The German-made large format Linhof Technika bellow camera was distributed around the world from its manufacturing plant in Germany from around 1950. As a relatively lightweight and portable, sturdy and durable 'field' camera with an optical range finder, it became the camera of choice for many applied photographers.
The Linhof Technika used single sheet 4 x 5 inch negatives loaded into cartridges at the back of the camera. At the time, because of the slow shutter speed, models had to remain very still when being photographed. By the end of the decade, this all changed when smaller roll film (medium format 2 1/4" x 2 1/4") cameras with faster shutter speeds began replacing the larger format Linhof Technika.
This Linhof belonged to Sydney-based Australian photographer, Max Dupain (1911-1992). Though Dupain began using his Linhof Technika around 1959, he continued to use it for architectural photography right through to the 1980s.
While this particular camera is provenanced to Dupain, the camera model also relates to Bruno Benini (1925 -2001) as Benini too, used a Linhof Technika from the mid-late 1950s, and like Dupain, Benini frequently upgraded his cameras, but continued to use the earlier cameras on different jobs or personal assignments. (1) Benini was a Melbourne-based Australian fashion photographer (born 1925, Massa Marittima, Tuscany, Italy in 1925, arrived Australia 1935, died 2001). He initially studied industrial chemistry and worked in the laboratories of General Motors Holden before pursuing a career in photography from 1950 after a return trip to Italy. He used his Linhof Technika camera from when he first started working as a freelance professional photographer in the early-mid 1950s.
Interestingly, the Museum holds two black and white photographs showing Benini and his colleague Gerd Rosskamp working on location in Melbourne using a Linhof camera in 1957. (2) These photographs were taken by model and photographer, Janice Wakely. (3)
As Benini and Dupain both loved working outdoors, it was perfect for the finely detailed, high contrast, atmospheric images they sought to capture at the time. Compared to later cameras however, it was a little cumbersome as mentioned, as it used single 4 x 5 inch sheet film loaded individually into the back of the camera. Generally though, it appears to have been a sturdy, versatile and comparatively easy camera to use.
In 2009, Benini's widow Hazel Benini recalled:
'He (Bruno) always had this black towel in his bag for putting over his head. When you looked through the lens everything was upside down. He told me the models had to hold still for three seconds. In those days they might only take a few frames. He had a Hasselblad at one stage, then he had a Rolleiflex in the early days too - that's the one with the double lens. The camera he was happiest with over the years was the Mamiya. He would replace that every now and again. It was a good format and he handled that well.'
Numerous contemporaneous accessories accompany this Linhof camera - a Schneider lens with metal lens hood, a UV filter, cardboard box for 4 x 5 inch negatives with envelope containing Max Dupain's spare glass focus screen, a portable developing tank, a Universal light meter and a Linhof manual. These provide valuable contextual information about the technology and photographic processes used by mid 20th century commercial photographers and clearly demonstrate the slow manual processes involved in capturing and developing images at that time. The technical manual is especially useful,stylistically representing the era and further explaining thecamera and camera processes.
The Museum also holds a photograph by Olive Cotton which shows Max Dupain working on an outdoor fashion assignment on the Cronulla sand dunes for a David Jones Department Store fashion advertisement in the 1930s in which he appears to be using an earlier, possibly a twin lens (TLR), camera. (4)
Anne-Marie Van de Ven, Curator June 2011
(1) Online: http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/search_tags.php?tag=benini+archive
(2) Online: http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/?irn=408204&search=bruno+gerd&images=&c=&s= (3) Online: http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/?irn=408205&search=bruno+gerd&images=&c=&s=
(4) Online: http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/?irn=147767&search=95%2F317%2F1&images=&c=&s=