View Full Version : New guy needs help with 4x5 lenses

14-Sep-2006, 10:48
I just bought my first LF, a 4x5 Crown, and I am trying to figure out what I need in the way of a lens for landscape / scenery. I've been looking at lenses but I'm not sure if what I'm looking at is made for a 4x5 or a 5x7 or 8x10. Am I wrong in assuming that a lens that will cover 8x10 will automatically work for 4x5? Is there a "rule of thumb" to go by or maybe someone would be kind enough to direct me to some written reference material... The lens that is on the camera is a 135mm 4.7 Optar that has some light swirl marks on the front lens from cleaning... I haven't seen pics from this camera yet, but does this automatically mean this lens is junk? Thanks for the help!!

steve simmons
14-Sep-2006, 10:54
There are several articles in the Fre Articles section of the View Camera site that will be helpful, including a lens chart matching, as closely as can be done, focal lengths from one format to another.

You will need a circle of coverage at least 165mm to cover the 4x5 format You will need more for movements.

Here are some books that will be helpful

Large Format Nature Photography by Jack Dykinga
Jim Stone's User;s Guide to the View Camera
Using the View Camera that I wrote

check your local library

steve simmons

14-Sep-2006, 11:02
The lens that is on the camera is a 135mm 4.7 Optar that has some light swirl marks on the front lens from cleaning... I haven't seen pics from this camera yet, but does this automatically mean this lens is junk?
Not at all!

Ron Marshall
14-Sep-2006, 11:04
The diagonal (corner to opposite corner) of the sheet of film is the minimum image circle that a lens must have to be used on that format. 4x5 has a diagonal of 153mm, 5x7 209mm, 8x10 300mm. So you are correct, any lens that covers a larger format will also cover a smaller one. But, lenses for 8x10 are generally heavier and more expensive than 4x5 lenses.

The lens on your camera is a good one to start with. Use it for a few months to get an idea of what focal length you like.

Minor cleaning marks may not affect picture quality at all. Don't even think about it for now. Just get out and photgraph.

There are many good articles on equipment and technique on the home page of this site:


Glenn Thoreson
14-Sep-2006, 11:46
Your lens will cover 4X5 with all the movements available on your Crown Graphic. It's the lens originally supplied with the camera. As mentioned, go out and shot with it. It may surprise you. Then, when you're thoroughly familiar with your camera, you can start saving your money for something in the 150 to 210mm range. If you need a wide angle, the 90mm Optar was a standard for your camera and is quite good. And inexpensive.
Have fun!

Frank Petronio
14-Sep-2006, 12:01
It's funny, but when you think of all the greatest photos in history (by however you define them) the majority were made with realtively inexpensive, common lenses, often with cleaning marks on them. Seriously, how many really great photos have been made with 45mm Grandagons or 600mm Tele-Artons?

Kerry Thalmann, a frequent contributor to this site and writer for View Camera magazine, has a very popular series of articles about "Future Classic Lens" here:


Most people start with a 135-150 lens, then maybe get a 90 and 210. Since these are the most popular focal lengths, they are also the best value and have very high performance relative to the more exotic and expensive super wides and teles.

Walter Calahan
14-Sep-2006, 12:02
I second the 90 mm and 210 mm as the next lens step for your Crown.

14-Sep-2006, 12:37
Am I wrong in assuming that a lens that will cover 8x10 will automatically work for 4x5? I!

Yes in the sense it wll work. The question then becomes do you want to use an 8x10 lens on a 4x5?

A lens designed for 8x10 will likely be heavier and more expensive then a similar focal length aimed at 4x5. This isn't much of an issue above 300mm but shorter lenses it's a bigger issue. A normal 150mm designed for 4x5 isn't that big or that expensive. An 150mm aimed at 8x10 is fairly large and expensive.

Having said that All my 8x10 lenses work fine on my 4x5 and 5x7.

John Kasaian
14-Sep-2006, 13:17
As others have already said, the Optar will cover. Its not an 8x10 lens. On a Crown, its a mildly wide normal if you consider 150mm "normal". It could very lilkely be all the lens you'll ever need on that camera. Set aside some $$ for a cla for your shutter ..."if and when" it needs attention(Carol Miller at Flutots is my recommendation) and go out and shoot that Crown! Have FUN!

14-Sep-2006, 17:42
I love my 135 Optar and 90 Optar. The 135 can handle the movements of a crown just fine but will have soft corners if focusing at infinity at larger fstops. The 90 will allow just a little lens tilt and normally there will be some vignetting of corners but not too objectionable. Both lens are sharp enough. Enjoy.

Paul Fitzgerald
14-Sep-2006, 18:42

2 threads from 'the other site' that may be of interest:

Wollensak 135 (http://www.apug.org/forums/showthread.php?t=31728)

Wedding photo (http://www.apug.org/forums/showthread.php?t=31708)

Like other have said, play with it until you outgrow it. The Raptar/Optar lenses are really under-rated and have plenty to offer. With a good CLA the Rapax shutters are very accurate and dependable.

Welcome to LF, good luck with the hunt.

Michael Graves
14-Sep-2006, 20:14
One thing you might keep an eye out for is a 203mm Kodak Ektar. They're tiny, like your Optar, have enough coverage for 5x7, so the 4x5 neg will stay in the "sweet spot" even if you use movements. Generally, they're pretty inexpensive, too.

Patrik Roseen
15-Sep-2006, 03:54
I started out with the Wollensak Raptar 4,7/135mm and can also say that it is a very nice lens which proved itself during my first 6 months of LF photography...both indoors and landscape. When comparing the photographs made with this lens to the ones done later with others I find that the raptar has a special nice feeling in the pictures. Especially when having altered the plane of focus and not stopping down very much.
Many of the pictures on my photo-site was made with the 135mm raptar, i.e. both B&W and color-chromes.

Joseph O'Neil
15-Sep-2006, 05:40
If you are looking for a cehap, decent 90mm lens, the Wollensak WA 90mm might be a good choice for starting out with. Very little movement on that lens, but it is nice and sharp, very light weight, and when they come up for sale, rather inexpensive.

Another choice, if you see any come up used for a low price, in good shape are the Ilex Paragon Anastigmats. They have a 210mm (actually 8.25 inch I think) that's not half bad. I use a 6.5 inch (I think) myself.

The other route is to save up your money and buy a really good used or even new 135mm lens, or even 150mm. personally I never regretted buying a new Rodenstock 135mm, but sometime syou see really good 150mm lenses come up, and yes, I think a newer 135 or 150mm is worth the money in the long run.

I think your bigest issue with used lenses - if the glass looks good - will be the condition of the shutters. Sometiems I find that buying used from a dealer who already has had the thutter CLA'd is cheaper in th elong run that buying used off ebay, and then shipping the lens off for CLAing.


17-Sep-2006, 11:10
Thanks to all who have offered suggestions.... I’ve taken a few pictures with the Crown and I’ll send them off to a lab soon, however I think I’m going to want to break into developing also. I had a small darkroom set up back in the late 70’s and I had some fun with 35mm E6 and Cibachrome, and I’d like to get back into E6 and B&W again. I need to figure out the logistics of doing 220 and 4x5 in a small lab, but I suppose that’s a subject for another thread. Thanks again for the lens suggestions…. I’m scouring that infamous Auction website for something a little longer than the 135mm… and thanks also for the heads up about FluTots for the CLA…..

John Kasaian
21-Sep-2006, 15:26
The 203mm f/7.7 Ektar IS a sweet little lens. I don't shoot 4x5 any more but I'm keeping mine 'just in case.'

Look up the article on Unicolor drums for developing sheet film on the LF Home Page & shoehorn an Omega D2 enlarger into your darkroom and you're in business!

22-Sep-2006, 07:58
Agreed. I use 4x5 all the time and the 203 is a great lens.

- Randy

22-Sep-2006, 15:57
I would consider a 203 Ektar but the price is a little pricey and they are usually in shutter which doesn't have x sync.

Jim Jones
22-Sep-2006, 18:21
A decent mechanic can alter the shutter of most 203 Ektars for X sync. It isn't difficult.

22-Sep-2006, 19:21
I would consider a 203 Ektar but the price is a little pricey and they are usually in shutter which doesn't have x sync.

FWIW... try Tim at http://www.lensN2shutter.com and see what he can do about making the modification for you. IIRC, it's not a huge job to modify it for x-sync.

I've had him to some work on my lenses... terrific results! :)


28-Sep-2006, 14:43
Well, I picked up an Ilex Paragon Anastigmat f:4.5/7½" with a N°3 shutter for under $60 shipped... now I just need to find another lens board. I see them occasionally on that famous of all Auction websites, but are there places that stock lens boards for a Crown? What about mounting the lens? I beleive it takes a 1.985 inch hole.... Can I mount this myself considering I am sort of a crafty fellow? Or should I have it mounted for me.....

28-Sep-2006, 14:46
If you can unscrew a jar of peanut butter you should be okay. It's little more then unscrew lens. Put one half on the front of the board. One half behind. Likely with a flange in between.

Ron Marshall
28-Sep-2006, 14:54
are there places that stock lens boards for a Crown?

You can easily mount it yourself.

Here are a few sources for lensboards:


John Kasaian
28-Sep-2006, 22:25
I have a Crown and FWIW the best way I've seen to mount lenses on those thin metal lensboards is to attach the flange onto the lensboard with screws or rivets and then screw the lens on, unless youve got a retaining ring. Thats the way all my Crown lenses are mounted anyway.