View Full Version : 4x5 lens collection narrowing down.

15-Feb-2015, 11:04
Since getting back into film I have gone from 1 to 4 lenses, but I'm afraid of continuing to do so since I keep leaning toward more expensive lenses. So here is my current kit.

90mm Schneider (Linhof shutter very accurate)
135mm Schneider (syncro compur P shutter +1 stop slow at most speeds marked)
150/265 Schneider convertible (close to accurate copal 1 except above 125)
180/315 Schneider convertible. (syncro compur shutter all over the map + and -, sticks at )

Would it be advisable to keep 90/135/180 which gives me 315 if needed.
90/150 and add a longer focal length and eventually replacing the 150 with better quality.

also the 150 and 180 are both 5.6, can I swap them out to the same copal shutter)?

Dan Fromm
15-Feb-2015, 12:34
Which camera do you have and how much extension does it have? I ask because a converted 180 Symmar needs 380 mm to focus to infinity.

No, you can't swap them and use the same aperture scale for both.

If I were you I'd keep the 90 and 150 and replace the 135 and 180 with a 210. This is a very conventional set of focal lengths.

Larry Gebhardt
16-Feb-2015, 20:26
My advice is to figure out what your favorite focal length is and base your lens set around that. For me I find I gravitate towards the 135mm lens for a lot of compositions (that aren't isolated details), and for a three lens set I try to space them out by 50%, so that gets me 90, 135, 200. I also have a 300mm that fits well in that sequence. So does the 450, but I don't use it for 4x5 that much.

There's nothing magical about the 50% multiplier, but I find it gives a good spread with only three lenses.

If I was in your shoes I'd keep the 90, 135 and the 180/315. That would feel very natural to me. Just get the shutters serviced so you can trust them.

Doremus Scudder
17-Feb-2015, 04:40
Depends on a number of things and no one can give you a definitive answer. Here are some things to consider, however, when putting together your lens collection.

Convertible lenses like the Schneiders you have don't really deliver optimum performance when converted (i.e., used minus an element). You may end up wanting more quality.

As mentioned above, convertible lenses often need more bellows draw when converted to the long focal length than a "normal" lens of the same length.

Like Larry above, I find the 50% multiplier a good interval. My kit for most of my work is 90mm, 135mm, 203mm (or 210) and 300mm.

If you aren't one who eschews cropping, then opt for slightly shorter of two adjacent focal lengths and then crop. E.g., 135mm instead of 150mm or 240mm instead of 300mm.

If weight and bulk are your problems in not carrying more lenses, consider smaller (albeit slower) lenses. Lightweight is top priority for me. My lightest kit is 100mm WF Ektar, 135mm plasmat (they're all pretty small), 203mm Ektar and Nikkor M 300mm (or, alternately, a Fujinon A 240mm). I can carry all of those in a small pack.

That said, I fill in for particular situations. In the city, where I know I won't be able to have free choice of camera positions, I'll carry 90mm, 135mm, 180mm, 210mm and 240mm because they give me more framing possibilities at the distances I'm forced to work from. When working interiors or in narrow canyons, I'll leave the longer lenses behind and carry 75mm, 90mm 135mm (WF Ektar) 203/210mm (and maybe a 240mm if I have room). Point being, I'll tailor what I carry to the situation I think I'll be photographing in. It's nice to have enough lenses to be able to do this.

My entire stock of lenses includes: 75mm, 90mm, 100mm WF Ektar (for its size), 135mm plasmat and a 135mm WF Ektar (for its coverage), 150mm plasmat (which I rarely use), 180mm Fuji-A, 240mm Fuji-A, 300mm Nikkor M, 450mm Nikkor M. All of these, with the exception of the 450mm are really small. (I'm still trolling for a Fujinon C 450mm...)

As mentioned above, though, I usually only carry four, maximum 5, lenses at any time. If I had to limit myself to four lenses it would definitely be the following:
A 90mm wide-angle such as a Super Angulon equivalent. Coverage and movement are important at this focal length; my compromise is an f/8 version (Nikkor SW 90mm would be my choice if I had to do this over again).
A 135 WF Ektar. They're a bit bigger than the plasmats, but the extra coverage is worth it. Filters are easy to adapt.
A 203 Ektar. Small, sharp, covers 5x7.
A 300mm compact lens like the Nikkor M or the Fujinon C.

Yes, I know I spent the entire post talking about "me," but maybe my considerations will help you make your own decisions.



18-Feb-2015, 12:51
Ultimately you could limit yourself to any one of your current lenses and still make great images by finding subjects that suit the constraints of that one lens. But LF encourages lens collecting so you shouldn't feel stigmatised by having a handful.

I'd suggest you keep all the lenses you currently have, get the dodgy shutters professionally serviced so they all work properly[!], and get one longer lens that could be anything from 210 to 300 [your camera's bellows draw may be a limiting factor on how long you can go]... then stop. Work with those until you get a feel for what you actually use frequently and then you can make an informed choice about what to do next.