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Thread: Good starter lens for whole plate

  1. #1
    Nodda Duma's Avatar
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    Good starter lens for whole plate

    Hi folks,

    I just picked up a project Whole Plate camera which lacks a lens. What would be a good starter lens and focal length to cover that format? There seems to be a ton of choices out there.

    Thanks,
    Jason
    Newly made large format dry plates available! Look:
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/Pictoriographica
    .. because my wife is happy when I can cover my photography expenses!

  2. #2
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    Re: Good starter lens for whole plate

    Jason, what's your usual preference for a main lens? Do you tend to see wide, normal or long? Also, do you care about modern vs antique rendering?

    For example, modern 210's intended for 4x5 are readily and inexpensively available, and most of them almost-but-not-quite cover 8x10 at infinity so are comfortable on WP. But semiwide with a modern rendering may not be what you're after.

  3. #3
    Nodda Duma's Avatar
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    Re: Good starter lens for whole plate

    Hi Oren,

    Iíll start with a normal lens just to get a feel for composition.

    Good tip on the 210s. I have a couple right around that focal length for 4x5, so Iíll try those out.

    At some point Iíll start watching for a period-correct lens. Anything unusual about whole plate lenses compared to looking for other formats?

    -Jason
    Newly made large format dry plates available! Look:
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/Pictoriographica
    .. because my wife is happy when I can cover my photography expenses!

  4. #4
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    Re: Good starter lens for whole plate

    Quote Originally Posted by Nodda Duma View Post
    Anything unusual about whole plate lenses compared to looking for other formats?
    Not really. If dead-normal is your thing, something around 240-250mm (or 9.5-10 inches among the old glass) would be ideal. Among the modern f/5.6 plasmats, the quirk is that 240 is the point where the shutter jumps from #1 to #3, so you pay a disproportionate price in weight and bulk compared to a 210, if that's something that's a concern. But a process lens like a 240 G-Claron will be very compact and should work well. In that vein, I've used the 240 Germinar-W on a WP Century; that's a really sweet combination, ultralight for the format and quick and easy to set up and take down.

  5. #5

    Re: Good starter lens for whole plate

    A Fujinon-W 250/6.7 on whole plate is pretty close to "normal" with a big image circle, number 1 shutter, and not too dim.

  6. #6

    Re: Good starter lens for whole plate

    I use a 240mm and a fuji wide 175.mm

  7. #7
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: Good starter lens for whole plate

    I'd say almost any300mm f/4.5 Tessar. The big question is "shutter or barrel"? In a barrel, the Russian Industars are cheap and wonderful. In a shutter, whatever you run across, (Paragons, Velostigmats/Raptars, Zeiss, B&Ls...), with a reliable shutter being the big concern.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  8. #8

    Re: Good starter lens for whole plate

    A 215 f/4.8 Caltar, a modern plasmat design which also converts to a 350 f/14, is one of my favorite lenses on whole plate. An unappreciated excellent performer always available at a very reasonable price, it is found marked in several ways such as Caltar Series S or Ilex Acuton.

  9. #9
    Nodda Duma's Avatar
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    Re: Good starter lens for whole plate

    Great suggestions, thanks. I like the idea of a convertible lens for doing portraiture as well as landscape.
    Newly made large format dry plates available! Look:
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/Pictoriographica
    .. because my wife is happy when I can cover my photography expenses!

  10. #10

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    Re: Good starter lens for whole plate

    I used two Schneider lenses with my WP, a 210mm Xenar (slightly wide) and a 360mm Telexenar (slightly long) Both show up used in the usual places. I believe these were originally 7x5in lenses. I didn't care about the slight loss of definition and slight light falloff in the corners so I was happy.

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