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Linhof Technika vs Crown Graphic
Old 03-01-2012   #1
menos
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Linhof Technika vs Crown Graphic

I just about exactly now make my first steps in 4x5 photography.

I bought a second hand Crown Graphic, and plan to use it as a handheld addition, while on the street (at the moment, I am shooting Leica M and adding the odd shot with a Hasselblad + 80mm).

So far, I have not enough training, but figuring out, shooting the 4x5 rangefinder and framing with the sportsfinder (I find the Graflex optical finder utter crap, to be honest) seems straight forward.
It is comparable enough to shooting with a Leica super wide angle and external finder.

There is one issue though - the Kalart side mounted RF on my Graphic gives a pretty small view of the scene, making composition quite hard (I prefer the workflow of framing - estimating parallax correction for the rangefinder - focussing and shooting with the rangefinder window for fast lenses).

How does the RF from the Linhof Master Technika compare to the early Kalart RF of the Crown Graphic?


Are there any specifc sheet film holders, I should prefer buying, to later be compatible with a Linhof as well (I really like that idea of using different cammed lenses)?
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Old 03-01-2012   #2
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I have one Grafmatic film-holder that I use with my Linhof Technika IV, loads up to 6 sheets of film. However, the Technika IV would require cams that fit both, the specific camera and lens, so that I only use scale focus when hand-held and no VF at all. Otherwise, the Crown seems to be the better option for hand-held 4x5 I think ...
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Old 03-01-2012   #3
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The crown I have is a later one with a top mounted RF. The separate VF is actually quite nice for composing and offers some sort of Paralax correction. Mine is quite reasonable for accurate focus with the 135mm lens it has mounted. I would like to try the Linhof one day but probably won't. i like the crown for quick handheld Portraits. Anything more complicated I use a monorail and the ground glass... leaving the crown in it's bag.

Oh almost forgot. I have 2 Graphmatic backs. They are great for work when dedicated to the RF. Having 6 frames per pack ready is nice. The damn things are cumbersome loading and unloading though. I would not use them if I was not using the Rangefinder. For Ground glass I prefer the 2 sided wood or plastic holders made by a variety of companies over the years.
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Old 03-01-2012   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by menos View Post
There is one issue though - the Kalart side mounted RF on my Graphic gives a pretty small view of the scene, making composition quite hard (I prefer the workflow of framing - estimating parallax correction for the rangefinder - focussing and shooting with the rangefinder window for fast lenses).

How does the RF from the Linhof Master Technika compare to the early Kalart RF of the Crown Graphic?


Are there any specifc sheet film holders, I should prefer buying, to later be compatible with a Linhof as well (I really like that idea of using different cammed lenses)?
I am not sure you realize that the "small" rangefinder window is for focussing only. You focus (a properly matched lens) with the rangefinder and then frame your shot with the optical or wireframe finder. That workflow is identical when using a Linhof Technika hand held. The view through the rangefinder of the Linhof is also fairly similar to a Kalart. I just compared the two and my Technika IV is a lot clearer and more contrasty than the Kalart that I have laying around, but that one needs a new mirror and cleaning so it is not a fair comparison. The Linhof has a slightly longer base length.
Overall I think your Crown is a really nice set up for handheld use. It is much lighter than a Linhof. The advantages of the Linhof are it's solid engineering, much more extensive movements, and greater flexibility in lenses that it can be used with. It is best to find a Linhof with matching cammed lenses if you want to use it handheld. It is possible cut cams, but it is either expensive (if you have it done), or rather tedious if you do it yourself. I have done it, so I know.

Any generic 4x5 film holder will work in either camera (or any 4x5 with a graflok back). If you can get hold of a grafmatic in decent condition do, they are tedious to load, but are great in use. Compact and fast, the 4x5 equivalent of a rapidwinder.
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Old 03-01-2012   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by menos View Post
I just about exactly now make my first steps in 4x5 photography.

I bought a second hand Crown Graphic, and plan to use it as a handheld addition, while on the street (at the moment, I am shooting Leica M and adding the odd shot with a Hasselblad + 80mm).

So far, I have not enough training, but figuring out, shooting the 4x5 rangefinder and framing with the sportsfinder (I find the Graflex optical finder utter crap, to be honest) seems straight forward.
It is comparable enough to shooting with a Leica super wide angle and external finder.

There is one issue though - the Kalart side mounted RF on my Graphic gives a pretty small view of the scene, making composition quite hard (I prefer the workflow of framing - estimating parallax correction for the rangefinder - focussing and shooting with the rangefinder window for fast lenses).

How does the RF from the Linhof Master Technika compare to the early Kalart RF of the Crown Graphic?


Are there any specifc sheet film holders, I should prefer buying, to later be compatible with a Linhof as well (I really like that idea of using different cammed lenses)?
The Crown Graphic is a fine camera. Don't be thinking of moving from it to a Lin Teck until you've accustomed yourself to shooting 4/5. Regarding film holders buy pretty much any brand but avoid the older wooden ones unless you get to inspect them.. they can be problematic loading and have a tendency toward light leaks. Some are just fine. Just make sure. Regal, Lisco, Toyo are all good film holders.

Everything "Graflex" is located here : http://graflex.org/

good luck!
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Old 03-01-2012   #6
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All the popular holders will work fine in either camera - Grafmatics, Kidelity, Lisco, old wooden Graflex from the 1930s onward... plus all the Polaroid and Fuji Instant holders.

The Linhof is definitely more solid and higher quality but the rangefinder is only slightly better if the Crown is in comparable condition. Note that I have had the Linhof cleaned and adjusted versus the Crowns being used as-is since they are so cheap it isn't worth paying for a CLA.

The top rangefinder versions of the Crown are usually brighter and cleaner because they are later, and less prone to go out of adjustment because they rely on a cam, albeit much smaller and cheaper than the Technika's cams that are 10x larger and more accurate.

The side-mounted Kalhart can be adjusted to work with most normal lenses 120-180mm but it is tedious to do. I also have found them harder to get my eye up to, less contrasty, and not as nice as the top-mounted Crowns. The even older Hugo Meyer rangefinders are usually filthy and useless.

The Technika VI and up, if clean and adjusted properly, with the proper cammed lens, is spot on and a joy. Even though they claim the V and later are factory zeroed and you can buy a cam and it will match the lens without further adjustment, it is best practice to send the lens and camera in for perfect adjustment. Like an expensive car, nothing is cheap about Linhofs (or Leicas).

Still, even though the Linhof is a better quality mechanism, it is still a small rangefinder window and much harder than a Leica to focus. So the increased accuracy in the Linhof is wasted if you aren't careful how you focus the darn thing.

Don't look down on the Crown by any means, lots of great photos have been made with them and I made many of my favorites too. It may be a better street shooter since it is lighter than a Tech, and I suspect many practical press photographers learned how to zone focus them with distance scales on the focusing bed.
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Old 03-01-2012   #7
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Wow, what a flurry of great info!
Thanks for sharing your knowledge about this one ;-)

I don't see the Graphic as a bad camera at all, I was just wondering, if the RF in the Linhof might be more practical in handheld use.

CNNY - yes, I know, how to use a RF ;-)
Lets put it that way, when I shoot moving subjects with an RF and external viewfinder, I often preset a distance, frame my imagined shot with the viewfinder, hold the camera still, moving my eye to the rangefinder, estimate the needed parallax correction, go back to the rangefinder, focus precisely and shoot, knowing, my framing will be almost there, where I estimated.

The DOF with the large format is so crazy thin, that such a small movement of the camera will kill the shot for me, if focussing is not the last procedure - especially, when shooting moving subjects, or moving by yourself.

I like the Crown - it's simple and nice, should take a beating and is really cheap to maintain and add useful accessories (the Linhofs are not).

I just found a Fuji back and try to source some 4x5 Fuji instant film, to get started, practicing a bit (and adjusting that RF perfectly).
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Old 03-02-2012   #8
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This is going to get Frank's jammies in a bunch, but for a rangefinder 4x5 experience I like the Polaroid 900 conversion. My experience has been limited to a well-calibrated Razzle. Mine has been rock solid (once calibrated using a ground glass) and the framelines fairly accurate in terms of parallax (well within the accuracy I get when using the viewfinder on a Speed Graphic).

They are limited to a fixed lens, no movements, and the rangefinder will need adjustment if you bang them around a lot. But they are pretty sweet for certain situations. Tonight, I used one to photograph my nieces on FB-3000. Not having to move my eye from rangefinder to viewfinder, like on my Speed Graphic, was nice, since my nieces don't remain still for long and the depth of field is pretty thin.

Just thought I'd bring up the Polaroid, based on your question Menos. My thoughts on using 4x5 hand-held:
-Polaroid least durable, Linhof the most
-Polaroid the lightest, Linhof the heaviest
-Polaroid slightly faster to use with a rangefinder, but not a whole lot, with the other two about the same.
-The rangefinder on Polaroid and Graphic calibrated to one lens.
-Graphic the cheapest, Polaroid (Razzle) and older Linhof can be the same.

To me, Graphics are a nice sweet spot [price, weight, durability, with some flexibility (lens, focal distance, small lift-tilt-shift)]. The Polaroid works well with Graphmatics and instant film. I've been using my Speed Graphic with a circa-1930 210mm f3.5 xenar barrel lens for portraits. And after using a friends Linhof V, I hope to own one someday. He has 3 lenses with cams, but I'd rather use the lighter Graphic hand-held, and the Linhof and its weight and movements on a tripod with the ground glass.
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Old 03-03-2012   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by menos View Post
I don't see the Graphic as a bad camera at all, I was just wondering, if the RF in the Linhof might be more practical in handheld use.
The Technika is a more refined camera in every way. But given that you have handheld use in mind, don't forget that a Technika with all the trimmings - camera, lens, grip, multifocus finder - weighs a lot more than a Crown Graphic. How long can you stroll around with 8 pounds of camera in your hand before you stop seeing interesting pictures to take and start obsessing about when you're going to be able to put the blasted thing down?

Been there, tried that... I ended up buying a Frank-Version-Two-certified Crown for those occasions when I want to mess with handheld 4x5. But YMMV.

Re Polaroid conversions, I had a Razzle 110B for a bit, with the original-issue 127mm Ysarex. I found the handling awkward, and the Ysarex did not cover adequately for my taste at the wider apertures needed for handheld use. Again, YMMV - some people love them.
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Old 03-05-2012   #10
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Thanks for the input!
I have made my first few hours of handheld shooting with the Graphic.
It was a great lesson and I found the first bunch of kinks and edges, I have to work on (starting with a proper grip).

I have had some first contact with handling Instant film in light rain, which was quite revealing.

How to store that fresh film in the field? Putting the print between blank sheets in a notebook works quite well, but the negatives are all ruined (the bond with the notebook pages).

Temperatures for developing are another question mark for now - I ended up, using 2-3 minutes in the 5-8C temp, but my exposures were all over the place (mostly underexposed, while I have no clue yet, if this is from wrong handling with the Fuji FP-3000b or wrong shutter speed setting).

The learning continues …
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Old 04-18-2012   #11
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Graphics are Chevy pickups, Super Technikas are Mercedes limos.

Cameras like the ST were designed to be the single camera a professional photographer needed to do everything. In fact one of their old slogans was "The Super Technika stops at nothing photographic short of cinematography." If you are interested the Technika IV had the best fit and finish.
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Old 04-22-2012   #12
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I have settled with the Crown Graphic for now and learned my lesson in wanting to shoot this camera handheld.

I rarely use it.

Main issue is not shooting the Graphic handheld or handling the camera, but indeed, that I am always a multi camera shooter.
i always have two or three bodies with a different lens and purpose with me, which is very easy with a Leica M, but handles almost impossible with a Graphic over your shoulder.
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Old 04-22-2012   #13
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Did anyone mention just how damned beautiful those Technikas are ... I have a Graphic and really love it but have never stopped lusting for a Technika!
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Old 04-22-2012   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by menos View Post
I have settled with the Crown Graphic for now and learned my lesson in wanting to shoot this camera handheld.

I rarely use it.

Main issue is not shooting the Graphic handheld or handling the camera, but indeed, that I am always a multi camera shooter.
i always have two or three bodies with a different lens and purpose with me, which is very easy with a Leica M, but handles almost impossible with a Graphic over your shoulder.
When you are using a real camera, you do not need to carry more than one. But if you really think you need a second camera, do what a friend of mine did back in the 1960's. He mounted a stereo camera to the top of his Crown Graphic 23. Stereo was the in thing for weddings back then.
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Old 04-22-2012   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by graywolf View Post
When you are using a real camera, you do not need to carry more than one. But if you really think you need a second camera, do what a friend of mine did back in the 1960's. He mounted a stereo camera to the top of his Crown Graphic 23. Stereo was the in thing for weddings back then.
No, not really Tom - for me, real men are not the ones with the heaviest gear ;-)

The 4x5 has been thought out, to be with me in exchange for a Hasselblad, that I had with me for portraits, while I shoot a wide angle and a 50 on two M bodies (I just found a nice deal on a 110/2, so the Hasselblad might as well be back in the bag).

The Leicas clearly are the main cameras.
I have to add, that I really don't like the look of the 127 f4.7 lens, that comes with the Crown. There are lenses in Leica M mount, that really fascinate me more from their looks.

I am haunted by the bigger film format though, which - with the right lens - can do really beautiful things.

I keep experimenting
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Old 04-23-2012   #16
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I was using a play on words. WeeGee wrote way back when that "Real photographers use a Speed Graphic".

Another quote, but I do not remember who said it, is "It has been said that the Linhof Super Technika is built like a Leica, but Leica just wishes that they were built like a Super Technika".

In the 1950's there was some truth to both those statements. I have never owned, but had lusted most of my life for, a Leica. I have owned Graphics, and a Super Technika & currently have a Crown Graphic. I have also owned a couple of Mamiya Universal Press cameras, the only cameras I have had that actually paid for themselves with earnings. You can probably tell from that that I really like Press type cameras.

At the moment I seem to have become the Noah (was Moses) of cameras, they come two by two. As I now have two 4x5 cameras, two working folding RF 6x6 cameras, Two working 35mm cameras, and two digital cameras. It occurs to me that I now need two working TLR's to complete the set.
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Old 04-23-2012   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by graywolf View Post
At the moment I seem to have become the Moses of cameras, they come two by two. As I now have two 4x5 cameras, two working folding RF 6x6 cameras, Two working 35mm cameras, and two digital cameras. It occurs to me that I now need two working TLR's to complete the set.
Tom, maybe you're thinking of Noah?
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Old 04-23-2012   #18
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Quote:
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Tom, maybe you're thinking of Noah?
I don't noah what yer yakking aboot.

Of course you are correct, no one ever accused me of being a biblical scholar. Also, I have the added problem of being old, however I do not lock my keys in the apartment once or twice a week like the kid next door (grin).
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Old 04-24-2012   #19
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I see Tom. Nice blog btw ;-)
I really admire people explaining things and showing pictures of it - interesting reads!
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Old 04-24-2012   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by graywolf View Post
I was using a play on words. WeeGee wrote way back when that "Real photographers use a Speed Graphic".

Another quote, but I do not remember who said it, is "It has been said that the Linhof Super Technika is built like a Leica, but Leica just wishes that they were built like a Super Technika".

In the 1950's there was some truth to both those statements. I have never owned, but had lusted most of my life for, a Leica. I have owned Graphics, and a Super Technika & currently have a Crown Graphic. I have also owned a couple of Mamiya Universal Press cameras, the only cameras I have had that actually paid for themselves with earnings. You can probably tell from that that I really like Press type cameras.

At the moment I seem to have become the Noah (was Moses) of cameras, they come two by two. As I now have two 4x5 cameras, two working folding RF 6x6 cameras, Two working 35mm cameras, and two digital cameras. It occurs to me that I now need two working TLR's to complete the set.
The way I pick a camera is that I first check if it is made in Germany, and then I make sure the name starts with an L. Works every time. I also have two of each, well, not counting the two or three that are laying around in parts.
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Old 04-25-2012   #21
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That kind of limits you a bit, doesn't it?
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Old 05-02-2012   #22
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I see Tom. Nice blog btw ;-)
I really admire people explaining things and showing pictures of it - interesting reads!
Thank you!
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Old 08-19-2012   #23
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I have both Crown Graphics (note the plural!) and I've had a couple of Linhof Technika V's.

Crown:
pro: lightweight, easily handheld down to 1/60th of a sec, easy to fix if you know what you're doing
con: top rangefinder cams are nonexistent, some claim to make them, haven't seen anything convincing there yet (yes, I know all about Fred Lustig in Reno). So, you're kinda stuck with limited lens choices, even with the sideRF.

Linhof:
pro: if you get a Tech IV or V you can get RF cams made, I've had great luck just buying cams for my lenses and having them work with my V. YMMV. Rangefinder is ok vs. Crown, neither is any good in low light.

con: too heavy for handheld. I found the Linhof great as a replacement for my Wista, but impossible for handheld work. The Crown excels in that area.

So, it depends on what you want to shoot.

As an aside, I shoot the Portra 400 4x5 film and it rocks at 1 or 2 stops underexposed. Just saying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by menos View Post
I just about exactly now make my first steps in 4x5 photography.

I bought a second hand Crown Graphic, and plan to use it as a handheld addition, while on the street (at the moment, I am shooting Leica M and adding the odd shot with a Hasselblad + 80mm).

So far, I have not enough training, but figuring out, shooting the 4x5 rangefinder and framing with the sportsfinder (I find the Graflex optical finder utter crap, to be honest) seems straight forward.
It is comparable enough to shooting with a Leica super wide angle and external finder.

There is one issue though - the Kalart side mounted RF on my Graphic gives a pretty small view of the scene, making composition quite hard (I prefer the workflow of framing - estimating parallax correction for the rangefinder - focussing and shooting with the rangefinder window for fast lenses).

How does the RF from the Linhof Master Technika compare to the early Kalart RF of the Crown Graphic?


Are there any specifc sheet film holders, I should prefer buying, to later be compatible with a Linhof as well (I really like that idea of using different cammed lenses)?
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Old 08-19-2012   #24
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Quote:
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I...Rangefinder is ok vs. Crown, neither is any good in low light.
...
Actually, when properly setup the Crown's RF can work very well in low light. The darker the better.

Proper setup involves having the proper projection bulb attachment for a side mounted Kalart along with the battery case from a Graflex flashgun and the proper cord. With the top mounted RFs the illuminator and batteries are in the finder. When properly setup and powered (push the red button on the side of the top mounted RF or turn the dial on the side mounted's illuminator) they project two Vs (images of the bulbs filament). Focusing is accomplished by making the 2 Vs merge into one. You can do this viewing through the sport finder.

I used a Crown back in High School. The RF was out of adjustment and the batteries had leaked in the RF. The annual staff sponsor wouldn't let me readjust the RF even though I have torn down two broken leaf shutters and replaired them and overhaulded and returned to service a smoke damaged Kodak RF35 previously. I cleaned the battery contacts to make the illuminator work and adjusted the RF everytime I took the camera out since I had to mis-adjust it before returning it lest the sponsor found out what I was doing. Once setup, I found the projection RF system quite usable for the various club group shots I usually got stuck with shooting for the annual.
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Old 08-19-2012   #25
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Nice story Dwig ;-)

Thanks for the comparison nonuniform - I have played with the Crown Graphic for a few weeks more and have left it home since some point.

The negatives, although wonderfully huge really needed a LOT of attention in preparation, to juice out that extra nicety over medium format.

I happen also to not really like the 127mm lens of the Crown - it just doesn't spark with me.
Aligning the RF is indeed easy enough, but in fast use, it nowhere near is as easy and fast, like a 35mm RF to use.

I fiddled a bit with Technikas in some shops and am very happy, I didn't spring for one.
The Graphic really is so much nicer in handheld use, if I now would get warm with the format.

It's a real pity, there is no Polaroid 55 stock available around here.
Once the good people @ New55 get up their business, I might give 4x5 another look.
As it is for me now, I don't see the quality difference, considering the gymnastics and cost, you go through with the 4x5, compared to just using the Hasselblad, which is worlds more compact and much easier to use.

I do love rangefinder focussing though and a good RF camera really could have an edge over the darn ground glass focussing with the Hasselblad.
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