View Full Version : Wide angle lens for a beginner

12-Nov-2016, 14:31
Hello All,

I am new to large format photography and I'm trying to assemble a kit (slowly), so was wondering if you can help me and suggest a wide angle lens, which you think would be good for me to buy used and practice on. I am mainly interested for landscape or cityscape work, so a 90mm would be probably suitable enough. Any models you would recommend that wouldn't break the bank but would be good enough. I want to avoid lenses that would be soft at the edges, even when stopped down to f8 or f11. Also I wouldn't want to invest on something that I would have to change very soon.

By the way I'm using a Cambo SC 4x5.

Suggestions of lenses with a larger image circle would be appreciated.

Thanks so much.

P.S. I have found an old lens of my father's, which I have tried on the 4x5 and it seems to work, however I have made the calculations for its image circle and it's not enough to cover the film. The lens is the Zeiss Ikon - Tessar 10.5cm f4.5 (Carl Zeiss Jena). I researched and it is supposedly for 6x9 film, however on the ground glass I'm not seeing any apparent vignetting, how is this possible? Sorry if this sounds stupid, it's just that as a beginner it seems a bit strange. Anyhow, does that mean that I can use it at less than infinity focus at least or is it really useless for the 4x5? Thanks again!

12-Nov-2016, 14:53
Some 6x9cm format lenses do cover 4x5" format at infinity. Try your lens and see how it works for you.

Dan Fromm
12-Nov-2016, 15:02
Here is a list of links to lens makers' catalogs and other sources of information on lenses: https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=8D71BC33C77D1008!1005&authkey=!ACp3Kf30SHN3MwY&ithint=file%2cdocx Browse away!

Your best bets if you want reasonable coverage are, in alphabetical order, Fuji SW/SWD (f/8, f/5.6), Nikon SW (f/4.5, f/8), Schneider Super Angulon (f/8, f/4.5) and Rodenstock Grandagon (f/6.8, f/4.5). Best bets because they're all good and all easily found. There are other good 90s with reasonable coverage, for example the 90/8 Ilex (also sold as an Ilex Calumet or something like that), but they're harder to find.

Some modern lenses have field stops that cut off the cone of rays the lens projects. This gives the circle illuminated a sharp cutoff. Older lenses don't have these. With them image quality just degrades away off center. Y'r father's lens is ok for a 2x3 folder, won't put good image quality much outside of a 100 mm circle.

Ic, I always thought that the f/4.5 Tessar coverage rule of thumb was "covers focal length plus ~ 10%." Is this wrong?

Peter De Smidt
12-Nov-2016, 15:29
I really like my 90mm Rodenstock Grandagon f/6.8. It's brighter on the ground glass than f/8 lenses, and it's not as big or expensive as f/5.6 lenses.

12-Nov-2016, 15:35
How about the Schneider Super Angulon 90mm F5.6? I am finding it at a good price. By the way the Zeiss Ikon - Tessar 10.5cm f4.5 (Carl Zeiss Jena) I have seems be working fine as I don't see any vignetting on the GG. The reason I asked regarding this lens is because I thought that as a beginner I was missing something.

Thanks for the replies so far, ic and Peter. Also thanks for the link Dan, I'll check it out.

Peter De Smidt
12-Nov-2016, 15:56
If the condition is good, it's probably a very fine lens. I used to have one.

12-Nov-2016, 16:10
What's probably happening with the tessar is that it lights up the corners, but they quality out there will be really terrible. Tessars throw a huge circle, but every degree you move out from dead center gets worse. The designated format is chosen because it's the margin of tolerability.

One of the supposed winners in the WA category is the Calumet/Ilex 90/8, which is cheap and covers more than other 90/8 lenses. Fujis are exceptionally cheap for what you get, also. I have a 90/5.6 Super Angulon, but it's a gigantic lens, and I rarely use it, for that reason. If you don't want to carry it, you won't use it. The Grandagon that Peter recommends is another good lens. I have the 115mm version, but not the 90.

On 35mm I love wide lenses, but for some reason I don't have much use for them on 4x5. The one of mine that gets the most use and gives me the most comfortable view is a 108mm Wollensak, but it's not a lens you want to use anywhere near wide open. I like it because it's small. The field of view is comfortable without being weird.

You should fill out your profile to say where you live. Someone near you might volunteer to go out with you and bring some lenses for you to try. The Cambo is a pretty common camera.

12-Nov-2016, 17:47
You might want to consider a 75mm lens over a 90mm lens. For some reason they seem to go for less than their 90mm counterparts.

12-Nov-2016, 19:08
Nikkor 90mm f8 - MC, huge image circle, sharp, not too big, moderate price. 75mm feel much wider to me. My favorite semi-wide is the SSXL 110mm f5.6 but that is much more expensive.

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12-Nov-2016, 20:05
90mm lenses for 4x5 are so ubiquitous that you can find them for almost nothing. A decent Schneider Super Angulon 90mm f/8 in older shutter won't be much more than $150. Even the best options out there for large image circle and mid-sized lens, such as the Nikkor 90mm f/9, are only $300 or so. Just find one from Schneider, Rodenstock, Fuji, or Nikon and go for it. Despite having the above mentioned Nikkor, I have a Rodenstock 90mm f/6.8, multicoated in modern Copal shutter, that I bought for all of $100 on eBay recently just because why not? The faster variants are nice if you shoot indoors but aren't necessary.