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A TALE OF TWO TECHNIKAS


I've owned Linhof 5x4 Super Technika IV s/no. 76076 for a few years after purchasing it second hand in Melbourne in the late-90's. Bob Salomon (a guru when it comes to things Linhof - he's Linhof's US sales rep) has access to serial number details and tells me that it dates from 1956. If so, that would make it a fairly early Mk IV, because according to the official Linhof book ("The Linhof Camera Story") the Technika IV model replaced the model III in 1956 (and was itself replaced by the model V in 1963).

I recently picked up another second-hand 5x4 Super Technika IV. This time s/no. 65742. Despite the lower serial number than 76076, Bob Salomon says it dates from about 1960 - or about the middle of the model-run.

Examing the two cameras side by side, I was intrigued by the differences between two examples of the same model. Some of these differences (e.g. bellows material) may be due to replacements made by previous owners over the intervening years - Linhof bellows dont necessarily have the best reputation for longevity - while other differences (e.g. different finish on the metal used for the viewing hood that protects the ground glass) are not significant and probably simply reflect a different batch of parts from the factory or supplier. More interesting, however, are some of the differences in the major parts of the body and the door.

For the interest of Linhofiles here are some digi-snaps of the differences.

Comment Serial No. 76076 (1956) Serial No. 65742 (c.1960)

First up, a pic of each camera.

Similar? Yes. Identical? No, not if you know where to look.

Note the serial numbers stamped on the accessory shoe on the left and the differences in the top of rangefinder housing on the right

Note the flat top to the rangefinder housing on 76076, the lip over the attachment bracket, and the slightly wider housing (evidenced by the lack of a strip of bright metal at the front of the housing as on 65742).

The loose body covering on 65742 needs re-cementing - a common problem with Technikas of this vintage.

Bed stay attachment points.

Note the shape of the bracket that the curved stay attaches to on the bed. This is an integral part of the bed casting. Note also the different shape at the base of the front standard.

Bed stay brackets and spring

76076 has a coil spring inside the body (not visible in the photo) that pushes the notched stay onto the peg. 65742 has no such spring in the body - it appears to be part of the mechanism in the casting on the bed.

Sliding knobs for ground glass holder removal

Note the differing position and shape. I'm told 76076 reflects a later style designed to make it easier to mount some of the more bulky polaroid film backs.

Here's where it gets a bit more interesting. Of the two rangefinder ("RF") housing shapes, its clear that the RF housing on 76076 is the later shape that continues to be used on Technikas to the present day's Master Technika Classic. This is also consistent with a comment on Stephen Gandy's page on differences between Technika models that Tech IVs from s/no 70500 had the top of the RF housing flush with the top of the body. By contrast, the shape of the RF housing on 65742 (narrower housing with sloping top and no "lip") appears to be the older shape as used on Technika IIIs. I've not seen any pictures of Technika Vs or later with the same shape RF housing as 65742.

Similarly, the shape of the stay attachment point on the bed casting (slotted rather than side mounted) on 76076 is the same as on the Technika V in the photos of that model that I have seen to date. (Interestingly, Master Technikas and later seem to have reverted to the side-mounted design). Moreover, the shape of the base of the front standard on 76076 is the same as Technika Vs. Likewise, the shape of the ground glass removal knobs on 76076 is the same as used on Technika V through to present day models.

So how does 76076 - according to Bob Salomon the older of my two Technikas and one dating from near the very start of the Technika IV model run - come to have the higher serial number, the newer shape RF housing, and share other features with later model Technikas when compared with 65742?

Beats me.

The explanation could be something as simple as 76076 being retrofitted with the accessory shoe (with serial number) from an earlier camera. Or perhaps, contrary to Bob Salomon's information (which I understand came from Linhof's own records), 76076 does not date from 1956 but sometime much closer to the end of the Tech IV production run. Alternatively, the explanation may have something to do with how Linhof allocated parts and serial numbers to different production batches - particularly given relatively small production volumes, potentially different component suppliers, and constant refinement of design. This is supported by photos I have seen of a Tech IV with the Tech III style RF housing (i.e. like 65742) but the Tech V style bed casting and stay attachment points (i.e. like 76076)...

Does it matter? No, not really. They're still great cameras to use.


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