Fotodiox 4×5 to Canon Adapter: How Do You Like Them Apples?

The Fotodiox 4×5 to Canon EOS adapter plate arrived today from the USA. While the cardboard adapter that I built was fun, I did feel nervous strapping the $5000 Canon body to a piece of cardboard while constantly adjusting the framing. My first thoughts on the Fotodiox adapter? It is a solid piece of metal that does the job. The adapter is not a $2000 piece of German engineering with solid-locking mechanisms to slide the plate into perfect alignment, but for $200 it is an extremely useful plate that will permit me to improve my view camera techniques while opening up a variety of old-school view camera lenses that may or may not prove useful in the commercial aspect of my work. The improvement over my cardboard adapter is obvious, and though the plate does not grip lock tightly like my Linhof focusing screen does, it is secure and better than I expected. Should any metal part fail in time, the design feels like it could be taped together and last another decade in serious use. It will last longer than my Canon, I expect.

The process of shooting with the adapter on the Canon to my my Linhof camera is interesting, if nothing else. The challenge in my studio without the lights is that it is so dark in here that focusing with the long pulls of a view camera in low light is a nightmare. Tonight, I decided to take a few captures of a bowl of fresh apples in a bowl to see how the new adapter plate faired. With the Schneider-Kreuznach 210mm lens at f.16, the rendition of the apples feels nice. No, the rendition is not razor sharp nor is it without my continued colour balance issues [still have not shot a simple white card to clear that up], but the smoothness of the out of focus areas resonates on an emotional level. For a magazine spread that is emotional and meant to convey a positive initial reaction, I am confident that this rig could hold its own in delivering a professional product. For the colour on these captures of the apples I have taken down the saturation slightly with the aim of finding a nice balance from the lens’ natural super-saturation and the flatness of what I get from my Hasselblad lenses.

In a world focused on being tack sharp and hyper real, I assert that to stand out from the competition of your Uncle Ron and Aunt Lucy [shooting with the latest 5DmkIX or Nikon 7400] alternative camera and lens choices are one path towards creating a unique signature photograph. Only a lunatic would think that this could be used to shoot a wedding or concert, but for a portrait session or product capture, the 4×5 with Canon adapter seems like one option. Will it replace the latest Schneider TS with Canon mount…not in a million years, as that lens uses the finest craftsmanship and technologies for a professional market with a $4500 price tag. I just do not think that I can equal the corrective qualities that the precise TS lens offers a modern user, but then again, the people who buy that lens are serious professionals who have a real need for that type of precision. I am not there yet, and few people are.

The adapter just slides into the Graflok back plate and pressure locks down. The plate can adjust for three positions which I can only imagine using to stitch an image I want to shoot as a three part panorama. A vertical shot would just look weird. Again, precision is out the window on a 1960s West German view camera with a 1990s 4×5 lens and a tiny CMOS sensor; the exact focus is hard to pull properly and may even be impossible. Where I think this rig will excel is with portraiture in studio lights; specifically low key images.I should also mention that I would not want to use a digital back on my Linhof camera; these 4×5 lenses are pushing their resolving power with the Canon sensor. One would need an expensive HR digital lens and a current 2×3 view camera body to get the use out of a digital back at 50+megapixels. Again, that is not my aim with this experimental rig: I want to explore bending light and focus in a hipster way to reveal a few new tricks that I can master with time. I just found out that Graeme from Base Camp X is coming into the studio on Wednesday night for a series of portraits and product shots, so I may get a chance to test the camera then.

 People get ready…our world feels like a title-a-whirl these days. I am always amazed at how mean-spirited, self-centred and combative the people I meet on a daily basis are. Perhaps it is part of big city life, or maybe I bring out the very best in others, but I cannot get over how we have lost the big picture of what makes a great human being. As I watch my workshop on great books from  The Great Courses, I see more an more how critical ideals like courage, wisdom, benevolence and duty to human contentedness. Yet, how many people do you know really epitomize those values. Professor Rufus Fear quips that Socrates cared little for the body and saw it as a prison for our souls, whereas we spend hours of our week trying to care for the thing he despised – how insane it seems in contrast. Oh well…let the others fall into the blind subservience to lesser values; try to focus on what makes you a valued person to have lived. Might not become famous, rich, powerful or beautiful, but what do those things mean at our lives’ ends if we have not grown spiritually and intellectually into wiser individuals?


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