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View Full Version : How long a lens are you using for H&S Portraits with 8x10 and larger?

Tin Can
20-Oct-2014, 16:37
I am wondering how long a lens portrait shooters are using for head and shoulders on 8x10, 11x14...

I stop at 11x14 because, that's all I got, but if anybody is doing H&S with ULF and beyond, please share your thoughts.

I do realize a short lens can work, and I see 35mm film portraits shot with 50mm to 300mm lenses. LF has different limitations and cannot copy those perspectives in the longer lengths.

Prefer users to theorists.

To Infinity and beyond.

mdarnton
20-Oct-2014, 16:54
The traditional portrait lens is film dimensions summed: 5=7=12, 8+10=18--certainly not any shorter. I'm using a 300mm for 5x7, and have an 18" Ektanon I'm fitting with a Packard to use for 8x10, and I wouldn't mind something a bit longer and f4.5, but what would that be? :-)

jcoldslabs
20-Oct-2014, 17:21
I haven't done tons of portraits, and most of them are of my wife, but I've used everything from 12" to 20" on 8x10 for H&S shots. Shorter lenses CAN work; here's one taken with a 13" opaque projector lens on 8x10:

Jonathan

Ari
20-Oct-2014, 17:28
Whatever suits my mood and the composition at the time.
On 8x10, I use 150, 250, 300 and 360; used to have a 420, but I sold it.
But 300 is my most used portrait lens by a good margin.

Craig Roberts
20-Oct-2014, 17:51
With the 8 x 10, the majority are shot with a 14-inch lens.

ic-racer
20-Oct-2014, 17:57
cannot copy those perspectives in the longer lengths.

Perspective is only determined by subject distance. If you 35mm camera is 6 feet from the subject, place the LF camera the same distance to duplicate the perspective. Duplicating angle of view is not so straightforward. You asked for practical experience and it is actually easiest to use trial and error of various focal length lenses on your view camera. I do have a spredasheet that calculates angle of view for large format lenses at various focal distances. That can be of value if one is purchasing lenses in new-to-the-user focal lengths.

Corran
20-Oct-2014, 18:13
I think some of you guys missed the "H&S" part of the question (head and shoulders).

The perspective of a h&s images using a 300mm lens on 35mm certainly can't be duplicated in 8x10 without a 2000mm lens or so and the requisite distance from the subject, other than using a shorter lens and cropping the image to the desired framing.

Personally I've used a 450mm lens for h&s but I'm more of an upper-body or full-body portrait kinda guy, at least what I've done with LF, usually with a 300mm on 8x10 or 135/150mm with 4x5.

ic-racer
20-Oct-2014, 18:26
Actually the perspective of a 300mm lens/35mm camera H&S shot can be duplicated exactly with any other camera at the same subject distance. That same angle of view on an 8x10 camera can be duplicated exactly with a Nikon T-1200 and a crop during enlarging.

goamules
20-Oct-2014, 18:41
Perspective maybe, but other things like depth of field are much harder to replicate.

Tin Can
20-Oct-2014, 18:43
Ok 'angle of view' not perspective.

My simple thoughts are ears get wider with shorter lenses. Faces widen, noses become larger.

Is that wrong thinking?

Tin Can
20-Oct-2014, 18:46
Perspective maybe, but other things like depth of field are much harder to replicate.

Not thinking of DOF or soft vs sharp as this time.

I had understood shooting long lenses on 35 mm say 135 Nikon DC gives more pleasant shape of face. Women seem thinner.

Is this wrong also?

Corran
20-Oct-2014, 18:47
ears get wider with shorter lenses. Faces widen, noses become larger.

Is that wrong thinking?

Given the same "framing," you are correct, but IC is correct that perspective is only a matter of distance. However, given the "constant" of a head+shoulders portrait, that means that different focal lengths will require different distances to the subject. So within the confines of your question, yes, a longer lens is what you want.

Corran
20-Oct-2014, 18:49
Actually the perspective of a 300mm lens/35mm camera H&S shot can be duplicated exactly with any other camera at the same subject distance. That same angle of view on an 8x10 camera can be duplicated exactly with a Nikon T-1200 and a crop during enlarging.

That's exactly what I said. Also, let's assume no/little cropping, since why crop half the negative or more by shooting a lens of half the needed focal length? Just shoot 4x5.

Tin Can
20-Oct-2014, 18:54
I also am a fan of Karsh, and he admited to using Ektar 14" commercial on 8x10 C1.

I copied his style, as far as pose and hands. A man looks OK, but a woman does not. My lady friends are almost as vain as my male friends. er, models...

Lot's of lenses are 14".

20-Oct-2014, 19:01
I can't add anything to the technical discussion but this is using a 300mm process lens on 8x10:

https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3709/11034458716_c675eb69a2.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/hP5u9d)
Self portrait on Impossible 8x10 (https://flic.kr/p/hP5u9d) by Anthony DeLorenzo (https://www.flickr.com/people/71902268@N00/), on Flickr

I have a huge melon and a pretty big nose but I think the perspective looks fairly natural.

Harold_4074
20-Oct-2014, 19:25
When the Kodak Portrait Lens was designed, the 305mm (12") was for 4x5 and the 405mm (16") was offered for 8x10 format. That should suggest something...

I've used my 405 for head-and-shoulders on 11x14, and it works quite well.

Tin Can
20-Oct-2014, 19:41
I can't add anything to the technical discussion but this is using a 300mm process lens on 8x10:

https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3709/11034458716_c675eb69a2.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/hP5u9d)
Self portrait on Impossible 8x10 (https://flic.kr/p/hP5u9d) by Anthony DeLorenzo (https://www.flickr.com/people/71902268@N00/), on Flickr

I have a huge melon and a pretty big nose but I think the perspective looks fairly natural.

Anthony, you do look pretty normal there. I would have thought that was longer than 300mm.

Tin Can
20-Oct-2014, 19:49
That's exactly what I said. Also, let's assume no/little cropping, since why crop half the negative or more by shooting a lens of half the needed focal length? Just shoot 4x5.

Yes, no cropping. I may have a couple loong lenses set up soon. Gotta build a Packard shutter box or 2 first.

What got me thinking was a set of images in that Macro book I bought and the writer shot a series of peapods with different length lenses, all same sensor size and DOF did not change (all 35mm) but relative shapes did change. You really need to see the pictures.

Tin Can
20-Oct-2014, 21:59
When the Kodak Portrait Lens was designed, the 305mm (12") was for 4x5 and the 405mm (16") was offered for 8x10 format. That should suggest something...

I've used my 405 for head-and-shoulders on 11x14, and it works quite well.

I have the 305 and it is good to 5x7, in my opinion. The 405 remains expensive and elusive. Still looking.

I am making a Linhof Packard shutter box tonight, just glued up the last piece. Tomorrow I can start trying a few barrel lenses with my big Linhof. With that rig I can shoot 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10 with almost 40" of draw.

The 11x14 is going to get a couple monster lenses in a while.

And Harold, I just got a 80's Deardorff price list. The SC11 was \$7200 base price and studio stands were out of production according to the price list. If you want a copy, let me know.

Alan Gales
20-Oct-2014, 22:24
I also am a fan of Karsh, and he admited to using Ektar 14" commercial on 8x10 C1.

I copied his style, as far as pose and hands. A man looks OK, but a woman does not. My lady friends are almost as vain as my male friends. er, models...

Lot's of lenses are 14".

Randy, I'm a big fan of Karsh too. Yes, he used a 14" Commercial Ektar but he included the person's surroundings too. He was also known to crop.

Richard Johnson
20-Oct-2014, 22:28
If you keep the person centered, as in the nose in the center and more "sky" over their head, you can minimize distortion and use a relatively wide 300mm. It's the edges that give you away, you see this with a lot of amateur shots where they used their wide angle zoom on their dslr to fit the entire person into the frame. You'll often see a beautiful svelte young girl with size 22 feet at the edge of the frame ;-p

A 14" Commercial Ektar or 360 Symmar is a great all-around people lens for 8x10, especially outdoors in natural light where you don't want a huge bellows extension to become a sail in the wind and you can use every bit of fractional speed possible over the longer lenses.

Sheldon N
21-Oct-2014, 21:56
The big thing with 8x10 portraiture is that as you approach head and shoulders portraiture you are starting to approach what would be considered "macro" photography with other formats, ie. you are starting to get close to a 1:1 reproduction ratio.

When you approach a 1:1 reproduction ratio, the amount of bellows extension dramatically affects the field of view that the film sees from the lens. At a true 1:1 ratio, or a subject size of 8x10 inches and a normal lens, you need 600mm of bellows extension and the field of view is cut in half from what it would normally be at 300mm. This means your effective focal length is like a 600mm lens, at least in terms of angular field of view. With the angle of view changing at high magnifications, that forces you to back the camera up... which gives a more flattering (telephoto) perspective.

This is why people can make good portraits with 8x10 and larger formats, despite using what would be considered a "normal" lens under other circumstances. A simple rule of thumb would be that your effective focal length is roughly the same as the amount of bellows extension required to make the portrait.

Tin Can
21-Oct-2014, 22:03
The big thing with 8x10 portraiture is that as you approach head and shoulders portraiture you are starting to approach what would be considered "macro" photography with other formats, ie. you are starting to get close to a 1:1 reproduction ratio.

When you approach a 1:1 reproduction ratio, the amount of bellows extension dramatically affects the field of view that the film sees from the lens. At a true 1:1 ratio, or a subject size of 8x10 inches and a normal lens, you need 600mm of bellows extension and the field of view is cut in half from what it would normally be at 300mm. This means your effective focal length is like a 600mm lens, at least in terms of angular field of view. With the angle of view changing at high magnifications, that forces you to back the camera up... which gives a more flattering (telephoto) perspective.

This is why people can make good portraits with 8x10 and larger formats, despite using what would be considered a "normal" lens under other circumstances. A simple rule of thumb would be that your effective focal length is roughly the same as the amount of bellows extension required to make the portrait.

I understand macro concepts. Since my cameras have up to 75" of bellows, I want to push the limits, in portraits.

I am curious if anyone else is going very long, particularly in 8x10 and 11x14. I know some van cameras and 20x24" cameras use very long lenses, but they have to in order to achieve coverage.

AtlantaTerry
21-Oct-2014, 22:59
LF has different limitations and cannot copy those perspectives in the longer lengths.

Is that really true?

On my 4x5" cameras I use 210mm, 240mm and 300mm lenses for head and shoulder portraits.

Carsten Wolff
21-Oct-2014, 23:48
Standard Head and Shoulder focal lengths that work well in 8x10 are anything that isn't wide angle, (as in all formats). - Generally, over 350mm. I've cheated, using a 5x7 (15" Tele Wollensak) lens on 8x10, which at portrait distances can work well, although it isn't perhaps the ideal option. Lenses with small max. apertures such as the 19" Artar, 450mm Fuji-C or Nikkor-M still work ok, but it is harder to achieve shallow enough DOF, if that is wanted, with those. Anything with larger max. aperture may be easier; i.e. we're looking mostly at vintage glass these days; the reason why the 14" Commercial-Ektar (f6.3) (and its clones) was/is popular and why I tried the 15" Wolly (f5.6). That is not to say that you couldn't get a, say, Cooke XVa to work for 8x10 portraiture :).

David A. Goldfarb
22-Oct-2014, 00:07
Various lenses, 12 to 14.5 inches.

Tin Can
22-Oct-2014, 00:13
Standard Head and Shoulder focal lengths that work well in 8x10 are anything that isn't wide angle, (as in all formats). - Generally, over 350mm. I've cheated, using a 5x7 (15" Tele Wollensak) lens on 8x10, which at portrait distances can work well, although it isn't perhaps the ideal option. Lenses with small max. apertures such as the 19" Artar, 450mm Fuji-C or Nikkor-M still work ok, but it is harder to achieve shallow enough DOF, if that is wanted, with those. Anything with larger max. aperture may be easier; i.e. we're looking mostly at vintage glass these days; the reason why the 14" Commercial-Ektar (f6.3) (and its clones) was/is popular and why I tried the 15" Wolly (f5.6). That is not to say that you couldn't get a, say, Cooke XVa to work for 8x10 portraiture :).

Well, I have a 15" Tele Wolly, never occurred to me to try it on 8x10. It's setup for Speed Graphic. Then I looked up the Cooke you mention. LOL, not this guy! :)

I'm just checking for what people have tried, like 600 to 1000 mm, I have been using 480mm. lenses get a lot heavier above 20".

Since I am all studio, I am not in the AA club who uses entirely different gear and hikes a lot.

mdarnton
22-Oct-2014, 04:10
That's true, LF extensions give an effect, but it isn't a free ride. I think a lens needs to be more than three-four feet away--five is nicer--for a proper perspective, regardless of the film behind it, and shorter lenses on 8x10 don't really allow that. Now if you don't agree about perspective problems, then you can do whatever you want. For me, a 300mm on 8x10 puts the lens too close to the subject. You can do it, but it doesn't look good. To me.

Rather than format and lens, think of it as a problem of the distance of the eye that's taking the picture. That's where perspective comes from.

jnantz
22-Oct-2014, 04:59
8x10 i use 14" +
11x14 i use 20" +

Monty McCutchen
22-Oct-2014, 06:35
What Sheldon said. More so and more so the larger the format you go up to. 20 x 24, 16 x 20 is what I shoot 1 to 1 or larger and you want to go down in focal length not up. Bellows extension is virtually impossible to achieve useable exposure times as well as achieving any hope of a camera that will remain still.

These 20 x 24's were shot (basing this on memory now) anywhere from roughly 20 inches to 2 feet, from subject face, with a Schneider 550 mm wide open at f11. They range from 1 to 1 to larger on negative. So over 1100mm of bellows with an exposure in excess of 1 second. All these factors have to be considered when thinking about head and shoulders and the magnification needed, and the small movements that can ruin a shot. Full body relaxes some of those requirements as does the 8 x 10 format, but as you go up in format more factors come into play that affect final product.

You can plainly see there is absolutely no distortion at all in noses, ears etc. Depth of field as Garrett said is a completely different issue that can prove problematic but as you stated that's for another day.

Check out some portraits with the Polaroid 20 x 24 done at Columbia College in Chicago with Peter LeGrand. If memory serves me right they were using a 355 G-Glaron single digit inches from subject face and they are beautiful.

best,

Monty

The big thing with 8x10 portraiture is that as you approach head and shoulders portraiture you are starting to approach what would be considered "macro" photography with other formats, ie. you are starting to get close to a 1:1 reproduction ratio.

When you approach a 1:1 reproduction ratio, the amount of bellows extension dramatically affects the field of view that the film sees from the lens. At a true 1:1 ratio, or a subject size of 8x10 inches and a normal lens, you need 600mm of bellows extension and the field of view is cut in half from what it would normally be at 300mm. This means your effective focal length is like a 600mm lens, at least in terms of angular field of view. With the angle of view changing at high magnifications, that forces you to back the camera up... which gives a more flattering (telephoto) perspective.

This is why people can make good portraits with 8x10 and larger formats, despite using what would be considered a "normal" lens under other circumstances. A simple rule of thumb would be that your effective focal length is roughly the same as the amount of bellows extension required to make the portrait.

Jim Noel
22-Oct-2014, 08:01
I use a 19" on 8x10; a 14" on 5x7 and a 10" on 4x5.

DrTang
22-Oct-2014, 08:32
used to use a 14" commercial ektar for full length to about 3/4 length portraits

Armin Seeholzer
22-Oct-2014, 09:39
On 8x10 I use all from 305 mm Kodak Portrait lens up to my 480mm Xenar but I prefer for head and shoulder a 360mm lens which I have 3 different ones! I prefer the 480mm for only head shoots!
There is one thing an amateur talkes about cameras and technics, pro about lenses and the truly masters about light, just to remember what is really important;--))

Cheers Armin

Drew Wiley
22-Oct-2014, 16:14
My favorite would be a 14 inch Dagor.

brandon13
23-Oct-2014, 11:16
A 16 inch Dallmeyer f4 Petzval wide open is my favorite Head and Shoulder lens for 8x10
123803 123804

cheers. Brandon

djdister
23-Oct-2014, 11:55
A 16 inch Dallmeyer f4 Petzval wide open is my favorite Head and Shoulder lens for 8x10

cheers. Brandon

Great shots both, but I especially like the one of Liz - her eyes just POP!

andress007
28-Oct-2014, 00:57
http://www.sciencetech.technomuses.ca/english/collection/karsh5.cfm

Tin Can
28-Oct-2014, 08:00
http://www.sciencetech.technomuses.ca/english/collection/karsh5.cfm

Thanks for that link, very informative.

axs810
29-Oct-2014, 01:39
This was shot on 8x10 with a Nikkor 300mm f/5.6 lens with the bellows racked out to 18 inches. I enjoy using the 300mm but I haven't shot with anything longer so I don't really have anything to compare it to

(if you're wondering why it looks "different" it's because this was from a paper negative)

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