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Thread: Advice for long lens rental for Yosemite

  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2008

    Advice for long lens rental for Yosemite

    Hi all,
    I keeping my fingers crossed for my trip to Yosemite in late February to catch Horsetail Falls in the "firefall" sunset. However, the longest lens I have is a 150 for my 4x5 Arca Swiss F-Metric with a standard bellows so I'm looking at renting a longer lens ...I prefer to get the longest contrasty lens I can. Your input is greatly appreciated.

    These are my choices:

    240mm f 5.6 Schneider Symmar-S
    240mm f 5.6 Nikkor W Lens
    300mm f 5.6 Rodenstock or Schneider
    360mm f 6.8 Rodenstock Sironar
    360mm f 8.0 Schneider Symmar-S
    450mm f 9.0 Nikkor M
    480mm f 8.4 Schneider Symmar-S
    480mm f/9.0 Apo-Ronar with Copal 3
    600mm f 11.5 Fuji C

    Thank you again for your help in advance.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Orange, CA

    Re: Advice for long lens rental for Yosemite

    As you are probably already aware, if your goal is to obtain a photograph similar to Galen Rowell's classic shot, you will need the equivalent of a 300mm lens in 35mm format (Michael Frye, in his book The Photographer's Guide to Yosemite, recommends a 200mm or 300mm lens for this shot). This roughly translates to a 600mm to 900mm lens in 4x5 format. The problem with your list is that, aside from the Fuji 600C, none of the lenses are long enough to do the job, and many of them are huge 8x10 lenses (Symmar-S, Sironar).

    I would suggest either renting the Fuji 600C, or investing in a Fuji 600 telephoto (requires less bellows extension than the 600C), or a Nikon 720 or 800 convertible telephoto (the 720 is smaller and intended for 4x5, the 800 is a large 8x10 lens). The problem is you have limited time, and only the Fuji's are available new. There is a Nikon 800 convertible (a 600mm rear element is also included) for sale on Ebay now (I have no association with the seller). Finding a 720 telephoto quickly may prove difficult. I suggest contacting Jim Andracki of Midwest Photo Exchange (he is probably the largest used LF lens dealer in the U.S. and can help with finding a used Nikon telephoto) or Jeff Taugner at Badger Graphic (he imports a lot of new Fuji glass). Or perhaps someone in this forum will be willing to part with one of these lenses.

    Of course, you will also need to get a long bellows and additional rail(s) for your Arca. Good luck! I have thought about attempting this shot, but so far I have never tried it.
    Last edited by Eric Leppanen; 17-Jan-2009 at 00:59.

  3. #3

    Re: Advice for long lens rental for Yosemite

    True Eric...

    Your needs will be dictated by the vantage point you choose to photograph from. From the north side of the valley, a 150mm lens will fill the frame with a 35mm camera. From the south side of the valley, it is a 300mm lens on a 35mm camera.

    One workaround to the problem is to use a 6x9 or 6x7 roll film back, which permits using a shorter lens.

    For an expanded discussion of the timing of Horsetail, Michael just posted an article on his website today at

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Frisco, Texas

    Re: Advice for long lens rental for Yosemite

    The Nikkor 450M is an excellent lens, with great contrast. So is the Fuji 600C. However, they are mounted in Copal 3 shutters, as are most of your other choices.

    It seems to me that all of your choices are large, heavy weight lenses. Although the front standard of your Arca probably could handle them, why not opt for longer, lighter weight lens in a Copal 1 shutter?

    You should be able to find a Nikon tele in the 500 or 700 focal length for rent. Relatively large size lens, but in a Copal 1 shutter. Light weight for it's focal length. Nice and contrasty.

    Check with Sammy's in L.A.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    New York

    Re: Advice for long lens rental for Yosemite

    My Arca seems to handle the 450 M and heavier lenses without complaint...
    Although for this picture, longer might seem to be better anyway,
    according to the usual well informed opinion here-


  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    San Francisco Bay Area, California

    Re: Advice for long lens rental for Yosemite

    A great lightweight option in 420mm-480mm focal range is Fuji 450C, which is in Copal 1, has convenient 52mm filter and is quite sharp. On the Arca, you would need a 500mm rail to use this lens at infinity.

    // Atul

  7. #7
    Vaughn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Humboldt County, CA

    Re: Advice for long lens rental for Yosemite

    I would bring the longest lens, the Fuji C 600mm perhaps, and prepare to crop a little afterwards. I also like Keith's idea, and second it, about bringing along a 120 roll back...a time-lapse series sounds interesting. Yes, Horsetail has been "done", but embrace it and make the image your own!

    I hope to be in the Valley the last weekend of February -- chances are that I will be somewhere else rather than near Horsetail, but I'll be somewhere, making my own images, breathing that mountain air!


  8. #8
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Honolulu, Hawai'i

    Re: Advice for long lens rental for Yosemite

    When I know I'm likely to need a longer lens than I have or can practically use, I generally bring a rollfilm back as well.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Westminster, MD

    Re: Advice for long lens rental for Yosemite

    I use a Nikkor 500mm on my Arca with great results. The Fujinon lens will work great, but I don't own one.

    I've always wanted to try my Nikkor 600/800/1200 mm triple that I use on my 8x10 on my 4x5 Arca, but I don't have a lens board for the Copal 3 shutter (yet).
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Santa Barbara

    Re: Advice for long lens rental for Yosemite

    I had the F-Line Classic and have a Fuji 450C (which is a phenomenal lens). I think you will find your bellows and rail a bit short for either the Fuji or Nikkor 450's. You would need either a longer bellows and rail or a top hat extension board. The front standard should handle either lens with ease. For a rental, the tele designs might be a better way to go and a smaller investment.

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