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pchaplo
23-Dec-2017, 20:37
I’m looking for a lens to use for 4x5 aerial photography of historic sites. No shifts needed. Hoping for working aperture and shutter speed of f/8 @ 1/500 sec. I usually shoot Ilford 400 and rate it 240.

1. SHARPNESS AT f/8:
To maintain decently fast shutter speed, I am wondering: what is the sharpest reasonably-priced (let’s say <US$600) lens, corner-to-corner at f/8? I’m cognizant that this is a challenge yet want to find a decent solution.

2. EVEN EXPOSURE/ MINIMAL VIGNETTING, UNSHIFTED ON 4X5:
Also, I want to avoid the filter factor of a center filter, yet want even exposure (as much as possible) across the image if possible. I’m thinking that moving more toward a “normal” focal length (for 4x5] may help in this regard. Is that a correct assumption that eg a. 125mm may have less vignetting than a 90mm? And that a 150mm may have even better across the frame illumination, given item #3 below?

3. Lesser consideration: weight. Camera will be hand-held. That being said, I really like heavy gear. Ha! Remind me that I said this later.

4. REVISED: Any shutter size is fair game within reason. Update: its appears that to get ~1/500 sec shutter speed, I need Copal 0

Will likely be mounted on a field camera still researching all of this.

Wishing you great light!
Paul

Oren Grad
23-Dec-2017, 21:17
Thinking wide: I have a Schneider data sheet for the 1990's-vintage Super Angulons that includes image circles for the lenses used wide open as well as for f/22. The 90mm f/8 Super Angulon is specified as having an image circle of 187mm at f/8 (216mm at f/22). Given that you are going to use the lens straight on - no shifts - falloff on 4x5 might not be a big problem, especially if you're going to use negative film. The 90/5.6 SA is also specified for an image circle of 187mm wide open, but that means f/5.6, so that should give even more breathing room at f/8. (For completeness, the 90/5.6 SA XL covers 201mm wide open, but that will be well out of your price range and in any case will be an awkward fit for a compact/lightweight aerial/field camera.)

EDIT: My Nikkor lens literature has wide-open specs too. But in the Nikkor SW line, the 90mm f/8 won't do and probably not the 90/4.5 either - you really need to go to the 120 to get adequate coverage at f/8 on 4x5, and that's a fairly large and heavy lens. In the Nikkor W line, the 135 has tight coverage relative to 4x5 at f/5.6 (156mm), while the 150 covers 174mm.

pchaplo
23-Dec-2017, 21:48
Oren, thanks for your prompt reply. For my ground-level work, I happen to use Schneider 90mm f/5.6 SA XL, but always with a center filter (the latter a habit from my color transparency film days). It’s my prized lens as I love the range of movement on 4x5 and I seem to visualize in that "90mm on 4x5" angle of view on the ground. I cringe to take that heavy-beauty into the air seeing how my other aerial gear gets “bounced-around” up there.

I see a Fujinon 150 f/5.6 W (letters on outside of lens) for sale. 537xxx serial number. Seller says it’s “W”that all I know. I wonder if that would work for me. Now I go research serial numbers maybe Kerry Thalmann’s site.

Also, since I sometimes have to work from a Cessna, I’m thinking that a slightly longer than 90mm focal length may help me avoid getting a strut or landing gear in the shot.


Thinking wide: I have a Schneider data sheet for the 1990's-vintage Super Angulons that includes image circles for the lenses used wide open as well as for f/22. The 90mm f/8 Super Angulon is specified as having an image circle of 187mm at f/8 (216mm at f/22). Given that you are going to use the lens straight on - no shifts - falloff on 4x5 might not be a big problem, especially if you're going to use negative film. The 90/5.6 SA is also specified for an image circle of 187mm wide open, but that means f/5.6, so that should give even more breathing room at f/8. (For completeness, the 90/5.6 SA XL covers 201mm wide open, but that will be well out of your price range and in any case will be an awkward fit for a compact/lightweight aerial/field camera.)

Oren Grad
23-Dec-2017, 22:11
I have the 90 SA XL too - it's my ultrawide for whole plate. (*With* the CF. :)) I absolutely understand why you wouldn't want to bang that one around in a Cessna.

Unfortunately, neither Fuji nor Rodenstock provides a clear specification for image circles wide open, though Rodenstock has MTF and fall-off curves that you can eyeball for a rough sense. And not many people routinely use these lenses at such wide apertures for applications where full coverage is required. So you may be stuck guessing about image circles at f/5.6-f/8 for many of these lenses.

I dug up an electronic copy of Schneider data for the Symmar-S line, which is a couple of generations back. The coverage numbers for the 135 and 150 focal lengths match those for the Nikkor W's. It's a safe bet that the later Apo-Symmar and Apo-Symmar L (150 only, no 135 in the "L" line) will do at least as well. Afraid I have no basis to say one way or another about the Fujinon - I have data only for f/22 on those.

John Kasaian
23-Dec-2017, 22:38
IIRC the late Peter Gowland had a preference for Nikon f/9 "M"s or Schneider f/9 G Clarons in Copal shutters for his aerial cameras.
I put a 300mm f/9 M on my 8x10 Gowlnd and it has worked very well.
One critical thing I learned is to use plastic film holders with lots of "vent" embossing or cross hatching on the holder's " face" (like old Liscos, or in 4x5, Riteways) to keep the thing from acting like a one way demand valve when changing altitude. Darn near broke a few few fingernails off when trying to change the film holder! Once I landed, the camera back sealed up good and tight and nearly broke the bail trying to open her up to get the smooth wood Kodak film holder out.

Jac@stafford.net
24-Dec-2017, 12:13
I’m looking for a lens to use for 4x5 aerial photography of historic sites. No shifts needed. Hoping for working aperture and shutter speed of f/8 @ 1/500 sec. I usually shoot Ilford 400 and rate it 240.

For aerial wide work, I prefer a later Biogon design. Shoot wide open. Faster shutter speeds are a good thing.

I don't know if it is still the case, but for certification of aerial survey work, lenses were tested wide open whether they have adjustable aperture or not. Bigons perform well that way.

Another favorite of mine is the 135mm ƒ3.5 Planar. It covers, is fast and sharp wide open.

Jim Michael
24-Dec-2017, 12:43
From the cockpit of a C172 I’ll suggest haze will be a factor for which a filter might come in handy, perhaps even some IR film. Try a red filter. For a lens you might consider a 135 Apo Sironar N, which might fit within your budget.

pchaplo
24-Dec-2017, 14:23
Oren,

Thanks for unearthing that data. Frankly I didnt fully realize how at large apertures the image circle size might be reduced. Did I get that right? Gosh. But then, Ive never faced that because for years, Ive shot from a substantial tripod and almost always f/16 on Schneider XL's. Lol ya youre right about not wanting to bang my 90 SA XL around in a Cessna!


I have the 90 SA XL too - it's my ultrawide for whole plate. (*With* the CF. :)) I absolutely understand why you wouldn't want to bang that one around in a Cessna.

Unfortunately, neither Fuji nor Rodenstock provides a clear specification for image circles wide open, though Rodenstock has MTF and fall-off curves that you can eyeball for a rough sense. And not many people routinely use these lenses at such wide apertures for applications where full coverage is required. So you may be stuck guessing about image circles at f/5.6-f/8 for many of these lenses.

I dug up an electronic copy of Schneider data for the Symmar-S line, which is a couple of generations back. The coverage numbers for the 135 and 150 focal lengths match those for the Nikkor W's. It's a safe bet that the later Apo-Symmar and Apo-Symmar L (150 only, no 135 in the "L" line) will do at least as well. Afraid I have no basis to say one way or another about the Fujinon - I have data only for f/22 on those.

pchaplo
24-Dec-2017, 14:27
Hi John,

I didnt know that about Gowland's preferred lenses. I happen to have a 300M f/9 in my lens bag although I wonder of the bellows length (if I use a field camera) would become a challenge -- not to mention the difficulty of getting a steady shot with the longer lens on 4x5. I will look at the Schneider f/9 G Clarons -- namely to see what is available 125-150mm focal length range.

Also, in looking at lenses, I still consider the ones in larger shutters as I could perhaps see the controls more easily over a field camera front standard and get things write despite the excitement of being in a plane with a 4x5. I almost always tape my controls down, even with a digital camera. I see pics of field cameras with large Copals and its interesting that you can see the shutter-cocking lever OVER the front standard (ha!) -- that may be a feature that is an advantage that I hadnt considered.


IIRC the late Peter Gowland had a preference for Nikon f/9 "M"s or Schneider f/9 G Clarons in Copal shutters for his aerial cameras.
I put a 300mm f/9 M on my 8x10 Gowlnd and it has worked very well.
One critical thing I learned is to use plastic film holders with lots of "vent" embossing or cross hatching on the holder's " face" (like old Liscos, or in 4x5, Riteways) to keep the thing from acting like a one way demand valve when changing altitude. Darn near broke a few few fingernails off when trying to change the film holder! Once I landed, the camera back sealed up good and tight and nearly broke the bail trying to open her up to get the smooth wood Kodak film holder out.

jp
24-Dec-2017, 14:38
The Fujinons are great. If you go for too large a shutter you may not get as high shutter speeds as you'd like.
The Gowland aerial cameras had no bellows, just a fixed focus box which seems pretty old school and sturdy. I haven't flown with a normal field camera, but I'd be real cautious to keep it out of the full velocity of the wind if you have a door off or something.

Steve Goldstein
24-Dec-2017, 14:56
A possibility might be the original single-coated Fujinon-W "inside-lettering" lenses of 125mm, 135mm, or 150mm focal length. These all have image circles in excess of 200mm at f/22 so might meet your needs at f/8. You'd certainly have to test this, but if they meet your photographic needs they're well within your budget, in addition to being small and lightweight.

The later multi-coated Fujinons with the lettering around the outside of the front cell have smaller image circles at f/22 than the original version, so it's possible the IC at f/8 would also be smaller. Again, you'd have to test as you'd be using them in a way the designers had perhaps not considered.

Dan Fromm
24-Dec-2017, 15:21
Coupla thoughts.

$600 will buy a small pile of used 125/5.6, 135/5.6 or 150/5.6 Fujinon Ws (various vintages and subtypes) from Japanese sellers on eBay.

Shooting with no movements -- none should be needed for aerial photography -- a 125 will be down 0.9 stops center to corner and a 150 will be down 0.65 stops center to corner. Both are well within negative film's latitude. There's a reason why Rodenstock and Schneider don't recommend center filters for these focal lengths on 4x5.

Most of the lenses that fit the OP's stated requirements come in standard #0 shutters. A few are in #1s. The OP's desire for a lens in a larger shutter is going to be hard to satisfy -- yes, lenses can be reshuttered but the cost of adapters to fit a lens made for a #0 into a #0 isn't negligible -- and is misplaced. If he shoots with a cable release he'll put his paws near the shutter only to recock, and if he gets a lens in a press shutter he won't have to do even that. In WW II USAF used several aerial cameras that had ~ 163 mm lenses in cock-and-shoot shutters. Aircrew wore gloves or mittens. The cameras worked satisfactorily.

As far as I know -- Joe McGloin, do any of your Fuji catalogs report coverage at apertures larger than f/22? -- Fuji reported only coverage at f/22. Nikon, however, reported coverage at f/8 and f/22. Fuji usually claimed more coverage than Nikon, so Nikon's claims for f/8 should set a lower bound on comparable Fujinons. The 135/5.6 Nikkor W covers 156 mm @ f/8, the 150/5.6 174 mm.

pchaplo
24-Dec-2017, 23:52
Hi Jac,
Do you mean the Zeiss Biogons and Planars? If so, our good taste strikes again - but my post says budget <US$600. Let me know if there is either available within that price range. Dear Santa...


For aerial wide work, I prefer a later Biogon design. Shoot wide open. Faster shutter speeds are a good thing.

I don't know if it is still the case, but for certification of aerial survey work, lenses were tested wide open whether they have adjustable aperture or not. Bigons perform well that way.

Another favorite of mine is the 135mm ƒ3.5 Planar. It covers, is fast and sharp wide open.

pchaplo
25-Dec-2017, 00:07
Jim,

Thanks, I will look at the 135 APO Sironar N. Regarding the filter, great idea but I will be very low altitude hopefully with little haze, and likely not able to accommodate a filter factor of a red. Merry Christmas!


From the cockpit of a C172 I’ll suggest haze will be a factor for which a filter might come in handy, perhaps even some IR film. Try a red filter. For a lens you might consider a 135 Apo Sironar N, which might fit within your budget.

erian
25-Dec-2017, 04:19
Hoping for working aperture and shutter speed of f/8 @ 1/500 sec.

As the one who also would like to do the aerial photography one day, I would like to know if this shutter speed is sufficient or what difficulties it contains?

David Karp
25-Dec-2017, 10:36
If you a are thinking about the 135mm APO Sironar N, keep an eye out for the plain Sironar N or better yet, a Caltar II-N. Same exact lens. Probably lower price.

Bob Salomon
25-Dec-2017, 10:43
If you a are thinking about the 135mm APO Sironar N, keep an eye out for the plain Sironar N or better yet, a Caltar II-N. Same exact lens. Probably lower price.

A “plain Sironar N” and the Apo Sironar N are quite different. For one major, and very important difference for aerial work is that the Apo Sironar N is multi coated. The “plain Sironar N” is not, unless it is marked MC. Then it is a later version lens then the lplain Sironar N”.

Bernice Loui
25-Dec-2017, 10:46
Suggest, Schneider 150mm f4.5 Xenar or the later 150mm f5.6 Xenar in black copal shutter or similar Tessar formula. These tend to be optimized near f8, moderate cost and smaller than a similar focal length modern Plasmat.

Often over looked, often under appreciated for their performance capabilities.


Bernice

Jim Michael
25-Dec-2017, 11:11
Good luck and Merry Christmas.


Jim,

Thanks, I will look at the 135 APO Sironar N. Regarding the filter, great idea but I will be very low altitude hopefully with little haze, and likely not able to accommodate a filter factor of a red. Merry Christmas!

Jac@stafford.net
25-Dec-2017, 14:14
Hi Jac,
Do you mean the Zeiss Biogons and Planars? If so, our good taste strikes again - but my post says budget <US$600. Let me know if there is either available within that price range. Dear Santa...

My bad for not reading carefully. Indeed, for some reason the 135mm Planars are priced on the moon. Beware of those on the 'bay which are affordable, but in the wrong shutter or have mismatched elements.

At the risk of repeating advice, a fast shutter speed is really important. Aperture, not so much.

Best of luck to you.

Photomagica
25-Dec-2017, 14:14
I've done quite a bit of aerial photography, albeit all digital. There are a few things I've learned that you may find helpful.

1) Normal to short telephoto lenses may be the most useful. Except when working from a helicopter with the door off it is hard not to include parts of the aircraft when using a wide angle lens. When working from a Cessna 172 with the window wide open, a short telephoto is best to exclude the wheel strut, however with some effort a normal lens is OK.

2) Shutter speed should be 1/500 or faster. I find it challenging to get consistently sharp images at less than 1/800 when using the digital Hasselblads. Most large format lenses that claim 1/500 don't actually perform at that speed and are more like 1/400 or 1/300. You may wish to have your shutter serviced and certified that it will actually run at 1/500. Make repeated passes and shoot multiple frames of the scene you want to ensure the best chance of getting a sharp frame.

3) For sharp images practice remaining loose and flexible and not bracing yourself when releasing the shutter. The idea is to use your body to decouple the camera from the vibration of the aircraft. It took some effort and practice for me to get this right.

4) A well balanced helicopter rotor or aircraft propeller will make a very significant difference in aircraft vibration. Fly with a fanatic who insists on having the propeller or rotors in perfect balance.

5) Consider renting a medium format camera outfit for this shoot, one that offers high shutter speeds. (Yeah - I know this is heresy on the LF forum!) With an MF normal lens you can shoot at f4 or f5.6 and get dead sharp, evenly exposed results across the frame. While I have not used one in the air, I have seen some nice aerial work done with a Fuji GW690. Again, I'd have the top shutter speed verified.

6) Whatever camera you use, set it for infinity focus on the ground and lock or tape the focus before flying.

7) If the camera is big - verify that you will have enough room inside the aircraft to manage it without getting it into the slipstream.

Let us know what you decide and how the shoot comes out.
Seasons best,
Bill

Bob Salomon
25-Dec-2017, 15:42
I've done quite a bit of aerial photography, albeit all digital. There are a few things I've learned that you may find helpful.

1) Normal to short telephoto lenses may be the most useful. Except when working from a helicopter with the door off it is hard not to include parts of the aircraft when using a wide angle lens. When working from a Cessna 172 with the window wide open, a short telephoto is best to exclude the wheel strut, however with some effort a normal lens is OK.

2) Shutter speed should be 1/500 or faster. I find it challenging to get consistently sharp images at less than 1/800 when using the digital Hasselblads. Most large format lenses that claim 1/500 don't actually perform at that speed and are more like 1/400 or 1/300. You may wish to have your shutter serviced and certified that it will actually run at 1/500. Make repeated passes and shoot multiple frames of the scene you want to ensure the best chance of getting a sharp frame.

3) For sharp images practice remaining loose and flexible and not bracing yourself when releasing the shutter. The idea is to use your body to decouple the camera from the vibration of the aircraft. It took some effort and practice for me to get this right.

4) A well balanced helicopter rotor or aircraft propeller will make a very significant difference in aircraft vibration. Fly with a fanatic who insists on having the propeller or rotors in perfect balance.

5) Consider renting a medium format camera outfit for this shoot, one that offers high shutter speeds. (Yeah - I know this is heresy on the LF forum!) With an MF normal lens you can shoot at f4 or f5.6 and get dead sharp, evenly exposed results across the frame. While I have not used one in the air, I have seen some nice aerial work done with a Fuji GW690. Again, I'd have the top shutter speed verified.

6) Whatever camera you use, set it for infinity focus on the ground and lock or tape the focus before flying.

7) If the camera is big - verify that you will have enough room inside the aircraft to manage it without getting it into the slipstream.

Let us know what you decide and how the shoot comes out.
Seasons best,
Bill
A Rollei 6008 with any of the PQS shuttered lenses will shoot at up to 1/1000 in 1/3rd steps at upto 1 ½ FPS.

Dan Fromm
25-Dec-2017, 15:44
Not to be a complete idiot or anything, but the shutter speed needed to avoid motion blur depends on the altitude, lens' focal length, and ground speed. All we know about ground speed is that the OP's going to be in a Cessna. Which Cessna, how fast it will be flying and at what altitude are unknown questions.

OP, if you know how high and how fast you're going to be flying and the lens' focal length, calculating how far the image will move during exposure given shutter speed isn't that hard. The results will tell you whether you can accomplish what you want with a lens in leaf shutter.

You might want to consider renting an aerial camera that has a fast focal plane shutter instead of using a press camera. Or shooting from a hovering or nearly hovering helicopter instead of from a Cessna, if the Cessna can't be flown safely at speeds slow enough to reduce the effects of image motion to an acceptable level. And use a film fast enough to let you use the shutter's highest speed.

Jim Michael
25-Dec-2017, 15:48
Vibration tends to be a factor as well.

Bob Salomon
25-Dec-2017, 16:33
Not to be a complete idiot or anything, but the shutter speed needed to avoid motion blur depends on the altitude, lens' focal length, and ground speed. All we know about ground speed is that the OP's going to be in a Cessna. Which Cessna, how fast it will be flying and at what altitude are unknown questions.

OP, if you know how high and how fast you're going to be flying and the lens' focal length, calculating how far the image will move during exposure given shutter speed isn't that hard. The results will tell you whether you can accomplish what you want with a lens in leaf shutter.

You might want to consider renting an aerial camera that has a fast focal plane shutter instead of using a press camera. Or shooting from a hovering or nearly hovering helicopter instead of from a Cessna, if the Cessna can't be flown safely at speeds slow enough to reduce the effects of image motion to an acceptable level. And use a film fast enough to let you use the shutter's highest speed.
Maybe it should be pointed out that the Space Shuttle was flying around 17 or 18,000 MPH and they used Rollei 6008, Hasselblad and Linhof Aero Technika 45EL regularly. As mentioned earlier the PQS Rollei lenses reached 1/000. The Aero Technika 1/500 as did the Hasselblads. I seriously doubt flying around in something else is going to approach the speeds of the Shuttle!
On the other hand I have, someplace, air to air shots of the SR 71 shot on the Rollei 6006 with the non PQS lenses that went to 1/500 that were shot from an under the wing pod on a Jaguar RAF fighter. Also tack sharp, even the ones at oblique angles of the Blackbird.

Dan Fromm
25-Dec-2017, 16:52
Bob, there's a doctoral dissertation on the subject. Its author points out that at low altitudes -- ~ 100 m -- with aircraft flying at ~ Mach 1 there's no practical shutter speed that will eliminate motion blur. See theses.gla.ac.uk/1151/1/1978elhassanphd.pdf

The solution is image motion compensation, also called forward motion compensation. Elhassan says that Skylab's S190-B cameras fitted with 460 mm lenses and with highest shutter speeds of 1/200 required FMC.

I've said it once, I'll say it again. Image motion at the film plane is determined by altitude, ground speed and focal length. It can be calculated. More work for the OP.

Bob Salomon
25-Dec-2017, 17:19
Bob, there's a doctoral dissertation on the subject. Its author points out that at low altitudes -- ~ 100 m -- with aircraft flying at ~ Mach 1 there's no practical shutter speed that will eliminate motion blur. See theses.gla.ac.uk/1151/1/1978elhassanphd.pdf

The solution is image motion compensation, also called forward motion compensation. Elhassan says that Skylab's S190-B cameras fitted with 460 mm lenses and with highest shutter speeds of 1/200 required FMC.

I've said it once, I'll say it again. Image motion at the film plane is determined by altitude, ground speed and focal length. It can be calculated. More work for the OP.

Maybe I should point out that I was a reconnaissance photographer in the USAF and was part of the unit that received the Presidential Unit Citation for our work over Cuba during the Cuban Crisis. We flew RF101 Voodoos shooting 5” roll film for the obliques and the panoramas we also flew 9” verticals in the RB66. If you visit the Smithsonian in DC on the mall you can see one of our Voodoos on static display along with imagery that we shot at treetop height at several hundred knots per hour. They are very sharp and detailed, you can make out all of the details on the stacked AK47 rifles stacked before a camp site as we approached.
After the original Cuban Crisis, that was shot on TDY from Homestead the Senate stated that there were still missiles there and we then flew missions over Cuba from Shaw. They were also shot at low altitude and a high speed. We had no problem not finding more missiles.
Then it was decided that we would fly reconnaissance over the Universities of Alabama and Mississippi for potential rioters. We were again using the Voodoos at higher altitudes and high speed on 5”. We flew over the dorms and could see what was happening, if anything, on the roofs but with our LogE enlargers we could also automatically dodge between the leaves on trees and see into windows! That was also how we were able to expose and print for the missiles in the holds of the Soviet ships. We would place a probe and set a reading of the highest spectral that we wanted, then do the same for the deepest shadow (the inside of the holds) and then on a midpoint. The LogE’s cathode ray tube would then automatically scan and burn the image onto regular photographic paper. Took a long time to complete the exposure but everything we needed was shown!

jp
25-Dec-2017, 17:59
Bob; I love these stories! First person cold-war history. I was too young for most of it but love history and technology and sometimes get to hear really interesting stories (like this) from people who applied their ingenuity and quick thinking in our defense.

Dan Fromm
25-Dec-2017, 18:02
Bob, that's nice. Thanks for telling us. But what does it have to do with image motion compensation (or not)? Which cameras flew on the RF101s and did they have FMC?

Jac@stafford.net
25-Dec-2017, 18:05
Maybe I should point out that I was a reconnaissance photographer in the USAF and was part of the unit that received the Presidential Unit Citation for our work over Cuba during the Cuban Crisis. We flew RF101 Voodoos shooting 5” roll film for the obliques and the panoramas we also flew 9” verticals in the RB66. [...]

To add to our history, I was in the the same mission, same years, same aircraft: RF101-C Voodoo and RB66 as Bob Salomon.

But I earned the Presidential Unit Citation much earlier. :)

Bob Salomon
25-Dec-2017, 18:06
The RF101C could take up to 6 cameras at a time. Most of the stuff we handled were from the Fairchild KA45 or similar 4.5 x 4.5” cameras. They did not have motion compensation except for some of the pano cameras which shot horizon to horizon on one long frame.

Bob Salomon
25-Dec-2017, 18:17
Bob; I love these stories! First person cold-war history. I was too young for most of it but love history and technology and sometimes get to hear really interesting stories (like this) from people who applied their ingenuity and quick thinking in our defense.

Thanks, I served in an interesting period. I went into the AF a few months before Cuba and, as my father had a major heart attack, had applied for a hardship family medical discharge the morning of the Tonkin Gulf incident. As the unit I was in was part of the Composite Air Strike Force which included a Navy, a Marine and an Army component we were expected to be able to deploy to any location within 72 hours, worldwide. As such we were supposed to have pre packed duffle bags for jungle, arctic and temperate areas.
The night of the Gulf incident my wife and I were watching Johnny Carson when one of the NCOs knocked on the door and said that there was an alert and to take the jungle duffle.
At the base the squadron was boarding a transport plane and as I was walking up the ramp the squadron operations officer asked if I had applied for discharge that morning. I told him I had and he pulled me off the flight, told me I could no go anywhere until the application was operated on and I could go back home.
That plane went to Thailand and I was discharged a few days later.

Bob Salomon
25-Dec-2017, 18:20
To add to our history, I was in the the same mission, same years, same aircraft: RF101 Voodoo and RB66 as Bob Salomon.

But I earned the Presidential Unit Citation much earlier. :)

Actually I misspoke. Kennedy gave us the Presidential Outstanding Unit award. Not sure if that is the same or different then the Unit Citation.

Were you at Shaw also?

David Karp
25-Dec-2017, 18:47
Bob (and Jac),

That was more interesting than the main topic (at least to me). Thanks!

Have you thought about giving an oral history? I think that there are different options. My dad was asked to give one at the local VA hospital. Perhaps local universities?

Jac@stafford.net
25-Dec-2017, 18:57
Were you at Shaw also?

Toul Rosiers, France and
RAF Upper Heyford, England

Pere Casals
25-Dec-2017, 19:34
you can make out all of the details on the stacked AK47 rifles stacked before a camp site as we approached.


motion blur depends on the altitude, lens' focal length, and ground speed.

Well, in reconnaissance an important parmeter is the on "ground motion blur", this depends only (if no compensation) on shutter speed and ground speed, and it tells what object size we can see because blur. At Mach 1.0 this is 340m/s, so at 1/1000 shutter we have 340mm ground blur. At Mach 0.5 this would be 150mm of motion blur at real ground object scale, so the AK-47 stacks had to be seen.

Given the flight altitude and the focal we can calculate the "on film blur", this is the "on ground blur" divided by the magnification. If Magnification is 1:5000, then those 150mm of ground blur will be 0.03mm of motion blur on film, so limiting resolution to some 15 Lp/mm, so we can go x3 higher with the plane and still motion blur not degradating what sharp film/optics can capture, or using a 1/3 of the focal length at same altitude....

At the end the ground motion blur will determine the size of the field that the photograph can record without degradating what motion blur allows...

I make that kind of calculations often, but with an industrial camera looking moving products, it's just the same easy calculation. In fact I got the theory from aerial photography handbooks...

Bob Salomon
25-Dec-2017, 19:55
Toul Rosiers, France and
RAF Upper Heyford, England

Lucky you! I got orders transferring me PCS from Shaw to Nancy. But my wife was just over 6 months pregnant with our first one and regulations barred foreign transfers if your wife was 6 months, or more, pregnant. But since I could not be sent I had to volunteer for a change of station after she had the baby.
Since my father in law was born in Nancy my wife and I really wanted to go there. So I volunteered for Nancy, Heidleburg, Wiesbaden and Bermuda.
Instead we got sent to Hurlburt Field at Elgin.

Bob Salomon
25-Dec-2017, 20:00
Well, in reconnaissance an important parmeter is the on "ground motion blur", this depends only (if no compensation) on shutter speed and ground speed, and it tells what object size we can see because blur. At Mach 1.0 this is 340m/s, so at 1/1000 shutter we have 340mm ground blur. At Mach 0.5 this would be 150mm of motion blur at real ground object scale, so the AK-47 stacks had to be seen.

Given the flight altitude and the focal we can calculate the "on film blur", this is the "on ground blur" divided by the magnification. If Magnification is 1:5000, then those 150mm of ground blur will be 0.03mm of motion blur on film, so limiting resolution to some 15 Lp/mm, so we can go x3 higher with the plane and still motion blur not degradating what sharp film/optics can capture, or using a 1/3 of the focal length at same altitude....

At the end the ground motion blur will determine the size of the field that the photograph can record without degradating what motion blur allows...

I make that kind of calculations often, but with an industrial camera looking moving products, it's just the same easy calculation. In fact I got the theory from aerial photography handbooks...

This reminds me of when we sold the first Linhof Aero Technika 45 EL cameras to NASA for the Navy to use on the Space Shuttle.
After they used it on their first mission that required it I got a call from the Astronauts that used it. Their comment was that when they shot the target on Hasselblds they knew something was there. But when they shot it with the Linhof they then knew exactly what it was!

pchaplo
25-Dec-2017, 23:48
Love the history. I’m just a farm boy with a camera. I can shoot handheld digital FF with a 50mm forward and back (clearing the prop, wing, strut, landing gear, and tail) in a Cessna 172 and get consistent clear shots 1/500 f/8 without a gyro, although I have Kenyon, I rarely use it as I like to work with two cameras, namely one with 50mm and one with a 28mm (again FF “35” equivalents.”). Also I like to shooot both verticals and horizontals in quick succession.

I thought I would drag along a 4x5 and play with it, hence the post. If I ever hitch a ride in SR-71 or space launch, I will remember the dissertation cited and FMC. I really enjoy working with good pilots to have an optimal approach to the target area and to have the aircraft in good attitude for angle-of-view clearance an minimal vibration. Barnyard common sense.

I may start with a slightly longer lens ie Nikkor 200mm M f/8. I believe that wide open, the image circle is 166mm. If anyone has real life experience with that lens in terms of coverage - and corner sharpness (a long shot, I know) - at f/8 let me know.

ps: my dad flew combat as a pilot in 2 wars and was a USAF test pilot at Edwards and Wright-Patt. 2 Air Medals, several DFC,s w Oak Clusters. RIP. Thanks to all who served. I fished in a pond on a SAC base and watched Voodoo’s and B-52’s take off.

pchaplo
25-Dec-2017, 23:55
ps: asked Santa for a Zeiss Planar 135mm f/3.5 But no-go. Must have been the numerous naughty moments over Big Bend :)

pchaplo
26-Dec-2017, 00:01
In closing, thanks to all who shared useful information on commonly available lenses for 4x5 per my well-defined needs in the opening post.

As a side note, the interesting thing about my father, a highly decorated USAF combat and test pilot, is that he never bragged. Never mentioned that he had a single commendation. But then, that was the Greatest Generation.

PaulOUT

Photomagica
26-Dec-2017, 00:28
Vibration tends to be a factor as well.

Yes - in small aircraft vibration and buffeting is by far the major factor. From a Cessna I've found it easy to pan to compensate for the general motion of the plane but only a high shutter speed, and/or a camera gyroscope will compensate for aircraft vibration and buffeting. (With smaller formats, image stabilization in-lens or in-body may be helpful in some circumstances.)
Bill

Pere Casals
26-Dec-2017, 03:08
I may start with a slightly longer lens ie Nikkor 200mm M f/8. I believe that wide open, the image circle is 166mm. If anyone has real life experience with that lens in terms of coverage - and corner sharpness (a long shot, I know) - at f/8 let me know.


This is the lp/mm performance measured by Mr Perez of a M 200mm sample

f/11 68 76 38 (Center Mid Edge)
f/16 68 68 34
f/22 60 54 48

http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/testing.html

Still not a lab test but a practical one, and we have to remember that from one unit to another one there is a variability.

pchaplo
28-Dec-2017, 22:32
I have Kenyon gyro if needed.


Yes - in small aircraft vibration and buffeting is by far the major factor. From a Cessna I've found it easy to pan to compensate for the general motion of the plane but only a high shutter speed, and/or a camera gyroscope will compensate for aircraft vibration and buffeting. (With smaller formats, image stabilization in-lens or in-body may be helpful in some circumstances.)
Bill

pchaplo
28-Dec-2017, 22:33
Great site. I’m really enjoying his writings, images, and lens tests/comparisons. Thanks.


This is the lp/mm performance measured by Mr Perez of a M 200mm sample

f/11 68 76 38 (Center Mid Edge)
f/16 68 68 34
f/22 60 54 48

http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/testing.html

Still not a lab test but a practical one, and we have to remember that from one unit to another one there is a variability.

pchaplo
28-Dec-2017, 23:06
EDIT: My Nikkor lens literature has wide-open specs too. But in the Nikkor SW line, the 90mm f/8 won't do and probably not the 90/4.5 either - you really need to go to the 120 to get adequate coverage at f/8 on 4x5, and that's a fairly large and heavy lens. In the Nikkor W line, the 135 has tight coverage relative to 4x5 at f/5.6 (156mm), while the 150 covers 174mm.

Im re-reading all your most helpful notes. Very helpful info and greatly appreciated. The f/5.6 Nikon W’s were tested at f/8 by Danny another forum member here and he found that the specifically the 180mm (and Schneider’s APO-Symmar 180mm) were sharp for 4x5 at that ”one stop down” aperture.

The trouble is that the Copal 1 shutter limits my fastest shutter speed to 1/400 and in real life 1/3-1/2 stop slower than that.

Dan Fromm
29-Dec-2017, 05:54
Y'know, if you got a Speed Graphic you could have higher shutter speeds.

John Layton
29-Dec-2017, 06:59
William Garnett...who took some really incredible aerials back in the day - often did so while piloting alone with his Graflex held over his shoulder. He'd worked out a routine which took advantage of his intimate feel for lighting, timing, placement, and...when he wasn't simply cutting the engine (which if I remember correctly he did not like doing)...those RPM ranges which presented the least amount of vibration. Amazing work!

John Layton
29-Dec-2017, 06:59
...cannot mention William Garnett without paying homage to Bradford Washburn!

Pere Casals
29-Dec-2017, 07:06
Great site. I’m really enjoying his writings, images, and lens tests/comparisons. Thanks.

Just let me add that, being always insteresting, lens performance can be secondary to obtain good results. How photographer manages DOF, aperture, focusing, alignment, shake, film usage, and post-processing may be more important than ultimate lens lp/mm in the field. For example a film may deliver no more than 50lp/mm in regular low contrast situation, and only with a very contrasty pattern it can resolve more, so other limiting factors may make high lens performance secondary.

Also the sharp look of a photograph may be more related to other factors than to resolving power.

I'm a big fan of measuring lp/mm, but I realize that it would be a secondary concept for a true artist. "Dovima with elephants" was made with a good lens, for sure, but this was a 1955 technology lens.

For aerial photography you have to consider if your motion blur/shake is to limit resolving power in practice, making useless optical performance beyond certain level. And optical performance also depends on aperture, and from aperture and film you have a shutter speed that is related to blur/shake. But smaller aperture also is related to "on film" DOF, that will ensure focus if not perfect alignment and flatness.

So, beyond lens performance you also have to make a good balance of the settings, and this may be more important than ultimate lp/mm measured in a lab.

Don Dudenbostel
7-Jan-2018, 05:17
Let me start by saying I worked for an aerial research and remote sensing company in the early 70's and have been shooting aerials ever since. In addition I'm a pilot.

Several things here, it sounds like you've never done this before. You're going to have your hands full! One, a 172 is not very big. You're going to be very cramped dealing with your camera and film holders. You MUST NOT in any way interfere with the controls of the aircraft. The pilot must have full range of motion of all controls. Second if your camera has a bellows you'd better construct a cowling to keep it from blowing off the camera just in case you get it in the slip stream. Your pilot can slow the aircraft down safely by adding flaps and get you down to around 75knots. But you can't do any tight maneuvers at those speeds. if you're in the US and in a populated area youll be limited to a minimum altitude of 1000 ft AGL. In less or unpopulated areas you can drop down to 500 ft AGL. It's possible your pilot might get cleared to a lower altitude but that depends on location, obstacles, density of population and air traffic. Higher Altitude will allow you to shoot at a slower shutter speed too. You can pretty much forget shooting a wide lens from a 172. Even with a normal you'll probably get a lot of shots with the strut in the frame.

Pick a coll clear day. Aircraft fly better when the temp is low as the air is more dense. Remember it's colder up there than it is down here. You drop roughly 2.5 degrees f for every 1000 ft. It'll be tough to use gloves and do what you're trying to do. Try to fly when winds aloft are less. Your pilot can check that in his weather breafing. You'll want to minimize conditions where you'll have turbulents. Aerial work is strenuous both physically and mentally.

If I had a choice, a helicopter with the door off is better. Even then you need a cowling to keep from losing the bellows in the rotor wash. The air moving down from the rotor is traveling about 150mph. In the 172 it'll be 75-120 knots and unless you have a tight grip on your camera you might lose it. Second choice of aircraft, a J3 Cub shooting with the door open and from the front seat. I flew an Aeronca 7AC Champ for a lot of aerial work and both the Champ and Cub will fly slow. The Cub wing strut is more forward and gives a much less obstructed view. Still they are tiny aircraft. Next choice is a Cessna 177 Cardinal. It's essentially a 172 with no wing strut. The best would be a Cessna 210. It's a good size, more stable 6 passenger aircraft with plenty of power when you need it and there's no wing strut. I've done a lot from a 210 and they get you to your location fast and you'll have much more room and a clearer view. The downside is it'll be more expensive and harder to find.

Keep us posted how it goes.

Don Dudenbostel
7-Jan-2018, 08:50
I wanted to add a recommendation, use gaffer tape to secure your aperture and focus. I always do this as it's too easy to knock focus, aperture and shutter speeds off.

I'd also take the equipment I'm going to use and take it to the airport and do a dry run while sitting on the ground. See just what you'll be up against before getting in the air. You should probably do this prior to the day of the shoot. Even shoot a couple of frames and process them to see if you're getting parts of the aircraft in the shot.

I know you want to do this on 4x5 but the best camera I've used for oblique aerial work is a Pentax 6x7.

Keep in mind, you CAN NOT extend any part of the camera outside the window if the aircraft. The air flow may pull the camera out of your hands or destroy it. In any case you wouldn't be able to hold it steady enough to make a sharp photo. Remember you're moving between 75 and 120knots. This is like shooting in a hurricane.

jp
7-Jan-2018, 09:51
Also consider that you may not have a place to put things... Things like light meter, film holders, etc.. You may be buckled in tight and if there is just two seats, one is for you. A good front pocket for film holders. Meter before you take off. If you drop something, you may not be able to get it or it may be a safety problem if it gets in the way of controls. If you are big, you might not have room in your lap for storage as you will be cozy with the stick or yoke. I have only shot LF as part of a herded mass on a commercial flight.. "put away your electronics for the landing", so out comes the speed graphic. I have shot digital and rolleiflex from privately owned or museum owned small planes. Digital is easiest... and yes high shutter speeds are good.

Mark Sampson
7-Jan-2018, 11:20
The only photographers I know of who successfully used LF shooting from the air are Bradford Washburn (who used an aerial camera) and William Garnett (who later went to smaller formats). Mr. Dudenbostel's comments seem spot-on to me.
I played around shooting aerials in the 1980s, as a passenger in a Cessna. I used a Nikon and a 105mm lens; I enjoyed it, and made a few good pictures, but it was too expensive to continue.
Marilyn Bridges, who has a great body of work photographed from the air, learned to fly herself. She used a Pentax 6x7 SLR- in fact endorsed the camera in magazine ads. Emmett Gowin has done beautiful aerial work as well, maybe you could find out what his methods were.

Oren Grad
7-Jan-2018, 11:51
Emmett Gowin has done beautiful aerial work as well, maybe you could find out what his methods were.

Hasselblad 500EL, IIRC.

Jac@stafford.net
7-Jan-2018, 12:31
Hasselblad 500EL, IIRC.

Yes. Here is a photo of him and camera. (https://www.princeton.edu/~visarts/Emmetgood.JPG)

Don Dudenbostel
7-Jan-2018, 17:32
There are two problems with the 500 EL. The company I worked for in the early days had 5 with 5 sets of lenses and 20 70mm backs. We also used 9x9inch but that's another story. We mounted the 500 EL's in a mountain the belly of the plane. Sometimes I shot obliques as well. Sadly the finder isn't as good as the Pentax 6x7. I adopted 3 6x7's for my use after leaving the company. The optics of the Pentax and the design is much less cunbersom than the EL. Also at altitude in the winter when humidity is very low I've had static marks due to the EL motor advancing the film too rapidly. I never experienced static issues with any other camera but did with each body on multiple occasions. Warm and humid weather there was no problem.

I've logged easily a couple of thousand hours shooting aerials and have done quite a bit while flying myself by holding the stick between my knees on a 7AC Champ. It can fly at 50 mph, stalls at about 35 mph and the pilots window slides back for easy access for shooting. It's a great platform for aerial work. The only drawback is it's slow to get to the shooting site but on the other hand it's a pleasure to fly so who cares if it's slow.

Jac@stafford.net
7-Jan-2018, 17:46
I was stationed at RAF Upper Heyford (66th TRW), an aerial recon base in the Sixties. Y'all can Google the aircraft and mission.

One point - photo interpreters were absolutely more important than even the best resolution lenses. Most important images were stereo and what the PI could 'see' was astounding. My best friend was a PI. What the human brain can 'see' is astounding with 3D. Enjoy your amateur cyclops pursuit.
.

Don Dudenbostel
7-Jan-2018, 18:27
Once in a while you get to do some really fun aerials. The DC3 was shot with the Pentax 6x7 and 135 macro and the F16 was with a Rollei 3003 and probably a 50 Planar. The DC3 was for a charter company and F16 for an annual report.

Excuse the low res images. I had them on my phone and uploaded them from that. The F16 shoot involved shooting 3 F16's and 3 F15's. It took four hours to do the shoot. Unfortunately my client took the film and I only have a few extras.

Bob Salomon
7-Jan-2018, 18:55
I was stationed at RAF Upper Heyford (66th TRW), an aerial recon base in the Sixties. Y'all can Google the aircraft and mission.

One point - photo interpreters were absolutely more important than even the best resolution lenses. Most important images were stereo and what the PI could 'see' was astounding. My best friend was a PI. What the human brain can 'see' is astounding with 3D. Enjoy your amateur cyclops pursuit.
.

The one that really impressed me was what the PIs could do with what they couldn’t see! We ran 5” IR B&W over Cuba and while the vehicles were long gone when we shot the area the PIs could tell from the residual heat signitures what kind of truck had been parked there, how big it was, about how heavy it was and what it probably was carrying! All that of pictures of empty parking areas in the early 60s!

Randy Moe
7-Jan-2018, 19:08
During WW II most PI’s were women. 1000’s of them acting as human computers per Jac. Amazing story. Some say the PI’s were the deciding intelligence.


The one that really impressed me was what the PIs could do with what they couldn’t see! We ran 5” IR B&W over Cuba and while the vehicles were long gone when we shot the area the PIs could tell from the residual heat signitures what kind of truck had been parked there, how big it was, about how heavy it was and what it probably was carrying! All that of pictures of empty parking areas in the early 60s!

Jac@stafford.net
7-Jan-2018, 19:08
The one that really impressed me was what the PIs could do with what they couldn’t see! We ran 5” IR B&W over Cuba and while the vehicles were long gone when we shot the area the PIs could tell from the residual heat signitures what kind of truck had been parked there, how big it was, about how heavy it was and what it probably was carrying! All that of pictures of empty parking areas in the early 60s!

And many thanks to the aviators who flew those missions.

pchaplo
7-Jan-2018, 21:41
Love these first-hand accounts and much-appreciated info (both technical and historical). My aerial work is so basic compared to these amazing stories.

Back to my search for a lens to bring a 4x5 along for some pot shots, I’m thinking along the lines of a Schneider APO-Symmar 120mm f/5.6 L-75 or a Rodenstock APO Sironar-S 135mm f/5.6, the former as suggested in this thread and by another forum member who has corresponded with me privately. If you have one that you are willing to sell, see my wanted ad. I will mount it on a Horseman (likely FA but open to others or even a Wista RF) with a lens board with a slight extension (eg the Horseman 25652 lens panel-for Copal 0), an optical viewfinder (I just prefer this over wire), and a right-hand Linhof-style grip (or doubled-hndled home brew arrangement). I am searching to buy all this gear and have “wanted” ads posted.

From forum member Konakoa’s 2016 reply to “Medium-wide lens for Horseman FA?” on this forum:
173467
Fig. 1 Konakoa’s Horseman FA with APO-Symmar 120mm L-75 and extension panel.
I like that bellows length is manageable.

With the APO-Symmar 120mm f/5.6 L-75 at infinity focus f/8, no camera movements, could I use an even longer extension lens panel? If yes, what lensboard would that be exactly for a Horseman FA camera? If I went to 150mm lens even if another brand could I use the longer “extension” lensboard?

173472
Fig. 2 The longer extension.
I believe this is Horseman 25653 (?)
Is that for Copal 1?

Why would I use the extension board? For a cone-like alternative to bellows (for aerials experiments) and owning a camera that can serve multiple purposes for me, both for aerials and (with a regular lens board) hiking in the Chisos.

Again, thanks to all who served, and all who contributed to this epic thread that I will re-read and savor many times.