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Thread: Do you use your longer lenses much for landscapes

  1. #1

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    Do you use your longer lenses much for landscapes

    Hi, I have recently purchased a 240mm G-Claron. It is nice enough, takes sharp pictures but ...

    Compared to my 180mm lens (Fujinon W) - the longest I had previously, it is much more difficult to attain focus across the scene (I shoot 4x5 and enlarge my negatives). Due to the considerably narrower depth of field, I have to spend a lot longer with movements and still stop down to f45 to get sharpness across the groundglass. This is more annoying when I discovered that there is a very obvious decrease in resolution from f32 to f45 in a landscape scene (the detail resolved at f45 by the 240mm is not much better than that shot with the 180mm lens of the same scene at f22).

    I am otherwise happy with the field of view but I like landscapes with foreground objects and horizon in focus (and commonly a valley between to make it more difficult). The best thing about this lens over the 180mm is that it fits in my technika. So my question to other landscape shooters is do you use your longer lenses much in the field or do they stay at home or in the case, what percentage of your shots does it come out for - or do you mainly aim for flat plane subjects. Feel free to tell me I must be going to fast to not be able to acheive this or to show some examples.

  2. #2
    Moderator Ralph Barker's Avatar
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    Do you use your longer lenses much for landscapes

    You should rent a Nikkor 450M for a week, Matt. Then, you'll feel much better about the 240 G-Claron. ;-)

    Seriously, I think it's all a matter of refining one's personal vision, and using focal lengths that fit that vision. What others do really isn't all that important.

  3. #3

    Do you use your longer lenses much for landscapes

    I regularly use a 300mm lens for 5x4 landscapes, and I cannot recall ever having to stop down to f45 - are you making full use of tilts & swings? By the way, as the G Claron range were designed for 1:1 reproductions, you should be stopping down to f22 at least to get decent coverage across the film.

  4. #4

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    Do you use your longer lenses much for landscapes

    I use a 250 a bit, but not for scenes with a near/far composition. In addition to the DOF issue, a longer lens increases the visual compression, making near/far even harder - look at news photos with telephotos for the extra effect.

    You are right about the stopping down - if you get below F32, you have to consider whether you would be as well off just shooting with the 180 and cropping. Are you using a wide lens? If you like near/far, wider gives additional options.

  5. #5

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    Do you use your longer lenses much for landscapes

    For me, it all depends upon the subject matter and where in the frame the emphasis should lie (or is it lay?).

    A perspective expert will tell you to select the best point of view, plant your tripod there, and then select the lens focal length which will fill the frame.

    However, I canít get away from the apparent foreshortening of an unnecessarily wide lens which seems to emphasize foreground objects and minimalize distant ones.

    This is fine, if you are shooting something like a car commercial where the ďheroĒ is in the foreground.

    But with a short lens you can also wind up with a portrait of a massive, frame-filling rusty parkinglot trash can, and Mount Whitney looking like a fly speck in outer space.

    I tend to reserve my 200mm and 300mm lenses for scenes where the hero, like a range of Rocky Mountains, is along the horizon. My technique, since I can frame only one or two peaks in a frame (with a long lens) is to shoot multiple views, panorama-style, and hang the prints along the wall in a row.

    The more mountains I manage to include in the frame (by shortening the lens) the more tiny and insignificant they become.

    I recall reading that the secret to the Queen Motherís serenity and long life was her uncanny ability to tune out unpleasantness. She simply sipped another Gordonís Gin, smiled and ignored the rumors and controversy.

    Photographic cropping with long lenses is a lot like that. Someday, a very astute psychologist will write a paper on this phenomenon.

  6. #6

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    Do you use your longer lenses much for landscapes

    Matt,

    My tastes tend toward longer lenses when the subject is the 'grand view' and wider lenses with more intimate scenes like rocks and trees. Not 100% of the time, but close.

    Cheers!
    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.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  7. #7

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    Do you use your longer lenses much for landscapes

    Hi Matt. My first lens for 4x5 was a f6.3, 10 inch Caltar. It is quite sharp at f22. I shot many a wonderful image with that lens. Compared to shorter lenses the image on the GG is bright, like looking at a TV, making it easy to compose and focus. I did a few "vista" shots with it which turned out great. I also found it excellent for isolating objects like fallen logs and rock formations. When you only have one lens, it forces you to "see" the world in such a way to "fit" that perspective. That can be a good creative exercise. Compared with the Caltar, my 90mm is a PITA to compose and focus; GG is all murky and dark and I have to glue my eyeball to the loupe and search the corners of the GG for focus. I have more fun shooting with the 10 inch.

  8. #8

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    Do you use your longer lenses much for landscapes

    With landscapes I use a 300mm lens fairly often and a 210mm lens all the time. I also used to occasionally use a 400mm telephoto lens (but not often enough to justify its cost so I sold it).

    I assume your technique is fine since you've apparently been successfully using your 180mm lens so I wonder it there isn't a problem with your lens. The effect of the 60mm difference between 240mm and 180mm from a depth of field standpoint is very small. Doubling the lens focal length cuts the depth of field in half (assuming everything else affecting depth of field remains equal) and your 60mm difference between the two lenses is a lot less than that. So going from a 180mm lens to only a 240 mm lens shouldn't be causing the problems you mention IMHO. The type of landscape you describe isn't necessarily that easy to handle from a depth of field standpoint but if you've done it with your 180mm lens without going to any great extremes you should be able to do so with your 240mm lens as well. Tilting the front or back or both will help in many situations of that type but you already know that.

    I'm also puzzled by your statement that moving from f32 to f45 causes a major change in resolution. Stopping down creates diffraction but diffraction shoudn't be a big deal when you're only moving one f stop. And even at f45 its effect shouldn't be great or even noticeable when enlarging from 4x5 film, unless perhaps you're making enlargements measured in the 40" x 50" or so foot range. With the more common enlargement factors used when printing from 4x5 film (2x to maybe 4x or so) the effects of diffraction usually aren't obvious in my experience. All the horribles you read about diffraction are mainly directed at smaller formats, especially 35mm, where enlargement factors of 8x and higher are typical.

    I'm no lens expert so I can't say why but between your depth of field problem and your resolution problem it sounds to me like there may be a problem with the lens (or conceivably your camera when racked out to 240mm though that seems unlikely). I'd suggest having the lens checked by a repair person. If you bought it used it may be that the two cells are mismatched or possibly reversed or something like that. As an aside, I don't think you don't need to stop down to f22 for your 240mm G Claron to cover 4x5 (though you may want to do so for other reasons). I regularly use my 240mm G Claron with an 8x10 camera and at f22 the lens covers that format easily.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  9. #9

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    Do you use your longer lenses much for landscapes

    A 240mm G-Claron is my most used lens for 4x5, generally at or near infinity, though not necessarily landscapes like you describe. I always try to use it in the f/22-f/32 range. I have yet to notice any focussing or depth of field issues with it.

  10. #10

    Do you use your longer lenses much for landscapes

    Brian,
    quote from the Schneider Optics web site:

    "The G-Claron is a lens of symmetrical design with six elements in four groups, optimized for 1:1 reproduction. The normally used range of linear magnifications is 5:1 to 1:5. The G-Claron may also be used for distances up to infinity by stopping down to f/22 or less".

    Of course, this doesn't mean you *have* to stop down to f22 or less, and it's my experience that lens manufactures tend to err on the side of caution. For example, they do not recommend using the 240mm for 10x8 (they claim an image circle of 298mm at f22), but the fact you do illustrates my point.

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