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Thread: What would I need for large format Macro Photography

  1. #1

    What would I need for large format Macro Photography

    I've been taking macro photos of flowers w/35m with a bellows at very close dist ances (1"-1/4"). I've been considering using a 4x5 camera to allow for larger p rints. What equipment would I need. What considerations should I make? The ch eaper the better.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Mar 1999

    What would I need for large format Macro Photography

    Michael, I'm no expert on this, but for starters, you might consider a true macro LF lens, which would be optically optimized for close- focusing. I do some close-up work with the lenses I have (non-macro), so perhaps the difference in image size will negate having to purchase a true macro lens. Also, you'll want some kind of tool to calculate exposure for various bellows draw/focal length combos, like the Quick Stick, made by Toyo (?). It's quicker than doing calculations in your head.

  3. #3

    What would I need for large format Macro Photography

    Michael: The great thing about LF for closeups is that you can use any lens that will fit in the lensboard hole and which will focus with the bellows available. Many LF shooters use enlarging lenses as closeup lenses (sometimes reversed in the mount). You might try lenses as short as 50mm. You will have to calculate the f-stop when you get really may be several stops more light is needed. Some manufacturers make lenses especially computed for closeup work. You can also use extended lensboards to allow you to focus closer. Depending upon the bellows length on your camera, you should be able to to get quite close with short lenses. With a bellows camera, when you get close, use the front focus knob for size and focus with the rear. A little movement of the camera position from front to back is helpful. It takes a lot longer to write about it than to do it once you are accustomed to the setup.


  4. #4

    What would I need for large format Macro Photography

    I would not think a 50mm lens would be very useful. Your working distance is going to be very small making lighting more difficult. I use a 150mm lens for most close up work providing a good compromise between working distance and bellows extension. Are you planning on going to higher magnification than 1:1? You don't say what camera you have, will it allow bellows extension to 300mm or greater? As for lenses I have found the G-Claron to be excellent for these applications, less expensive and more versatile than a dedicated macro lens.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Nov 2001

    What would I need for large format Macro Photography

    Well, if you want cheap, cheap is readily available. Look into Tominon macro lenses as made for the Polaroid MP4 and MP4+ systems. These lenses are supplied in barrel mount, to screw into Copal #1 Press shutters (any modern #1 will do).

    Focal lengths are 17 mm, 35 mm, 50 mm, 75 mm, 105 mm, and 135 mm. All will cover 4x5 at reasonable magnifications. These lenses are not as good as, e.g., Zeiss Luminars, but they cost a lot less. Not great wide open, although at 34x my 17mm resolves better than 100 lpmm in the subject (gives a good image of a 100 div/mm stage micrometer) wide open, but they improve with stopping down.

    Assuming your camera has ~ 300 mm of bellows, the 50 mm will get you 5x with a working distance (roughly diaphragm to subject) of 2", the 75 will get 3x and around 3", and the 105 will get 2x and around 4".

    The big advantage of going up in format for close-up shots of flowers is keeping detail in the bloom and getting more of the surroundings.

    If you're patient and watch eBay for a while, you should be off and running for around $50-60 for the first lens and a shutter. Plus, of course, another lens board and drilling.

    Go do it and don't look back.



  6. #6
    Beverly Hills, California
    Join Date
    Feb 2000
    Beverly Hills, CA

    What would I need for large format Macro Photography

    A cheap ruler (rather than quick stick) with inches scale can be used to quickly determine how much bellows extension factor you need to add to get the correct exposure. Those calculators mentioned above are nice I suppose, but not necessary.

    Example: say the normal lens to film plane distance when the particular lens you are using is focused at infinity is 4 inches (as would be the case with a 100mm lens), and then you focus on close subject and the bellows has stretched that distance out to 8 inches. To figure the bellows extension factor, convert the numerical values of the inches to f-stops: ie, go from f4 to f5.6 and then to f8 is 2 stops. Voila!

    So now, open your lens up two stops (or increase your exposue time by two stops).

    This is a simple example, but even intermediary inches, ie 6 inch lens, can be eyed-balled and stated as an f stop. One stop away would occur with a bellows at appx. 8.7 inches of extension, and so on.

  7. #7

    What would I need for large format Macro Photography

    There is one problem using enlarging lenses. Minimum aperture is often f16 or f22 which is usually not enough at larger magnifications. For macro work I rather use ordinary LF lenses mounted reverse if magnification is larger than 1:1. Regards,

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Re: What would I need for large format Macro Photography

    I worked with 35mm w/ 300 mm tele w/macro which gives 1:2 ratio works good as metering in spot mode works well.
    As for LF (4x5), I wanted to test a 300/500 converter lens but found that I needed to extend beyond the limits of bellows. I used 150 & 210 mm & shot some macros (1:1) with them. I also used the forum formulas to figure my f-stop. Once I figure out the bellows factor, I used it as guide which is in my photo log as an reference for future work.

  9. #9
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Houston Texas

    Re: What would I need for large format Macro Photography

    hello Michael,

    With LF you may mount any lense that you can mount on a lense goard and crank out the bellows. The correction may be figured with a formula, but two stops additional exposure for each focal length of exposure works too.

    Close-up accessory lenses work pretty well for many subjects. I use 72mm set on my lenses with steo-up rings; this utilizez the central portion of the accessory lense and avoids some edge distortions.

    If you want to look for fast lenses, some of the Xenars were f 2.8 ( someone check me on this!), they are desired and may cost you. A lower cost avenue might be the Wollensack Ocillo-Raptars. These 75mm f 1.9 lenses were made for ocilloscope cameras. They do NOT cover even 4x5 at infinity, but with enough extension, I have used one to cver an 8x10 negative with a two inch pocket watch. Some folks feel that they are a little soft, but at f 1.9 and maybe $50 it might be worth a try.

    Whatever you do, enpugh light on the subject will be an issue. Long exposures and/or multiple "pops" of your strobes may be necessary. The important thing is to have a good time.
    Drew Bedo

    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

  10. #10
    4x5 - no beard Patrik Roseen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Stockholm, SWEDEN

    Re: What would I need for large format Macro Photography

    You have not mentioned if you have a camera yet. Anyway, it's very good to be able to focus using the rear standard for real close up work...otherwise focusing becomes a real hassle.
    This calls for a monorail camera. BTW, also consider how far the front standard and lens can move towards the front end of the rail. No use buying e.g. a Tominon 17mm if your lens can not reach the subject.

    Being able to use a shorter rail is also convenient when using smaller focal lengths, since you do not need to get hurt from the rail getting in your chest (or in your face) as you get under the darkcloth (remember that the standards are moved to the front of the rail)

    Geared and separate movements are also a lot nicer to work with but requires a more expensive camera.

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