The Flexbody

Flexbody ready to fire





first step


To use it, you need: 

  • a tripod and a head / weights to load it (the legs should not move during operations).
  • a leaf shutter lens (CF, CB etc..), a back, an exposure meter, a compendium 
  • an RMfx, possibly with a dioptric corrector at your sight (a pain in the neck without the RMfx, a dedicated right-angle viewer). 

Train a lot (the cycle of handling, similar to a view camera, is not usual) 

  to shift ... but not too much  

In full 6x6 : 

Flexbody: maximum rise or fall at f 16 in mm


Hasselblad data

My experiment

40 mm

no shift

not tested

50 mm

5 mm

7 mm

60 mm

10 mm

12 mm

80 mm

10 mm

not tested

100 mm

13 mm

13 mm

120 mm

15 mm

not tested

180 mm


to test

250 mm

10 mm

not tested


One may notice that Hasselblad suggests careful limits. 
Be wary however because it is not easy to judge the actual darkening: the dark circle seems to appear in the sight only after it encroached on the film. Therefore the maximum shift announced by Hasselblad should be respected . 

The 4,5x6 is of course usable only in horizontal format. A pity ! Quite simply the back crotches in horizontal position... and there is only one direction for shifting. 

In 4,5x6 the usable shift increases by 7 mm (distance between the edge of a 4,5x6 and the 6x6 which are actually 41x55 and 55x55 mm) 
Thus, the horizon may be 7 or 8 mm upon the bottom of the picture, that is to say 1/5 of the format 4,5x6, with a perfect respect of the parallelism of the verticals.

  the back tilt  

To use it, you have to include/understand Scheimpflug :

Scheimpflug diagramm

Several tutorials on the Web explain the handling of tilting on view cameras, of which TOYO US explains the basic movements.

The booklets on view cameras by Kodak (cheap) also gives basic information. 
(in my French page, mention of some handbooks in French, rare, of which the best is Canadian : Photographie en grand format by Pierre Groux, editions Modulo ISBN 2-89113-5050-9.) 

Some training is mandatory. Use a Polaroid back to have real time feed back. 

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building of face - avoiding the convergence of the verticals 
- 60 mm CF at f 22 
- body set at 1,5 m high 
- horizontal aiming or better slight upward 2 or 3 degrees 
- rise 12 mm 
- distance set on the frontage of the building 
60 mm CF with no shift ---- shifted 5 mm up --- shifted 9 mm up

Flexbody 60CF - non décentrée Flexbody 60CF - décentrement 5 mm Flexbody 60CF - décentrement 9 mm

These pictures correspond to the most effective purpose of Flexbody in architecture: building of face, lens 60 mm, format 6x4,5, authorizing 6 or 7 mm more in shifting, which may reach the maximum 15 mm. 
The subject is not critical, since it holds in the frame without any shift (however with a rather unpleasant extent of paving stones in the foreground). 
I shifted no more than 9 mm. If I had lead it to 15 mm, it would have induced a caricatural sight, with the gate at the ground level right on the lower edge of the frame and half of blue sky. By imagining a building twice higher, it still could be registered in the full frame. 

Provisional page : having had a flatbed scanner for a few days, I can present only some pictures 
taken with Flexbody. To supplement soon...

In any case, open the compendium broader than mentioned for the focal length of lens used. For example on 50 mm for one 60 mm.

Under a clear sky, the exposure is about 1/15 second at f 22 without filter and 1/2 second with a polarizer. The stability of the legs is mandatory. 

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landscape within DOF from the foreground up to infinity 
- 60 mm CF at f 22 
- body set at 1,2 m high 
- axis 5 degrees toward 
- rise 10 mm 
- back tilt 5 degrees 
- distance set to 2 meters 

  in the studio  

The Flexbody was conceived for this use, more particularly views of small objects shot with electronic chips of 4 cm side. 
I don't have any experience of this kind of shots. I tried the two sights below to illustrate its capacities. 
The back rocking is the most important feature. Shifting may be used altogether, but the combination of both movements is hazardous. 
The effect of the adjustments is difficult to appreciate.

100 mm CF with bellows, tilt and shift

Flexbody 60CF - bascule+décentrement+tirage

60 mm CF - tilt and shift

Flexbody 60CF - non décentrée

A downward shift (fall) is almost essential to give a natural glance on the objects. Without back rocking, it would be impossible in medium format to catch an overall clearness on both pictures. (my scan at 600 dpi and the short files for the Internet does not make it possible to judge clearness. Without making holes in the film, it is correct - on the original one easily reads the signs of the keys of the pocket calculator on the right). 



La Madeleine  church in Paris  - Flexbody - 60 mm CF f 16 rise 10 mm.
Flexbody 60CF - la Madeleine

Don't hope to solve everything with Flexbody: 

This lateral sight is impossible to shoot with Flexbody. 
Verticals are not absolutely parallel, but fair. The maximum shift imposed a slight low-angle shot to leave enough space above the pediment. 

The objectionable defect is the excessive amplification of the left edge. 
With no rocks around the vertical axis nor lateral shift, correcting is impossible. 

It gives an unpleasant effect of protruding corner. The picture is unusable, unless to demonstrate the shortcoming. 



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my overall opinion

  • good compromise between the angle and possible shifting, in fact the 60 mm is appropriate best lens about it, equivalent to 35 mm in 24x36. 
  • the absence of correction by swing around a vertical axis and lateral shifting is more a handicap that the limitation of rise or fall. 
  • impossibility of using the 4,5x6 into vertical is also a serious handicap. 
  • tilting is delicate to implement, especially because of the development: clearness is difficult to judge, the compromise on the adjustment of distance is empirical. This requires a training (as for any equipment having tilt capacity). But it offers interesting possibilities in landscape. 
  • the rigidity is doubtful. Let us hope that it is not going worse with time. 
  • some successful uses : landscape within DOF from the foreground till infinity, building of face correctly handled. Hasselblad choose such examples for its folder (with the 60 mm for the building) because results are fair. 
  • the most serious handicaps : no shift in true wide angle (40 mm), views of three quarters impossible to correct. 


to conclude about architectural shots


The Flexbody is a kind of do-it-yourself item not completely worthy of the Hasselblad system. Associated with the 60 mm it will however be of precious use in architecture. It is thus justified in complement of a still owned Hasselblad system. 

Without having tested Arcbody, one can conclude that the lack of swing on the vertical axis and lateral shift are serious handicaps. Its only advantage is a generous rise or fall with really wide angles. 

 R. Monaghan's page about Flexbody with the highly valuable opinion of Paul Salvaire

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© <Dominique Césari>
last update : dimanche 11 mars 2001