View Full Version : Which lenses would do you have for 4X10 and why?

Peter Hruby
24-Nov-2004, 11:19
Hello everybody,

I searched through this forum and looked for a quite few opinions, what lens would be considered for 4x10. It was pretty confused by opinions, so I decided to open this question to get more detail information.

I will not be specific for certain lenses, because I would like to hear everybody's opinion and not have a discussion based what I would choose.

Let's start some of my opinions for a beginning. I do have some experience with panorama pictures from 35 mm cameras and as a next step to the future is to go large. Medium format would be only step to large anyway, so I am here. I had lens with 20, 28, 35 - 70 zoom, 50, 135, 75 - 300 mm, 1000mm. As you can see, it is quite a range from SW, W, Normal, Portrait and Long and X-Long lenses. Everyone can be used for panoramic, the angle of view, distance and perspective was only the consideration to choose lens to get picture you like.

I know what worked for 35mm format. I believe that 4x10 format is way too different from point of view perspective. Especially, you can do movements which may give it more options. I am looking for suggestions like:

What do you use for 4x10 most of your time and why?
What is your choice for lens as standard package, angle of view, the distance from scene you shoot movementís options?
Any other thing I didn't even mentioned here?

Peter Hruby

William Blunt
24-Nov-2004, 12:09
The lens that gets the most use with my 4x10 is a 180 symar s which barely covers. I also use a 240 gold dot dagor, 300mm nikor m and a 450 fuji c. I do have a 190 wf extar with a bit more coverage but the 180 is much smaller in size and has a modern shutter so it gets used more often.Most of my photographs are landscapes and the wider view with the 4x10 (or I guess you could say the narrower view) works well with the way I see. I've never needed to use a lot of movements with the 4x10.
Wm Blunt

Edward (Halifax,NS)
24-Nov-2004, 12:18
If I were to give 4X10 a try I would shoot with a 150mm lens. I would be contact printing so my G Claron would be fine. I'd have to stop down to f/45 or f/64 to cover the format but since I wouldn't be enlarging diffraction wouldn't be a problem. Most of my shots would use front tilt to include infinity focus.

Steve Nieslony
24-Nov-2004, 12:21
A 90mm Super Angulon XL (the big one) just covers 4x10 if you want to go real wide.

110 Super Symmar XL
150 Super Symmar XL
240 Sironar
300 Nikkor M

I have tried a 180 Sironar S and it's a tight fit. 210 Symmar will work as well.


Mark Sawyer
24-Nov-2004, 12:58
Being a "panorama" format, 4x10 obviously cries out at the top of its lungs for a wide angle. The most underappreciated wide angle is the 159mm Wollensak, which comes in f/9.5 or f/12.5. I have the 12.5 for my 8x10, and love it.

Brian Vuillemenot
24-Nov-2004, 13:46
Sure, wide angles are great, but panoramic formats can also be used for more narrow angle,s cloesups, and macro- they're for more than just capturing expansive vistas! Here are some suggestions:

110 SS XL- ultra wide, and you may need a center filter

150 Nikkor SW or SS XL

210 SS XL, SS HM, Apo Sironar S, Apo Symmar-L, Fujinon W (the last three just cover without much movements)- I like the 210 better than wider angles, but I'm not a huge user of ultra wides anyway.

300 Apo Sironar S, Apo Sironar N, Nikkor W, Nikkor M, Fujinon C, and quite a few others

450 Fujinon C or Nikkor M

600 Fujinon C

Obviously, I haven't used all the lenses listed above, but they will work fine for 4X10. My favorite focal lengths in this format are 210, 300, and 450. Good luck! By the way, what camera are you planning on using- a dedicated 4X10 or an 8X10 with a cut darkslide?

Kerry L. Thalmann
24-Nov-2004, 15:39
I'm currently on my second go-around with 4x10. The first time around, I had the following lenses:

115mm Grandagon-N

165mm Angulon

210mm Nikkor W

300mm Nikkor M

450mm Nikkor M

The 165mm and 210mm were my favorite focal lengths, followed closely by the 300mm. I bought the 115mm Grandagon-N specifically to shoot 4x10, but didn't use it as much as I thought I would. It covers with a bit left over for movements, but it's a fairly large lens and with any lens this wide I found I need a center filter to compensate for illumination fall-off (I shoot color transparency film). Shortly before I sold my 4x10 outfit, I replaced the 115mm Grandagon-N with a 120mm f8 Nikkor SW, which has a larger image circle and was a bit smaller and lighter.

This time around I'm experimenting with a number of lenses:

110mm Super Symmar XL - smaller, lighter and faster than either the 115mm Grandagon-N or 120mm Nikkor SW. I have the proper enter filter for this lens which helps even out the illumination.

150mm f9 Graphic-Kowa

159mm f12.5 Wollensak Raptar Extreme Wide Angle

I'm currently experimenting with these two to see which one I like better.

210mm APO Symmar

210mm G Claron

The APO Symmar is my regular 210, but the G Claron is smaller and lighter so I use it for longer hikes.

300mm Nikkor M - Superb

450mm Fujinon C - Also superb

600mm Fujinon C - for when I want something REALLY long.

I also have a 240mm Fujinon A that covers and is a wonderful little lens.

Eventuallty, I plan to take the 4x10 backpacking and will probably carry three or four small lenses. Probably either 150/159, 210mm G Claron, 300mm Nikkor M and 450mm Fujinon C or 150/159, 240mm Fujinon A and 450mm Fujinon C. These are all compact, lightweight lenses that cover 4x10 with room to spare.

It's funny, because I don't normally shoot a lot with really wide lenses on any format. The 110mm Super Symmar is one of my favorite lenses on 4x5, but seems really wide on 4x10. That said, I have actually found myself in a couple situations where I wanted something even wider (I might end up renting a 90mm Super Angulon XL for a week sometime just to get those shots).

I really liked the focal length of the 165mm Angulon the first time around. To bad there isn't something of similar focal length, size, weight and coverage that's multicoated and in a more modern shutter. I think my perfect 4x10 wide angle would be a modern update of the classic 158mm f6.5 Cooke Series VIIb. Since Cooke is back in the large format business, and has already introduced an updated version of their classic triple convertible, I may get my wish yet. As much as I like this focal length, I'm not willing to carry around (or pay for) one of the huge newer wide angles (155mm Grandagon-N or 165mm Super Angulon). So, for now it looks like the 150mm Graphic-Kowa and 159mm Wollensak will battle it out for my wide angle of choice on the 4x10 format.


George Stewart
24-Nov-2004, 16:01
I've been shooting with a 4x10 box camera (no bellows or movements), using a 90XL, for around 10 years. I went to the 90 because of a desire for the smallest camera I could get. Going this wide isn't for every shot, but it's nice to have.

Kerry L. Thalmann
24-Nov-2004, 16:07
Hi George,

You were the first one I thought of when I saw this thread. You may not remember, but we met several years ago in Yosemite (I believe it was March, 1998). You were shooting with your 4x10 box camera and I was using a 6x17 that I'd cobbled together from an old US Navy Torpedo camera.


Peter Hruby
25-Nov-2004, 10:36

That is a very wide range of lenses everybody uses. I see that weight of lens is very important to decide what you guys chose. Also, what I figured out is that normal or wide lenses are more practical for 4x10 than s - wide ones, on the other side there is a need for s-wideís.

Brian, I do have a Deardorff 8X10 so I am considering building special back to position 8x10 back into a middle of my Deardorff. As everybody knows 4x10 needs at least 273.56 mm. Many lens if you stop them down very deeply, you will get there. Unfortunately for my work I need fast lenses, so few lenses mentioned here, especially with close coverage will not be the best for me.

Kerry, great approach to topic, thank you for your contribution.

Regarding to the distance and coverage angle. For panoramas, the most important thing is how much vertical angle you need related to horizontal with the distance you gonna shoot. We are talk about 4x10 panoramas, so if on 10 inch horizontal your angle coverage is 105 degrees, on vertical would be 42 degrees. So 42 degrees pretty high considering you have something half mile from you, but if you are 5-20 yards from center of you interest, you might use these lens. The only trick part regarding to S-wide lens is perspective and vertical and horizontal deformation (I think it's called curvilinear distortion). The perspective can be accomplished by choosing something close overlapping background, but straight lines might be difficult to achieve, unless you have aspheric photographic lenses like Supper Symmar 110 XL, but these lens have their cons like coverage with very limited movements, center filter and price!!!.

If you distance increases, you can achieve same result but you need less and less angle of view, so you got to a wide lens and continue through normal lens to a long lens. Perspectives is changing to a narrower or letís say more flat position, so you need to give more thought where exactly you will position you camera to get best perspective of the same shot. Huh. I hope I'm right here. And finally if you are somewhere in long range the picture is different again, you are very far from scene and you take more objects into your final scene what is between you and the final scene.

Let's go back to lens.

I have my eye for Nikkor 120 SW lens. It is 105 Deg, filter size 77mm, circle coverage 310 mm - little movement possible. No center filter needed. Price is very acceptable. Sharp lens. Pros and cons ratio I'd consider is the best. That would be my start. If you need to shoot something which is fairly in close distance with great angle, I would thing this lens will give you exactly I would need.

I didn't decided yet what would be the Wide, Normal and Normal - Long type (last one I call Portrait one).

So that's me and my thoughts.

Wayne Firth
25-Nov-2004, 21:45
It seems that when people think of panoramic they think of ultra wide but I think of panoramic more for it's aspect ratio rather than trying to fit the entire world into the frame.

I use two lenses on my homemade 4x10. The wide is the 121 SA and the not so wide is the 240 G-Claron. I thought I would use the 121 for everything but not everything looks good ultra wide. I now tend to use the the 240 most of the time.

I have a Canham 4x10 that I never use because I like to work fast and light which I can do better with the homemade.

Here is a picture of my homemade 4x10 with 121 SA lens


Kerry L. Thalmann
26-Nov-2004, 13:39
As everybody knows 4x10 needs at least 273.56 mm.

The actual image diagonal is a little bit less. It will vary slightly depending on which holders you're using, but should be somewhere in the 266 - 267mm range.

I have my eye for Nikkor 120 SW lens. It is 105 Deg, filter size 77mm, circle coverage 310 mm - little movement possible. No center filter needed. Price is very acceptable.

The 120mm Nikkor SW is a great lens and offers the most coverage of the modern wide angles in this focal length range. But, why don't you think a center filter will be necessary? I think the Nikkor SW series are some of the truly great wide angles ever made, but they have to obey the same laws of physics as lenses from Schneider, Rodenstock and Fuji. The fall-off will be comparable to other brands of similar focal length and design. For most standard (non wide angle) large format lenses, illumination closely follows the theoretical ideal cos^4 function. Most modern wide angles (Nikkor SW, Grandagon-N, Super Angulon, Fujinon SW) use a tilting entrance pupil design that results in less iluumination fall-off. In this case, the fall-off of these lenses closely follows the cos^3 function. I've seen illumnation curves for Schneider and Rodenstock lenses, and the illumination does indeed come fairly close to the theoretical ideals (cos^4 for standard designs and cos^3 for tilting entrance designs). I haven't seen any illumination curves for Nikon or Fujinon lenses, but based on my experience with the 90mm f8 Nikkor SW and the 75mm f4.5 Nikkor SW, I'd say they have not been granted an excemption from following the same laws of physics as everybody else.

I'm not saying you will definitely NEED a center filter with the Nikkor SW. It will depend on several variables (your own personal sensitivity to fall-off, your materials and printing methods, etc.). However, you are no less likely to need a center filter with the 120mm f8 Nikkor SW than comparable lenses from Schneider, Fujinon or Rodenstock. Of course, the Nikkor does have other advantages (coverage, size/weight, cost) over most of the competitors.

You also seem to be confusing the terms angle of view and angle of coverage. 120m will be very wide on 4x10. In fact, it's a focal length I like a lot on 6x12cm and 6x17cm (but then, I'm not a huge ultra wide angle user). On 4x5, something in the 150mm - 165mm range is usually considered "normal". Since you're familiar with the 35mm format... a 150mm lens on 4x10 will have the same angle of view in the vertical direction as a 37mm lens in the 35mm format and the same angle of view in the horizontal direction as a 21mm lens on 35mm. So, you can see even the "normal", for 4x5, 150mm lens becomes quite wide on 4x10. For a 120mm lens, the 35mm equivalents become 30mm vertical and 17mm horizontal - extremely wide.

You also mention you need fast lenses for your work. I'm curous why this is a requirement? Do you plan to shoot handheld? Do you want minimal depth of field? Is it a focusing issue? Also, keep in mind that lens coverage specs are usually given at infinity. If you're shooting substantially closer than infinity, the coverage will be larger, possibly significantly, than the published specs.


Peter Hruby
29-Nov-2004, 13:59
To respond to Kerry,

I need fast lenses to make direct-to-ciba (or direct-to-ilfochrome) pictures. Because of Ilfochrome speed is very low, I need to compensate with fast lenses. There is also few filters included between scene and lens, which creates even slower speed.

So, faster - better.

Regarding confusion of angle of coverage. I think we talk about the same, I am talking about angles of view, you are talking about comparison to a 35 mm lens. I think I was not confused, I believe we had been talking about same thing from different point of view.


Clayton Tume
29-Nov-2004, 17:11

that's a damn fine looking camera you've built there! Are you interested in selling it or the Canham?