the lens. This last issue is for me most important. Framing can be done with cardboard cut-outs which even if they were accurate (impossible) do not still provide perspective pre-view, which the Linhof finder does. Some of the slightly older Linhof's go from 75mm to 360 mm. I would look for one of those rather than the 90-360 types. I use the VF only off-camera since I do not use the camera hand-held. I have a handle attached to it and with a cord, it hangs from my neck along with the loupe and meter. It makes me look a little odd, for sure, but it helps.
  13. David,

    The Linhof optical viewfinder, with a range from 90mm to 360mm, was manufactured from the early 1950's through early 1970's (with some minor changes through the years). These viewfinders are painted biege (usually) and have a classic appearance. Along with several masks available for different format sizes, an optical slip-on mask was available to widen the view to match a 75mm lens (I think it was introduced to compliment the 75mm Biogon).

    The later models, from the early 1970's through present, have a range from 75mm to 360mm. There's two styles:

    First style lasted ten years approximately...had black and bright metal bands....zoom and parallex are adjusted from the back of the viewfinder by rotating 75mm setting, there is less distortion than the slip-on mask of the prior version. Lately, this version has sold for $$$ on Ebay, yet I've seen it as low as $300 at times.

    Second style is in current production (since 1980's)...same features as prior version...all black...I don't know of any improvements.

    It should be noted that these viewfinders were also available for 23 and 57 formats, so pay attention the model numbers, descriptions, etc. before purchasing.

    JP Mose
  14. <viewfinders were also available for 23 and 57 formats,>

    And also for the 45 Aero and then in OEM for people like Wilde.
  15. Something I have always wondered: do the Linhof viewfinders
    give a rectified image, or is it upside down?

    A couple of tips for my fellow skinflints: 1) the Pentax 110 SLR
    makes a good carry around viewer and has a selection of cheap
    lenses that match quite well with the lenses typical skinflints
    tend to have for 4x5 (ie. no real wides or teles). It even has a
    zoom. About a hundred of your local currency for a kit.

    2) you can make a perfectly good viewer with an old 35 mm
    zoom lens, a cardboard tube, a slide frame and one of those
    disposable loupes that film companies periodically give away.
    Fill the slide frame with a mask of the right aspect ratio, put
    diffusing material (Scotch brand tape) across the hole, and
    mount it in the viewer. Fix the viewer at one end of the tube, cut
    tube to length and put the lens at the other end. Then just
    calculate a conversion factor for the focal lengths. If you get the
    tube about right for length, you can even use the focus scale as a
    crude rangefinder.
  16. <Something I have always wondered: do the Linhof viewfinders give a
    rectified image, or is it upside down? >

    Of course not. the image is unrevearesd and properly rectified. Why would
    you think otherwise?
  17. Because I've only seen them in eBay photographs and they look
    like straight through viewers. If the image is right-way-up they
    must have a rectifying prism or porroprism in them (they seem
    too short for an erecting lens setup), which complicates the
    design, adds weight and isn't cheap, even at bargain basement
    construction levels, forget Linhof quality.

    Not a criticism, I just genuinely didn't know, and wanted to.
  18. I hated mine (a Tech IV vintage one)and sold it. Zero eye relief and parallax problems etc. But I am a beginner in LF so probably had unrealistic expectations. (Usually I just frame up the scene with my Nikon, it's got a meter too....)
  19. just picked up one of these newer type viewfinders ...seems totally spot i wont be doing so much of the old lens swap and shift the tripod dance ...and maybe not so much of the lugging of the redundant glass !!!

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