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Linhof Kardan Color 45s


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Hi all,


I am considering purchasing a Linhof Kardan Color 45s. It is in

excellent condition but I have a few questions before I make the leap.


1. are the lensboards unique to this camrera or are they

interchangeable with those made for any current Linhof models? It

came with a #1 Copal but I want to be sure I can get others if I need

them. If they are not interchangeable with current boards, then what

other old Linhof cameras used the same boards.


2. The camera has a graflock back.... now if I am doing my homework

properly then this is pretty much a standard thing on most modern

monorail cameras. Can I assume that any 4x5 accessories I buy from

other manufacturers for the 4x5 graflok back will work on this camera?


3. Can anyone out there give me a definite answer on the range of

lens focal lengths I can use on this camera. I have seen a few

conflicting reports


4. Any lens suggestions... I shoot primarily landscapes with some

architecture thrown in... I would also like to try a few formal

portaits... In 35mm I use a 24mm, 50mm and 135mm almost exclusively

since these 3 cover my prefered "style"


I know this is alot of stuff. I have been reading anything I can get

my hands on related to large format.. I just want to make sure I get

off to a good start. I figured I'd buy a cheaper used camera but

invest in lenses and accessories (film backs etc.) that I could use

on other cameras should I eventually upgrade.


thanks to anyone who takes the trouble to help a newb out...



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1: The current version of this camera is currently selling for about $650.00 new in the U.S.

so you should base what you pay keeping this in mind.

2: The 45S uses the current lens boards and other accessories.

3: The camera has what Linhof, and other manufacturers, call an International back. It

accepts virtually any Graflok film back.

4: The camera uses current Kardan bellows and viewing accessories.

5: The 45S uses a monorail system that has not been available for a quarter of a century

so things that attach to the monorail - for instance the auxilliary standard or the rail

clamp are no longer available from Linhof.

6: To mount the Kardan Compendium you would have to buy a Linhof accessory shoe and

have someone tap the holes for the screws on the top of the front standard - if that has

not already been done.

7: Kardan cameras can use lenses from 35mm up - depending on the lens board and

bellows used. Longest lens on a 45S would be anything that will focus to infinity with an

18" extension. The M has 20".

8: The old monorail Linhof cameras with the U standards like the 45S have a peculiar

problem with the tilt pivot on the rear standard. It interferes with things like Polaroid

backs, 45 sheet film holders in horizontal position and some roll backs. They hit the

uprights. In addition you may not be able to pull the darkslide out when you do a back tilt

with the film holder positioned horizontally.


To fix this problem Linhof made a back spacer which moved the GG frame back about 3/

4". This spacer is also no longer available.

With later models with the U standard like the M, JBL, GT, TE, Super Color, etc. Linhof

moved the pivot point so this problem did not occur.

That would be a further reason to consider the kardan M.

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I don't think you'd be making a huge mistake by going with the Kardan Color.

It's a beautiful camera to use and will last a lifetime.


The lensboards are universal for all Linhof cameras with the exception of the

Technika cameras. The board sizes for the Technikas are smaller than they

are for the Kardan Color. However, the nice thing about the line is that you

can buy an adapter board that will take a Technika lens and use it on your

Kardan Color.


Your assumption that any accessories made by other manufacturers (fitting

onto a standard Graflock back) will fit on to a standard Graflock back of the

Kardan Color, is correct. For example, you can buy a Sinar Roll Film holder

that fits onto a Graflock back...and use it on your Kardan Color. I've also just

learned how to take my Horseman 6x12 rollfilm holder and mount it onto a

Sinar camera...thanks to one of the posters on this site.


As for lenses fitting onto the Kardan...the range will depend on a number of

different factors including, but not limited to, whether you are using a recessed

lensboard and/or whether you have sufficient bellows length (and rail length).

For most situations, I don't think you'd have any difficulty in using focal lengths

from 58mm to 480mm though...again, depending on the limitations described



For landscape shooting I usually use a 75mm...some people prefer something

a bit wider, like a 47mm or 58mm; for portraits, people have used anything

from a 240mm to a 480mm (or longer). And, since I don't shoot architecture, I

won't comment on that. However, the lens of choice is very dependent on

personal choice, isn't it? For example, in shooting 35mm, some prefer using a

105mm for portraits and others prefer using a 135mm. Likewise, some prefer

using a 15mm (non-fisheye) for landscape shooting while others choose to

use a 24mm....again, it boils down to personal choice.


You'll find a wealth of information on this website since there are a lot of very

experienced LF photographers who are willing to share their knowledge and

experience with new users (and old users alike.)


To summarize, again, I think the Kardan Color is a very nice camera and will

last you until you decide to move to 5x7, 8x10, or larger. If I were doing it all

over again...I would've been a bit more selective about the nature of the

lenses I'd purchase. I wish I would have gone more for the high end lenses

such as some of the HM or XL series ones.


As for accessories such as filmholders (standard plastic types and/or rollfilm

holders), metering accessories (such as the Sinar metering cassette,

Broncolor meter & probe), and tripod, these are really small items relative to

the cost of a high end camera. I would, however, recommend that you buy

yourself a sturdy tripod. I use Majestic and Manfrotto as my poda of choice.

There are lots of other good ones out there...but the key thing is to go with a

sturdy one.


Hope that helps....

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I totally agree with what both Bob and H.C. told you. Pay close attention to Bob's comments, he the Linhof tech rep for Linhof's US Distributor.


Price is a real factor here. I have seldom seen a 45s go for much less than $500 and while it is beautifully made and beautifully machined you also have to ask if you want to pay that versus 15% more for a brand new model.


During the 1970's a Kardan Color 45s was my only LF camera and it went everywhere. It was a heaavy beaast but that didn't stop me from lugging it wherever I had to go. I have fond memories of the beast but am much happier with the geared movements I have today and would never think of hauling 13-15 pounds ou tin the field these days!


Good luck

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Don't overlook the Linhof Bi camera. While it is no longer produced, it can be found in the used market and blows away the 45S. Plus, it can be fitted with a 5x7 back. After having used one for several years I feel it is the best monorail camera that has ever been produced - period. Has adapter boards that take the standard linhof offerings and can take just about any lens that you could care to use with it. Yes. lenses will make the impact on your images, but rigidity and operating flexibilities allow those lenses to do their thing. We can easily fall to the old pitfall of being penny wise and pound foolish.
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" blows away the 45S"


Well that is subject to interpretation.


The B and the 45S were contemporaries.


The difference was that the B had base and axis tilts while the 45S had axis tilts only. All

other movements were the same. Although the B had geared shift instead of non-geared



Other differences the B had calibrations for tilts, swiings and shift the S did not. The B had

the accessory shoe mounted on the front standard. The shoe can be ordered for the S.


The B took extension monorails that no longer exist from Linhof. The B was available in 57

and 810. The S in 45 only.


Although the B added base tilts it was not yaw free as the base tilt and the axis tilt are

both above the swing point.


So if someone owns a B it is a beautiful camera, it still benefits from te Polaroid Spacer

mentioned in my earlier response. But it Does not " blows away the 45S". It virtually does

exactly the same thing in 45 at a higher cost.


Do you really feel that geared shifts and base tilts are worth spending more then a new M

would cost?

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At the price you can get these products with all of the accessories including additional formats, extra rails and other accessories - absolutely. I think I know why the B camera was discontinued. I would cost a small fortune to produce it today. It simply has it all. Marvelously engineered and designed with the user in mind. And it is a Linhof. Just my opinion. Nothing else.
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