6x12 back, Linhof vs. Sinar vs. Horseman, any opinions

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I am in the market to purchase a 6x12 roll film back. My choices are Sinar zoom II multiformat back, Lihnof 6x12 and Horseman 6x12. Suposedly Calumet is now offering a 6x12 back again, but I have heard from a few posters the quality is very poor. I only want to make one purchase that will last me a lifetime. Here is what I have learned, any corrections or addittional input would be helpful so I can make the best decision.

Linhof 6x12 Techno Rollex Film Back - Best price B&H $2,917 + $464 for 220 roll film insert - total price for 220 6x12 back = $3,400! Sure seems like a lot of money for a roll film back that only has one format? Can anyone explain to me why this price is so high vs. the other units on the market? I spoke to someone at B&H who claimed this unit was very heavy and the film alignment was not as solid as the Horseman or Sinar. There was a previous post in this forum that also suggested such...for those interested, -- Skot Weidemann October 29, 1999, under Film Holders.

Sinar Mulitformat Zoom II - Best pricing, $1850 Robert White, UK. Shoots 5 different formats from 6x4.5 to 6x12, uses 220 film. Expensive, but considering I would only need to carry one back for all my roll film needs, quite convenient. And considering the costs of at least one other back for a more conventional format, say 6x7, it reduces the cost down to $1200 for the 6x12 part. It fits in the back like a standard film holder and is not much thicker than a conventional film holder, no need to remove gg back.

Horseman 6x12. Best price $850 Badger Graphics, graphlock back, must remove gg back, only holds 120 film. But very competitively priced and good track record. I prefer a 220 back but at this price I can buy of them for the price of one Lihnof 220 back and have $1,700 left over for the a new Schneider Super Symar XL? Although extra backs take up more room in my backpack, so that is a consideration.

Although I can look at the spec sheets till I am blue in the face, I never used any of these backs. I am leaning towards the Sianr... Anybody that has experienced these units that could offer input... it would be greatly appreciated... Thank you in advance.

-- Bill Glickman (bglick@pclv.com), April 09, 2000


For that kind of money, why don't you just shoot 4x5 and crop in the enlarger? Or a use pair of sissors if you're shooting 'chromes.

-- Bill Mitchell (bmitch@home.com), April 10, 2000.

Bill, that is an excellent point, I should have addressed this in my post. In most situations, thats the smart and economical thing to do. The reason I wanted a roll film back was because I was planning on shooting a lot of Panormaic shots with long lenses that would take up a lot of film. I am shooting them on a Bogen Panoramic head. For example, using a 240mm lens and 180 deg. coverage of my scene, it will utilize about 70 cm of film area for the scene plus you have to double that for intentional overlaping areas, so one shot of 180 deg. will use 12 - 6x12 shots, vs. taking 12 4x5 shots... roll film is about $18 (film and processing) for 12 shots and 4x5 is about $4.50 x 12 = $54.... so I would save about $36 per 180 deg. shot. (less for 140 deg. shots) This film is then scanned and stitched together using stitching sofware to make the final Pan shot in a digital file. I plan on shooting a lot of Pans in the years to come the film savings alone is significant.

For a shot like this, I would most likely add some skies of my own inside Photoshop to change the original aspect ratio of 6x72 or 12:1, to 12x72 or 6:1. (this assumes the scene was shot pretty much absent of skies) I was interested in having more optins than the 6x17 type of Pan shot that limits your aspect ratio to about 2.5:1. Large cameras like 4x20 were way too big and its too hard to find a good assortment of fl lenses to cover this width. In addition, the 6x12 method utilizes only the sweet spot of a lens, and no light fall off in the corners in 6x12. (unless you use a very wide lens, less than 90mm, which would defeat the purpose of doing this type of panoramic work)

But also, you have to work fast when firing each shot, so changing film holders and pulling slides in and out is to time consuming vs. flipping your thumb on a roll film holder. The light changes fast, so you must work fast. The tripod head has detents at about 10 deg. increments so you know exactly where to stop for each shot, so that part is not too bad. You only have to cock the shutter and flip the film advance, but seconds add up!

Some may find this process cumbersome, but researching alternatives, I found that the best solution is the Seitz 220 Round shot... which is about $10k plus lenses much too bulky to backpack with. (Not much money considering how sophisticated this camera really is) Whereas this method, I can shoot Pan shots with any aspect ratio I want with out carrying any additional equipment. My initial test shots came out good, so I am getting the back for both Pan and conventional photography also. I wouold not mind occasionaly croping a 6x12 to 6x9 if I choose a 6x12 format back only. (meaning, not Sinar)

-- Bill Glickman (bglick@pclv.com), April 10, 2000.

Ooops typo... correction... I added the(2) below ..

I prefer a 220 back, but at this price (Horseman) I can buy (2) of them for the price of one Lihnof 220 back and have $1,700 left over for a new Schneider Super Symar XL?

-- Bill Glickman (bglick@pclv.com), April 10, 2000.

Bill, Robert has the TechnoRollex too, at $1580 (Other cameras). As far as I am aware, this back is not an insert type. It is a graflock. Perhaps would it suit a spring back with lots of clearance? but you would have to pull it out to move the film anyway. The insert type of the Sinar was really decisive for me. If you can get hold of a Cambo 6x12, make sure it is a new improved version. The C243 was no good. Poor construction, 5mm image lost each side when using wide-angles, due to the curvature of the film. The Horseman back is also sold by Arca-Swiss, or at least it was. So, supposedly, it is of good quality. Good luck!

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@vtx.ch), April 10, 2000.

Just curious, is there a big advantage of using a 6x12 back as opposed to the much more economical 6x9 back, if you are going to stitch them together in Photoshop anyhow???

-- Andreas Carl (andreas@physio.unr.edu), April 10, 2000.

That is an interesting question about using the 6x9. I'd assume that even with 6x12, you would use some degree of overlap between adjacent images. Would the degree of overlap be close to the 6x9 framing anyway?

-- Larry Huppert (Larry.Huppert@mail.com), April 11, 2000.

Andreas and Larry, the reason for using 6x12 is simple... it cuts down the amount of shots you need for a given scene and reduces the total amount of overlaped spacing, hence you use less film. So you save significant time and save on film cost as well. A 6x17 film back would be ideal, or even a 6x17 camera, however, then I would have to buy a whole new camera system and lenses... because my existing LF lenses can not be used in both camera systems without changing lens boards. Plus when backpacking, its a lot easier to bring a film bck vs a second camera and lenses...

-- Bill Glickman (bglick@pclv.com), April 11, 2000.

Given your requirements, I agree with the poster who recommended staying with 4x5. If you want to work fast, get a 6-shot grafmatic film holder, or try Fuji QuickChange. The 4x5 chrome will give you more flexibility in the selection of the area to be cropped to panoramic.

That said, I use a Fuji GX617 in conjunction with my 4x5, and the two systems complement each other well.

-- fw (finneganswake@altavista.net), April 14, 2000.

From what i recall the long dimension on the Horseman 6x12 back is actually 110mm not 120mm. The Linhof , and possibly the Sinar is a full 120mm wide.

-- Ellis Vener (evphoto@insync.net), April 14, 2000.

From what I recall the long dimension on the Horseman 6x12 back is actually 110mm not 120mm. The Linhof back, and possibly the Sinar back, produces a full 120mm wide image.

-- Ellis Vener (evphoto@insync.net), April 14, 2000.

Sinar is about 112mm not 120mm.

-- Bob Salomon (bobsalomon@mindspring.com), April 14, 2000.

Sinar 6x12 width is 112 mm - I remember it from doubling the width of Hasselblad 6x6 which is 56 mm square... The advantages of the Sinar back over the Horseman (I use both, though) is a little wider film gate, the ease of not having to remove the gg between shots, and 5 different formats built into one back - you can actually change the format between frames! If the last option is not important to you, why not consider buying a Sinar Vario back instead?

-- Timo Ripatti (timo.ripatti@helsinkimedia.fi), April 20, 2000.

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