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Thread: Perfect Lens for a 617 with Movements???

  1. #21

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    Jun 2002
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    Re: Perfect Lens for a 617 with Movements???

    Hold on, I went back and re-read.

    First the OP wants to build a better camera than any yet-so-far ever made. Good luck!

    Second, he says he doesn't know about 5x7 or larger lenses. I wonder if he has even used 4x5 yet? I'm betting he hasn't.

    Third, he is in medical school... !?!

    And fourth, he is tight on money. Any wonder?

    While I am sure a $1200 90XL would be amazing, the sort of lens this guy needs is a $250 Schneider 120 Angulon or something in that ball-park. An inexpensive vintage wide-angle -- a simple tiny, slow 90 year old lens... seriously. They are usually quite sharp and have a wonderful rendering... I know the mindset is to shoot with the sharpest most-modern glass but you'll just end up compromising further down the workflow chain (mediocre scans render the $2000 lens pointless for example). So why not learn to adjust to mindset of making a good picture instead of owning bragging rights? Besides when the money kicks in, you could always trade up and mount the four-figure $$$$ Uber-lens, become bitterly disappointed with it and find out I was right ;-p

    (It's up to you if you want to be messing around with camera design and building at all given the time and financial constraints of medical training. But my advice is to forget about reinventing the wheel and just buy something more modest and less than you can afford... then go out and enjoy shooting making the most of your limited resources and time.)

  2. #22

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    Re: Perfect Lens for a 617 with Movements???

    Frank... I agree but the OP posted "mixed messages". He stated that he wants "low cost" but admitted that he he's experienced "buyer's remorse" by not acquiring "better optics". My experience is to buy the better optics because experiencing an empty wallet is better than the remorse of buying what I never wanted.

  3. #23

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    Smile Re: Perfect Lens for a 617 with Movements???

    Thank you all for your fantastic replies so far!
    Here is my incredibly long response, with lens bits at the bottom:

    First, to answer some questions:
    Old-N-Feeble is 100% right about my ďbuyerís remorseĒ comment. It took a long time, but I finally learned itís best to do things right the first time, else kick yourself along the way until you eventually buy what you knew was right in the first place (at a higher cost, waste of time, and headache). Iíll happily shell out a few hundred extra bucks to get the right lens for the job. At this point in my life, Iím okay with eating Ramen and PB&J instead of steak... That being said, if I opt for a pricier lens, Iíll have to be more careful with my materials/building process. If youíre dumping a ton of money on something, go big or go home, else feel the remorse.

    Frank hit it on the head too:
    ď...the OP wants to build a better camera than any yet-so-far ever made.Ē
    The reason to build a 617 camera is to make something customized to how I want to capture the world. Thereís a sizeable list of shots Iíve dreamed of taking that I canít capture without the flexibility of my design.. There are a large number of 617 cameras out there with movements, but theyíre very expensive. Why pay extra if I can build it myself for less than half the price? And itís fun to sculpt something new.
    Also, as far as med studies go, Iíd die without art in my life.

    Greg & Corran, youíre also absolutely right about the 6x12 wide game, but 6x17 has a special place in my heart, and on my/my clientsí walls (I print 24Ē wide, so panoramas look incredible at 60+ inches long). For whatever reason, the 6x12 format has always seemed too short to me.. But lots of people love it.

    Alexn, Sully, & Lachlan, itís a good thought, but Iíve got two reasons not to start with a Shen-Hao back, 1) I can do it better, 2) I can do it cheaper. Also, thanks Alexn for sharing your experience with the back on a 4x5!

    Also, thanks for the calculator Emmanuel. Iíve just been using charts from the manufacturers for my comparisons.

    Now, more details:
    Iím in the early stages of this project. Right now I have a solid pile of my design sketches, a huge library of images of other 617 camera designs, and a small but growing collection of parts.

    My timeline for this project is design and parts collection between now and the end of June. The building/assembly process will happen after I move into my new apartment in July. The reason for the long process is limited free time. I take my medical board exam (STEP1) on June 16th. Between then and now, my life is mostly dedicated to studying, with fun/creative things like this on the backburner.

    Ideally, Iíll have a fully working camera by the end of July, just in time to capture some excellent shots of summer.

    As far as some folks concern about shooting rather than building, no worries! Though I recently sold my 5DMkII because Iím out of the business sector and back into the fine art game, on my bookshelf I have a nice selection of 28 wonderful film cameras to play with on a whim. I regularly walk around with my Widelux F7 and almost always have my Olympus 35RC in my pocket. (All of the cameras I own were sold to me for parts, and I restored/CLA/nursed them back to health. And my 24Ē printer was a gift from a very kind artist, which was also terribly broken, but is now fully restored, in case you were curious.)
    Just for fun, Iíve attached one of my Widelux shots I recently scanned.

    Also, I do have a 4x5 camera and have played with plenty of 4x5 lenses, but Iíve never had the pleasure of using any 5x7, 8x10, etc. cameras. I think 4x5 is a fantastic medium, but carrying the camera, film holders, lenses, etc. takes a lot more effort and space than a pocket full of 120 film. 4x5 has a special place in my heart, but the goal of this project is to make a 617 with the power of LF movements. Hopefully I can minimize the size and weight of the camera if Iím clever.

    For those curious, Iíll create another thread detailing the stages of designing and building this camera, every step of the way, as soon as I start the assembly process.

    For now, my focus is finding the perfect lens. And as Old-N-Feeble suggested, Iíll eventually have a set of lenses to play with on this camera, but I am looking for the best of the best as a starting point until I can save enough money to expand my focal range.

    Back to Lenses:
    The general consensus here seems to be go with the Schneider 90mm f/5.6 Super-Angulon XL.

    The Schneider 72 SAXL has an image circle of 226mm.
    The Nikkor SW 90 has an image circle of 235mm.
    The Schneider 90 SAXL has an image circle of 259mm.
    The Schneider 110 SSXL has an image circle of 288mm.
    The Grandagon-N 115 has an image circle of 291mm.
    The Nikkor SW 120 has an image circle of 312mm.

    Do any of you folks have any experience with these lenses wide open? Iíd love to hear your thoughts on light falloff and sharpness..

    Do you think the wider 90SAXL is worth the shorter movements compared to the 110-120 lenses? To give you an idea of my shooting style, my favorite 35mm-format lenses are all 24mm, and my favorite MF lenses are 40mm.

    Thanks again for all of your help!

    Cheers,
    Andrew

    My Widelux shot I mentioned earlier, titled Falling Into Symmetry:
    Click image for larger version. 

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  4. #24
    Lachlan 717
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    Apr 2007
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    Re: Perfect Lens for a 617 with Movements???

    I didn't write that you should get a Shen Hao back; I wrote that you should get a Shen Hao 617 camera.

    I'd be interested to know what it is you think you can achieve with your alleged design that this camera cannot do.
    Lachlan.

    You miss 100% of the shots you never take. -- Wayne Gretzky

  5. #25

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    Re: Perfect Lens for a 617 with Movements???

    Quote Originally Posted by Lachlan 717 View Post
    I didn't write that you should get a Shen Hao back; I wrote that you should get a Shen Hao 617 camera.

    I'd be interested to know what it is you think you can achieve with your alleged design that this camera cannot do.
    Mostly just cost less, but also be physically smaller, and have the ability to add a longer bellows/possible macro ability, and be something I've created rather than purchased. The art of designing/building is as much fun as snapping the shots. (Ironically, I don't want to be a surgeon.)

  6. #26

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    Re: Perfect Lens for a 617 with Movements???

    Also, in the parallel thread I have on APUG, a fella named Oren Grad made a similar comment to Frank about starting with a cheap older lens and moving up. After hearing the different thoughts/ideas from a lot of people, I'm inclined to do just that. It'd be easier to work out the kinks if I have more money to play with for the body, and lenses tend to retain their value so I can just sell it back when I need to upgrade.

    So, I suppose I'll hunt for any of the recommended lenses and jump on the one I can find for the best price. I'm in no hurry.
    I just need to find the best deal...

    That being said, my questions about the lenses stand. Any personal accounts about falloff and sharpness at wider apertures are appreciated.

    Thanks again!

  7. #27

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    Re: Perfect Lens for a 617 with Movements???

    You should probably just shoot with an affordable lens and see how it goes. Your questions are good ones but wanting to shoot wide-open and also use a lot of movements runs counter to each other, since lens coverage is dependent on how much you stop down. Plenty of lenses will cover 5x7 with ample movements at f/22 but be barely usable wide-open. Also the depth-of-field effect on separating your subject from the background that you might be hoping for from a 90mm on 6x17 will likely not be as dramatic as you might expect. You will likely only use shift and rise movements, and stop down to f/16-22 in your practical use of the camera.

    Oren posts here too. Sometimes he answers differently just to mess with your head.

  8. #28

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    Re: Perfect Lens for a 617 with Movements???

    Hey folks,

    I just wanted to let you know that even after our great discussion, I ended up buying a brand new Caltar II-N 115 a moment ago for $500. I figured I couldn't pass up that deal. Worst case scenario, I sell it for at least what I bought it for and move on to something different. The 115 will let me do all the crazy movements/shots I've been planning, then I can move to something physically lighter and wider (I'll keep this chat in the back of my mind in the future).

    I'll post another thread when I start building/assembling my beast (probably around the start of July). Until then, I'm collecting parts and refining my design.

    Thanks again for all of your help! Happy shooting!

    Cheers,
    Andrew

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