View Full Version : What lenses for Landscape?
John C. Potter
I'm interested in a 4x5 field camera to take Nature shots along with my 35. How ever, I don't want to mess around with the 4x5 film because of the film holders, cost of film, etc. I plan on getting 6x9 and 6x12 rollbacks for normal to pano ramic shots with 120/220 film. The cost of 120/220 film plus processing would a llow me to bracket shots by +/- 1/2 stop which I do quite often with my 35mm. I want to take normal to wide angle views.
(1) For normal views on a 6 x 9 format, I'm thinking of using a f135/5.6 Rodenst ock APO Sironar S which has an angle of coverage at F22 of 75deg., and an Image Circle of 208mm at f22. My question is what equalvalent 35mm lens would this co rrespond to? Would a Nikkor W f105/5.6 be better? This lens has a image circle of 155mm at f22.
(2) What would be a good wide angle lens (modern and multi-coated) for the 6 x 12 panoramic shots? 65, 75, 90??
(3) Is the Horseman 45FA a good deal? I like the fact thats its light, metal, a nd folds up into a small package(6.8" x 6.5" x 3.8"). I can't imagine ever goin g above 210 mm since then I would probably be using a 300 to 600 telephoto on m y 35. Does this camera have enough movements for Nature landscapes? I'm not in terested in studio stuff? I realy just what BIG negatives. I figure that an 8 x 12 Ilfochrome print from a 35mm slide would be equal to a 20 x 30 Ilfochrome p rint from a 6 x 9. Also, the 6 x 12 chrome should be great for panoramic even i f I have to crop the vertical to get a 1 --> 3 ratio in vertical to horizontal.
I welcome any comments out there.
1.) a 135mm lens would be a slightly longer than normal lens on 6x9, a 105mm is about normal. 2.) I like Rodenstock and Nikkor LF glass. The 90mm will be a good place to star t for 6x12 panoramics. I would then drop down to the 65mm. This is just my taste . 3.) The Horseman 45is a fine camera for this use. See if you can use the Polaroi d pack film back (I believe this is the 405 back?) on the camera though. a 210 o n 6x9 is roughly equivalent to a 105mm on 35mm. And practically speaking a 20x30 is a 20x30. There is nothing magical about the 6x17 (1:3 ratio) unless you are shooting for professional stockphoto purposes. learn to make good images with th e 6x12 (1:2 aspect ratio) and don't worry about cropping to get the 1:3 aspect r atio. Actually shooting with a 1:2 ratio is easier than making interesting image s with a 1:3 ratio. A 16x32 image is easier to sell as a print than a 16x48 (and cheaper to make too.) From experience i have found that clients prefer an image that is at least 8 inches high. I am sure you can do the math, but a full frame 24" wide print from 6x12 will be 12"x24" whereas a 1:3 ratio image will print u p as an 8"x24". and the lab & framing costs will be the same for both prints.
John, I recently made a similar decision. I ended up getting a Horseman VH 6 x 9 technical field. I really like using it with the roll film backs. I also like to bracket and it's a lot cheaper using roll film than 4 x 5.
The Horseman VH, which is similar in design and weight to the FA, is very lightweight and a pleasure to use. The only difference between this set up and the Horseman FA is that I can't use a 6 x 12 back. However, I get around this problem by shooting two side by side shots and "pasting" them together in photoshop on the computer when I want a true panoramic perspective. This also has the advantage of giving me a very wide angle of view. It's easy to match the two side by side shots up on the computer because view camera lenses have such low distortion.
If you're planning on shooting a lot of 6 x 12 on the FA, you will want to go with lenses that have an image circle comparable to that needed for 4 x 5 work. Thus, I would stay away from the Nikkor W 105, which won't allow you much room for movements with the 6 x 12 back.
One limitation of the Horseman technical camera (at least the VH and I think the FA) which you should be aware of is the use of extreme wide angle lenses. It's difficult to use a lens wider than 65 mm because of the distance between the front focusing track and the film back. I have, however, been able to use a SuperAngulon 58 mm XL on a normal lens board, but it's cumbersome. For 6 x 9 format a 58 mm would be about the equivalent of a 25 mm in 35 mm photography. It is also possible to get a recessed lens board although none were made by Horseman. You may want to look at the posts concerning Horseman technical field cameras on the medium format photography forum. If you have more questions you can also contact me directly.
It may be a naive question, but I'll ask it anyway ...
If you don't want to bother with 4x5 and prefer 120/220, then why choose a LF ra ther than MF camera?
I have APS, 35mm and MF cameras and am considering 'moving up' to LF because I'm interested in a bigger negative size.
I do my own B&W processing and really appreciate MF negatives. I thought about getting a 35mm film back for my MF, but I'm glad I didn't.
Believe it or not, I made a pinhole camera that takes a 4x5 film holder and that 's how I got interested in LF. <g>
Visit www.findon.com/photo-rh.htm to see an example pinhole photo.
(1) As already stated, 105 is considered normal for 6x9, so a 135 would be like using a 65mm lens on 35mm (more or less). The Nikor 105mm would not be better, it would be different. Between the 135 and the 105, there are situations where the 135 will be more appropriate, and others where the 105 works better.
(3) The Horseman camera, most cameras, have enough movements for most landscape photos. Despite what you see in the ads, most LF photography is not done with cameras twisted at the limits of their movements.
My personal recomendation would be to try out large format with indexpensive equipment, which the Horseman is not. It's very difficult to take 35mm experience and translate that into what you need in a large format system.
Find an inexpensive, but not too limiting camera, maybe a monorail, maybe a field camera, use it for a while and think about what works well for you and what doesn't. How much movement are you using? Is the bellows long enough? Does the bellows compress short enough? What (if anything) is limiting you from using LF as much as you like?
Yes, this process is time consuming. Most aspects of large format photography are.
Get some mat board and cut out 6X9 and 6X12 cm openings. By holding these the proper distance from your eye, you can approximate the field of view for the lens. (ie. 105mm from your eye is equivelent to 105mm lens.) This will help you choose the lenses appropriate for your vision and what you want to do. You will also find it useful in the field. If you find the 6X9 too small to work with, just double the size and distance from your eye for an equivelent field of view.
I use a 4X5 card with a string attached. I have knots at the various distances for the lenses I have. When composing a picture the camera and lens stays in the pack until I am ready to photograph. Then I already know where to set the tripod and what lens to use. I think the viewing card is essential for LF work. You can't just look through the viewfinder like a 35mm camera.
I don't know what others do but one of the great things about LF (and some MF systems) is that I can manipulate the contrast of the negative one sheet at a time and not the whole roll. If you want to shoot MF why shoot it with a LF system? Yes the roll flim is somewhat easier to use but why bracket unless you are using color slide film? There are inexpensive MF systems out there which give you most if not all the movements you could use. LF is so much more than just film size. Panoramic? 1:2, 1:3, 1:whatever. Crop the 4x5 image and manipulate the contrast. Tone the neg and intensify it. I use rollfilm backs and they have their uses but don't limit yourself. 105 vs 90 vs 65. Backup. Careful at the Canyon though.
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