Sunday, January 30, 2011

SK Grimes improves the Linhof Technikardan

A common complaint with the otherwise noteworthy Linhof Technikardan is the fact the the front and rear standards are “L” shaped and as such there can be a tendency for movement during long exposures or sagging when using heavy backs. As shown in the illustration below, the rear standard (as ingenious and well-engineered as it is) allows quite a bit of movement both forward/backward as well as up/down.

This of course is not a problem for most ordinary photographs where the exposure is measured in fractions of a second. However, this behavior is particularly troublesome when using a heavy scan back like the BetterLight which requires a rock-solid platform during its typical 3-7 minute exposures.

Rather than sell my beloved TK 45 for the likes of an Arca Swiss, I contacted S.K Grimes in Woonsocket RI to modify my camera so that it would be rock-solid, yet allow full control, and also be removable on those rare cases when I needed 100% movements.

Based on a design sketch I provided them, they worked diligently to improve my camera as shown in the photograph at left.

To test the mod, I took my camera with me on a trip to Ireland last year to see how it would behave when creating large-format, digital panoramas. It took some getting used to remembering to unscrew the RIGHT side of the rear standard, but after a few tries it became second nature to me. The mod performed flawlessly providing a very stable platform to shoot in the windy Irish weather.

The result is a camera that is as solid as ANY other field camera, yet offers complete movements and no downsides. To say I’m happy with the result is an understatement!

Shown at left is the camera with the support removed for those rare times when I require full movements. It takes nothing more than an allen wrench and about 1 minute to remove it.

All in all, a simple, elegant solution that I’ll bet the Linhof engineers wish they had thought of!

J Michael Sullivan

You can contact S.K Grimes at


Weihan said...

I have had a similar problem with the heavier backs causing instability on my TK. Are the drawings you prepared for SK Grimes available for purchase? Or would showing these photos to their technical experts suffice to enable them to make the same modifications on my TK?
This is truly an ingenious solution. Of course if Linhof had devised it, they'd have charged another US $20,000 for the changes :)

J Michael Sullivan said...

Adam at SK Grimes is a great guy to work with. Since they are a 100% CAD/CAM shop, I'm pretty sure they can do this for you. Note: you will need to ship them your TK for some machining. Here is a link to their posting of the mod:

Weihan said...

Thanks a million for these invaluable tips. This will save me a lot of money now that I can have my TK retrofitted rather than buying into a more expensive Arca system. (I, too, am very attached to the marvelous features of the TK!)