View Camera Converter for 35mm cameras?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by barry_passaris, Dec 19, 2005.

  1. Hi All,

    I have Canon 35mm digital equipment (1Ds Mk1 body) but I am
    interested in 'serious' landscape photography and want to experiment
    with large format techniques. Has anyone used the Horseman
    Converters which can be used on 35mm cameras?

    Is it worth purchasing such equipment for the convenience of digital
    with camera movements? I will be printing up to 16x20. Secondly, any
    comments on the quality of lenses which are compatible with this
    converter? Can I assume better than Canon lenses (which I consider
    poor for landscape)?

    Thanks in advance for all comments and help.
  2. forgot to do you focus with this converter? Is Canon's Autofocus system still possible?
  3. Look carefully at the specifications. You wouldn't be able to use this camera with anything but relatively long lenses for the format. For the 35 mm version, the smallest rear flange focal length is 90 mm, for example. With an inverted telephoto design, you might gain a bit on that, but not by much. If all your photography can be limited to long lenses, then this might be a reasonable choice, but otherwise not.
  4. No, the auto focus will not work. A less expensive alternative is to purchase a "fotodiox" adapter and hook it up to your 4x5 camera. Horseman also makes a LD version of the L series camera that is made for 35mm digital. But it's not available in the U.S. I am putting together my own version Using a Sinar P and Fotodiox with a Canon 5D.
  5. Here's the "front end of my version. I need the 5D and Fotodiox. As for lens comparison to Canon...come on you can't compare German optics to Japanese especially digital Japanese.
  6. You might already know all this, but here goes.

    IMO, tilt is overrated for 35mm cameras, and even overrated for 6x9 and 4x5 sometimes for normal WA landscape photography. The need for more movements (tilt) gets greater as the format moves up due to the use of longer lenses.

    Tilt is what is mostly used, but its not the magic bullet. The area of sharp focus that follows the tilted plane of focus is not of even depth. It will be only inches at your feet perpendicular to the plane and very deep at the horizon so anything outside of that will be OOF.

    Shift and rise is probably a better tool for 35mm to control converging lines and for things like taking a photo of glass framed art without being in front of it (no reflection).

    For example in a normal LS photo a 35mm camera with a 24mm lens at F16 has an almost infinite DOF. from around 2-3 feet to infinity so tilt does not really help you there. Where it will make some difference is if you are doing macros.

    B+H list the usable lenses for that horseman adapter from 90mm to 300mm.

    Also unless you are using heavily recessed boards with a custom setup you will be stuck with lenses too long for LS work. Probably about the shortest you could hope to use and still have some sort of movement is maybe a 65 mm Schneider lens, maybe with a custom setup.

    The horseman is a really nice setup, although 2G is a little high. Basically all it is is a box between the lens and body with some slides and hinges. I would probably go for one of these personally and save $1300.

    As far as lenses I would go for a Hassy or a modern Schneider LF lens, but most LF lens resolutions will probably be below the resolving power of a 1DS.

    Better yet just get a Canon tilt/shift lens. I doubt you could match its sharpness with any LF lens.

    Also I would say bite the bullet and just switch over to a 6x9 or 4x5 film view camera. Good 4x5 film scanners that are reasonable are non-existent though so is a good case for a 6x9 view camera. I like the big negatives myself.

    A zork is another option too and is probably tighter to allow for wider lenses but I have never used one.
  7. I have tested and reviewed the Studiotools STM* system (Canon 1Ds mk.2 + Studiotools
    adapter + Sinar P2 + both vew camera and Mamiya RZ lenses) and also the Cambo Ultima
    35 system ( Canon 1Ds + Cambo Ultima 35 chassis + Schneider Digitar lenses). What I
    found is
    that these systems are best for people who are doing studio and critical architectural

    With the Cambo system I used a Schneider 28mm f/2.8 WA Digitar. I'm not sure if the
    design of the Horseman system will let you get the front and rear standards close enough
    to use a lens with that short of focal length.

    For single frame images of the landscape these systems have very little utility and add a
    lot of complexity: You'll need a large tripod and head and a laptop or Powerbook and the
    necessary cables to connect the camera to the computer. And it takes some time to set it
    all up. But once you do that you have the great utility of viewing the large monitor on the
    screen to judge composition, details and fine focus. Once you start shifting, tilting or
    swinging the camera orthe lens on one of these systems an SLR viewfinder quickly
    becomes useless for judging anything but basic composition.

    These systems may be of more use to a photographer of landscape i if you want to shoot
    multiple frames to make a panoramic or a very large , very high rez single image. Being
    able to keep the lens in the same place and only use shift and rise/fall on the back makes
    for much more precise stitching.

    As to the quality of Canon lenses: Are you using zooms or sngle focal length lenses/ The
    Fixed focal length Canons can be quite good, especially the EF 24mm Tilt/Shift and the EF
    28mm f/1.4. I know many photographers who are also unsatisfied withthe performance of
    their wide angle Canon lenses and use Leica R-type wide angle lenses with adapters which
    are reportedly better corrected and have better resolution.
  8. To follow up to Barry's second post and Troy's post:

    Barry: No AF and you can't use Canon lenses in these systems (notthat it sounds like you
    want to!)

    Troy: I tried the best modern large format view camera lenses I could get my hands on for
    the review ofthe STM system. The resolution with even the best LF glass on the 24x36mm
    sensor (or film for that matter) is way below what any of us would find acceptable for
    anything other than very small enlargements. this is why Schneider and Rodenstock now
    make special digital lenses.
  9. You know, you could buy a used 4x5 camera with lens for less, and sometimes a lot less, money than you would spend for this thing and get a much better image out at the other end. I agree, this unit could be very handy for someone doing tabletop product shots and macro work for publication where speed and consumable materials costs are paramount considerations.

    The Canon lenses are not poor for landscape use, it's the format you're using that's unsuitable for the application. "Grand vista" landscapes usually contain a lot of fine little detail. A digital camera or even a 35mm film chip is just too small to capture all that fine detail. You need a bigger piece of film or one of those super expensive medium or large format digital backs.
  10. here is the link for the Studiotools tool:
  11. There are only a few MF lenses and probably no LF lenses (except maybe a couple of digis) that can hold up to a 1ds rez. Rollei, Hasselblad and the Mamiya 7. Rollei and M7 lenses would take a real bit of ingenuity to get them on a view camera and working.

    I think that shelro camera I linked above takes hassy lenses though and that would be a sharp option. Another option might be a Rollei sl66. The front end of that camera has about 8 degrees of tilt and a drop bed (I think), but the lenses hould be sharp. Maybe you could hack a 1Ds on the back of one of those.

    Of course all the WA lenses for those MF cameras above cost a fortune.
  12. The Horseman "Converter" is pretty much a tandem camera setup, and photographers have been using these for decades.

    You can make something as good as this for a couple of hundred bucks, although it won't be as pretty. Find a press or view camera with a Graflok back, and fashion a piece of wood or hardboard to exactly match the Graflok plate. Then bore a hole in the center of the board, and fix a Canon EOS rear lens fitting to it. (You could use something like a reversing ring or a similar accessory fitting for this. I hacksawed a T-mount microscope adapter to make mine.)

    You've now got a camera with your 1Ds on the back, where the ground glass used to be. If you made this from a 4 x 5 view camera with a bag bellows, you could probably focus a 65mm lens on it. If you used a small Pacemaker Graphic (which I did), you can get down to 100mm, maybe less.

    It's a solution in search of a problem, though. Cheaper and better answer is a bigger camera and a fridge full of film.
  13. Thank you all for your comments. Very interesting and unexpected feedback. The Converter sounds like more trouble than it's worth.

    Perhaps the simpler strategy is to take the plunge and purchase an affordable Field Camera. The Horseman 45FA looks great (though I haven't checked prices!). I would ask about people's opinions about this choice but a new post is probably needed for your comments.
  14. You've now got a camera with your 1Ds on the back, where the ground glass used to be. If you made this from a 4 x 5 view camera with a bag bellows, you could probably focus a 65mm lens on it.
    As pointed out earlier, with the Cambo Ultima 35 set up you can use the Schneider 28mm /2.8 WA Digitar. I did some tests and by moving the rear standard ( the camera body) with rise/fall and lateral shift and then stitching the resulting images into a mosaic you can capture quite a large area, maybe equivalent to an 18mm lens on a hypothetical 36mm x 36mm format. This very useful for architectural photography. A similar mosaic image could be made with the Canon EF 24mm T/S lens but of course by shifting the lens position you change the point of view which will change the depicted spatial relationships in a three dimensional subjects
  15. By using shift lenses, you can also hold the position of the lens by using the tool described in this article: and stitch your images to make the panoramic without going LF.
  16. Barry Passaris

    The Converter sounds like more trouble than it's worth.
    Perhaps the simpler strategy is to take the plunge and purchase an affordable Field Camera. The Horseman 45FA looks great

    There are too many good ones to list, but its highly dependant on your budget. the best but heaviest folder is probably a Linhof.

    If you want a tough, aluminum folding camera that wont break the bank, is light, revolving back, rangefinder and has full front movements go for a super graphic. No back movements though.

    You can shoot from 75mm-240mm on the rails. Thats an equiv of 18mm - 60mm. Add a 6x9 back and the range is 30mm -100mm.

    Here is a link to my latest iteration of that camera with a cambo back and cambo reflex viewer.

    About half way down the page.
  17. I don't understand the rationale for attaching a 35mm camera (film or digital) to a LF camera. That's throwing away the benefits of the LF, yet retaining the inconvienence of bulk and transportation; with a device that by it's very nature, substandard from start to finish.

    Thus, from this perspective, makes no sense to the photographer shooting LF.

    The same is true for the 35mm. The benefit of 35mm is the convienence of quick lens change, lightweight, easy transport. Adding a LF to the front of a 35mm makes no sense to the photographer shooting 35mm.

    Unless I'm missing something here, this seems like the poster child for a lose-lose situation. Sort of like thinking there would be an advantage by cutting off your legs at the knees prior to a race.

    I have to be missing something really big here.
  18. I have to be missing something really big here.
    I don't about big but here is what the concept is useful for: 1.) Shooting multiple frames using the rear shift and rise/fall movements to create a wide angle, very high resolution photograph with no distortion. I find it useful for doing some panoramic and architectural work.
    2.) Not having large format film to scan.
    3.) Image control through front and rear movements when working on still lifes. This is going to be useful for some commercial applications.
    4.) As stated in #1: for studio and architectural work, the potential for making very high resolution mosaics without having to invest in a $20-30,000 medium format digital back that you have to make pay for itself in a 2-3 year, if you only occasionally do all of the above. time frame.
    5.) Macro work.
    While looking at these set ups in the way you did as a "lose/lose" proposition is correct, the other side of that coin is that you are also leveraging the best aspects of digital imaging --instant feedback, speed , not having to rely on an ever decreasing number of professional quality labs, better color, and almost complete 100% control over the process -- and the capabilities of a studio type monorail that has full front and rear movements.
    Those who need these aspects for the kind of work they do will see the benefits but I'm in 100% agreement with you that for most photographers and general photographic purposes the benefits are either very limited or non existent.
  19. Jeff: "I have to be missing something really big here."

    Jeff, there's another reason to make a tandem camera. I use a tandem camera that incorporates a pair of 2x3 Graphics. It will focus lenses up to 480 mm usefully close. I also shoot Nikons.

    I'm contemplating making a Nikon-to-Graflok adapter so I can hang a Nikon behind the tandem for shooting closeup with longer process lenses than are easily managed on a Nikon (Ellis' suggestion) and to be able to use, e.g., my 480/9 Apo Nikkor for shooting distant subjects on 35 mm. 2x3 Graphics have minimal movements, so using them isn't the reason I want to hang a Nikon behind my double Graphic.


  20. Oh, by the way, Jeff, I forgot to note that I travel with my 2x3 Graphics and my 35 mm kit. The bracketry needed to make a long camera from the two short Graphics consists of a piece of t-slotted aluminum extrusion that connects to the two Graphics' bottom tripod sockets, a piece of wood molding that connects to their side tripod sockets, and a coupler that goes between them. The coupler incorporates a lens board, a pair of concentric tubes, and a film pack adapter.

    Given that I'm going to carry a Speed and a Century Graphic to be able to use short lenses in shutter (Century), lenses in barrel (Speed), and lenses longer than the Century can focus, the bracketry is a better solution than a long 4x5 camera with a reducing back. An SLR to Graflok adapter is also not much of a burden, given that I'm going to be using my Nikons too. There are some jobs for which a 35 mm SLR is a much better tool than a larger press/technical/view camera.


  21. These conversions don't work well in 35mm or MF SLR. You can swing and tilt the front but not the back! The front of a 35mm SLR body is about 2" (47mm)and so swinging and tilting the camera back doesn't rotate on axis, it formes a circel. In addition the bayonet circle will very quickly shadow the film.

    Lynn (75,000 view cameras or more cameras, nobody knows how many lenses)
  22. Lynn much as I respect your expertise -- well except for that Norman SL800 of yours
    that I bought that was the third to worst piece of unreliable crap I've ever owned (Graf
    Studioballs and Cokin filters outrank it) -- I've gott more than a few photos wmade with
    the Cambo Ultima 35 and Studiotools *STM rigs to prove that they will work with a 35mm
    like DSLR. But you are absolutely right when you say that the mirror box requirements of
    SLR designs limit the range of usable movements.
  23. I've been asked to make 35mm to 4x5 Graflok adapters from time to time, and I was trained to warn people against using them.
    I'll give you the advice first, and then the reasoning second.
    The advice: If you have a 'miniature camera' and want movements, get a lens specifically designed for your camera. If your camera doesn't have a factory lens available for it with the movements you'd like, get a brand of camera that does.
    The reasoning: Lenses for 'miniature cameras' are so highly engineered to work the way that they're designed to, especially these days, that there are no guarantees that they will focus all colors on a plane when you tilt or swing.
    Lenses for large format, besides all the other problems with resolution, will vinette even on axis if the diameter of the front element is larger than the opening of the mirror box of the 'miniature camera'.
    And that's aside from what's been said already. If you put a big diameter large format lens in front of a camera with a mirror box, you're probably in for a disappointment.
    I do like the tiled effect of the photo mentioned earlier though, but that's shift and rise, not swing and tilt.
  24. Oh, my. Noah, if what you say is true, when I use a long lens for LF hung way out in front of a Nikon I should have vignetting problems. But when I've done that -- lens in front of a bellows, extension tubes as needed between bellows and camera -- I've got good images that were evenly illuminated corner to corner. And some of these lenses, e.g., 210/9 Konica Hexanon GRII, have front elements that are more than 43 mm across.

    The model you presented can't be right. My results are inconsistent with it.

    Note that I shoot these lenses in front of a Nikon "straight ahead" with no movements.


  25. Hi Mr. Fromm; <p> The aperture of your lens, at f:9, is smaller than the opening of the
    mirror box of your camera.<p>If you had an f:2 lens at 210mm, then you'd see the
    vignetting for sure.<p>The wider the aperture, the more the problem.
  26. Any update on the 'FotoDiox' adapter. I am using a Kodak DCS Pro SLR/n and would like to use it on a Sinar F or Sinar P. Contemplating using an APO enlarging lens of 90mm or higher for small object table top use. My understanding is that the new digital lenses are glorified versions of enlarging lenses.
  27. I have made an SLR to View Camera Conversion of my own , using medium format or enlarging lenses , with full tilt / shift capacities . Here is an adress on flickr to give an idea

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