View Full Version : Portrait Lens for Graphic View II?

11-Jul-2014, 15:45
Just purchased a Graphic View II. I've been doing a lot of research but there's still a few thing's I'm unsure about. One of them is what type of lens would be good for portraits. I heard that 300mm's are normal portrait lens for 4x5 view cameras but I also read somewhere that you have to make sure the lens for the view is greater than 90mm and less than 300mm. Any help on what would be a good portrait lens? I heard the Rodenstock Sironar 240mm f/5.6 lens is good for large format but would I be able to focus considering the length of my bellows?

11-Jul-2014, 16:21
In my opinion, around 210mm. The GVII that I have stood duty in a commercial portrait studio through the 50s, 60s, and 70s, with a 210/4.5 Ilex Paragon, which I still have. I recently bought another Paragon, a 300/6.3, and it's waaaaay too long for anything but heads at a reasonable range, though the bellows will reach, mostly. I bought it for my 5x7, not 4x5.

The traditional measure for a portrait lens was film length + width, which makes 9" for 4x5 and 12" for 5x7, which I think is about just right. If you're stuck on having a long lens, depending on what you do, the 240 probably wouldn't be horrible.

If you discover that your new camera changes focus as you tighten things up (you can see the standards move as you tighten the locks), I have a strategy to fix that, easily . . . just ask and I'll take some how-to pix.

At first I wasn't too impressed with mine, but once I got it tuned up, it turns out to be quite a nice camera for its age, and easy to pack, as monorails go, and durable. I got more into it when I learned that the Graphic View is the camera Karsh used for on-the-road jobs that didn't require 8x10!

11-Jul-2014, 21:12
The Velostigmat, a Tessar design, is very nice and smooth at wider apertatures. As a bonus they are still reasonably priced. I agree with the 8-9 inch length for portraits.

I should add the the pre-war lens is called the Velostigmat, and the post war is called the Raptar. Same lens, just that the Raptar is coated. It will have the CW (W inside a C) logo to show "Wolly Coated." I like the olde uncoated lenses but both are very nice.

I've been using a 150mm Heliar with good success for family portraits.

12-Jul-2014, 05:32
Thank you for all the great answers. I'll probably go for a 210mm then and get used to that. I'd also like to experiment with wet plate collodion, and for this I know I will require a bright camera, around f/3. Any lens recommendations for a lens that's bright and soft? The Graphic view is a copal #0, not sure if #1 and #2 can work also. So for this I think I'm very limited with a selection on lenses.

Andrew Plume
12-Jul-2014, 06:07

I have a 210mm f4.5 Zeiss Tessar, a fairly old one, dispenses some lovely bokeh and if considered, produces some terrific close up/still life etc images

good luck


12-Jul-2014, 06:50
If you go for wet plate, you have to use a Petzval. It's required by federal law. ;)

12-Jul-2014, 07:12
Most big lenses and shutters will fit fine, though you may have to put any Packard shutter on the front of the lens rather than the back. The thing that the Graphic View doesn't handle well is modern wide angles, because the sunken board is so small inside--you're mostly limited to the old Raptars and Optars that were made for the camera.

For that funky old look, how about one of these, with the Packard shutter on the front?

12-Jul-2014, 07:37
If that graphic view has the 4x4 lensboards, you can use pretty big, upto copal 3 without problem. For portraits, the 210ish range is good.
I'd suggest something with a shutter like the copal3, compound, ilex, et... An ilex5 would be too big probably.

Triplets, tessars, heliars are great smooth lenses. Triplets include the Trioplan, Cooke has a few, and many others, including the contemporary Fuji soft focus, which I'd suggest as a smooth triplet stopped down a bit rather than actual soft focus. Rapid rectilinears can do well too. I'd suggest a tessar or triplet to get started simple and cheap. I like the Fujinar 210/4.5 tessar, but there are many capable equivalents.

Soft focus options with a smaller-medium sized modern shutter include the Veritar. Galli meniscus, cooke 945ps. If it's only for studio use a packard shutter can be modded to sync strobes. People have done good thing with magnifying glasses or closeup lenses too if you're adventurous.

12-Jul-2014, 08:09
My two big lenses are Ilex 4s. I think you're right, a 5 would probably be too much.

12-Jul-2014, 19:15
That would be pretty a pretty good focal length for doing wet plate. And yes i'd love to do close up portraits. Bokeh would be great for the portraits background. What copal # is it?

12-Jul-2014, 19:18
I have been looking at some online. They seem very inexpensive and they were made specifically for wet plate hm? What type of images do the lenses produce? Softness? Would a 210 give me some good bokeh for portraits?

12-Jul-2014, 19:26
Sorry for being a bit clueless, but what is a packard shutter? Would the mean finding a lens without a shutter or replacing the shutter with a certain type?
Since I'm doing portraits and not landscape I won't be needing a wide angle, thankfully because I couldn't imagine carrying it anywhere with me even though I have it's original case haha. The lenses in the link don't seem to bad, nothing fancy but inexpensive and I'm assuming they'd get the job done well? How much would a packard shutter be and where may I find one with a F/3 or F/4 focal length? Would it be hard to get on the lens also..I've never had to put a shutter on a lens before.

12-Jul-2014, 19:29

12-Jul-2014, 19:33
You're the second person to mention the Packard shutter here. Thanks for all the lens suggestions I'll definitely take this week to do some searching. Also, Syncing to strobes sounds very handy, I haven't even thought of how I would work with lighting yet in the studio, and if you have any recommendations for that please tell. I've been hearing people suggest everything from grow plant lights to UV lighting, and since I'll be doubling the studio space with digital AND my 4x5 wet plate my lighting for digital isn't going to work out very well I assume?
As for magnifying glasses and closeup lenses I'm all ears! I'm an adventurous spirit, part of the reason I decided to get into large format/wet plate :)

John Kasaian
12-Jul-2014, 20:14
I have a pre war uncoated Wollensak Velostigmat for my GVII which I really like. They can be found pretty cheap considering how good they are.

12-Jul-2014, 21:37
I'm a little bit confused with the petzvals. They seem really nice and vintage like, but I can't find any with bigger lengths. How are they used for portraits if the standard for 4x5 portrait photography is 210-250, or am I just having no luck in finding those?

Carsten Wolff
12-Jul-2014, 23:22
10" 4.5 or 5.6 Wollensak Tele is a very nice (and cheap) lens that needs less bellows than your run of the mill 210s.... The 210/6.3 Komura is also excellent value.

Louis Pacilla
13-Jul-2014, 10:35
I'm a little bit confused with the petzvals. They seem really nice and vintage like, but I can't find any with bigger lengths. How are they used for portraits if the standard for 4x5 portrait photography is 210-250, or am I just having no luck in finding those?

Plenty of f5 petzvals out there for reasonable prices and they are plenty fast enough for most wet plate work, all but the darkest studio/location work. Look for a Wollensak Vesta f5 modified petzval and most are in Wollensak Studio Iris shutters which work both as the iris and shutter @ the same time. Look for either the Vesta (5x7) 10" f5 or the Vesta (6 1/2 x 8 1/2) 11 1/2" f5 Portrait lens. They are plentiful and go for less then period correct Petzval portrait lenses go for.

29-Jul-2014, 00:09
For a petzval or barrel lens how would I actually take a picture? I know I can use a packard shutter, but what if I wanted to do the cap or hat method? On all the ones I've seen so far it doesn't look like there's anywhere to put a cable release in.

29-Jul-2014, 01:12
I've been searching online for one of the zeiss tessars, and a lot of them appear to be barrel lenses without shutters. If I didn't purchase a packard shutter and decided I wanted to use a lens cap or hat for exposing my images how would I go about doing that to take an actual picture? Is there something for the barrel lenses to attach a cable release?

29-Jul-2014, 03:21
look for a 10" tele optar .. the often times can be found in an alphax shutter
and thet are a sleeper of a lens. pleasing wide open and contrasty+sharp if you like that stopped down if you enjoy thst sort of thing.
ive one in a barrel and use it on a speeder .. ... and the barrels are cheaper if you want to pony up a shutter ...


29-Jul-2014, 03:57
Wet plate is pretty slow, no? A barrel lens using a loose leather lens cap will work fine up to about 1 second, faster than that would kind of be a guess. Then, again, the sensitivity of wet plate you brew up yourself will be kind of up for debate and you most likely will be developing by inspection. (You watch the plate as it develops and pull it out when it is 'done'. Not done much with modern, panchromatic films but it used to be a regular way of life for LF shooters in the old days.)

Liquid Artist
29-Jul-2014, 13:56
There is some good advice here so far.
I have a GV I, and although I haven't tried my only 300, a Rodenstock 300mm apo ronar on it I don't think it would make a good combination. There just isn't enough bellows length to blur the background.
Whereas a 210mm is beautiful on it.

The Alphax shutter John mentioned is a sweet self cocking unit (just push the shutter button, nothing else to fiddle with) and I have read one of the most reliable shutters made. However a Packard shutter, and barrel lenses would sure make it one beautiful camera.

I can use my 90mm on mine, focused to infinite, however I don't have enough bellows pulled out for any useful movements. If you do a lot of wide angle work you're most likely going to need a recessed lens board for it.

Although I rarely touch my GV, I am probably starting wet plate photography soon, and it's probably the camera I'll be using until I find the right 5x7.
They are well made, have all the movements you really need, and even look good. What more could you want?