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Thread: Horseman SWD & Rodenstock Digital experiences

  1. #1

    Horseman SWD & Rodenstock Digital experiences

    I just picked up a SWD and a Rodenstock 55mm - f4.5 APO Sironar Digital lens. I debated about the lens, but the more I read, I felt like I was hedging my way to a digital back, when I can afford a P45 someday, and Kodak decides finally they aren't interested in distributing the lovely Kodak Portra 160 for 120. I am renting Phase One backs for now, and hoping to limp along with film, when I an shooting for my own personal portfolio, and not for a client. (I shoot shipyards and marina's)

    Anyways, the image circle for the 55mm Sironar Digital says its 125mm, so it should cover a 612 film back, but everything I have read, states that there is fall off on the edges. Any recommendations on backs that will take advantage of a 5" image circle ?

    Anyone have any experience with any of what I am describing ? One thing that I hear over and over, medium format glass tends to out resolve LF lenses. I get that the Mamiya 7, in the film world, is pretty much tops in that regard.

    I went with the Rodenstock Digital, because somewhere I read that Rodenstock improved their digital lenses to deal with that digital backs can accommodate higher resolution than film. Sounds promising. I might be able to get tack sharp images on a film back with a lens that is really meant for digital. And when I find the right back, maybe take the plunge - or have I gone and made an expensive experiment into an obscure setup.

    I rarely read any personal experiences with the Rodenstock Digital lenses, or much about the Horseman SWD. Sounds pretty out there, whether the medium is film or digital. Would love to here if anyone has anything to pass along, focusing tips, filters, anything really, maybe something reassuring with my recent endeavor. I do like wides, and I have been patiently looking to get into 6x12, so that I can shoot a little more quickly than the setup time for a view camera ( I have used a Linhof M679 on occasion, but generally use a 5D MKII )

    Diving into the deep end of panoramic , albeit probably doing it all wrong.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    CPH / NYC
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    Re: Horseman SWD & Rodenstock Digital experiences

    I like your style

    More or less because these are the same steps I took when stumbling around that transition from Film to Digital with Medium Format. I love a SLR for the most part but you can't beat a tech camera when it gets down the brass tacks. The Horseman SW612 was my favorite for shooting Panorama when I used film, the size and quality did everything I needed.
    I've tried other affordable tech solutions like various Cambo systems but for my money the Horseman has all I need, a good range of lenses and an affordable price tag. Now I use the SW-D PROII primarily with a Rodenstock 35mm but have used the 55mm with pleasing results. The image circle is an issue on the 35mm (105mm circle) when I'm stitching panoramas but using Phase Backs and LCC's gets a clean image.

    Here's a recent one using the SW-D PRO II, 35mm Rodenstock and a P65+;

    and at 100%;

  3. #3
    Super Duper
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    Shashin's Avatar
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    May 2011
    Florida, USA
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    Re: Horseman SWD & Rodenstock Digital experiences

    I am confused. I have been the owner of a horseman SW-612. The SWD is a digital camera that can only take digital backs, not film backs. The SWD is not a panoramic camera. In order for you to shoot 6x12, you need the SW-612 or SW-612 Pro.

    Are you talking about a 55mm Sironar or 55mm Grandagon? I believe Horseman uses the Grandagon. That was the lens I used with my SW612. There was not problem in coverage on 6x12, unless Rodenstock changed it when they put the word "digital" on the barrel. A center filter is important and Schnieder makes an excellent one that can be used with the Grandagon.

  4. #4
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    Oct 2010
    Zug/Zurich (Switzerland), Dubai, Sydney
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    Re: Horseman SWD & Rodenstock Digital experiences

    The Apo Sironar Digital lenses are early-era digital lenses and are essentially rebadged film lenses. They are superb with digi backs from the 9micron pixel size era (P25 etc) but are not up to the demands of the smaller pixel backs of today.
    I still have my 35mm Apo Sironar Digital on a Horseman SW-DII, which served me very well with my P25. However, it cannot compete with my IQ180 (5.2 micron) and current generation Rodenstock 35HR or Schneider 35XL on the Alpa STC that I now run.
    The newer lenses have smaller image circles, but much higher resolution and to my eye, a bit more contrast. This is not to say the images shot on the IQ180 with the Apo Sironar are awful, they just lack the staggering "zing" of the newer glass.
    I shot with the Horseman SW-D and then the SW-DII for 7 years, so I know the platform well. It's a great little camera but get the modern glass if you want to use P45 and onwards gen backs. Sadly, Horseman have now discontinued these cameras but still have significant stocks of lenses, including the newer designs.
    You've got a good camera. Put some good glass in front of it and it will serve you well for many, many years of reliable, high-quality image making.
    Best of luck.

    "In the end, it's all about the pictures"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Re: Horseman SWD & Rodenstock Digital experiences

    i now understand what you mean, siebel. looking forward to the good news from you
    My images on 500px :
    H4D-40 | Xpan | Leica M9P | Leica M Monochrom | X100 | Hasselblad 500CM | 501CM | 503CXi

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