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Thread: Portrait lens for 4x5

  1. #1

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    Portrait lens for 4x5

    Hi,

    I am sorry for testing your patience with another newbie question. I just got my first 4x5 camera a few weeks back and I bought a 150mm lens with it, which is great and makes me really happy most of the time. One of my favorite things to photograph though are portraits and for a tight headshot I feel my Nikkor lens might be a little on the short side. Is there a lens that you can recommend that does not break the bank and makes for a decent portrait lens and which focal length might be a good starting point?

    Thanks for your opinions
    Dennis

  2. #2

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    Re: Portrait lens for 4x5

    Quote Originally Posted by rince View Post
    One of my favorite things to photograph though are portraits and for a tight headshot I feel my Nikkor lens might be a little on the short side. Is there a lens that you can recommend that does not break the bank and makes for a decent portrait lens and which focal length might be a good starting point?
    I'm sure that you'll get a lot of advise, and maybe lots of differing opinion. For all but environmental portraiture I find the 135 or 150 mm lens to be too short. Something more like 210 works better for me. My favorite is a 250mm soft focus lens. For real tight head shots I like a 300. I suppose "break the bank" is a very individual criteria, but there are many viable options htat won't run more than $200 or so.

  3. #3

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    Re: Portrait lens for 4x5

    I'm looking forward to seeing what people recommend too, although I suspect every answer will be different. That is part of the fun with photography I think - experimentation!

    It was my impression that 210mm would be about right for head and shoulders portraits on 4x5, considering that 150mm is considered a normal lens. This roughly equates to 35mm, where 50mm is normal and 85mm - 110mm are considered optimal for portraits.

    One thing I'm interested in learning more about is Petzval lenses. There are several branded and unbranded ones on ebay but I need to know more about them before considering a purchase.

    Happy hunting Rince

    Simon

  4. #4
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    Re: Portrait lens for 4x5

    How much is a little? There are substantial groupings of lenses of all types at around 210mm (which is "normal" on 5x7), 240-250, and 300 (which is "normal" on 8x10). There are tessar designs that are nice for portraits (8-1/2" Ilex Paragon, 240mm Rodenstock Ysarex labeled as a Caltar Type Y, and Ilex-Caltar 12", to name three examples in my collection), and plasmat designs that are uniformly sharp by the modern Big Four (Rodenstock, Schneider, Fujinon, and Nikkor) at all these focal lengths. If you like the rendering of the Nikkor, stick with a plasmat. If you want something with a little more vintage look, go with a tessar design. There are so many options at these focal lengths that it's hard to be specific without just spouting One Man's Opinion.

    Rick "IMHO" Denney

  5. #5

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    Re: Portrait lens for 4x5

    If you are not looking for a soft focus lens, how about a 12" Kodak Commercial Ektar? It would be about a 305mm. Yousuf Karsh used a 14" Commercial Ektar on his 8x10.

  6. #6
    Forever Beardless Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Portrait lens for 4x5

    I'll use anything for a "portrait lens", as short as 90mm or 115mm, but I usually go to a 210.
    I like the 150 also, don't sell it short; it requires less bellows when shooting close-in, and it gives an excellent perspective from farther back as well.

  7. #7

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    Re: Portrait lens for 4x5

    10" Tele Raptar (same as Tele Optar). Don't be put off by it being a mild telephoto design, it's great for portraits. It's small, fast (f:5.6), sharp, coated, in
    Wollensak shutter, and takes 55mm screw-in filters. Between $100-$200.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  8. #8

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    Re: Portrait lens for 4x5

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Gales View Post
    If you are not looking for a soft focus lens, how about a 12" Kodak Commercial Ektar? It would be about a 305mm. Yousuf Karsh used a 14" Commercial Ektar on his 8x10.
    That's a great suggestion. My recent portraiture efforts have been done with 12" Commercial Ektar on 4x5.

  9. #9
    SE Penna. and coastal CT
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    Re: Portrait lens for 4x5

    I've used lenses from 58mm to 280mm for portraits. The 58mm creates an environmental type of shot, and the 150mm is very good for head and shoulders, with cropping. I have a portrait of my wife enlarged to 11x14, taken with a 150mm lens and cropped. The 280mm is my soft focus "portrait" lens and I compose a head and shoulders image on the ground glass.

  10. #10

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    Re: Portrait lens for 4x5

    Quote Originally Posted by rince View Post
    Hi,

    I am sorry for testing your patience with another newbie question. I just got my first 4x5 camera a few weeks back and I bought a 150mm lens with it, which is great and makes me really happy most of the time. One of my favorite things to photograph though are portraits and for a tight headshot I feel my Nikkor lens might be a little on the short side. Is there a lens that you can recommend that does not break the bank and makes for a decent portrait lens and which focal length might be a good starting point?

    Thanks for your opinions
    Dennis
    Also depends on how much bellows you have to work with on your 4x5. If you are working with a filed camera you may want to consider a tele-arton 240 f/5.5 There is one for sale in the classifeds right now for a reasonable price.

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