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Thread: Aerials: 125-150mm sharp@ f/8 for 4x5 minimal vignetting

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    Aerials: 125-150mm sharp@ f/8 for 4x5 minimal vignetting

    I’m looking for a lens to use for 4x5 aerial photography of historic sites. No shifts needed. Hoping for working aperture and shutter speed of f/8 @ 1/500 sec. I usually shoot Ilford 400 and rate it 240.

    1. SHARPNESS AT f/8:
    To maintain decently fast shutter speed, I am wondering: what is the sharpest reasonably-priced (let’s say <US$600) lens, corner-to-corner at f/8? I’m cognizant that this is a challenge yet want to find a decent solution.

    2. EVEN EXPOSURE/ MINIMAL VIGNETTING, UNSHIFTED ON 4X5:
    Also, I want to avoid the filter factor of a center filter, yet want even exposure (as much as possible) across the image if possible. I’m thinking that moving more toward a “normal” focal length (for 4x5] may help in this regard. Is that a correct assumption that eg a. 125mm may have less vignetting than a 90mm? And that a 150mm may have even better across the frame illumination, given item #3 below?

    3. Lesser consideration: weight. Camera will be hand-held. That being said, I really like heavy gear. Ha! Remind me that I said this later.

    4. REVISED: Any shutter size is fair game within reason. Update: its appears that to get ~1/500 sec shutter speed, I need Copal 0

    Will likely be mounted on a field camera still researching all of this.

    Wishing you great light!
    Paul
    Last edited by pchaplo; 28-Dec-2017 at 22:48. Reason: 1/500 s :: Copal 0
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    Re: Aerials: 125-150mm sharp@ f/8 for 4x5 minimal vignetting

    Thinking wide: I have a Schneider data sheet for the 1990's-vintage Super Angulons that includes image circles for the lenses used wide open as well as for f/22. The 90mm f/8 Super Angulon is specified as having an image circle of 187mm at f/8 (216mm at f/22). Given that you are going to use the lens straight on - no shifts - falloff on 4x5 might not be a big problem, especially if you're going to use negative film. The 90/5.6 SA is also specified for an image circle of 187mm wide open, but that means f/5.6, so that should give even more breathing room at f/8. (For completeness, the 90/5.6 SA XL covers 201mm wide open, but that will be well out of your price range and in any case will be an awkward fit for a compact/lightweight aerial/field camera.)

    EDIT: My Nikkor lens literature has wide-open specs too. But in the Nikkor SW line, the 90mm f/8 won't do and probably not the 90/4.5 either - you really need to go to the 120 to get adequate coverage at f/8 on 4x5, and that's a fairly large and heavy lens. In the Nikkor W line, the 135 has tight coverage relative to 4x5 at f/5.6 (156mm), while the 150 covers 174mm.

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    Re: Aerials: 125-150mm sharp@ f/8 for 4x5 minimal vignetting

    Oren, thanks for your prompt reply. For my ground-level work, I happen to use Schneider 90mm f/5.6 SA XL, but always with a center filter (the latter a habit from my color transparency film days). It’s my prized lens as I love the range of movement on 4x5 and I seem to visualize in that "90mm on 4x5" angle of view on the ground. I cringe to take that heavy-beauty into the air seeing how my other aerial gear gets “bounced-around” up there.

    I see a Fujinon 150 f/5.6 W (letters on outside of lens) for sale. 537xxx serial number. Seller says it’s “W”that all I know. I wonder if that would work for me. Now I go research serial numbers maybe Kerry Thalmann’s site.

    Also, since I sometimes have to work from a Cessna, I’m thinking that a slightly longer than 90mm focal length may help me avoid getting a strut or landing gear in the shot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    Thinking wide: I have a Schneider data sheet for the 1990's-vintage Super Angulons that includes image circles for the lenses used wide open as well as for f/22. The 90mm f/8 Super Angulon is specified as having an image circle of 187mm at f/8 (216mm at f/22). Given that you are going to use the lens straight on - no shifts - falloff on 4x5 might not be a big problem, especially if you're going to use negative film. The 90/5.6 SA is also specified for an image circle of 187mm wide open, but that means f/5.6, so that should give even more breathing room at f/8. (For completeness, the 90/5.6 SA XL covers 201mm wide open, but that will be well out of your price range and in any case will be an awkward fit for a compact/lightweight aerial/field camera.)
    Last edited by pchaplo; 24-Dec-2017 at 23:55.
    Wing and a prayer

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    Re: Aerials: 125-150mm sharp@ f/8 for 4x5 minimal vignetting

    I have the 90 SA XL too - it's my ultrawide for whole plate. (*With* the CF. ) I absolutely understand why you wouldn't want to bang that one around in a Cessna.

    Unfortunately, neither Fuji nor Rodenstock provides a clear specification for image circles wide open, though Rodenstock has MTF and fall-off curves that you can eyeball for a rough sense. And not many people routinely use these lenses at such wide apertures for applications where full coverage is required. So you may be stuck guessing about image circles at f/5.6-f/8 for many of these lenses.

    I dug up an electronic copy of Schneider data for the Symmar-S line, which is a couple of generations back. The coverage numbers for the 135 and 150 focal lengths match those for the Nikkor W's. It's a safe bet that the later Apo-Symmar and Apo-Symmar L (150 only, no 135 in the "L" line) will do at least as well. Afraid I have no basis to say one way or another about the Fujinon - I have data only for f/22 on those.

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    Re: Aerials: 125-150mm sharp@ f/8 for 4x5 minimal vignetting

    IIRC the late Peter Gowland had a preference for Nikon f/9 "M"s or Schneider f/9 G Clarons in Copal shutters for his aerial cameras.
    I put a 300mm f/9 M on my 8x10 Gowlnd and it has worked very well.
    One critical thing I learned is to use plastic film holders with lots of "vent" embossing or cross hatching on the holder's " face" (like old Liscos, or in 4x5, Riteways) to keep the thing from acting like a one way demand valve when changing altitude. Darn near broke a few few fingernails off when trying to change the film holder! Once I landed, the camera back sealed up good and tight and nearly broke the bail trying to open her up to get the smooth wood Kodak film holder out.
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
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    Re: Aerials: 125-150mm sharp@ f/8 for 4x5 minimal vignetting

    Quote Originally Posted by pchaplo View Post
    I’m looking for a lens to use for 4x5 aerial photography of historic sites. No shifts needed. Hoping for working aperture and shutter speed of f/8 @ 1/500 sec. I usually shoot Ilford 400 and rate it 240.
    For aerial wide work, I prefer a later Biogon design. Shoot wide open. Faster shutter speeds are a good thing.

    I don't know if it is still the case, but for certification of aerial survey work, lenses were tested wide open whether they have adjustable aperture or not. Bigons perform well that way.

    Another favorite of mine is the 135mm ƒ3.5 Planar. It covers, is fast and sharp wide open.
    Last edited by Jac@stafford.net; 24-Dec-2017 at 15:37.

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    Re: Aerials: 125-150mm sharp@ f/8 for 4x5 minimal vignetting

    From the cockpit of a C172 I’ll suggest haze will be a factor for which a filter might come in handy, perhaps even some IR film. Try a red filter. For a lens you might consider a 135 Apo Sironar N, which might fit within your budget.

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    Re: Aerials: 125-150mm sharp@ f/8 for 4x5 minimal vignetting

    Oren,

    Thanks for unearthing that data. Frankly I didnt fully realize how at large apertures the image circle size might be reduced. Did I get that right? Gosh. But then, Ive never faced that because for years, Ive shot from a substantial tripod and almost always f/16 on Schneider XL's. Lol ya youre right about not wanting to bang my 90 SA XL around in a Cessna!

    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    I have the 90 SA XL too - it's my ultrawide for whole plate. (*With* the CF. ) I absolutely understand why you wouldn't want to bang that one around in a Cessna.

    Unfortunately, neither Fuji nor Rodenstock provides a clear specification for image circles wide open, though Rodenstock has MTF and fall-off curves that you can eyeball for a rough sense. And not many people routinely use these lenses at such wide apertures for applications where full coverage is required. So you may be stuck guessing about image circles at f/5.6-f/8 for many of these lenses.

    I dug up an electronic copy of Schneider data for the Symmar-S line, which is a couple of generations back. The coverage numbers for the 135 and 150 focal lengths match those for the Nikkor W's. It's a safe bet that the later Apo-Symmar and Apo-Symmar L (150 only, no 135 in the "L" line) will do at least as well. Afraid I have no basis to say one way or another about the Fujinon - I have data only for f/22 on those.
    Wing and a prayer

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    Re: Aerials: 125-150mm sharp@ f/8 for 4x5 minimal vignetting

    Hi John,

    I didnt know that about Gowland's preferred lenses. I happen to have a 300M f/9 in my lens bag although I wonder of the bellows length (if I use a field camera) would become a challenge -- not to mention the difficulty of getting a steady shot with the longer lens on 4x5. I will look at the Schneider f/9 G Clarons -- namely to see what is available 125-150mm focal length range.

    Also, in looking at lenses, I still consider the ones in larger shutters as I could perhaps see the controls more easily over a field camera front standard and get things write despite the excitement of being in a plane with a 4x5. I almost always tape my controls down, even with a digital camera. I see pics of field cameras with large Copals and its interesting that you can see the shutter-cocking lever OVER the front standard (ha!) -- that may be a feature that is an advantage that I hadnt considered.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kasaian View Post
    IIRC the late Peter Gowland had a preference for Nikon f/9 "M"s or Schneider f/9 G Clarons in Copal shutters for his aerial cameras.
    I put a 300mm f/9 M on my 8x10 Gowlnd and it has worked very well.
    One critical thing I learned is to use plastic film holders with lots of "vent" embossing or cross hatching on the holder's " face" (like old Liscos, or in 4x5, Riteways) to keep the thing from acting like a one way demand valve when changing altitude. Darn near broke a few few fingernails off when trying to change the film holder! Once I landed, the camera back sealed up good and tight and nearly broke the bail trying to open her up to get the smooth wood Kodak film holder out.
    Wing and a prayer

  10. #10
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    Re: Aerials: 125-150mm sharp@ f/8 for 4x5 minimal vignetting

    The Fujinons are great. If you go for too large a shutter you may not get as high shutter speeds as you'd like.
    The Gowland aerial cameras had no bellows, just a fixed focus box which seems pretty old school and sturdy. I haven't flown with a normal field camera, but I'd be real cautious to keep it out of the full velocity of the wind if you have a door off or something.

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