View Full Version : ONE Lens for everything

David Payumo
27-May-2000, 13:49
If you had to only have ONE lens what would it be? You had to shoot everything with it; Portraits, Tabletop, Landscapes and Interiors. I am wondering what wo uld it be? Would the movements in Large Format be enough to deal with the limit ations of one lens and fit everything in like a wide angle lens? Would cropping a big large format negative be enough to get a telephoto effect? Do you REALLY need all those lenses?

27-May-2000, 14:44
No question for me. 135mm on 4x5 (equiv. of 40.5mm in 35mm). How about two lenses only? 90mm and 150/162mm. For three, just add a 250mm. Picking the focal lengths is easy, specifying exactly which lens is a lot harder. Dagors are hard to beat, all 'round.

Ed Buffaloe
27-May-2000, 14:49
I favor an old 120mm Schneider Angulon--very compact, reasonably sharp.

paul owen
27-May-2000, 16:06
David, IMHO you would be hard pressed to find a better all round lens than the Schneider 110 XL !!

Doug Paramore
27-May-2000, 17:10
Gotta go with Bill on this one. 135mm is best for one all around lens. Second choice is 150. Can't go real wide, but fits the other criteria the closest. Would add 90mm and 250 next, in that order. Many old photographers never owned but a 135 for their Graphics and got by.

Sergio Ortega
27-May-2000, 17:53

For the first couple of years I worked in 4x5, I only used a 210mm 5.6 Symmar-S and a 90mm f8 Super Angulon. Come to think of it, I really don't believe I gained that much--except weight, bulk and expense--by adding a bunch of other focal lengths over the years.

Good luck, Sergio.

William Marderness
27-May-2000, 20:06
For 8x10, first choice: 270mm. Second choice: 450mm.

27-May-2000, 21:51

It is less important on 4x5. I most commonly use a 210. But I use an enlarger. More important for 8x10 which I contact. There, I use a 300.


Sean Billy Bob Boy yates
27-May-2000, 23:33
Well, it may be cheating but David did say "one lens" so I'd vote for a triple convertible. That's sort of cheating too because that's what I have.

Weston had his 12/21/28 - but decided to add a 19" Protar - maybe he'd have been happy with the T.R. 12/19.7/25"?

Joel Meyerowitz got/gets along just fine with his 10" W.F. Ektar.

Sean Billy Bob Boy yates
27-May-2000, 23:38

I just remembered I have an article from a pro-oriented magazine in which a fella relates starting out in L.F. with just one lens - a 120 Super Angulon. His camera was the 5 X 7 Deardorff - so he could shoot 5 X 7, 4 X 5, and all the 120 sizes with one lens - and apparently got along o.k.

Mark Windom
28-May-2000, 01:36
No contest; the Schneider 110XL.

28-May-2000, 01:49
A 150mm Rodenstock Sironar S

28-May-2000, 08:52
First ; a 90mm f/8. Second, a 300mm f/9. Third, a 65mm f/5.6.

David Richhart
28-May-2000, 09:59
...Many 4X5 Speed Graphics have been around for decades and have never been used with any lens other than the one they were delivered with... the 135mm. The setup was designed with a specific purpose in mind, but it works well in most situations. -Dave

Bob Salomon
28-May-2000, 11:25
"..Many 4X5 Speed Graphics have been around for decades and have never been used with any lens other than the one they were delivered with... the 135mm. The setup was designed with a specific purpose in mind, but it works well in most situations. "

This is very misleading. Those Graphics were designed as press cameras and not view cameras so they did not do much in the way of movements, none on the back, and rwquired very little coverage to work as a press camera.

A view camera needs more control and that means more coverage.

Additionally this question leads no where.

The question should be what lens will be the same on 45 as the lens I use the most on my current camera?

Everyone of the answers above reflect the lens best for the responder and since everyone does their own thing the answers are not meaningful for the person asking the question.

If he isn't sure what will do best for him he shoukld rent, borrow, etc. a lens snad see how it fullfills his needs.

David Payumo
28-May-2000, 12:22
Sorry Dan, I know you've shot a lot of different formats. So you special question is which ONE lens would you pick for 4x5,5x7 and 8x10? What lenses would you pick for 8x20,7x17,12x20, 20x24? The original question assumed one lens per format and the 4x5 format(sorry to bigger cameras). Bob you are right. I should shoot different lenses. Tell me when you will send me those Linhof Camera and Rodenstock Lenses since you really feel strongly about this. I know everyone should try different lenses. However I wanted to see what other people think. I've also look at pictures and remember situations where I think I need certain lenses. So far I've find people could probably get along with one good lens in the 110mm to 210mm range in 4x5. Which I hypothesized as I think about Canadian prices for Large Format. Thanks.

28-May-2000, 12:29
I don't see anywhere that David asks what lens HE should use. The question appears purely rhetorical. I think it is a good, interesting question for the exchange of information. FYI, I once visited John Blakemore, whom I consider one of the great landscape photographers. His only lens is a 180mm (for 5x4).

paul schuster
28-May-2000, 14:04
many have offered a 135mm. what about the shneider symmar 135/5.6? which seems to be convertible (although not usually isted as such) by removing the rear element. becoming something like 243mm/f12?

am I wrong about this? I was told I can do this by my local pro shop.

Ellis Vener
28-May-2000, 16:47
I'd also go with the 110 mm XL Super Symmar. Moderately wide when you shoot 4x5 and a slightly longer than normal focal length when used with a 6x7 or 6x9 roll film back.

Ellis Vener
28-May-2000, 16:49
To the second part of your question: if you are a professional the answer is yes .

28-May-2000, 16:53

Everyone of the answers above reflect the lens best for the responder and since everyone does their own thing the answers are not meaningful for the person asking the question.

I couldn't disagree with you more. The question did not include specifics. Didn't even mention format. Hence, the answers are very well suited to the question. If the original poster had wanted specific information, he would have asked a specific question.

Best wishes,,,,,

David Richhart
28-May-2000, 19:25
Gee-whiz Bob, cut me a little slack...

When I made my first posting for this question, I was merely pointing out that many Graflex users never saw need to replace the 135mm lens that came with the camera. I WAS careful to point out that the camera was designed for a fairly specific purpose. Over the years many important events have been documented with that arrangement.

Golly-gee...some days you just can't say anything right....

28-May-2000, 20:01
360mm f/7.7 Dagor: headshots or tele on 4x5, normal on 8x10, and way- cool wide on 12x20.

Ellis Vener
28-May-2000, 23:13
And the 110mm will be extremely wide angle ( approximately equivalent to a lens in the 18 to 19mm range for a 35mm camera) on an 8x10 (but you might lose the corners of the film) and still be a true wide angle (slightly wider tha n a 28mm in a 35mm system) for 5x7.

The truest answer to your second question is a question: "Do YOU really need all those lenses?"

C.Peter Jorgensen
29-May-2000, 00:37
Dear Dave and Z1X4Y7:

Don't feel singled out by Bob. Check out some of the archives here or watch for him in the large format newsgroup. He frequently seems to offend and alienate the participants in the threads in which he participates. Kind of curious for a marketing person who presumably wants to encourage us to buy the products his company distributes here in the USA.

Gary Frost
29-May-2000, 21:19
You can't effectively do all the things you have listed with one lens as the focal length requirements are so varied. Sure, you can crop but to the point where you may as well use a smaller format, why bother with the 4X5? (ie: 90mm is nice to have for architecture and makes a good portrait focal length in 35mm!) You may have that special lens, the one you reach for first, the one against which all others are judged, your favorite, the one you would never part with. For me it is a 150mm f/5.6 Rodenstock APO Sironar S.

john costo
30-May-2000, 07:04
The Schneider 110/5.6 XL. For 4x5. Don't leave home without it.

Charlie Stracl
30-May-2000, 14:11
Smarta-- answer: A pinhole. It gives you any focal length you need.

For 4x5: I'd choose 210 mm.

I've had many cameras over the years: many did not have interchangeable lenses. On those that did, I didn't have enough money to get more than one lens. It's what you do with what you've got that counts.

Sean Billy Bob Boy yates
31-May-2000, 13:31
Oh, Double Entendre' !!! Where is thy sting?

dan nguyen
14-Jun-2000, 21:28
Hi, This is a bit late but better than never. For years I shoot 4x5 with a 210 - 5.6 lens, and I'm happy. I do not have any other lens. Recently I want to buy a 90mm. Go figure. Since the day I discover this thread, I scratch my head and wonder: get it or not? David, the 210 for 4x5 is good for almost everything but I think one day you will get into the same dilemna as I am now. btw, I think I will rent the 90 for a weekend and solve the dilemna later on.