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Thread: Alpa 6x6

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    Alpa 6x6

    I've been toying with the idea of shooting 6x6 with my Alpa for a long time and I think I'm finally ready to start pursuing it earnestly.

    This will mean selecting a new (to me) lens as nothing I have now will cover the format. Something in the slightly wide range of focal length probably. I'm leaning towards the Rodie HR 40 + the tilt adapter for use with landscapes. The SK 45 APO-Helvetar and 58 SA look promising but no tilt(?) Not a deal breaker but I think I'd rather have the option than not if everything else is 'equal.'

    Most of the discussions around using film backs with Alpa stop several years ago. Does anyone have some new thoughts on their favorite glass options from the last 5 years or so for this kind of setup?

    Of course just about everything in copal is discontinued on the Alpa website. So, availability of a chosen lens may be a challenge ...



    Best Regards,
    Tyler

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    Senior Member darr's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    Hi Tyler,

    6x6 Image Circle (IC) = 58mm

    I have used various Hasselblad 6x6 film magazines (including the non-automatic "C" backs) with my digital back adapter plate with no problems. I purchased two "C" backs in minty condition and sent them off to David Odess for rebuilding. This was before the Hasselblad craziness started, so finding clean ones now may be harder. I do shoot a 501CM and have newer film magazines, but shooting with ALPA is always a slow process albeit an enjoyable one for me, so I sprung for older, and classic magazines for rebuilding.

    I purchased most of my lenses over five years ago when ALPA was still selling new Schneiders. I have the ALPA SK lenses: Helvetar 5.6/28 (IC 90mm), 5.6/35 Digitar XL (IC 90mm), 5.6/47 Digitar XL (IC 113mm), 5.6/72 Digitar L (IC 90mm) and 5.6/120 Digitar M (IC 110mm). I usually shoot them digitally with a CFV-50c or P45 digital back. I have used the 47, 72 and 120 with b&w film with no notable problems. The 28 and 35 give excellent FoVs, but I do not recall shooting purposely with film with them, as I use my Mamiya 6x6 for walk around film shooting more, and I do not shoot enough landscapes to call myself a landscape photographer. I do remember running a film test on the 28 shortly after I bought it (my most expensive lens), but nothing jumps out at me to say I found any problems.

    When shooting my ALPAs with Hasselblad gear, it needs to go on a tripod for accurate focusing. I use the Hasselblad 41050 Acutematte focusing screen attachment from my Flexbody with a Hasselblad Reflex Viewfinder (RMFX 72530). I have no problems focusing via the screen, but I will stop down to f/16 (its film) if I think I need to cross my fingers. I just put the 28 and 35 lens on my TC to see if it was hard to focus, and I definitely need to find a vertical to focus the half circles on. Opened at 5.6, these wide lenses are not so dark that I cannot see to focus inside my studio, and I do not notice any vignetting with them either, but only shooting on film will tell.

    Here is a link to ALPA's Lenses PDF technical booklet on most their lenses if you do not already have one.

    I find using Hasselblad gear with my ALPAs seamless with the use of the digital back adapter. Hasselblad has always designed a system that is adaptable as long as it fits onto their 6x6 cameras. You will need a viewfinder and/or focusing screen unless you will be switching on and off your digital back for focusing. Using the Hasselblad film magazines, focus screen and viewfinder works perfect with my setup. I have had Mamiya and Horseman film magazines in the past for Mamiya and for use with my 4x5 cameras. Those film magazines were okay, but they did not have the build quality of the Hasselblads. I also used a few Linhofs 6x7/6x9 old tan film magazines with my Linhof Baby 6x9 color. The Linhofs are built like a tank, but if I was starting over with 6x6 film and ALPA, I would definitely take the Hasselblad route for the various reasons outlined above.

    I hope I have been helpful in some way!

    Kind regards,
    Darr
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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    Quote Originally Posted by darr View Post

    6x6 Image Circle (IC) = 58mm
    Darr,

    ~ I was under the impression that the required IC for 6x6 was at least 80mm? If only 58mm that would certainly change things for me.

    ~ The SK 28 Helvetar looks amazing! You've added to my deliberation!

    ~ Thanks for all the additional insight. I was initially thinking about the Alpa/Linhof 6x6 film holder, but the Hasselblad could be a suitable choice too.

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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    Quote Originally Posted by tylerallenmohr View Post
    Darr,

    ~ I was under the impression that the required IC for 6x6 was at least 80mm? If only 58mm that would certainly change things for me.

    ~ The SK 28 Helvetar looks amazing! You've added to my deliberation!

    ~ Thanks for all the additional insight. I was initially thinking about the Alpa/Linhof 6x6 film holder, but the Hasselblad could be a suitable choice too.

    Tyler you are very welcome.

    You are right in that 80mm is closer to the total image circle by formula definition: √(h + w) for 6cm x 6cm film, but when using a circle like a lens to scoop out needed area, we do not use all the area. I do not remember where I learned this from, but I have always used 58mm as a guide, and this is for "no movements". If you do not already have the formula for calculating image circle when using lens movements, here it is:

    The minimum image circle diameter D (in mm) is given by: D = 2 s + √(h + w)
    Maximum shift distance s (in mm); Height h (in mm); Width w (in mm)

    The SK 28 Helvetar is a very cool lens, and I had to wait a few years before I could find one on the used market.
    I was finally able to acquire mine from well known photographer, Murray Fredericks in Australia.

    One more thing, I was in need of sleep when I posted yesterday (returned from a three day road trip), and I forgot to say that if you are going with a Hasselblad film magazine, you need to go for the "C" type because the film advance winder on the "A" backs will not work on any camera but a Hasselblad. With the "C" types, you look through the magazine's peephole as you slowly wind. You watch for the arrows, dots or numbers printed on the film's backing paper. It is not hard and I think the Hasselblad "C" backs may be popular with hybrid shooters like us because they work where other film backs do not, unless it is the Linhof magazine made for ALPA ($$$).

    Kind regards,
    Darr



    PS: Here is a picture of a "C" Hasselblad back:

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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    The minimum image circle needed to cover a 56x56mm frame of film, without any movements, is indeed the square root of 56 squared plus 56 squared, so 79.2mm, call it 80mm. If you want movements, you need more. If you're using a wide-angle design to just cover the format, you may need a center filter as well, depending on what kind of film you're using, how much tolerance you have for illumination falloff, and whether/how you're printing (darkroom vs scan+inkjet).

    Darr, can you explain what you mean by "when using a circle like a lens to scoop out needed area, we do not use all the area"?

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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    Tyler -- another option, which Darr briefly / tangentially alluded to, is to get the HO adapter for the Alpa and use Horseman 6x7 film backs. They're easily found, quite cheap, in good condition on eBay. You can crop your 6x6 final image out of their 6x7 frames, or just keep the final 6x7 images as is. True, they don't have the build quality of the Hasselblad backs, but they hold the film very flat and serve their purpose just as well as other backs.

    For focusing, I've used the Alpa ground glass and the Alpa HPF rings.

    It's been a while since I shot the Alpa with film, but when I did, I used the Rodenstock 55mm f/4.5 App-Sironar Digital lens. It was roughly equivalent to a 28mm (in 35mm terms) on the 6x7 back, which was just about perfect for my purposes. Stopped down to f/11, it was nicely sharp to the corners. The Schneider 47mm and 60mm XL are both excellent as well, with large image circles.

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    Senior Member darr's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    The minimum image circle needed to cover a 56x56mm frame of film, without any movements, is indeed the square root of 56 squared plus 56 squared, so 79.2mm, call it 80mm. If you want movements, you need more. If you're using a wide-angle design to just cover the format, you may need a center filter as well, depending on what kind of film you're using, how much tolerance you have for illumination falloff, and whether/how you're printing (darkroom vs scan+inkjet).

    Darr, can you explain what you mean by "when using a circle like a lens to scoop out needed area, we do not use all the area"?
    Hi Oren,
    By placing a circle inside a square (and not moving it) the area in the corners of the square are not being used. Now maybe I have never had a lens that could prove the 58mm area wrong, but it has worked for me.

    Darr

    --

    EDIT:
    I dug a little more into the math and found that the area of a circle inside a square is always 78.5% of what the square's area is.
    78.5% of 79.2 = 62.172, and the diagonal of a circle is its diameter, so the diagonal is 56mm for a circle on 6x6 film. Averaging these two numbers we get = 59.

    In The Hasselblad Manual 7th edition page 15, it says "the exact image size is 54 x 54 mm, with 12 images on one roll of 120 film ..."
    (62.172 + 54) / 2 = 58. This might be the math behind the IC of 58mm for shooting 6x6 film frames.

    Where did I hear this from? Someone told me this long ago when shooting Hasselblads with film was what you got paid to do. I went to school with a 4x5 camera, but I shot 6x6 to pay my tuition and supplies. My school was down the road from KEH Camera at a time when you could walk in off the street and go through their bins of goodies without anyone bugging you. I knew a bunch of people there, a lot of technical guys and a lot of young moonlighting photographers, so maybe I heard it from someone there. At school it was all about the 4x5, but I did have one instructor that shot Hasselblads for portraits, so he could have said it to me. I dunno, but it always stayed in my head.
    Last edited by darr; 15th July 2019 at 23:34.
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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    Quote Originally Posted by darr View Post
    My school was down the road from KEH Camera at a time when you could walk in off the street and go through their bins of goodies without anyone bugging you.
    Darr, are you a fellow Bobcat??
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    Quote Originally Posted by darr View Post
    I dug a little more into the math and found that the area of a circle inside a square is always 78.5% of what the square's area is.
    78.5% of 79.2 = 62.172, and the diagonal of a circle is its diameter, so the diagonal is 56mm for a circle on 6x6 film. Averaging these two numbers we get = 59.

    In The Hasselblad Manual 7th edition page 15, it says "the exact image size is 54 x 54 mm, with 12 images on one roll of 120 film ..."
    (62.172 + 54) / 2 = 58. This might be the math behind the IC of 58mm for shooting 6x6 film frames.
    By most traditional definitions, the entirety of the image frame needs to be covered by the lens image circle. Therefore (as noted by others above), the IC for 6x6 frames is, like any other format, the diagonal of the frame. Anywhere from 54x54 to 56x56 are reasonable ways of representing that frame (depends on which film back, which generation, and where along the not-a-completely-hard-line edge of the frame you consider the image to start.

    That means only a lens with very roughly 80mm image circle or larger will fully cover 6x6.

    Of course not every lens maker uses the same definition for their image circle size. Rodenstock, for example, tends to be very conservative and the illuminate (and in many cases, still reasonably sharp) area of the image projected is often larger than the number in their marketing material. In contrast Schneider tended to be very "optimistic" and in many cases the area that was sharp was smaller than the number in their marketing materials. Finally, "cover" is relative. There is nothing written on tablets from the sky that says you cannot use a lens that doesn't fully illuminate the rectangle (in this case a square rectangle) of your frame. Arguably the Holga lens didn't really cover the Holga format but that didn't stop people from creatively expressing themselves using that lens/camera combo.

    So, basically, you have to put the lens on and see if you like the results. But if the image circle is notably smaller than 80mm, expect that the corners will be dark, black, or soft.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
    Dealer for: Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Eizo, Profoto
    Office: 877.367.8537. Cell: 740.707.2183

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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    Quote Originally Posted by darr View Post
    My school was down the road from KEH Camera at a time when you could walk in off the street and go through their bins of goodies without anyone bugging you.
    I live in Smyrna, just down the street from their current place.

    Thanks for sharing info regarding your Alpa film setup BTW. I've been toying with the idea of getting a film back for mine but don't know if i'll ever get around to it.
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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    What about introducing tilt to my landscapes. Opting for this functionality would narrow the scope of potential lens choices for the Alpa system. Maybe that's a good thing, as I seem to be paralyzed by the abundance of choice at the moment.


    I haven't used movements of any kind before. Would the +/-5 available with the Alpa adapter be sufficient in most situations? Obviously a subjective question...but one worth figuring out.

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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    Quote Originally Posted by tylerallenmohr View Post
    What about introducing tilt to my landscapes. Opting for this functionality would narrow the scope of potential lens choices for the Alpa system. Maybe that's a good thing, as I seem to be paralyzed by the abundance of choice at the moment.

    I haven't used movements of any kind before. Would the +/-5 available with the Alpa adapter be sufficient in most situations? Obviously a subjective question...but one worth figuring out.
    How do you intend to focus the tilted lens?

    Speaking as someone with experience shooting roll film on small technical cameras (Horseman VH/VH-R), I will say that even with a loupe, trying to judge on a small ground glass the precise effect of tilts of just a few degrees is something of a fool's errand, especially with short focal lengths / small image magnifications. Remember that with film you don't have the benefit of costless trial and error with immediate feedback.
    Last edited by Oren Grad; 16th July 2019 at 11:40.
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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    Quote Originally Posted by tylerallenmohr View Post
    Would the +/-5 available with the Alpa adapter be sufficient in most situations? Obviously a subjective question...but one worth figuring out.
    I think it is, yes. Unless you are doing close-up photography and want a very narrow DoF that slices through the image at an angle like watches. Thing is, as you increase tilt the DoF wedge gets smaller. Above 5 degrees the DoF is pretty narrow, especially with longer lenses. There have been a few times where I wish I had more than 5 degrees, but those were table-top product situations, and I could get away with a narrow DoF as long as it was in just the right spot at just the right angle.

    Dave
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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    I have an Arca tech cam set up, not Alpa, but I have been loving the results from shooting 6x8 (using a Mamiya RB back... there is an Alpa plate for adapting RB backs but I do not believe there is a 6x6 back available... just 6x4.5, 6x7, and 6x8).

    I am using the Schneider APO Digitar 43 XL and 60 XL lenses which have massive image circles (110mm and 120mm respectively I believe) which covers 6x8 handily and are relatively compact. The lenses themselves are discontinued unfortunately, although any used ones you find would likely be in Copal shutters. They fell out of favour for a while due to colour cast issues on digital sensors, however they are becoming rare now.

    I don't use tilt with them since I don't have a groundless for my system and it is too much of a wildcard. If you are better at math and geometry than I am this can be calculated/predicted (apparently, anyway... I'll see if I can dig up the discussion regarding this) but it is beyond my grasp! If I need tilt I either shoot 4x5 or digital with the tech cam...

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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    Quote Originally Posted by dchew View Post
    I think it is, yes. Unless you are doing close-up photography and want a very narrow DoF that slices through the image at an angle like watches. Thing is, as you increase tilt the DoF wedge gets smaller. Above 5 degrees the DoF is pretty narrow, especially with longer lenses. There have been a few times where I wish I had more than 5 degrees, but those were table-top product situations, and I could get away with a narrow DoF as long as it was in just the right spot at just the right angle.

    Dave

    LV on my IQ250 might be easier than on GG with a loupe, but that starts to defeat the purpose and necessitates the extra space/weight in my bag while out shooting. I'd rather be 100% analogue.

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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    Quote Originally Posted by med View Post
    I am using the Schneider APO Digitar 43 XL and 60 XL lenses which have massive image circles (110mm and 120mm respectively I believe) which covers 6x8 handily and are relatively compact. The lenses themselves are discontinued unfortunately, although any used ones you find would likely be in Copal shutters. They fell out of favour for a while due to colour cast issues on digital sensors, however they are becoming rare now.
    Yes. Might take me some time to collect a desirable back, ground glass, and lens with copal as these items have all been discontinued to a large extent by Alpa. I'm kicking myself recalling the missed opportunities over the last year or 2. Oh well, patience is a virtue. Especially when talking about shooting film with a tech cam!

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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    Quote Originally Posted by tylerallenmohr View Post
    Yes. Might take me some time to collect a desirable back, ground glass, and lens with copal as these items have all been discontinued to a large extent by Alpa. I'm kicking myself recalling the missed opportunities over the last year or 2. Oh well, patience is a virtue. Especially when talking about shooting film with a tech cam!
    If you post some WTB ads and keep an eye out Im sure you can find what youre looking for. Lots of Alpa owners here and on LuLa!

    If 6x6 is your goal Im sure you can find some old style manual Hassy backs without much fuss. If youre open to 6x7 or 6x8 the Mamiya backs Ive used cost <$100 as nobody seems to want Mamiya RB/RZ stuff these days. Not sure about the ground glass options but if you trust your focus markings and have a good viewfinder, you may find that you do not need a GG, like I have.

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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    I have an Alpa GG that hasn't been used in years. PM me if you are interested.

    Dave
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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    What med said. I used a Hasselblad “c” back on an Arca-Swiss RM3-di (you need the “V” adapter plate). Worked fine. Back in the day I had a Horseman 6 x 7 and their film back was easier to use than the “c” back.
    I think for a tech cam, the new CFV-50cII will be a solid choice. I had version I, which was ok, but was lacking a really good LCD for live view. BTW, it worked much better on an Alpa than the Arca - the Arca adjustment is so fine it was difficult to see where you needed to be, the Alpa with it’s less fine adjustment ring could be made to pop adjustment in or out easily. Sounds screwy, I know, but those who used both know exactly what I mean.

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    Senior Member darr's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    Darr, are you a fellow Bobcat??
    The Atlanta commercial photography school I went to did not have a mascot at the time.
    The school was on Bennett Street, The Portfolio Center. I studied under Gemma Gatti. Today it is part of the Miami Ad School.

    But, I am a Panther from Georgia State and a Seminole from Florida State (Educator).
    I attended the School of Visual Arts, NYC for commercial art before Portfolio Center and it is their sweatshirts and coffee mugs I proudly use. Their mascot is ... a flower!
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    Senior Member darr's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    By most traditional definitions, the entirety of the image frame needs to be covered by the lens image circle. Therefore (as noted by others above), the IC for 6x6 frames is, like any other format, the diagonal of the frame. Anywhere from 54x54 to 56x56 are reasonable ways of representing that frame (depends on which film back, which generation, and where along the not-a-completely-hard-line edge of the frame you consider the image to start.

    That means only a lens with very roughly 80mm image circle or larger will fully cover 6x6.

    Of course not every lens maker uses the same definition for their image circle size. Rodenstock, for example, tends to be very conservative and the illuminate (and in many cases, still reasonably sharp) area of the image projected is often larger than the number in their marketing material. In contrast Schneider tended to be very "optimistic" and in many cases the area that was sharp was smaller than the number in their marketing materials. Finally, "cover" is relative. There is nothing written on tablets from the sky that says you cannot use a lens that doesn't fully illuminate the rectangle (in this case a square rectangle) of your frame. Arguably the Holga lens didn't really cover the Holga format but that didn't stop people from creatively expressing themselves using that lens/camera combo.

    So, basically, you have to put the lens on and see if you like the results. But if the image circle is notably smaller than 80mm, expect that the corners will be dark, black, or soft.
    I understand Doug, and I agree with the math and the reasoning behind it.

    Sometimes though, a pro photographer needs to find a practical solution that will save money, time and get the job done. As an example, back in the film days many portrait photographers wanted the corners of their portraits burned in. Not only was this an elegant touch, but it helped to make your work rise above a non pro. Manufacturers were happy to assist, marketing various types of vignette systems to hang off lenses to create burned-in corners. Why do this someone may ask? Because the only way a pro could make money was to be behind the camera and not in the darkroom burning-in corners. We were taping our negatives to aperture cards and sending them off to a pro lab that made inexpensive machine prints, so your corners had to be burned-in on the negative.

    I will bet there was a few crazy photographers that went looking for a solution that did not involve hanging more junk off an already heavy camera setup.
    Nerdy artists tend to become photographers, just say'in.

    Kind regards,
    Darr
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    Senior Member darr's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    Quote Originally Posted by tcdeveau View Post
    I live in Smyrna, just down the street from their current place.

    Thanks for sharing info regarding your Alpa film setup BTW. I've been toying with the idea of getting a film back for mine but don't know if i'll ever get around to it.
    I remember when they moved to their Atlanta Road location. I was living in Cobb, and then moved to Florida shortly thereafter.
    My son was born and raised in Cobb. He is now thirty and living in Seattle, but still calls Atlanta home.

    Glad you enjoy reading about my Alpa and film experience. Alpa + Hasselblad IMO is the best film and digital solution out there, but then I am a fangirl of both!!

    Kind regards,
    Darr
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    Senior Member darr's Avatar
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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    Quote Originally Posted by tylerallenmohr View Post
    What about introducing tilt to my landscapes. Opting for this functionality would narrow the scope of potential lens choices for the Alpa system. Maybe that's a good thing, as I seem to be paralyzed by the abundance of choice at the moment.


    I haven't used movements of any kind before. Would the +/-5 available with the Alpa adapter be sufficient in most situations? Obviously a subjective question...but one worth figuring out.
    If you are going with 6x6 framing, it may be difficult to see the tilt response.
    If you can try it first on the g-glass of a view camera, masking out a 6x6 frame and use the widest lens you have, I would definitely do that before buying a tilt adapter.

    --

    Another thing to think about ...

    Because focus planes are critical for sharp focus, whatever focus aid you will be using (viewfinder, digital back LV, etc.), I would keep the same system (Mamiya, Hasselblad, etc.) for film.
    For example, I have a Mamiya plate for my P45 and a Hasselblad V plate for my CFV-50c. I would not use a viewfinder with my Mamiya plate to focus and then remove it and place my Hasselblad V plate on and use film. There is a chance the two planes of focus may be off a little. Just a thought.

    Kind regards,
    Darr
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    Re: Alpa 6x6

    Sounds like tilt would be more trouble than it's worth in my case after all. No worries, there is plenty of challenge, fun, and image quality available in a MF system without movements for me.

    I've found a groundglass and loupe (thanks Dave). No turning back now Surely a suitable Digitar and film back will follow soon. Fun times.
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