6x12 FIlm backs for 4x5 field camera

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I'm keen on the 6x12 format and would like advice on which back to look out for (prefeerably 2nd hand). How serious is the film path issue regarding film set? I intend to use for landscape photography. Am also intrigued by the Sinar multifomat and also whether price is jusifiable.

-- Baxter Bradford (baxter.bradford@ntlworld.com), September 17, 2001


When it comes to new photographic gear, particularly LF, the price is NEVER justifiable, but demand-able.

-- Matt O. (mojo@moscow.com), September 17, 2001.

Baxter, Matt is soooo right! If you want an easy way to get 6x12 why don't you use half a dark slide such as those made by Bender Camera corp. You get two 5x12 on each 4x5 piece of film. When you consider the cost of these holders, you really have to shoot a ton of film to justify the prices. The nice thing about the dark slide is you do not have to carry the film holder and roll film in the field. This assumes you already are brining in 4x5 film holders..

-- Bill Glickman (bglick@pclv.com), September 17, 2001.

Hi Baxter,

The 6x12 RFHs I have used are: Sinar Zoom I & II, Horseman 6x12, Linhof Techno-Rollex. Each has its advantages.

The primary advantages of the Sinar Zoom are: 1. The film path from the feed roll does not make a sharp bend until after the aperture for exposure, thereby eliminating the possibilty of ridges in the film formed by bending back over the feed roller. 2. The ability to shoot various aspect ratios on one roll of film, changing format between frames if necessary.

The disadvantages, as I see them, with the Sinar Zoom are: 1. Cost. 2. Size, weight and bulk. 3. Learning the intricacies of the "frame" counter. 4. Fidgety loading. 5. Delicate "Load/Shoot" lever that sits proud and can be bumped (requires regular monitoring.

Now onto the Linhof Techno-Rollex. This is the Prussian Army of RFHs. Well built, well engineered giving a slightly larger image than the Sinar. Although the film path does double back on itself prior to the point of exposure the substantial diameter of the rollers is a help. I, for one, never have a roll in the holder long enough for the ridging to occur. One could once again se cost as a factor here but the only negative point as far as I am concerned is that in the field loading/unloading can be a three-hand operation because the back cover and base are not hinged and must be lodged somewhere safe whilst the insert is threaded. Still, it is my preferred choice.

Finally, the Horseman is lighter in weight, cheaper and has a hinged back. Friends have used them for trouble-free shooting for years, but I have had problems with transport gears and springs packing-up (on a new unit). It may well prove satisfactory but I opt for the reliabilty of the Linhof.

Hope this sheds some light on your musings ... WG

-- Walter Glover (walterg@netaus.net.au), September 17, 2001.

The Calumet 6x12 back has had severe problems. I would not purchase this brand 2nd hand. For more info on this topic visit this link on my site at http:// www.kinesisgear.com/opinion.html#calumet

-- Richard Stum (info@kinesisgear.com), September 17, 2001.

There's supposed to be a world of difference between Calumet's C-2 and C-2-N backs; the new models are supposed to be much improved. So far I've only seen the older C-2s available used. But at $800 a pop for 6x12s, the new ones ought to be significantly better.

-- Arthur Gottschalk (Arthurwg@aol.com), September 17, 2001.

While the half-darkslide approach is certainly workable, I have been considering the possibility of using a half-black filter, not unlike the Cokin 'double exposure' 'filter.' A line across the center of the groundglass should ensure orientation, and it is smaller and less of a problem to carry in the field.


-- Anthony J. Kohler (arbitrator@uneedspeed.net), September 17, 2001.

Baxter, the Horseman is very well made, but a bit on the expensive side, and not often found used. Another solution would be to simply shoot on sheet film and mask the GG (okay not as sophisticated as a roll film holder but would do the job). Regards Paul

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), September 17, 2001.

The Horseman 6x12 roll back is expensive but I've found it to be very reliable. The film flatness is excellent negs. are critically sharp edge to edge. Spacing is good but not perfect, certainly no overlap. I find I'm using more roll film then sheet film these days so this has become an almost essential piece of kit for me. A big plus is that the negs. are much cleaner then when I shoot sheets despite great care in loading and exposing the plates. Dust! Its such a curse.


-- Trevor Crone (trevor.crone@uk.dreamcast.com), September 17, 2001.

I considered a 6x12 back but talked myself out of it. It just seemed to be more finacially beneficial to just crop the shot in printing... just my opinion. I bought a 360mm instead... Cheers

-- Scott Walton (scotlynn@shore.net), September 19, 2001.

I second what Walter said on Sinar versus Linhof backs. On thing he did not mention is that Sinar Vario and Zoom are the only "insert" type 6x12 backs (with Calumet C2, but has proven unreliable). I found this to be a decisive advantage over backs that require unmounting of the spring back, especially if an accessory viewer is mounted on the back, and if being productive as in studio shots is important. But for landscape only, a Horseman (Arca-Swiss) back will pay for itself easier.

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), September 19, 2001.

Thanks everyone for your advice. It will be a Horseman when I can find the funds.

-- Baxter Bradford (baxter.bradford@ntlworld.com), September 20, 2001.


Just received my 2nd hand Horseman 6x12 back from a store and it's fantastic - light and compact, in excellent condition. It was 2/3 the new purchase price (here in Australia). Hope you can perhaps locate a similar bargain near you! Good luck

-- Brad Cheers (bradcheers@hotmail.com), September 24, 2001.

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