View Full Version : Lens with good color accuracy? For 4x5 Field Camera

24-Apr-2017, 08:35

This is my first time posting on this forum. I am new to 4x5 large format photography although I am experienced in photography. I am looking to purchase my first 4x5 field camera.

I am looking at the Toyo 45A and Wista 45D. They seem to be the most affordable and compact/lightweight.

For my first lens, I am looking at the Nikon Nikkor W 135mm F5.6.

What other lenses would you recommend? What should I be looking for? I am looking for something in the 100-200mm ish range.

To me, the important thing is perfect color reproduction and no vignetting. I know that developing quality/chemistry, age of the film and the quality of scanner are factors as well. Sharpness is important too but not as important as color accuracy and fidelity.

Thank you

24-Apr-2017, 08:49
Let me add: A lens with the best contrast is also very important.

Best contrast, color reproduction and no vignetting is what I am going after.

24-Apr-2017, 08:50
No vignetting and good contrast is the easy part. Perfect color has been a challenge forever. One approach is to include a color chart (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1014565-REG/dgk_color_tools_wdkk_bubble_bag_1.html) in the picture, or on a separate film at the same exposure and then color match while printing or scanning and post processing. That's a good beginning point.

Studio or natural light is another topic.

24-Apr-2017, 09:07
Just curious. How did you decide on the Toyo 45A and Wista 45D? These are very nice cameras, but you also mentioned affordablity and compact/lightweightness. There are many 4x5 cameras out there that are more affordable and lighter.

Peter De Smidt
24-Apr-2017, 09:08
If consistent color is important to you, I would stick to lenses of the same era made by the same company. In this case that would be a Nikon 210W of the same age as your 135mm.

24-Apr-2017, 09:15
Hi Ben, and welcome aboard.

Your Nikkor-W 135 would be an excellent choice.
It's very slightly wide for 4x5 (150mm is considered the "normal" focal length).

Are you shooting transparencies or color negatives? Color balance can be difficult with slides.
It's a complete non-issue with color prints since the color balance is set in the printing process.

I doubt you'll see any color bias in any modern lens from the top 4 makers: Nikon, Fuji, Rodenstock, or Schneider.

As Peter said (above), it's wise to stick with modern lenses from one manufacturer.
There may be very slight differences in rendering if going from one maker to another.
Almost all of my lenses are from Rodenstock, with a few Fuji and Nikon lenses filling out the set.

- Leigh

Dan Fromm
24-Apr-2017, 09:58
Ben, you'll lose more color accuracy because of shutters running slightly off speed and, out of doors, because of variations in ambient light's color than because of differences in lenses' transmission by wavelength.

The first and, more generally, overexposure/underexposure, is a problem with reversal film. Not so much with negative film.

As for the second, I have some Ektachromes of bright blue alligators that were shot in deep shadow and other test shots that were, respectively, blue and just fine. The test shots were with the same lens, shutter, aperture, shutter speed. The blue ones were taken when the sun was behind a cloud, the ok ones when it wasn't.

Alan Gales
24-Apr-2017, 12:07
Don't shoot Velvia! :)

I'd just look for a modern lens from Nikon, Schneider, Rodenstock or Fujinon. The Nikkor M 200mm F/8 lens is said to be a peach. Very small and lightweight for back packing. It's a little hard to find and is a bit pricey though. If I remember correctly I've seen a couple sell for $600 or $700 on Ebay. You can get a very nice 210mm f/5.6 lens for below $200. It's a bit bigger and heavier though.

24-Apr-2017, 14:04
For the best possible contrast, a scratch-, haze- and dust-free modern multi-coated lens and a proper adjustable compendium shade are essential.
To eliminate vignetting, make sure the image on the ground glass is within the image circle specified by the manufacturer.

Perfect color reproduction:

If you are experienced in photography, you should know that color depends on many factors - the perception of the photographer, the printer and the client, the color rendering of the lens and the film used and the lighting used when the image is made, when it is printed, and when it is presented. Many of my fellow Betterlight scan back users make their living copying and printing paintings and artwork for artists. They have many years of experience using the exact same equipment under controlled lighting conditions with matched NorthLight units. But they struggle daily because they have no control over the medium the artist uses. Pigments behave differently under varying lighting conditions - the summer light that was present the day the artist made the first sketch is very different from the light when the painting is finished in the studio, and yet again very different from what the photographer uses in his studio. A lot of the time, one is relying on memory - which is not infallible.

Accurate color is a very deep hole, and settling for pleasing color is a very valid way of working.


Alan Gales
24-Apr-2017, 14:14
There is actually no such thing as truly accurate color. Each person's eyes view color a little differently.

25-Apr-2017, 10:34
There is actually no such thing as truly accurate color. Each person's eyes view color a little differently.

As does either eye of one person, or is that what you meant.

Alan Gales
25-Apr-2017, 11:43
As does either eye of one person, or is that what you meant.

I'm saying that my eyes see color slightly different from yours. Of course you are correct also.

It's funny to get a group of people together and argue what color a certain shade of red is. It's fire engine red. No it looks more orange. No it doesn't look orange enough. ;)

Of course lighting makes a big difference too. I had a friend who owned a 1972 Chevelle. I'm still not sure what color it was. It looked brown in direct sunlight but green in the shade.

Tobias Key
25-Apr-2017, 14:19
I would go for a good modern 210mm lens, 90's-00's vintage. I have a Schneider 210mm APO Symmar, it totally redefined what I thought a lens could do, it is fantastic.