Gear review: Alvandi 6×12 film back, another look

6×12 isn’t exactly a format you come across very often; it’s wide, but not so wide you’d call it panoramic, to put it into perspective, an Xpan has an aspect ratio of 2.4:1, 6×12 is 2:1. Still, to me, 6×12 is the perfect aspect ratio for landscapes.

Producing 6 shots from a roll of 120 film, the 6×12 format isn’t exactly economical like 120 cameras, but considering that the 6×12 is for 4×5 cameras, it’s It’s a very economical way to shoot, actually the cheapest way to shoot on a 4×5 camera.

There are a few options for 6×12 film backs, I have been shooting the Alvandi 6×12 for over a year now and love it.

It’s a great large format accessory and a much cheaper and more versatile way to take landscape shots than an XPan. Made by Mr. Alvandi in Iran, these backs are not something you see every day and they are definitely worth checking out.


Compatibility and use

If you are used to using a 4×5 camera, the Alvandi 6×12 is a cinch to use. Biggest fit is “see” in 6×12, it’s quite different from a standard frame size, plus when composing on frosted glass knowing where the edge of the frame is can be tricky, thankfully, many cameras will have 6×9 and 6×12 grid lines on the ground glass, making composition easier.

Once you get the hang of it, it really lends itself to landscape scenes. Shooting is easy, just dial down the ground glass, focus normally, then attach the back and shoot, no need to refocus or compensate.

The back fits on any 4×5 camera with a Graflok back. Simply compose and focus as usual (left, bottom), when you’re ready to take your shot, remove the ground glass (center, bottom), attach the 6×12 back, and pull ( right, bottom). There is no need to adjust or refocus.


Manufacturing quality

The main thing that comes to mind is Built.Like.A.Tank! The whole body is CNC aluminum, the feel is fantastic, everything works and works well.

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Compared to the Horseman 6×12

The Alvandi 6×12 is $545 on lfcamerastore.com which is cheaper than a Horseman 6×12 will cost used, but how does it compare to the horseman?

To construct

Both are well made, but the Alvandi is STRONG, no plastic parts or cheap materials, plus no gears or levers, there’s nothing to break on the Alvandi, just wrap the number and leave.

Loading

Loading is a bit fiddly with the Alvandi, first you have to unclip the two parts from each other, then much like an old 120 camera you have to move the old spool to the pickup side and load the new spool, then pull the protective paper on the pressure plate to the old spool. Once this is done, you manually rewind the film to #2 according to the instructions on the back.

Loading is a bit easier on the Horseman, just open the back, load your film, flip the wind-up lever and fire. It’s a very similar process to loading a modern 120 camera or even a 35mm camera. However, that said, with no new Horseman backs available and aging used market ones, this convenience can prove problematic as parts start to break.


Examples of shots with the Alvandi 6×12


Conclusion

Personally, I love the 6×12 aspect ratio, and as someone who mainly shoots landscapes, I feel like the panoramic aspect works really well with my work. Other than that, it’s the cheapest way to shoot in 4×5, which matters with the ever-increasing price of film and the cost of developing and scanning 4×5 film.

If you’re looking for something a little different and want to expand your creative horizons, I definitely think the Alvandi 6×12 deserves a spot in your gear bag.

~Eamon

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About Debra D. Johnson

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