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Gelo31415
21-Apr-2017, 17:42
Hello everyone!

I became interested in LF photography when I saw a portrait taken with a wide lens on a LF camera with a shallow DoF. Being a physicist, 35mm-photographer and a DIY-person I would like to start off by getting just a wide-ish lens, a diy-screen and a light proof cloth to serve as a bellows. I stumbled over this little scrap build here, which is basically what I would like to try (for starters): https://3rdhalf.net/2016/09/03/diylargeformat/

It would be great, if I could get some advice on what lens to use. I am looking for something wide-ish (like 90-150mm on 4x5"), fast (f/4?) and capable of delivering ok-ish color image quality. A shutter is not a requirement (barrel lenses with an aperture would also do) as I'd be using a DSLR to photograph the screen behind the lens.

This idea may cause some head-shaking - my intention is to see how I like the look and feel of LF optics to aid deciding if investing time and money into a LF kit is something for me.

Thanks for taking the time! :-)
Gelo.

xkaes
21-Apr-2017, 18:36
If you want a DIY "lens", check out this page:

http://www.subclub.org/fujinon/close-up.htm

LabRat
22-Apr-2017, 00:28
There are plenty of inexpensive 4X5 monorail cameras out there that can be had for less than 1 or $200 that you can grow into, and will hold everything in place well while you focus, load, shoot, and transport the camera without all the fuss and muss... And there might even be a lens included in the outfit... You should immerse yourself in how commercial cameras are designed and constructed before trying a build of a DIY camera, as shooting, designing, and building one will be a struggle until you get it right... There's a couple of centuries of refinements in every camera...

You can make a camera out of sliding boxes for one-off tests, as you will soon see that the bellows are tricky to make, and being able to view through a GG, then slide a filmholder into it and shoot will take some engineering (and a lot of time) to get it right...

You can then get a large shutter, and some scrap optics and test them on the camera you buy, but you will soon fall in love with one of the many LF lenses out there that can be had for a song, and experiments will take a backseat to the joy of shooting...

Keep it simple, or make it as hard as you want... ;-)

Steve K

Doremus Scudder
22-Apr-2017, 02:17
... - my intention is to see how I like the look and feel of LF optics to aid deciding if investing time and money into a LF kit is something for me.

Thanks for taking the time! :-)
Gelo.

You'll invest more time and money making yourself a large-format camera than just buying a cheap used monorail.

It's the lens that you should invest your time on. The "look" that attracted you is common enough, so do a bit of research on what lenses people are using to achieve the effect you want. You may find that you can get shallow enough depth of field with fairly common lenses. There are also older and faster lenses than usual out there, which you may need for what you want. Once you've settled on a lens type, go shopping on the used market. Many lenses in the 90mm-150mm range are quite inexpensive used; if f/5.6 will get you the look you're after, the selection will be large as well.

One thing to be aware of: although the ground glass on a view camera is "WHSIWYG," the image quality is often not that good. There is a hot spot that is more or less obvious depending on lens focal length and the texture of the matte screen degrades the image somewhat. A print from a large-format negative is worlds apart from a snapshot of the ground-glass image.

Best,

Doremus

Randy
22-Apr-2017, 06:01
You'll invest more time and money making yourself a large-format camera than just buying a cheap used monorail.I agree. I have seen 4X5 monorails go for lass than $100 on ebay. A year or so ago I purchased a Schneider 90mm SA in shutter for $50.

Dan Fromm
22-Apr-2017, 06:42
It would be great, if I could get some advice on what lens to use. I am looking for something wide-ish (like 90-150mm on 4x5"), fast (f/4?) and capable of delivering ok-ish color image quality. A shutter is not a requirement (barrel lenses with an aperture would also do) as I'd be using a DSLR to photograph the screen behind the lens.

150 mm is the normal focal length for 4x5. 90 mm is one of the usual wide angle focal lengths for 4x5. Both are quite long on DSLRs.

There are many relatively inexpensive used 150/5.6 lenses on the market. Faster will cost more. There are many not quite so inexpensive 90/6.3 and slower lenses on the market. Faster will cost more.

Before you spend any money, find someone near you with a press, technical or view camera and try shooting the image on its GG with your DSLR. Image quality will be terrible and not representative of what the p/t/c camera's lens will deliver on film.

If you live where LF equipment can be rented, rent a camera and lens, tripod if necessary, buy some film and try it out. If you don't live where the gear can be rented, grit your teeth and buy a Speed or Crown Graphic with lens or an inexpensive monorail (inexpensive 4x5 Calumet CC-40xs, Cambos and Sinars aren't hard to find) and a lens. Also film holders etc. If you buy carefully you should be able to resell the gear you've bought for at worst a small loss. Think of it as renting.

If you want to try LF lenses, especially in barrel, on your DSLR just get the lenses and adapt them to it. You'll need a bellows or several and a way of attaching the LF lens to the front of the bellows. I've used a Nikon PB-4 with a variety of adapters, some custom-made and costly, others cobbled up (tape) and inexpensive, to check LF lenses' central image quality without spending money on sheet film. There's no need to use an LF camera, home brew or bought, to hold a lens in front of a small format camera.

Oh, and by the way, although from my perspective all modern lenses for 4x5 of the same focal length and coverage are functionally equivalent, it isn't safe to draw conclusions about all lenses for 4x5 from a small sample.

Drew Bedo
23-Apr-2017, 06:38
GELO

LabRat, The poster who suggested the m onorail camera is spot on.

The mono-rail type of camera is basically an optical bench that folds up. Some can be had very reasonably and you will enjoy the higher degree of precision over the DIY lash-up you describe in your OP.

Charles S
23-Apr-2017, 12:40
164199
Like you I wanted to learn more about using LF before making a commitment to another camera system, so I made this thing.
The box cam is easy to make from plywood or foamcore. It focuses by moving the box in and out. The lens is a barrel lens, e.g. without shutter. Used it to shoot on paper, then scanned and inverted.
I think this is the cheapest solution. Since then I graduated to an 8x10 monorail with 2 lenses. In retrospect I should have gotten a foldable one so that it is easier to transport and store.
Good luck

Gelo31415
23-Apr-2017, 13:52
Dear all,

many thanks for all your kind and helpful posts! I will visit our local classic camera shop together with a friend this week and see for myself. I guess I'll fall in love once I see the back screen while moving the planes and get myself an inexpensive kit to start off... But I will definitely have a DIY-project going once I have a camera/lens - lets see where this takes me! :-)

In terms of lenses - is there a drawback except for size/mass if a 5x10 lens is used on 4x5 like the resolution drawback of full frame 35mm lenses if used on crop sensors?

Kind regards,
Gelo.

Fr. Mark
23-Apr-2017, 21:39
Some lenses have enough sharp image circle to be used for a number of LF film sizes. Ex: my 150 f5.6 is a great medium wide angle for 5x7. My 90f9 is a very wide angle on 5x7. I once borrowed a 72mm f9 for a couple minutes. That is entering the realm of super wide (to me anyway) on 5x7. All can be very sharp and offer (limited) movements. My 240 and 300
mm lenses will work up to 8x10. Then there are the few people who decide to photograph using the whole image circle ex using that 90mm lens on 8x10 even though it doesn't cover the whole piece of film.
35mm film image is typically 24x36mm between the sprocket holes, or about an inch by inch and a half or 1.5 square inches. 4x5 film image area is around 19-20 square inches or around 13 times larger but the lenses or information recorded is similar per area. I hope this helps. I'm not sure I'm answering your question.