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FAQ: HORSEMAN SW612, SW612 Professional and SW6x9 Professional
Features of Horseman SW
Q1: What are the advantages of the Horseman SW cameras?
A: The Horseman SW612, SW612 Professional and SW6x9 Professional are the world's first handheld Ultra Wide-Angle medium format cameras. They are the ideal instruments for Architectural, Interior Design and Scenic photography.
Q2: How ultra wide is the wide-angle of view of the Horseman SW612?
A: The Horseman SW612 and SW612 Professional have a maximum horizontal angle of view of 115 degrees.
6x12cm Width 115° 11.5mm
It is remarkable to realize just how super-wide this actually is...and is graphically illustrated in the 35mm comparison. Please refer to the "Angle of View/Equivalent Focal length to 35mm format" chart in the SW612 and SW612 Professional page.
Q3: Why are the Horseman SW cameras easy to handhold?
A: Compared to the conventional 4x5 View Cameras, The Horseman SW cameras are as small and light as a fully rigged motorized 35mm SLR camera body. It allows a photographer to use a more compact tripod. With the SW Neck Strap, you can operate the SW cameras easily as a hand-held camera.
When taking pictures for interior design, the SW cameras can operate from the most extreme vantage point. The same position might not be possible with a 4x5 View or Technical Camera at the same location, due to the size restriction from monorail.
Q4: What are the specific features of the SW612 and the SW612 Professional?
A: Interchangeable Roll Film Holders
The SW612 and the SW612 Professional cameras offer you a choice of 6x12cm, 6x9cm and 6x7cm format (#120) film backs. By changing backs, it is possible to shoot the same subject with different type of films.
Roll Film Holders
Interchangeable Lens Units
The SW612 and the SW612 Professional cameras give you a selection of six lens units including 35mm, 45mm, 55mm, 65mm, 90mm, and 135mm. There are also available Super-Angulon XL lenses upon request. As with the use of every other interchangeable lens camera system, professional photographers usually like to have 2 to 3 lens units for their work.
Lens Units
Shift Movements
In addition to the features above, the SW612 Professional provides vertical and lateral shift movements that allow vertical and/or horizontal perspective correction simultaneously. This gives photographers the possibility of greatly expanding their photographic capability in wide-angle photography.
Q5: Then, what is the difference between the SW612 Professional and SW6x9 Professional?
A: While the SW612 Professional (and the SW612) takes the SW Roll Film Holders (for #120 roll film) designed specially for SW612 series, the SW6x9 Professional takes the Horseman Roll Film Holders (for both #120 and #220) that are compatible with Horseman 6x9 Technical cameras such as Horseman VH.
Q6: Which items are needed to make the SW612 Professional work?
A: There are the SW612 Professional Kits that consist of Camera Body, Lens Unit, Roll Film Holder, and View Finder with a standard mask and a pre-shifted mask set. For starter, this kit is recommended.
Items for SW612
Then, you can add other lens units or accessories when needed. Please refer to the "System Components" chart in the SW612 and Sw612 Professional page.
Q7: Then, does the SW6x9 Professional Kit consist of the same items?
A: In case of SW6x9 Professional, "Roll Film Holder (#120/#220)" is an optional accessory and not included in the kit.
Q8: Since the Horseman SW cameras are not SLRs, how can accurate focusing be achieved?
A: Ground Glass Focusing
Ground Glass Focusing
The SW Ground Glass Back can be easily attached to the camera body in lieu of the back. It is recommended for critical focusing and framing; and with it, the use of a tripod is suggested.
Scene Framing through the viewfinder
The viewfinder is a very important component when taking pictures without using focusing screen. The specially designed SW Viewfinder is of a five-element construction, and provides a very bright and clear view. It also adjusts for dioptric eyesight correction. Finder masks can be installed in the front of the finder to delineate the clear borders of the picture area with a specific focal length lens. For the rise/fall/lateral shift movements of the Professional model, pre-shifted masks to match 10mm shift either way are also available. Each of the masks features a window through which the distance scale of the focusing mount can be seen and set.
Q9: How can critical leveling be done with SW cameras?
A: Lateral level can be observed through the viewfinder, thus making handheld picture taking easy and comfortable (SW612 provides lateral level only). The 3-independent axis spirit level (accessory) can provide exacting level in all axes if required.
Q10: Is it possible to take pictures with the SW cameras in cold temperatures?
A: Because the SW cameras are mechanical cameras with lens-shutters, they are more reliable in extremely cold environments when compared to "auto-everything" 35mm SLR cameras. However, in temperatures below -10 deg Celsius, we would caution the use of the highest shutter speeds (1/500, 1/250), because the shutter manufacturer does not guarantee their accuracy in such cold temperatures.
Wide-Angle Lenses for Professional Photography
Q11: What is the advantage of the SW Lens Units?
A: SW Lens Units are currently equipped with Rodenstock's Apo-Grandagon (35mm/45mm/55mm), Grandagon-N (65mm/90mm) or Apo-Sironar-N 135mm lenses. Those wide-angle Apo-Grandagon lenses have 8 elements construction including ED (Extra low Dispersion) lenses. Schneider Super-Angulon XL lenses (38-72mm) are available upon request.
MTF curves
Nearly perfect Apochromatic color and distortion correction are provided even at the peripheral edges of the image circle by the use of new optical glass materials and high-tech lens design. The graphs of the MTF and distortion characteristic curves demonstrate the high performance of the Apo-Grandagon.
Distortion characteristic curves
In short, SW Lens Units are designed for the professional photographers who need perfect distortion correction.
Q12: So, do the SW Lens Units differ from the wide-angle lenses for 35mm SLR cameras?
A: The retro-focus wide-angle lenses for 35mm SLR cameras are different from SW Lens Units; these have less light fall-off, but are prone to various edge distortions. So, it is common to experience "barrel" or "image shape distortion" with these lenses, but not with SW lens units.
Q13: When the SW 35mm Lens Unit is used, the illumination fall-off is seen on the corners of the picture. How can this be avoided?
A: Light fall-off at the corners is an unavoidable characteristic of wide-angle lenses, especially with designs having symmetrical lens construction. The theoretical light fall-off at the corners of lenses having a covering angle of more than 110 degrees is more than 4 f-stops. Therefore, when that degree of light fall-off is not acceptable, use of a center ND filter is essential. This is particularly important when shooting transparencies. Moreover, since the correction of center filters is limited to 2 - 2.5 f-stops, a slight over exposure (2/3 to 1 stop) would provide better results when a center filter is used.
Tip: It is important to know that an unavoidable characteristic of professional wide-angle lenses that are designed to control distortion.
Q14: Are there any other tips suggested when using the SW Lens Unit?
A: The full opening aperture of f4.5 or f6.8 is provided to make the ground glass focusing easier, rather than for actual picture taking. It is important to know that the lens will produce its best performance when stopped down to f11-f16.
Q15: Is it possible to get the lens panel only?
A: Each SW lens unit needs to be very precisely adjusted at the factory to focus at the infinity. This is why neither the lens panel nor the focus mount is supplied separately.
Shift Movement for Professional Photography
Q16: What mechanically makes shift movement possible?
A: In the SW612 Professional and the SW6x9 Professional, three frames move against each other on finely polished steel roller bearings.
This construction ensures ultra-smooth movement in either direction even under the load of angled operation.
Q17: The SW Professional cameras provide 2-way shift movements, but why don't they have tilt/swing facility?
A: This is because the variable depth of field control of tilt is not crucial in ultra-wide-angle photography, as the depth of field is so generous with such wide-angle lenses. In addition, having a tilt/swing possibility in ultra-wide-angle photography imposes a danger of losing the established perfect right angle of the optical axis and film plane, which is very important for convenient wide-angle photography.
Q18: How much shift is possible when the SW612 Professional is used?
A: For instance, the maximum displacements by using SW612 Professional with 55mm lens unit and 6x12 Film Holder is 34mm (17mm each) vertically and 26mm (13mm each) laterally.
  6x12cm Film Holder
Vertical Shift Lateral Shift
55mm Lens 34mm(17mm each) 26mm(13mm each)
Please refer to the "Maximum Displacements" chart in the SW612 and SW612 Professional page.

The table of "Maximum Displacements" shows a "blank" at the combination of 35mm or 45mm lenses with the 6x12 format. This indicates that the image circle of the lens just covers the format with no extra room for movements. However, you can use minimal movements when image cut-off at the corners is acceptable.

Q19: What is the advantage of the SW Professional Tripod Base?
A: This is an important accessory when the SW612 Professional or SW6x9 Professional is attached to a tripod, for this allows room for fall movement..
Tripod Base
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