6x9: practicallity of holders and quality

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I am thinking about adding a 6x9 to my lineup of equipment so that I can still maintain movements and yet carry roll film for travelling. I figure that I can do this in two ways. Add a 6x9 back to my Arca Swiss 4x5 F-Metric or buy a new dedicated 6x9 camera. Obviously a new 6x9 would reduce size and weight.


1. Do all 6x9 cameras require removing the ground glass and back? 2. Does anyone make a 6x9 film holder that slips in a 4x5 like film holders so the ground glass need not be removed? 3. Is removing the ground glass as big of a pain as it sounds? 4. Is 6x9 w/ LF lenses a poor alternative to a dedicated MF camera system? That is am I sacrificing lens quality?

Thanks, Bill

-- Bill Smithe (bs2@aol.com), October 08, 2000


Response to 6x9 Is it worthwhile?

Certainly roll film has it's advantages, particularly for travel. However, your current lens line-up should also be looked at to see if you have the focal lengths you need for 6x9 (e.g. 75mm in 4x5 is approx. equivalent to a 47mm in 6x9). If you shoot wide angle, you'll have to use much wider lenses in 6x9 to maintain the same angle of view.

Several people make roll film holders which slip under the GG like a film holder (Sinar & Toyo). I believe they are fairly thick and somewhat heavy, and may not fit all cameras. How easy it is to remove the GG is dependent on the particular camera. My experience w/ Arca Swiss and DLC has shown them both to be very easy to remove. Even dedicated 6x9 cameras like the Arca Swiss require that you remove the GG to attach a roll film back. I believe that Toyo and Horseman make rotating or sliding backs for their 4x5 cameras which quickly switch between GG and roll film holders. It's been my impression that these devices are oriented towards studio use.

Another major difference between 6x9 vs. 4x5 (w/ roll film) is the type of Polaroid proofing you can do. 6x9 cameras use 405 backs w/ pack film, while 4x5 use sheet film. If you want to use different types of Polaroid material, it's not as easy w/ 6x9 cameras.

-- Larry Huppert (Larry.Huppert@mail.com), October 08, 2000.

Response to 6x9 Is it worthwhile?


Thanks for your thoughts. I guess every once in a while I start reading the info on different camera systems and get the urge to add another camera to my collection. In this case, although it appears roll film would be a convenience for travel, I am not sure I want to give up the flexibility of 4x5. I use a lot of Type 55 film for both exposure prints as well as negatives.

I think I will stick with my Hasselblad for roll film. I only wish it had the movements of my Arca.

Thanks Bill

-- Bill Smithe (bs2@aol.com), October 08, 2000.

Response to 6x9 Is it worthwhile?

I was considering 6x9 and decided to get the Linhof Technikardan 45s as my current work is 80% studio work in 6x9. The extra area on the 4x5 gg makes it easier to focus and crop. Like you, I was very concerned about image quality as compared to Hasselblad 40, 60, 100 and 120 I had been using. I got new Schneiders -180, 110XL and 58XL. I made hi-res Imacon scans of all chromes and compared them at 200% on computer screen. The Hasselblad 60 has always been soft, but in my opinion the new Schneiders are every bit as good as my 40, 100 and 120 Zeiss Hasselblad lenses - even with equal enlargement factors. It used to be an axiom that view camera lenses are made to lower tolerances, but I'm not so sure this is the case anymore. The new breed of lenses are fabulous.

With regards to the film holder, I tried the Horseman and changed it for the Calumet. The Horse is much better made for sure, but I was not comfortable removing the gg for every shot. The Cal suits my needs for now - I just hope it hold up over time.

-- Al Seyle (aseyle@gte.net), October 08, 2000.

Response to 6x9 Is it worthwhile?

FYI, I've read numerous threads that complained about the Calumet back that slides under the glass. Tho they might have a new, better one, I think I'd stick with another brand.

-- Wayne Crider (waynec@apt.net), October 08, 2000.

Response to 6x9 Is it worthwhile?

You do not need to remove the ground glass, the best price-quality rollfilm film holder for the job is the cambo (6x7 or 6x9) and it works well unless it stretches too much the spring-loaded back (some cameras aren']t built for this), Sinar , if I remember correctly, works on the same principle (different sizes and multi-vario available!) price is not their best side! Horseman has a rotary back (several models) which fits their 6x9s, anothe model to fit their metal fields 4x5 and another model to fit any 4x5 with international (graflock) back. Similar things are available from Cambo or Wista. Rather bulky and heavy they offer quick change between ground glass and film holders (portraits for example), the rotary rotates (obviously!) and the other shift( left < > right ) (up < > downn). If your camera has a range finder you needn't remove anything and just focus with it! Camera movements require ground glass focus. Really, if you are taking landscapes or stills, removing the ground glass isn't a problem at all (the only risk is to break or loose the glass in the process). Unless you want to engage into a theoretical discussion(but I do not want to take any part in it......) which has been "fought" on this forum time and time again, no, there is no quality loss in using rollfilm with LF lenses. The only real advantage is cheaper material, rollfilm is cheap, when going for a long photographic journey it is easy to stock up and you do not need any (portable) darkroom, the risk of dust on your negatives is minimal. But that's more and less all. I mean, the cameras (6x9s) are almost as big, there is limited use of wideangles capabilities(even using a 4x5 adapted for the job). However I favour the 4x5 with a rollfilm adapter configuration, on some cameras, maybe on your Arca too , you can use the new rodenstock 35mm grandangon ~(it covers 4x5 with a little aperture, no too many movements, if at all, and a little luck, it will do a fantastic job with 6x9!) I wish you lots of great pictures, Good luck!

-- andrea milano (milandro@multiweb.nl), October 09, 2000.

Response to 6x9 Is it worthwhile?

" 2. Does anyone make a 6x9 film holder that slips in a 4x5 like film holders so the ground glass need not be removed?>

Linhof Rapid Rolex is a slip-in 67 holder for any 69 camera. It is also available for 45 cameras.

-- Bob Salomon (bobsalomon@mindspring.com), October 09, 2000.

I have a Busch Pressman that shoots 6x9 and use it quite often. It uses cut film holders like a 4x5 and film is readily available from Ilford. For color I cut down Velvia. It's very easy to do. I have some movements and use it for flower studies and landscape. It's half the size of my 4x5. james

-- james (james_mickelson@hotmail.com), October 09, 2000.

Oh and the images are as sharp as you can get at 16x20. I have a 101mm and a 127mm lens for it. I use my 90/6.8 with a slightly recessed lens board. I have a 65mm lens that works for 6x9 but haven't as yet mounted it in a board. James

-- james (james_mickelson@hotmail.com), October 09, 2000.

I use a Tachihara 5x4 and I have a 6x9 roll back (don't know the make, but there are several out there). The back is quite thick - about 2 inches - but it does fit under the spring-loaded GG without having to remove it, and in that regard is as quick and easy to use as a 5x4 dark slide. The widest lens I currently use is a 90mm which isn't very wide on 6x9. I think my camera would be OK with a 75mm but anything wider would become difficult to use as bellows compression restricts movements. YMMV depending on what camera you use.

-- Simon Ogilvie (snowy151@bigfoot.NOSPAM.com), October 10, 2000.


I've just got an Arca-Swiss 6x9 and about three-four weeks ago, asked the same questions as you. The answer was that that the better solution with the Arca-Swiss 6x9 is to take away the groundglass, but that isn't a hassle at all, it is very easy to achieve.

The Arca 4x5 is quite large.. and the gain in weight and volume is higher with the Arca, than it is with the Technikardan for instance.. Plus if I remember correctly, the Technikardan, unlike the Arca doesn't have all the movements of the 4x5..

All in one, I'm very happy with my purchase..

Did you ever think to get a conical bellow and to change only the front standard and lenseboard ? this way, you are diminishing the total weight and volume of the camera, you have the possibility of using the 6x7, 6x9 and even the 6x12 RFH.. plus you can still put in a sheet film if you feel like it..

Arca has a kit allowing that change, however I'm not sure wether the kit is for upgrade from 6x9 to 4x5 or the reverse..

-- Christiane Roh (rohcris@vtx.ch), October 10, 2000.

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