Former Horseman FA and VH owners : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Since Horseman cameras are typically available on the used market I was wondering why the original owners decided to sell them?

-- Charles Mangano (, July 06, 2000


I just sold an FA. This is a great camera and one with which I made some wonderful negatives that continue to sell well. Unfortunately one of it's shortcomings is limited bellows and movements. For landscape work, this was never a big problem for me as I had a Fujinon 300T that overcame the short bellows draw. I started to do some architectural stuff and it was here that I needed more movement and longer bellows. After getting used to the Wisner 4x5T, it just didn't make sense to own both. I just wasn't using the 45FA. I still miss the precise feel of a metal technical camera.

-- Robert A. Zeichner (, July 06, 2000.

I have owned a VH, which I purchased used, for almost 2 years now. It's a great camera. They're very light and compact and plenty of movements for landscape work. Occasionally I consider purchasing another camera, like an Ebony, because it is reputed to be as stable as the Horseman, is also light and compact, and would allow for more flexibility with lens choice (i.e. shorter and longer lenses; I currently use between a 58 mm and a 240 mm in 6 x 9 format; I've used up to a 300 mm Nikkor process lens). They're great field/landscape cameras at any price with some limitations. On the used market they are even more attractive because they are priced very aggressively.

-- Howard Slavitt (, July 07, 2000.


I sold Howard my VH. The main reason was that I was shooting all 4x5.

I considered an FA, but decided against it for three reasons. First, the bellows draw is limited, a 240mm is the longest non-telephoto that can be used. Secondly, the small front standard and lensboard cause some problems with the bed. Large filter systems like the Lee system won't clear the bed with short lenses, and a 120mm lens is the shortest lens that can be used shooting verticals without catching the bed in the image. For shorter lenses and vertical compositions, the entire camera body must be rotated. For very short lenses, the camera body interfers with movements of the front standard. This is mostly a problem with 6x9 because it effects lenses shorter than 65mm. Finally, I am not a big fan of the 4-rod back movement. I find it difficult to set tilts and swings accurately.

Having said all of that, the workmanship of the Horsemans is superb, and the VH is clearly the smallest, lightest 6x9 camera going.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (, July 07, 2000.

Charles, I had a VH for many years. A superb camera with revolving back, geared rising front, light and compact and well built. However I do a fair amount of wide angle photography and the VH cannot handle anything shorter then 75mm with any degree of front rise. So I PX'ed the VH for an Ebony SW23 which is truly a wonderful camera for the wide angle user. It can handle Rodenstock's 35mm Apo Grandagon and give enough front and/or back rise to exceed it's image circle. On the strength of the SW23 I added the SW45 to the kit. Regards, Trevor.

-- Trevor Crone (, July 07, 2000.

I regularly use a 58 mm on the VH. I have more than enough flexibility using this lens for landscape/nature photography, which is all that I do. I have it in an aftermarket recessed lensboard -- this is also the shortest lens you can use for a VH with the normal lensboards; the aftermarket board, however, also allows me fully to use front rise and back movements. Without the recessed board, as the previous poster said, the shortest lens with which you have full movements is the 75 mm. I bought my recessed board with the camera, but, at least the last time I checked, you could still buy one from a guy named Bob Eskridge who often haunts this site. (You could also make one or have someone make one for you; at least the guy who does my camera repairs for me told me he could do it.) Even with a recessed board, there are three principal problems using lenses shorter than 75 mm on this camera, and on any/many cameras. First, any recessed board is not as easy to use as a normal board (by way of example, although perhaps a bit easier to use than the Horseman recessed baords, the recessed technika boards for the Ebony, which I understand are required when using very wide lenses, are not a whole lot roomier than the Horseman ones). Second, even in the 6 cm x 9 cm format, my experience with the Schneider 58 mm xl (and therefore this would be true for any other lens as wide as or wider than that), is that you will need a centerfilter when shooting slide film to counteract light falloff. This causes you to lose 1 1/2 fstops or so, and takes a bit more time to set up because you need to screw the filter on/off. Third, it is a lot harder to see the focusing screen with very wide lenses; hence using wide lenses on 4 x 5 (where a 75 mm is about as wide as or even a bit wider than 58 on 6 cm x 9 cm) is easier. The third problem has for my needs been completely solved by having Bill Maxwell custom fit two fresnel lenses for my camera, one for the mono viewer and one for the normal back. In the monoviewer, I use the fresnel for my 58mm and 75 mm, for the nomral back I use a different fresnel for my 135 mm and 240 mm lenses. The one for the longer lenses also works well (but not as well as the other fresnel) for the 75 mm if I don't want to carry the monoviewer, which isn't very heavy, but is a tad bulky. Charles, if I recall correctly, a few months back you were asking about medium format cameras with movements on the medium format digest. Although most people who shoot with a view camera shoot 4 x 5 or larger, even after two years of shooting A LOT with the Horseman 6 cm x 9cm, I'm very happy with my choice. There are several great 6 cm x 9 cm choices, including the Horseman, Ebony cameras, and Arca Swiss 6 cm x 9 cm field camera, and others. I occasionally lust after both of these other cameras until I think rationally for a few minutes about the increased cost switching would entail. If I were starting out again and wasn't as concerned about keeping my initial costs very low because I didn't know when I started with the Horseman whether or not I'd really stick with it, I'd probably buy an Ebony (both the Ebony or Arcas Swiss are much more expensive than the Horseman; for the Arca Swiss, at least, accessories can get very expensive; most of the Horseman accessories, including the monoviewer, shoot work on the Ebony as well). Film, especially color slide film and processing, is A LOT cheaper to shoot in 6 cm x 9 cm, and, because I do all enlargements by scanning and printing out on a Lightjet 5000, the quality, at least up to 20" x 30" is virtually indistinguishable from 4 x 5". You can enlarge up to at least 27" x 40" with phenomenal results. Many people advocate buying 4" x 5" cameras and just using a roll film back when you want to shoot roll film. This, however, negates some of the compactness and weight advantages and would require a different set of lenses for the focal lengths you shoot (i.e. in 4 x 5, I would want to shoot a 75 mm, 110 mm, 180/210 mm, and 400 mm lens; thus only one overlap with my current set of lenses). Not to say I won't ever shoot 4 x 5 (if I get rich to process all the slide film and not feel inhibited by the expense). In short, the 6 cm x 9 cm view cameras are great tools; the Horseman VH is an excellent system. There are also other excellent

-- Howard Slavitt (, July 08, 2000.

Howard you can use Rodenstock's 55 Apo Grandagon on the VH with normal lens board and focusing but very little front rise/fall. I even used the 35mm Apo Grandagon on the VH's back rail and focused manually by sliding it back and forth, very fiddly but achievable and still able to get 5mm rise!!! Trevor.

-- Trevor Crone (, July 09, 2000.

"...a 120mm lens is the shortest lens that can be used shooting verticals without catching the bed in the image."

Not true. I use a 75mm Rodenstock on my FA frequently without including the bed in the image, you just have to know how to do it. Drop the bed (tilt down), and raise the lens up. Viola! No bed in the photo.

As noted, the FA is limited by the small opening in the front standard. I had the opening in the front standard enlarged so that I could put a 120mm Super Angulon on the camera, and I also had new bellows made with a slightly longer draw. I like the camera because it is so small and lightweight, and it is made out of metal, which in the southwest US - land of low humidity - has advantages over wood.

As to the comment that the longest lens you can put on the camera is 240mm - well, that's not quite true either as there is a 300mm bellows extension that attaches to the rear of the camera in place of the standard camera back, giving more than enough draw for closeup work and long telephoto lenses. But, that still doesn't get you around the small opening in the front standard which, to me, is the only real drawback on the camera.

Oh, yeah .... I still own mine...hope you don't mind me adding to the discussion since I don't qualify as an ex-owner.

-- steve (, July 10, 2000.

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