View Full Version : Favorite Lenses for shallow DOF (4x5)

11-Jun-2015, 04:11
We have all heard of the 178mm f2.5 Aero Ektar, the 150mm f/2.8 Xenotar and the 135mm f/3.5 Planar. I have recently come across a few other cool ones like the Ernemann Ernostar 180mm f/2.7, the Soviet OF-233 210mm f/2.5 and the Leitz Hektor 150mm f/2.5 projection lens.

They all have magical bokeh and other qualities that I find hard to describe. (The transition from in focus to out; perhaps falloff might be the word?) Some are sharper wide (or nearly wide) open than others. Some are better in other areas like flare, CA, and coverage. But when it comes down it, I just love the 3D effect we can achieve by separating the planes of an image using a shallow depth of field.

What is your favorite lens for magical depth of field, bokeh, focus falloff and also sharpness? And Why?

Link to pics if you've got em!

Here's one I love: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zboumeester/7206857628

11-Jun-2015, 05:35
190 optar that's on the RB Super D SLR: https://flic.kr/p/dEufNx https://flic.kr/p/dH2ZHC
(Any old tessar like a xenar or fujinar or tessar with many/rounded aperture blades is also a similar pleasure and usually more inexpensive)

210 Trioplan, not razor thin, but thin enough and very smooth. https://flic.kr/p/bVVQJz https://flic.kr/p/eXAjZp

9" Gundlach Hyperion, soft and smooth and thin https://flic.kr/p/sVfRsg

Aero Ektar : https://flic.kr/p/qccmz8

If you're loving the thin DOF, you might step up to 8x10 as well! Those big brass or aluminum lenses of old have more magic than most of us can handle.

11-Jun-2015, 06:22
Stunning stuff JP! Wow. Love the layers on the camping shot.

Some day 8x10 might have to happen...

11-Jun-2015, 06:35
the 8" f/2.9 Pentac is definitely a player in this field. Lighter/cheaper than most of the others, and without an obnoxiously large rear element group, it will mount up where a lot of the others won't (on an RB SuperD for example). I don't have pics of my own to link to, but there are plenty out there. It's a heliar-derived design, so great rendering and bokeh.

also, there's a fair number of 6" f/2.8 aerial lenses that can be used on 4x5. Also, 300mm f/4 was a common aerial lens spec, so those are usually pretty easily found also. Sometimes they won't have shutters (or the shutters will be huge/unfeasible), so a focal-plane shutter camera is ideal. (speed graphic, Super-D, Arca Reflex, etc.)

11-Jun-2015, 06:46
I recently shot a bit with my 90mm f/5.6 XL wide-open or at f/8 and the DOF was quite nice, despite being a wide-angle.

I haven't done enough with it yet with short DOF but the 21cm f/4.5 APO Lanthar (and definitely it's little brother the 15cm) have excellent separation.

jp is right regarding 8x10. I think overall the best 3D "pop-out" rendering I've done is with my 12" f/4.5 Gundlach Radar.

Emil Schildt
11-Jun-2015, 13:30
maybe this thread can bring you some nice examples...


11-Jun-2015, 14:31
Sandy Phimester is using a 200mm f2.5 cinema lens (https://instagram.com/p/z0aLxkqxif/?taken-by=sandyphimester) on a Speed Graphic. Check out his flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sandyphimester/) or his instagram for some examples.

Michael E
11-Jun-2015, 15:36
I love my 180mm Heliar (1910).

11-Jun-2015, 16:25
I'm partial to my 6" and 6.5" Cinephor projection Petzvals for 4x5 use, both around f/2.8. One is coated and one isn't. They were dirt cheap, too. Why do I like them? I just like the look, I guess.

Recent close-up examples:



Used closer to infinity they get a little wild around the edges:



11-Jun-2015, 16:34
Meyer Kinon 200mm F2.1 on 4x5

11-Jun-2015, 17:43
I'm partial to my 6" and 6.5" Cinephor projection Petzvals for 4x5 use, both around f/2.8. One is coated and one isn't. They were dirt cheap, too....

Indeed! Bought mine for less than $50 and now the decimal place is moving to the right.

12-Jun-2015, 03:12
Great examples guys. As you know very well, sometimes lenses don't need to be 'fast' to have great bokeh and great separation.

These shots, for example, aren't super shallow and yet the subject pops right out:

https://flic.kr/p/ek2h41 with a 150mm Heliar

https://flic.kr/p/kcVsa with a 135mm Planar

https://flic.kr/p/ftpYNs with a 210mm Heliar

12-Jun-2015, 05:15
The other cheap/easy/cheerful lenses to mess with are old copier lenses... Older ones have a iris & F-stop settings, and are fairly fast (like f4, 4.5, etc.) coated, and FL's usually like 8 1/4", 12", 300mm, etc... And can usually fit on a Speed Graphic easily... (MUCH easier than a Aero Ektar!!!! And won't make your camera cry and moan!!!!)

Check with your local copier repair place... They should have a bunch of 'em...

And a Packard shutter can be mounted on front for you other "squeeze box" photographers... (I'm thinking about "The Who" here...)

Steve K

12-Jun-2015, 06:22
ilex seminat

Jim Noel
12-Jun-2015, 08:07
A magnifying glass mounted on the front of a shutter with "Tacky Glue" which is easily removed.

12-Jun-2015, 16:37
Really Jim? In front of any lens?

12-Jun-2015, 18:08
Shutter, not lens.

Carsten Wolff
13-Jun-2015, 13:54
Joelk's comment "sometimes lenses don't need to be 'fast' to have great bokeh and great separation" is worth reiterating.... :) At short distances we all know that we can get seperation quite easily and play with swings and tilts, too....

Another favourite of mine is e.g. a Komura 152mm/6" f/3.5 which is wonderful (and was very cheap, as I had to re-cement it when I got it). Many projection lenses are interesting to try of course. I also put a TV-Fujinon (145mm f/1.2) into a Speed Graphic carcass, but max focus was about one metre and optical quality wasn't exactly 4x5". So, things can quickly get very "experimental"....

14-Jun-2015, 13:12
215mm f4 no name(probably darlot) portrait petzval for closer shots.