Is the Apo Grandagon 55mm usable on a Horseman VH/VH-R? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hi all,

I currently own a Grandagon-N 75mm f/6.8 lens and am choosing a wider one to shoot architecture with my Horseman VH-R.

From extended use of my 35mm Nikon equipment I found most of my wideangle pictures were taken with a 24mm lens, a focal lenght I happen to like a lot, so I am focusing on the 55-58mm range.

Both the Rodenstock APO Grandagon 55mm f/4.5 and the Schneider Super-Angulon 58mm f/5.6 XL would fit the bill; I tend to favor the Rodenstock because it is a little wider and a better match for my Nikkor's field of view.

Looks like I won't be able to find any of the 8mm recessed lensboards Scott Bennet manufactured years ago; this is not altogether unexpected from what I gathered on the subject, and after all I never liked the idea of having to hack at the Copal 0 shutter in order to mount the lens on such a board.

I am therefore left the only option of mounting the lens on a flat lensboard and accepting limited movements; from e-mail exchanges with the owner of a 58mm XL I know it will work (thanks again, Howard),and I am asking your help with the Rodenstock APO Grandagon 55mm f/4.5:

1) Is it possible to get infinity focus with the front standard securely clamped on the bed track? According to published specs the difference in flange focal distance between the 58mm and 55mm is just 69.3 - 67.6 = 1.7mm ... I tried focusing my 75mm to infinity and then moving the front standard back 78.5 - 67.6 = 10.9mm and it did grab securely.

2) If the answer to 1) is affirmative, is it necessary to rise the front standard in order to keep the bed out of the picture in landscape (horizontal) orientation? From experiments on my VH-R it should be possible to rise the front a little further than what's needed to align the red and white dots ... anyone ever measured the available rise?

3) Is it necessary to turn the VH-R on its side in order to shoot portraits (verticals), or does the little rise available allow one to keep the camera upright?

4) How much forward tilt can be applied without the bed showing in the picture?

5) Is it possible to use the E67/86 center filter ... I understand its front element is 86mm in diameter!

6) Do the (front) lens itself and/or the lenboard's position make it difficult to use a cable release, setting the aperture and loading the shutter?

7) Any other advice/comments from first-hand experience?

Thank you

-- Massimo Squillace (, December 07, 2001



I use the 55mm Apo-Grandagon for 6x9 work, but use a different camera. In fact, I sold my VH to Howard years back. A 55 on the VH will be challenging. I can answer two of your questions...

for portraits, you will have to rotate the camera, a little rise won't do it.

you won't need an E67/86 filter to use the lens on rollfilm. I use regular 67mm filters with no vignetting.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (, December 07, 2001.

Hi Massimo

I used the 55 mm one time on my Horseman HF (Handy field 1.7 kg lightest metall field) the pre version of the FA. As I remember correctly about 1 cm shift and if you are shifted thad 1cm then almost no tilt anymore, without shift about 6mm tilt.And of course first of all you have to drob the bed down. But I don`t know how this applies to the 6x9. I prever it on my Arca F-line. Good luck.

-- Armin Seeholzer (, December 09, 2001.

After much thought I eventually bought from Robert White, UK the Rodenstock Apo-Grandagon 55mm f/4.5 together with the Rodenstock E67/86 center filter, and having used the combo for this little while I believe I can contribute my first impressions about its usage - mounted on a flat panel - with the Horseman VH-R.

I take this opportunity to thank the list with a special mention to Trevor Crone and Howard Slavitt who found the time to answer several direct e-mails, detailing their hands-on experience with wide-angles on the Horseman 6x9.

1) You can focus to infinity with the front standard firmly grasped on the edge of the bed rail, outside the camera body. If you clamp it on the very edge you can also exceed infinity focus distance a bit, which I find useful for careful focusing.

2) At infinity you get about 5 mm left/right shift and you can rise the front standard a little above the red/white dot alignment line (~1.5 mm) before hitting the camera body. I knew I had to accept limited movements, but since this is a wide lens I found the smallest amount does significantly change composition ... not enough for serious architectural work, but sufficient for my 'cityscapes' and certainly adequate for most landscape shooting.

3) At infinity when shooting in landscape (horizontal) orientation the front bed doesn't show in the picture even with no rise, and you can also tilt forward some, but just to be on the safe side I decided to align the red and white dots on the front standard and be sure I can apply full forward tilt if needed.

4) According to Trevor Crone it is possible to shoot portraits (verticals) at infinity without turning the camera on its side, and true enough if you carefully clamp the front standard on the bed rail so that the latter doesn't extend any for infinity focus and rise the front all the way to the camera body, the bed rail doesn't show - barely. Forward tilt is not an option of course, and failing to follow the above to the letter immediately resulted in the rail tips showing in my slides. I therefore resolved to always turn the camera on its side when shooting verticals, after setting up the front standard as described in 3): this allows me to use swing to get full forward and backward tilt, and tilt to get full left/rigth swing - I also get about 5 mm rise/fall using the little shift available. Since I use a Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head turning the camera on its side is a quick and accurate operation; I don't use the VH-R side thread because the big quick release plate of the 410 dosn't fit the space available ... YMMV.

5) The darkening of the groundglass corners is not much worse than what I have with my Rodenstock Grandagon-N 75mm f/6.8 ... I am in contact with Bill Maxwell to fix this once and for all.

6) Contrary to what I gathered on the net, and perhaps due to the little movements available, I observe absolutely no vignetting with my 67mm Heliopan filters on this lens ... not even the thick warming polarizer. With the polarizer you do get uneven darkening of large monochrome areas (e.g. the sky), but this is typical of wide-angle lenses and I know how to cope.

7) Comparing side by side on the light table transparencies shot with and without the E67/86 center filter clearly shows why you *need* one (at least for slides) - as Howard Slavitt reports, exposures are really *much* better, quite even across the frame. If I had not done this test though, I think I would have accepted the results nonetheless, and for selected subjects the effect could even be beneficial IMHO. The only real drawback is the filter eats up even more than the 2.5 stops engraved on its side - my tests show you should compensate for 3 full stops, and indeed it is almost impossible to focus with the center filter in place. Luckily its quality is so high I cannot observe any focus shift when screwing the E67/86 on after focusing without it. You also *must not* screw another filter between the lens and the center filter - the middle of the resulting frame would clearly show a black round 'blob'. I don't know if a 86mm filter would do, since I don't have one (polarizers that big have shuddering prices!) - can anyone clear this point up from personal experience?

Last but not least, this lens is *great* - sharp and contrasty, and I think I will be using it a lot in years to come. Only minor gripe was the flimsyness of the provided lenscaps, but that was promply solved (although not cheaply) by a transaction with S.K. Grimes.

-- Massimo Squillace (, February 03, 2002.

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