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Nodda Duma
6-May-2018, 09:18
Hi folks,

I just picked up a project Whole Plate camera which lacks a lens. What would be a good starter lens and focal length to cover that format? There seems to be a ton of choices out there.

Thanks,
Jason

Oren Grad
6-May-2018, 09:27
Jason, what's your usual preference for a main lens? Do you tend to see wide, normal or long? Also, do you care about modern vs antique rendering?

For example, modern 210's intended for 4x5 are readily and inexpensively available, and most of them almost-but-not-quite cover 8x10 at infinity so are comfortable on WP. But semiwide with a modern rendering may not be what you're after.

Nodda Duma
6-May-2018, 09:33
Hi Oren,

Iíll start with a normal lens just to get a feel for composition.

Good tip on the 210s. I have a couple right around that focal length for 4x5, so Iíll try those out.

At some point Iíll start watching for a period-correct lens. Anything unusual about whole plate lenses compared to looking for other formats?

-Jason

Oren Grad
6-May-2018, 09:55
Anything unusual about whole plate lenses compared to looking for other formats?

Not really. If dead-normal is your thing, something around 240-250mm (or 9.5-10 inches among the old glass) would be ideal. Among the modern f/5.6 plasmats, the quirk is that 240 is the point where the shutter jumps from #1 to #3, so you pay a disproportionate price in weight and bulk compared to a 210, if that's something that's a concern. But a process lens like a 240 G-Claron will be very compact and should work well. In that vein, I've used the 240 Germinar-W on a WP Century; that's a really sweet combination, ultralight for the format and quick and easy to set up and take down.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
6-May-2018, 10:17
A Fujinon-W 250/6.7 on whole plate is pretty close to "normal" with a big image circle, number 1 shutter, and not too dim.

peter schrager
6-May-2018, 10:39
I use a 240mm and a fuji wide 175.mm

Mark Sawyer
6-May-2018, 10:49
I'd say almost any300mm f/4.5 Tessar. The big question is "shutter or barrel"? In a barrel, the Russian Industars are cheap and wonderful. In a shutter, whatever you run across, (Paragons, Velostigmats/Raptars, Zeiss, B&Ls...), with a reliable shutter being the big concern.

Chauncey Walden
6-May-2018, 11:12
A 215 f/4.8 Caltar, a modern plasmat design which also converts to a 350 f/14, is one of my favorite lenses on whole plate. An unappreciated excellent performer always available at a very reasonable price, it is found marked in several ways such as Caltar Series S or Ilex Acuton.

Nodda Duma
6-May-2018, 11:47
Great suggestions, thanks. I like the idea of a convertible lens for doing portraiture as well as landscape.

Ted R
6-May-2018, 17:49
I used two Schneider lenses with my WP, a 210mm Xenar (slightly wide) and a 360mm Telexenar (slightly long) Both show up used in the usual places. I believe these were originally 7x5in lenses. I didn't care about the slight loss of definition and slight light falloff in the corners so I was happy.

RJ-
11-May-2018, 07:31
Hi folks,

I just picked up a project Whole Plate camera which lacks a lens. What would be a good starter lens and focal length to cover that format? There seems to be a ton of choices out there.

Thanks,
Jason


Hi Jason,


I presume you're contact printing? If you are, any lens that doesn't hang dangerously off the board works :)

Years ago I had a list compiled for the whole plate format, aggregating all the lenses for the former Whole Plate Column buried in an archive somewhere - very simply compiled from most 240mm - 300mm {10inch to 12inch} lenses - 7 x 5 inch covering lenses with a wider image circle, or tighter 10 x 8 inch format lenses.

The current ones I use are the Rodenstock 240mm Sironar S & the Docter Tessar 300mm f5.6 and a little Boyer Saphir 300mm f9 (a Heliar type design). The 300mm f4.5 G Tessar types are very large and heavier than the correspondingly short-telephoto portraiture style Heliar 360mm f4.5. At this end, the little Docter Germinar 360mm f9 is a great lens.

If you're looking to stay closer to period whole plate, the Taylor Hobson Series II 10-12 inch f8 lenses are lovely and portable. If you can find a Series V, all the better. The black paint on brass is exceedingly difficult to read in attenuated lighting conditions, and marking your favourite aperture settings with a sticker might help. The convertible RVP lens from the same house, as well as Ross of London and other smaller manufacturers, are much lighter than any modern offering too. Perhaps these are less common.

Just about any older anastigmat, rectilinear lens will work for your dry plate ISO of 1-3 without a shutter. Of the shuttered lenses, Zeiss Germinars (including Docter) made in the DDR fitted a Prontor 3 shutter, with the cells swapping out interchangeably; enabling the same shutter to be used for focal lengths from 180mm, 210mm, 300mm, 360mm. Some of these were Zeiss T coated, prior to T* and are superior to the vintage lenses for flare control.

I'm fond of the Ross Homocentric and rapid symmetrical lenses - these are more common in the 12 inch focal length and look handsome on any period whole plate camera, as well as generally being brighter than the smaller field lenses. All the lenses above provide sufficient coverage - although once movements start, the differences really start to show.

Happy shooting.

Kind regards,
RJ

David Karp
11-May-2018, 15:44
I second the 250mm f/6.7 Fujinon. I like it on my WP camera. I really love looking through the whole plate GG through my 215mm Caltar f/4.8.

Peter Gomena
11-May-2018, 16:18
My WP came with a period 13" Rapid Rectilinear lens in barrel. I suspect it was used as a portrait camera/lens combination. I found 210 is wide, 305 G-Claron a bit long, wanted to buy a 250 f/6.7 Fujinon but decided to sell the camera instead.

Paul Kinzer
13-May-2018, 19:30
I have a Conley Anastigmat 9-1/2 inch (241mm) f/4.5 lens that says right on the lens ring '6Ĺ ◊ 8Ĺ' which is, of course, whole plate. It was put into an Ilex #4 shutter. The aperture scale in the photo is not correct. I removed a paper one that was for this lens because I was going to use the shutter for a different lens. (But I took photos of the lens beforehand and can easily re-create the other scale.) I changed my mind about using the shutter, and no longer need this lens or shutter. If you are interested in it, PM me. I did not pay much for it, and would not ask for much either.

You can see some 'cleaning marks' in the photo, too. They are only on a portion of the front element, most of it visible in the photo. I know little about the lens, having bought it for the shutter, but was surprised to find that the lens sure looks from its reflections to be coated, even though it has the rather old designation 'anastigmat'. The shutter works well and is quite consistent. I have not checked speeds yet, but do have an electronic tester and could do so.

I posted something interesting about the lens just today in this forum, here (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?146048-Question-about-adjustment-scale-on-Conley-9-1-2-inch-f-4-5-lens).

I would not be proposing a sale here except that I was just exploring the lens today to get it ready for selling, and then saw and read this post.

178255

David Karp
13-May-2018, 19:37
My WP came with a period 13" Rapid Rectilinear lens in barrel. I suspect it was used as a portrait camera/lens combination. I found 210 is wide, 305 G-Claron a bit long, wanted to buy a 250 f/6.7 Fujinon but decided to sell the camera instead.

I agree, 210/215mm is wide, but a gentle wide. A 180mm f/5.6 Fujinon W is a nice shorter focal length lens on WP. I have a single coated 120mm Fujinon that also covers, but is way too short for my personal taste. A 450mm Fujinon C is also a very nice lens on WP.

Jason, the convertible 215/360mm f/4.8 Ilex Caltar requires a lot of extension at 360mm, just so you are not surprised if you go that route.