The Linhof Technikardan 45S is a flexible yet relatively light weight view camera which accepts standard 4"x5" film holders. I'm using the camera with a Betterlight 6000 digital scanning back instead of using film (in fact, I have yet to shoot any film with the camera).

The camera provides adjustments for tilt, swing, and horizontal and vertical shift on both the front and back standards (lens holder and film holder). This allows considerable flexibility for controlling perspective and depth of field. In my limited experience with the camera, I've found that it provides more than enough movement to leverage the full image area of the lenses I have.

Each adjustment has a lever lock. To move an adjustment, the lever is moved to the release position and the standard is shifted or rotated. There are no geared controls for any adjustments except for fine focus.

The monorail extends .to 19" allowing longer lenses to be used, yet the camera folds up very compactly. I was able to fit the camera, three lenses, the optional bag bellows, a lens shade, and the Betterlight digital back (including the laptop computer, scanning back, camera controller, and battery) all in a Lowepro backpack that can be carried onto a plane.

The camera comes with a pleated bellows that works well for longer lenses but restricts movement with 110mm and shorter lenses. The optional bag bellows takes about 15 seconds to install, so it's not a real problem to switch back and forth between them.

So how well does the camera work? So far, I'd give it reasonably high marks, but I do have a few gripes. Keep in mind that I've only used this camera for a short while - probably less than 30 hours so far.

A few of the levers used to release the camera movements (particularly the ones which lock the vertical shift) are very stiff and hard to work from behind the camera. I suspect they will loosen up with use.

There is no standard lens shade that can be lifted out of the way for adjusting the lens. I ended up using a bellows shade from LEE Filters which screws onto each lens (using an appropriate attachment). Since I have to use an IR filter with the digital back (which slips into the lens shade), this isn't terrible, but I'd prefer to find a shade that holds a filter that can be tilted out of the way for focusing.

When using my 58mm lens, I get strong vignetting on the ground glass making it difficult to compose and check focus in the corners. The images come our OK, so this is more a problem with the ground glass than the lens.

The camera is not quite as sturdy as I'd like for the digital back. The digital back is a lot heavier than a film holder and the exposure time is a lot longer than with film, so camera sturdiness is critical for getting sharp images. The Technikardan may be the best compromise for field work, but I think a sturdier camera might work a little better.

Overall, I'm reasonably happy with the camera and the quality of the images it produces. These are three of the first few photos I've taken. Click on them for a larger view.