View Full Version : first wide angle lens

Miguel Curbelo
1-Oct-2004, 16:10
I have just acquired a LF camera to undertake a project on Spanish colonial architecture. It will involve mostly exterior shots of fašades in either early morning or evening light. I have no previous experience with view cameras or large format lenses, and since the first lens I'm planning to purchase is a 90mm I have the following question to ask: will an f8 lens prove too difficult to focus with, will it simply be "difficult" or time consuming, or will it actually prove frustratingly impractical for my purpose? I appreciate this is essentially a subjective issue, but since there are no lenses available for me to try personally before I buy one your experience might help me decide whether I should opt for a more expensive 6.8 or 5.6 alternative. Thank you kindly for any input on this.

1-Oct-2004, 17:41
I don't think so. If anything the smaller aperature will yield a lense smaller, lighter, and less expensive then a larger aperature one. I use a Schneider Super Angulon 90mm f/8 for landscapes on a 4x5" Horseman view camera and though it is a dim image, I don't think it is too dim to use. Granted after putting a polarizer, and a 3 stop GND filter on the front it does get a bit dim. But still useable. I have never had a f/5.6 though on a LF camera though so I don't have much to comare it to.

Mark Sawyer
1-Oct-2004, 17:42
I'm guessing you're choosing between the Angulon and the Super-Angulon. I suggest the f/8. It is only slightly darker than the other two for focusing, and with a semi-reasonable dark-cloth and loupe (both must-haves regardless of the lens) focusing will not be an issue. Also, the f/8 is a much smaller, lighter lens (!) and less prone to damage. Oh, and it's much cheaper too.

Gem Singer
1-Oct-2004, 18:04
Hi Miguel,

With a brightening screen on your camera and a good darkcloth, you should be fully capable of composing and focusing the image on the groundglass, even under the dim outdoor lighting conditions that you describe, using a 90mm. f8 lens. A faster 90mm.lens would not only be more expensive, but it would also be larger in size and heavier in weight. It would require larger, more expensive filters.

Now, having said all that, if your budget will allow for a Schneider Super- Symmar f5.6 110XL, the whole picture changes.

Miguel Curbelo
1-Oct-2004, 18:08
Thank you for your replies. The lens I am considering is the nikkor 90mm f8 SW on account of its image circle-weight-price combination. JZ, is a filter really necessary with this lens? I was under the impression that filters only became a must with lenses wider than 90mm. Again, thank you for any input on this.

Gem Singer
1-Oct-2004, 18:24
Good choice Miguel,

I didn't find it necessary to use a center filter when I owned a Nikkor f8 90SW. However, I frequently used a yellow, green, or orange filter to darken the sky, lighten the foilage, etc. with B&W film and a polarizer or a warming filter with color film.

1-Oct-2004, 19:14
For the Schneider Super Angulon I have I do not need a center filter, but I do regularly employ a liner polarizer and a 3 stop GND using the Cokin P holder. But that has nothing to do with the lens of course. For my purposes it's a great lens for landscapes.

Miguel Curbelo
2-Oct-2004, 02:10
Thank you all for your answers, you have helped me dispel my doubts.

Armin Seeholzer
2-Oct-2004, 03:46
HI Miguel

I'm totaly opposite to the statements from the others and I have an old f8 90 Super Angulon single coated and a Nikkor 4,5 f 90 and for your work especially as a beginner it is much easier to focus an f 4,5 lens in dim conditions and I fully desagre with them. But of course it can be done with f8 lens but it is much faster with an f 4,5 or f 5,6 then with an f 8 and especially at the evening you need to be fast because the blue hour takes not to long anyway! In the long run you will be more happy with the f 4,5 then you know you have the best wich is possible! Good luck and good light!

Ralph Barker
2-Oct-2004, 09:28
Like Armin, I had trouble focusing the f/8 90mm Super Angulon I purchased first. Although I could get passed the initial focusing problem by careful use of the darkcloth and waiting for my eyes to adjust properly, checking DOF while stopping down was impossible for me. I went to the (larger, heavier, more expensive) f/5.6, and was much happier. There are, of course, work-arounds that are more budget-friendly, such as supplemental focusing lights, or the use of a laser pointer, but they usually involve even more hassle. Thus, I'm a strong proponent of buying the best, most versatile lenses one can afford - even if that entails a measure of less-instant gratification.

2-Oct-2004, 10:39
As alternatives to the gigantic Super Angulon XL, don't forget the Schneider Super Symmar XL, which comes in both 80mm (f/4.5) and 110mm (f/5.6). For architecture, the 80 is more appropriate IMHO.

Michael S. Briggs
2-Oct-2004, 13:05
I've used an 90 mm f8 Nikkor-SW and had no problems focusing during daylight. In dimmer light a faster lens would be easier for focusing and composing. Is "early morning or evening light" with the sun still above the horizon, or is it sufficiently dark that you would turn on your headlights while driving? If the latter, a faster lens would probably help.

With normal 3D subjects, you will want to stop the lens down to the planned taking aperture (such as f16 to f32) to check the depth of field. If you can manage to see the image at f22, then composing at f8 will be easy by comparison. If you can't see the image at f22, then depth of field will probably be guesswork. You could determine depth of field with measurements and tables, but I expect that LF photographers will bother. I'm puzzled by Ralph's comment, which seems to be saying that he found it easier to check dof with a fast lens -- f22 is f22, whether from an f5.6 or f8 lens.

Using a truly opaque darkcloth helps a lot -- even a small leak of daylight onto the ground glass will make seeing a dim image on the ground glass much harder.

Mark Sawyer
2-Oct-2004, 13:35
Michael makes a good point: "f/22 is f/22." If concerned about the brightness of the lens, I'd borrow the brighter one and stick it on a camera in the lighting you're worried about. Then set it to f/8 and check out the ground glass. While looking at it, open the f/stops to maximum. This is the difference you'll be paying for in the price, size, and weight of the lens, (and filters for it.)

Ain't no universal right answer, just what's right for you, and I'd wanna look and decide for myself.

Miguel Curbelo
3-Oct-2004, 03:17
Again, thank you everyone for your answers. Would a reflex viewer provide a brighter picture than a dark cloth?

Armin Seeholzer
3-Oct-2004, 04:16
Not really but it depends a bit! A mirror is always a loss in light transmission, but the reflex viewer is total light tight wich a dark cloth is many times not fully. If you have the sun in your back its not always easy to get a dark cloth really dark! I'm faster with the reflex viewer on my Arca because I then have the hands free for the camera. And on the very wide lenses the reflex viewer is just dark at the corners if its not a sunny day!

Gem Singer
3-Oct-2004, 07:38

If you are going to invest in a reflex viewer, as well as a Nikkor f8 90SW, you might as well purchase a Super-Symmar XL at the beginning. The total price will be almost the same. Reflex viewers are not inexpensive. They are bulky and inconvenient to use outdoors. They do not always provide a brighter image. There is no substitute for a brightening screen for the groundglass, a good darkcloth, and a high quality 4-6X focusing loupe.

3-Oct-2004, 19:06
One point: if you are using a reflex viewer you will need a fresnel lens too or all you will see in dim light is the centre of the screen. Even with the fresnel, the edges will be darker & final focussing will usually need to be done with a loupe - I find I can just use the loupe on the screen for this (without a cloth) as my loupe creates a light-tight seal around its lens.


Miguel Curbelo
3-Oct-2004, 23:54
Oh dear, this is rather a vast new world I'm moving into...Thank you all.