View Full Version : Looking for the right lens 4x5

Ronald Eaton
20-May-2005, 14:18
Hi I am new to large format and getting in on a very limited budget, I have purchased a Calumet cc400 with a 19 rail and some film holders and a roll film back on e-bay now I need a lens and at this point I could use some help choosing the right one at an inexpensive price. What I want to shoot is sea and landscapes and some mountain scenes. Any suggestions
Thank You
Ron Eaton
Las Vegas, Nevada

Dave Moeller
20-May-2005, 14:31
I think it depends on what your definition of "a very limited budget" is. You can generally pick up a 135mm f/4.7 press camera lens (Graflex Optar, for example) for around $50 on eBay. 90mm f/6.8 Angulons (not Super Angulons) can generally be had for under $200 with just a little patience. Neither of these lenses give you much extra coverage beyond 4x5, but they will cover the negative and you can still use back tilt for controlling the plane of sharp focus. (With the roll film holder in place you'll be able to use more movements.)

If you just want to get a lens so you can start shooting something, then I'd say go for the 135mm and start saving for some better glass. Better in this case meaning something that will cover a wider circle so you can use the movements on your camera to their fullest effect. Unless you're planning on making huge enlargements, you don't need the latest-and-greatest lenses, but it never hurts to find a lens that's reasonably sharp and that gives you lots of room for movements. There are great deals to be had on older Schneider convertible lenses on eBay, but they'll cost you more than either of the "starter" lenses I mentioned above.

What lens you should be looking at depends a lot on how you want the scenes to look. Are you a "zoom in on the mountains" kind of person? Then look for a longer lens. Do you like the sweeping landscape? Then a 90mm is probably a better option. Get a cheap lens so you can start using the camera, rather than waiting until you can afford the best (and therefore having a camera you can't use at all until you can buy a lens). In time you'll figure out what kind of look you want, and you'll have the experience with using the camera to understand what kind of lens you'll want.

Welcome to the world of LF.

Be well.

Eric Leppanen
20-May-2005, 14:37

For the subjects you describe many folks start with a moderately wide lens (a 135mm as Dave suggested would be good) and then add lenses as budget permits.

Christopher Perez has some nice lens suggestions here:

www.hevanet.com/cperez/kit.html (http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/kit.html)

John Kasaian
20-May-2005, 14:49

My favorites for 4x5 are the 203mm Ektar and the 135mm WF Ektar. A budget lens you might consider is the 162mm Wollensak Velostigmat/Raptar.


Donald Hutton
20-May-2005, 15:11
I'd suggest you look around for a multicoated Symmar-S 150mm or a Caltar II-N 150mm. These are both excellent lenses which will last you a lifetime. You should be able to find one or the other second hand for about $250 with a little patience.

20-May-2005, 15:38
Start with a coated f:4.7/135mm Graflex OPTAR (this is the same as a Wollensak Raptar). It should be clear glass with no cleaning scratches. About $50 on Fleabuy. Be sure the shutter works at all speeds -- it will probably need cleaning and adjusting before long. Use it for a while (4-6 months) and decide if you need a wider or longer lens. It's a great camera, you may never need anything else.

Christopher Perez
20-May-2005, 17:26
I agree with John. A 135mm Kodak Wide Field Ektar f/6.3 and a 203 Kodak Ektar f/7.7 would help keep the budget down nicely. And these are wonderful lenses. Sharp, contrasty, and with plenty of coverage for 4x5 work.

21-May-2005, 05:14
I don't think that the 135 Wide Field Ektar is that cheap anymore. Check what they are selling for on Ebay. Another option is the earlier pre -S Symmar lenses. Look for Linhof selected ones. But I'd agree with Don. Considering the price of film it's better to just get a more modern multicoated plasmat. The common 150 and 210 can be found easily. Symmar-S, Sironar, Nikon or Fuji are all good.

Ronald Eaton
21-May-2005, 14:54
Well I sure appreciate all the help from what I can tell any lens 90 to 210 should give me what I am looking for how ever I think the 90 will be a little to wide for now. I guess I better put at least $300 . aside for a lens for now Thanks again .

Ernest Purdum
23-May-2005, 11:26
Dave, if you email me your mailing address I will send you a booklet on view camera lens choice. Use ernestpurdum@aol.com.

Ronald Eaton
28-May-2005, 19:27
Well after many trys I aquired a Fujinon-W 210mm f/5.6 for $265. I think this is a good deal the lens is like new and the shutter works perfect Thank Again to all that helped