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Doug Dolde
18-Mar-2007, 18:49
I have recently realized that I'm quite happy just using my 110mm SS XL and my 210mm APO Symmar. They are both incredibly sharp and leave nothing to want in that regard.

I often read threads here where people list a kit something like 58/90/150/180/240/360 etc but think I'd go crazy trying to select a lens if I had this many.

Anyone else a lens minimalist?

Colin Graham
18-Mar-2007, 19:01
I'm leaning that way. I have six lenses for 4x5 but only 2 I use for 5x12 and much prefer having only 2 lenses to choose from. I'm thinking about selling off some of the 4x5 'redundancy'.

Vaughn
18-Mar-2007, 19:21
For the first 20 or so years of my photography, I had only one lens per format (a Rolleiflex TLR, a 150mm for the 4x5, 210mm for the 5x7, and a 300mm for the 8x10).

In the last few years I have added a few lenses for the 8x10 -- 159mm, 210mm and a 19". Still use the 300mm the most often.

I think it is good for the beginner to limit the # of lenses to one -- and that lens not a zoom. One can then learn to see as the camera sees without the confusion of multiple lenses.

Vaughn

Walter Calahan
18-Mar-2007, 19:26
If you don't use them, they are very overrated.

Less is more, until you need something you don't have.

John Kasaian
18-Mar-2007, 19:27
I am in complete agreement.

Of course I have and use
6-1/2" 9-1.2" 10" 12" 14" 19" and that is only for the 8x10!

I do have excuses of course. If I need a wide lens because of limited space I have one. If I need a long lens because I can't get over a fence or across a river, I have one of those. If I need a lightweight lens for back packing, I've got that base covered and if I need a fast(er) lens I've got that as well. Then with those old shutters its nice to have a back up in case one has to go in for a cla.

Besides, those funky old art deco shutters look really cool.

Realistically I can get by very well with just the 14" Commercial Ektar, and as a practical matter, in the field I'll only take along 2 lenses at most. Any more makes life too complicated!

Ron Marshall
18-Mar-2007, 19:40
I find that I use three lenses for 75% of my shots, the other 25% is split evenly between the other three. I could easily get by with a three lens kit if I had a wider focal length spread, say 90-150-240 instead of 110-150-210. However I am perfectly satisfied with my present lens kit and would not make any changes

Jim Rice
18-Mar-2007, 19:48
I currently own two: Caltar II-N 360 and G-Claron 240. Do I want a RDAA 24"? Yes. Do I also want something really wide? Yes. Will what I have cover 90% of practical considerations? Yes.

Ed Richards
18-Mar-2007, 19:57
Depends a lot on whether you are doing any architecture. Building need some wide lenses and more intermediate lenses because you are often limited in where you can stand to make the shot.

Ole Tjugen
18-Mar-2007, 20:33
With the kind of landscapes we have around here, I have much the same need of lenses as for architecture.

That much said, I could probably get by with only one 150mm lens instead of five, and two 210mm lenses should be enough - one "normal" for 4x5" and 5x7", and a wide for 8x10" to 30x40cm.

I don't use the 180mm often, but when I need it, I need it.

I like wide-angle lenses, so it makes perfect sense to have two 90mm's: One for 5x7" and when I need lots of movements on 4x5", and one small lightweight one for the longer hikes and 4x5".

That makes my 4x5" kit something like 65 - 90 - 90 - 120 - 150 - 150 - 150 - 165 - 180 - 210 - 210 - 240 - 355...
There are good reasons for the "duplicates" too - different coverage, different characteristics. A 150mm Heliar is very different from a 150mm Germinar-W, and the difference is visible in the pictures.

Salty
18-Mar-2007, 20:57
I have nearly 4 dozen lenses in shutters, from the 75mm SWD to the 24" RD Artar. I'm basically a hobbyist who likes to try things out. If I did do this seriously, I'd decide on a very limited set of lenses.

C. D. Keth
18-Mar-2007, 21:25
I believe that the perfect number of lenses for most situations is three. This allows you to choose a normal focal length that pleases you, a wide focal length for when you want that sort of depth perspective, and a longer lens for when you want a squished depth perspective.

More lenses only let you 1.) fine tune these basic decisions or 2.) allow you to achieve a specific composition when your choice of vantage points is limited.

In observing students with a great variety of lenses to choose from (since they didn't have to purchase them all), I have noticed that people are often too afraid to use a "wide" lens and instead choose a slight;y wide lens and the effect they wanted to achieve by using a wide lens in the first place is negated. Same for long lenses. The three-lens kit forces you to make decisions and not chicken out from them. Once you get used to only having three lenses, then you can start to acquire more as you see fit. I think this teaches you to pick your focal length more carefully than if you have nearly unlimited choices from the beginning.

Frank Petronio
18-Mar-2007, 21:27
I am so cheap/minimalist that rather than buy a wide angle (again) I simply stitch or put multiple pix side by side for a divided panorama. I think this looks better than the "fun house mirror" effect of most wide angle photos.

Of course once a paying client asks for a wide angle large format film shot, I will charge them enough to purchase a nice wide lens. But jobs that require wide angles usually suck... and I hate the way most wide angle photos look. So I won't be getting one anytime soon for my own work.

Right now I have a 150 and 210 for 4x5. Best bang for the buck and exquistely plain and normal. The 150 feels wide and the 210 feels long to me. I should probably swap them for a single 180...

Kirk Gittings
18-Mar-2007, 22:07
But jobs that require wide angles usually suck...
??????? A classic generalization by Petronio. The only jobs I ever found that sucked were either low budget, involved manure, alligators or getting shot at.

For years I got away with only two lenses and traveled nationally shooting for Architecture Magazine. I never felt constrained. Now for 6x9 and 4x5 I carry a 47,65,90,120,150,210,305 and a Hassleblad outfit for really long shots.

Brian K
18-Mar-2007, 22:09
I don't think having many lenses is overrated, there are definite advantages, and disadvantages to having many lenses. The most obvious advantage is being able to frame your image exactly within the film's dimensions and minimizing any cropping in.
The biggest disadvantage is having to cart around all that glass and the slowing down of your set up while you put the proper lens on the camera. If you only carry 3 lenses, a wide, normal and long, it's pretty easy to put the lens on the camera that best approximates what you need. If you have very wide, wide, slightly wide, normal, long normal, long, and very long, you sometimes put the wrong lens on and then have to switch to the next wider/longer lens. No big deal but when light is fleeting and every second counts it can sometimes be a problem.

I'm on location as we speak and have brought for the Sinar: 80,120,150,200,240,250(imagon),300, 360,500,720. I tend to shoot long lenses most often hence the closer spacing there. The 360/500/720 in the Tele Nikkor. I also have a Fotoman 612 system with me as a second system and have brought the 65,90,135,180,270. That's a lot of glass, when I go on a trip that requires flying I'll only take one system.

John Z.
18-Mar-2007, 23:05
Remember, Edward Weston only had four lenses for all his travels with his 8x10 camera, which included a triple convertible; the shortest was 12 inches (300mm); he had no wide angle lens!

Ansel had a quote I remember vaguely, the more lenses he had the harder it was to take photographs, because he couldn't decide which lens to use....

E_Aiken
18-Mar-2007, 23:08
Currently have 72, 90, 120, 150, 210. Looking to sell the 90 and 120, replace with the 110xl, and maybe swap out the 210 for a 300 as I just never seem to use it. Four lenses I think will work fine, particularly as I use the 150 for about half of what I shoot.

Gene McCluney
19-Mar-2007, 01:51
Certain types of photography require certain types of lenses. I find for my bridge photography project, I am almost always shooting with my 90mm and 135mm on 4x5, but other subjects require different choices. It really depends on where you can set up your camera in relation to the scene you want to capture. Some people have a style that works with one or two focal lengths, others need more choices for their vision. In 35mm, my bridge photos require anywhere from 15mm to 35mm. I try to use 35mm to minimise distortion, but when I can't get all the subject in with 35mm from where I can stand to get a nice view, I have to go wider. No matter what format, I like to compose and frame so that I do no cropping of the negative when I print.

JW Dewdney
19-Mar-2007, 02:40
Some collect equipment. Others make pictures.

Brian K
19-Mar-2007, 05:22
Some collect equipment. Others make pictures.

Some do both.

Gary Smith
19-Mar-2007, 05:31
Some do both.


Ditto.

Frank Petronio
19-Mar-2007, 05:35
bleh Kirk, I just don't like architects anymore ;-) not pursuing it is healthier for me.

(Of course the only thing they build around here are Walmarts...)

But more power to folks who like wides... I just don't feel the need myself.

Leonard Evens
19-Mar-2007, 05:46
It depends on what you are doing. I started with two lenses for 4 x 5, a 150 mm and a 90 mm, and I used both of them regularly. I found there were situations where a longer lens would be helpful, e.g., in portraiture or cityscapes where I wanted a narrower focus, so I added a 300 mm. Finally, I found situations in which a wider lens would be helpful, e.g., architectural photography where getting back from the subject wasn't possible, so I got a 75 mm lens. I don't use the 75 mm lens too often, but there are times when I definitely need it. Since I scan my film, an alternative to wide angle lenses would be using a panoramic head and modifying and stitching digitally, but I still haven't figured out just how to do that.

At present, the greatest barrier to my getting additional lenses, beyond the cost, is the limited space I have available for carrying my gear.

Bruce Watson
19-Mar-2007, 06:14
I often read threads here where people list a kit something like 58/90/150/180/240/360 etc but think I'd go crazy trying to select a lens if I had this many.

Anyone else a lens minimalist?

When I was a small format photographer, I was a lens minimalist. I could do this because the camera was small and I could stick it to my eye and compose with my feet. That is, I could easily fill the 135 frame by moving closer to and/or farther away from the subject. I used just two lenses -- a 35mm and a 105mm.

With LF, I've learned that a much more effective technique (for me) is to walk the scene without the camera and find the spot that gives me the perspective on the scene that I want. I set up on that spot, then pick the lens that gives me the angle-of-view that I want from that spot. As a result, I've got five lenses now that give me roughly 15 degree increments in angle-of-view.

I'm not saying anyone else should work this way. I think the number of lenses, and the choice of lenses, largely depends on how an individual chooses to work. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the KISS principle. Nor is there anything wrong with using a workflow that makes you comfortable. So keep up the good work.

Nick_3536
19-Mar-2007, 06:15
Remember many of the people here shoot multiple formats. If you deal with more then one format you quickly end up with more then two lenses.

archivue
19-Mar-2007, 06:31
i use a 110 and a 150 for my personal artwork, but when i shoot architecture for client, i NEED 58, 80, 110, 150, 240, 305 !

Ash
19-Mar-2007, 07:02
I don't use any of my lenses often enough.

I quite enjoy the more impoverished way of things. My 35mm rangefinder has one lens, which was given to me (!), and my MF Rolleicord has a fixed lens. I have an old SLR somewhere, that came with a set of m42 lenses. Those cameras simply take photo's. No fussing over which lens to use. A normal lens is all I need. I guess I'm a minimalist there.

For large format (4x5) I LOVE to experiment, but I also have such a tiny budget that I should really make do with what I have!
It's all too easy to fall for yet another barrel lens that looks like it could be 'fun'. I don't think I'm able to stick to one or two lenses, as there are too many bullets to chase in this format. Fortunately I can only afford what I now have :)

Jack Flesher
19-Mar-2007, 07:17
I have recently sold off a bunch of my superfluous LF lenses. Some of these were phenomenal pieces of glass, but at the end of the day, I realized that trying to decide which of them to put in the pack on a certain trip or which to use at a given moment was getting in the way of my photography... (I heard you Ansel!)

So I trimmed down to a fairly limited assortment: Now my 8x10 kit consisists of a 150 (SSXL), 240 (Dr. Optic) and 450 (Fuji C). My 4x5 kit a 65 (SA), 90 (SA), 150 (APO Symmar) and 300 (Fuji C). None of the lenses I kept are in overly large shutters and all in the 8x10 kit are easily useable on my 4x5. I could probably get rid of the 150SSXL and simply grab the 4x5 when I wanted wideangle, but I have it and like it. Alternatively, I could dump the 150 APO Symmar and use the 150SSXL on 4x5, but that seems a bit overkill, so for now I have two 150's. I do have a few specialty lenses that are used in the studio; a 12 Wolly Velostigmat SF and one of the $300 Nikkor APO Macro 120's.

Cheers,

John Kasaian
19-Mar-2007, 07:45
When I was a small format photographer, I was a lens minimalist. I could do this because the camera was small and I could stick it to my eye and compose with my feet. That is, I could easily fill the 135 frame by moving closer to and/or farther away from the subject. I used just two lenses -- a 35mm and a 105mm.

With LF, I've learned that a much more effective technique (for me) is to walk the scene without the camera and find the spot that gives me the perspective on the scene that I want. I set up on that spot, then pick the lens that gives me the angle-of-view that I want from that spot. As a result, I've got five lenses now that give me roughly 15 degree increments in angle-of-view.

I'm not saying anyone else should work this way. I think the number of lenses, and the choice of lenses, largely depends on how an individual chooses to work. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the KISS principle. Nor is there anything wrong with using a workflow that makes you comfortable. So keep up the good work.


Its funny that one of the reasons for my interest in Large format was that when I was shooting 35mm and MF, I'd find myself "married" to a system (Nikon..Canon...Hassy) where I began feeling that I shouldn't leave the house without half a dozen lenses & assorted gear in the bag.That there were lenses for micro, night photography, lenses for stadium sports and lenses for portraits, motor drives, long roll backs, and, darn it, you need them all or you just can't take photographs worthy of the "brand" name on your camera.

Striking out with an 8x10 and one lens (both from defunct manufacturers) was quite invigorating after that circus! For me, minimalism enhances the creative imagination.

But how do I explain the Aero-ektar sitting a concrete pipe :eek: in the garage waiting for a lensboard?:o

photographs42
19-Mar-2007, 07:53
........With LF, I've learned that a much more effective technique (for me) is to walk the scene without the camera and find the spot that gives me the perspective on the scene that I want. I set up on that spot, then pick the lens that gives me the angle-of-view that I want from that spot........

I have 14 modern lenses ranging from 58mm to 720mm that I use and about 5 older ones that live in a drawer. I donít recall ever being confused over which one to use. I do landscapes for my personal work and I work pretty much in the same style as Bruce. I spend a few moments finding just the right spot; Then I decide on a lens; Then I get the camera out. I use a Linhof viewfinder to get close to the proper focal length even though I can guess pretty closely without it. If my choice isnít wide enough I usually go wider and crop rather than move back unless the move doesnít affect the object relationships, but this is a choice. If I have only a couple of lenses I may not have that choice.

When I do Architectural Photography, having the proper lens is a must. Architectural work is extremely challenging at best and to go out to a project site without the proper equipment is totally unacceptable. My firm does work all over the United States and I canít imagine the response if I were to travel from St. Louis to Los Angeles for example and come back with poorly composed images because I didnít have the necessary equipment.

There is an old saying that Iím sure everyone is familiar with. ďIf your only tool is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.Ē Of course you can get by with one lens. The problem I have with that is the ďget byĒ part.

Jerome :)

Steven Barall
19-Mar-2007, 08:19
There is something to be said for discipline. I have a 90 and a 150 so those are the only two focal lengths I see in. I just don't see the things that require a triple convertible whatever. I just don't think that I'm missing something by not having a bunch of focal lengths. The discipline of the two lenses I have works just fine for me.

I think that people think they are going to miss something if they don't have the exact right focal length for where they are standing. If I can't get to a certain spot on the earth to stand for either my 90 or 150 then I just move on to the next thing. There are always more photos to be had somewhere else.

I never felt that I absolutely had to "get" any given photo. I have to trust that I'm a better photographer than my equipment is and that there are many more photos out there to get. That said, if you're shooting jobs it's great to have every lens that you can get your hands on.

Jack Flesher
19-Mar-2007, 08:23
There is an old saying that I’m sure everyone is familiar with. “If your only tool is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.” Of course you can get by with one lens. The problem I have with that is the “get by” part.

Jerome :)

There is also a second half to this saying: "But then you are probably very good at driving nails..." (The corollary from the old west was, "Beware the man who carries only one gun -- he probably knows how to use it!" )

I think how these metaphors translate for the typical artistic photographer is there are NUMEROUS ways to artistically portray any given scene, so there's nothing wrong with simply making a great image with what you have mounted on the camera. I do agree that specialized work may require a more specialized lens, such as the exact right short focal for a particular architectural interior. But when it comes to "art" there is a lot of room for creative freedom -- and for many, minimalism is an excellent way to explore that :)


Cheers,

Christopher Perez
19-Mar-2007, 08:26
I just got back from three days away. The 5x7 with three lenses went with me. I used only one lens. And that was the Schneider 210mm Xenar f/6.1. It just "fit" the vision I was looking for given the subject at hand.

Wilbur Wong
19-Mar-2007, 08:28
I have 14 modern lenses ranging from 58mm to 720mm that I use and about 5 older ones that live in a drawer. I donít recall ever being confused over which one to use. I do landscapes for my personal work and I work pretty much in the same style as Bruce. I spend a few moments finding just the right spot; Then I decide on a lens; Then I get the camera out. I use a Linhof viewfinder to get close to the proper focal length even though I can guess pretty closely without it. If my choice isnít wide enough I usually go wider and crop rather than move back unless the move doesnít affect the object relationships, but this is a choice. If I have only a couple of lenses I may not have that choice.


There is an old saying that Iím sure everyone is familiar with. ďIf your only tool is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.Ē Of course you can get by with one lens. The problem I have with that is the ďget byĒ part.

Jerome :)


Ditto. It's not overrated.

Over a period of 25 years I have expanded from a 135 and 210 to my current stable of 65, 90, 135, 210, 300 and last month a 500. In my personal landscape work, I scout out many locations without a camera and carry a Linhof viewfinder, often this scouting is done the day before I shoot. Unless I am going far from the car that is all I carry. I agree that every problem looks like a nail if my only tool is a hammer. I also build houses, I probably have more than 25 different hammers and nail guns on a job site. Framing nails don't work on shingles or finished cabinetry.

The same scene selection looks radically different depending on the focal length used. If I am only recording, I can use one lens provided that I can place the camera in the right location relative to the scene. However to get the emotional interaction with the scene that I want, it nearly always calls for a particular view point. I use all of my lenses.

Ash
19-Mar-2007, 08:47
I'd just like to add I've had some horrible thoughts just now.

Having seen a certain camera from a certain manufacturer, my dilemma is no longer lenses, but bodies!

The field camera hasn't even been reassembled and I'm already drooling over a super-light 4x5 that would be perfect for location work.

ARGH which way to the bank? I need a loan! :D

alec4444
19-Mar-2007, 09:24
Depends a lot on whether you are doing any architecture. Building need some wide lenses and more intermediate lenses because you are often limited in where you can stand to make the shot.

I'd imagine the other use case is studio portrait photography. You're not leaving the studio, so who cares if you have 20+ lenses? And each lens (often in the same focal length, even) has different qualities about it that may be useful for certain shots. I really suck at portrait photography, so I'm just speculating, really.

I think Steven Barall really hit the (now proverbial) nail on the head when he mentioned that there's a lot of photo opportunities out there. You get the lens or lenses you want and then you find the shots that work for what you have....be it ten lenses or one.

--A

Brian K
19-Mar-2007, 09:39
I think that people think they are going to miss something if they don't have the exact right focal length for where they are standing. If I can't get to a certain spot on the earth to stand for either my 90 or 150 then I just move on to the next thing. There are always more photos to be had somewhere else.


Steven, true there are always more photos, but sometimes the best photo is a little too far away, and there's a lake between you and it and the only way to get that image is by pulling out that 500mm. Or sometimes you're in canyon or fjord and there's no room to back up and the key elements of the composition are widely spaced, that 65mm can sure come in handy.

I've spent a lot of time shooting landscape in the field, many of the images in my portfolio would not exist if i didn't have a bag full of lenses. That's just me though.

David Karp
19-Mar-2007, 09:45
More lenses . . . allow you to achieve a specific composition when your choice of vantage points is limited.

I think that this is the greatest advantage to having more than a couple of lenses. Sometimes you just cannot walk, move, or adjust your position. When that is the case, you can just shoot and crop, but that defeats one of the reasons we use LF: It's large.

photographs42
19-Mar-2007, 09:52
There is something to be said for discipline. I have a 90 and a 150 so those are the only two focal lengths I see in. I just don't see the things that require a triple convertible whatever. I just don't think that I'm missing something by not having a bunch of focal lengths. The discipline of the two lenses I have works just fine for me............

I agree that great photographs can and have been made by photographers with few lens choices at their disposal. The truth is that I use a 300mm (5x7 format) much more than any other and if I had to go out with just one, thatís the one I would choose. I havenít always had a choice. Like most people, I started with just one. But I found that more often than not, I had to compromise somewhere.

To me, using one or two lenses as a matter of ďdisciplineĒ, as Steven suggests, is OK if that is your goal. To me, real ďdisciplineĒ is having the ability to determine if a scene has merit, once it is composed using the equipment at my disposal (which includes my mental equipment as well as my camera gear) and walk away if it doesnít. I am VERY picky about what I choose to photograph and Iím passionate about the images that I choose to expose to film. Still, in the cold hard light of close scrutiny, most of my efforts are average. Once in a while though, something appears before me that knocks my socks off and makes my skin tingle. When that happens, I donít want to settle for less than my best effort because I donít have the right equipment.

Jerome :) :)

alec4444
19-Mar-2007, 09:53
When that is the case, you can just shoot and crop, but that defeats one of the reasons we use LF: It's large.

LOL, well then if the cropped neg is too small then the camera you're using isn't big enough! :p

Alan Davenport
19-Mar-2007, 10:08
Certainly, limiting the number of lenses you own will simplify the setup and composition process. Or will it?

Without zoom lenses (thanks be...) Large Format photographers must have the correct focal length for the composition and point of view we visualize. Lacking the right lens for the shot, we can either use a too-wide lens and crop, or zoom with our feet -- perhaps sacrificing the perfect vantage point in favor of filling the frame. Neither option is as good as the preferred choice of simply mounting the right lens.

If you accept that a few extra lenses may be a good thing, it comes down to choosing how many you will carry. My kit, at present, has 3 lenses; 90mm, 150mm and 254mm. When funds allow, I plan to add a Fuji 400T (don't have enough bellows for a non-telephoto) and perhaps a 65mm. I doubt that I will ever bother to carry five lenses in my pack; I'll choose a smaller set depending on the expected subject matter.

Gene McCluney
19-Mar-2007, 10:12
If you have just a few lenses, on even just one lens, you will spend your time looking for photo opportunities that "fit" the lens you have. If you have a choice of lenses, you will see many more photo opportunities, because you have more capability to capture the image, regardless of subject size and obstacles in the way of the view.

C. D. Keth
19-Mar-2007, 10:23
Or you can learn to creatively portray any subject with any lens and think outside of the box of "I need X lens for Y purpose."

Eric Leppanen
19-Mar-2007, 10:29
For me, lens selection is as much a decision of perspective as it is of angle of view. What type and how many lenses I need are therefore a function of what and how I am shooting.

I once spent an entire day at Bodie shooting 8x10 with only my 300mm lens. I wanted a lens that allowed me to get as close to the buildings as possible without causing perspective distortion, while having enough coverage to provide the front rise I needed. The 300mm was the "sweet spot" that fulfilled all of these requirements. Of course, part of the reason this worked (versus a wider lens) was that I always had room to back up as required to get the composition I needed.

On the other hand, if I want features within a composition to have certain relative proportions, then there frequently will be only one vantage point, and only one lens focal length, that will provide the desired result. I experienced this firsthand recently while shooting through one of the arches in the Alabama Hills toward Mt. Whitney during sunrise. There is only one place to setup to shoot through the arch with the mountains in the background, so moving backwards/forwards was not an option. I also wanted the arch in the foreground and mountains in the background to have certain proportions versus each other. With my 240mm lens, the mountains were too far away. With my 360mm lens, the composition of the arch in the foreground was too tight. Here again, the 300mm lens was just right.

While I do use my 300mm lens often, I find that on multi-day photo trips shooting varied subject matter I use all of my lenses (150, 210, 240, 300, 360, 480, 600, 800). For me, getting rid of even some of these lenses would entail significant compromise. Yes, cropping the 480 could allow me to simulate the angle of view of the 600 and 800, but in many cases it is not possible to move backwards/forwards significantly, and therefore it would not simulate the perspective that these longer lenses provide. Plus, having lugged that damn 8x10 out into the wilderness, the last thing I want to do is compromise image quality by cropping!

So if I have room to maneuver and don't need to tightly control proportions, or have limited categories of photo targets that have similar characteristics, then I can frequently get by with using only one or two lenses. Otherwise I like to have all options available. But, as has already been said, that's just me. :)

Ralph Barker
19-Mar-2007, 10:40
I rather like the hammer/nail analogy. The problem, of course, is that nails, too, come in different sizes, requiring different sizes and shapes of hammers. :eek:

John Bowen
19-Mar-2007, 10:50
I am happy with 3 lenses for 4x5, a 120 a 210 and a 305. Of course my 4x5 negatives get enlarged and I can crop with the enlarger. With 8x10, I contact print. I find that I prefer to do the bulk of any cropping in the camera, and once the tripod is in place and the camera situated on it, I'd rather not move the tripod. It's just easier to change the lens if a slightly different crop is desired. Thus the 8x10 lens kit is 240, 305, 355, 450, 600.

Gordon Moat
19-Mar-2007, 12:26
I have used many 35mm lenses, a few medium format lenses, and even fewer large format lenses. In my return to large format, I imagined a need for many lenses, each matching different needs I had envisioned. I then managed to try a few for comparison, though that had me thinking an even more diverse selection.

Then I had a bit of an epiphany on gear and lenses. After attending a few seminars, and digging into the gear some large format professional advertising photographers use, I realized that a simpler approach can lead towards a clarity of creative vision (for me). What I found was that I already had better gear than some photographers making much better incomes than I have (so far) and getting really compelling images on what I had previously thought of as inferior gear.

So I looked at what I now own, and went out to shoot more images. I tried taking just two lenses, and sometimes just one lens. Then it finally dawned on me what lenses would match how I viewed an imaging problem. Sure, I might need that superwide some day, but it can wait until that rare moment I need it. I found out I like using my 135mm most of all, and that I only want to buy one other lens (at the moment) to complete a two lens kit for 95% to 99% of what I want/need to photograph. Simplification has allowed me to concentrate more on getting compelling images that express my creative vision.

Ciao!

Gordon Moat
A G Studio (http://www.allgstudio.com)

JJ Viau
19-Mar-2007, 12:33
I use the same two lenses as Doug for 4x5" and I don´t need a camera having all possible mouvements either.
For 8x10", two lenses also, 240 (could also be 210) and 300mm.
I am a two lenses kind of person but that is not minimalist yet!

Cheers,

JJ

Colin Graham
19-Mar-2007, 13:22
I rather like the hammer/nail analogy. The problem, of course, is that nails, too, come in different sizes, requiring different sizes and shapes of hammers. :eek:

Lol Ralph. But it's also true that there's no problem a bigger hammer couldn't fix.

gregstidham
19-Mar-2007, 13:39
Having many lenses is a personal and artistic tool choice and shouldn't determine anything regarding being over or underrated IMO. The concept seems rather silly to me and gave me a good laugh. :) ty

I've had times when I needed many lenses and other times when I used and carried one. I would agree however, that using one or a small kit of lenses can force photographers to think more about what they see and their composition.

Frank Petronio
19-Mar-2007, 13:42
Having an entire range of lenses implies professionalism and reflects the desire to control the situation.

Having one lens means accepting what comes at you and adapting.

So it's really a matter of forcing the photo versus finding the photo.

Gene McCluney
19-Mar-2007, 13:46
Those of you who feel burdened with "too many lenses" might consider sending your surplus lenses to me. I will promise I will make photos with them.

C. D. Keth
19-Mar-2007, 13:47
Having an entire range of lenses implies professionalism and reflects the desire to control the situation.

Having one lens means accepting what comes at you and adapting.

So it's really a matter of forcing the photo versus finding the photo.

I half-argue (I don't believe it entirely, myself) that having a lot of lenses is a refusal to see a scene in more ways except one and a lack of the skills needed to adapt.

I love fueling fires.;)

David Karp
19-Mar-2007, 14:12
So it's really a matter of forcing the photo versus finding the photo.


. . . having a lot of lenses is a refusal to see a scene in more ways except one and a lack of the skills needed to adapt.

It can also be argued that "finding" the photo is in a way less creative, because the photographer cannot "create" the photograph that is his or her vision.

"Finding" another photo can require creativity, but probably not always, and may result in a better photo, but, again, probably not always. Is the result better or worse when the photographer is denied his or her original vision due to a lack of a hunk of glass and a shutter?

Can't we argue that giving the photographer the opportunity to create the desired photograph is the purpose of our tools? Does the presence of an extra lens in a backpack deny a photographer the opportunity to further explore a subject? How frequently have any of us made a photograph of a subject, and hung around to explore it completely, making a number of photographs, exploring the subject completely, and come back ultimately satisfied in the effort and, perhaps, the results.

On the other hand, how many of us, even if we have that extra lens, have found ourselves, due to laziness and a desire not to change lenses, re-open the backpack, and start over, have struggled to force a photograph with the lens that was already on the camera, only to determine that it just does not work?

In my mind, its not the lenses or the number of lenses, its the photographer.

Christopher Perez
19-Mar-2007, 14:19
Lenses are just tools. Does having more tools help or hinder?

I think David is onto something here.


... In my mind, its not the lenses or the number of lenses, its the photographer.

Ole Tjugen
19-Mar-2007, 14:32
On the other hand, how many of us, even if we have that extra lens, have found ourselves, due to laziness and a desire not to change lenses, re-open the backpack, and start over, have struggled to force a photograph with the lens that was already on the camera, only to determine that it just does not work? ...

I have reopened the backpack to change the camera, since either the lens wasn't wide enough on 4x5" (swap to 5x7"), or it wasn't narrow enough on 5x7" (swap to 4x5".

And I have also unmounted a 210mm lens from the lensboard to put a 180mm lens on, since I needed just that extra little bit along the edges.

Jack Flesher
19-Mar-2007, 14:35
I agree wholeheartedly, but did not think we were arguing about it either...

Speaking for myself, I have had the experience of feeling stifled by too many gear choices, usually then spending too much time trying to figure out which to use. Having limited those options somewhat, I feel a sort of liberation at using less gear more often. At the same time, I recognise that others may need more choices to feel their brand of artistic freedom, while still others think I still have too many choices available to be truly liberated...

And I am reminded of yet another saying and it has proven to be a truism for me on more than one occasion: "Nothing clarifies ones mind so well as a lack of options."

Cheers,

Andy Eads
19-Mar-2007, 14:38
Chris,
I like using my 4x5 and I carry four lenses with it: 65, 90, 150 and either a 210 or a 300. But, if I am not sure if there is a photo opportunity, I carry an old Rolliecord with a 75mm lens. About 1/3 of the photos I print are taken with that camera for a number of reasons. First, it is in my hand when the opportunity presents itself. Second, the light is changing too fast to go back for the heavy metal. Third, I think the Rollie will get the shot just fine. I've got the Rollie in a small case with an old spotmeter and my isodensity graph...everything a person needs to get a fine photo.
Often, the situation demands the 4x5 and I will invest the effort to get it and use the proper lens. I find that over time, I use all of my lenses.
Andy

Andy Eads
19-Mar-2007, 14:39
Doug,
I typed Chris when I meant Doug. Sorry.
Andy

Colin Graham
19-Mar-2007, 15:09
As for laziness, not wanting to reopen the bag and get another lens out, with me having too many lenses is the opposite. It fuels indecision, a guilty compulsion to check multiple focal lengths, waste time, and not trust what initially inspired me about a scene. But I don't expect anyone to see it the same way.

Harley Goldman
19-Mar-2007, 15:44
I could get by with a 150mm, 240mm and 450mm, but sure is nice to have that 80 for the occasional shot. I almost never use my 58. Two lenses? Nope, not enough range for me.

Wilbur Wong
19-Mar-2007, 16:04
Lol Ralph. But it's also true that there's no problem a bigger hammer couldn't fix.

Sorry, that is not true.

I had my construction crew using 23 gauge nails today in a few spots. For the unitiated, that is the diameter of a pin!

I would argue that a photographer who captures a really great, unique photograph, may have difficulty achieving as effective of an impact with a lens which is 30% longer or 30% shorter than the one used. My lenses are spaced 50% longer than each of it's shorter neighbor. If all my lenses could be featherweight on a lensboard, I could be tempted to carry even more, but then I could be close to conceding to the original argument of having difficulty choosing the appropriate focal length for any given situation.

The final test of a photographer is can he or she make the best visual use of the equipment which they have available to them given weight, time and funds.

Robert Skeoch
19-Mar-2007, 16:23
I use three lenses only... a 450, 300 and 240. One day I might buy a 600mm but then I would have to carry it and my kit is heavy enough now... would rather carry a thermos of tea than another lens.
Rob skeoch
www.bigcameraworkshops.com

Colin Graham
19-Mar-2007, 16:43
Yes thanks Wilbur I am a finish carpenter and cabinet maker. Just an industry joke. Surprised you haven't heard it

Paul Fitzgerald
19-Mar-2007, 19:09
How many flavors does Baskin-Robbins have? or is it just plain vanilla?

If it's modern, computer generated, super multi-coated wonder glass, the only difference is focal length and image circle. They all have the same 'look' to them.

If it's the antiques, they all have a different 'look' to them and distinct personallity to each lens.

You can't have too many lenses, just too little time to play with them all.

David Karp
19-Mar-2007, 19:11
I agree wholeheartedly, but did not think we were arguing about it either...

Jack,

I did not mean "argue" in the pejorative sense. Perhaps it would have been better to say: "Can't we also validly state . . . ." This thread poses an interesting question with everyone having a valid viewpoint. I just wanted to bring out some positions that are to contrary to the minimalist approach.

David Karp
19-Mar-2007, 19:17
I have reopened the backpack to change the camera, since either the lens wasn't wide enough on 4x5" (swap to 5x7"), or it wasn't narrow enough on 5x7" (swap to 4x5".

And I have also unmounted a 210mm lens from the lensboard to put a 180mm lens on, since I needed just that extra little bit along the edges.

Ole,

My hat is off to you! First, carrying both a 4x5 and 5x7! Was the 5x7 your Gandolfi or the Technika? That combination has to be heavier than an 8x10. How many lenses did you have with you?

Second, I could see myself switching cameras (I am not always lazy). But, remounting a lens in the field? I am impressed.

Ole Tjugen
19-Mar-2007, 20:07
David, the 5x7" was the Gandolfi - I wouldn't bring a second camera along with the Technika!

The 4x5" was a monorail however - the 4x5" Linhof Color. It's amazing how easy it was to stuff both of these in a fairly small backpack, along with four lenses (90/8 SA, 121/6.8 Leitmeyr Anastigmat, 150/4.5 Apo-Lanthar, 240/5.6 Symmar), dark T-shirt, and a couple of holders for each camera.

Lately my "camera selection" - Gandolfi and Carbon Infinity - has led to lens boards that are in many cases more expensive than the lenses mounted on them. So I have one lens board in each size (00, 0, 1, 2 and Compound 3) for each camera, and swap lenses as needed.

John Kasaian
19-Mar-2007, 20:45
Having an entire range of lenses implies professionalism and reflects the desire to control the situation.

Having one lens means accepting what comes at you and adapting.

So it's really a matter of forcing the photo versus finding the photo.

Great observation!

David Karp
19-Mar-2007, 20:49
"So I have one lens board in each size (00, 0, 1, 2 and Compound 3) for each camera, and swap lenses as needed."

Wow.

First I would drop my spanner in the mud. Then, after cleaning it off, I would drop the front lens assembly on a rock. Trying to catch it before it hit the ground, I would accidentally drop the shutter with the rear assembly on it. Trying to break their fall with my foot, I would kick them into a river.

Brian C. Miller
19-Mar-2007, 21:00
I think it is good for the beginner to limit the # of lenses to one -- and that lens not a zoom. One can then learn to see as the camera sees without the confusion of multiple lenses.

You have a zoom lens for large format??? :eek: Egads! Is that for 8x10 or something smaller? :D

Yes, I also have multiple lenses (90, 135, 210, 360). However, the 135mm Wollensack is the one I use the most. On my Pentax 6x7 I have 45, 90, 135, and 300, and a teleconverter, but I use the 90 the most.

And this is an important point: We are using large format, and the area is immense. The photographer can make really monster crops, which amounts to using a longer lens. However, I have never cropped down to Minox size.

Jim Galli
19-Mar-2007, 21:34
Bottom line is what's going into your portfilio. Everybody's different. If you're happy with what you're accomplishing, why look further. It just happens that I sort of work just the opposite. The constant flow and challenge of new antique lenses keeps me experimenting and I've been pleased with what I've accomplished in the last year. The bottom line is to point the camera at something, think, make pics. Not necessarily in that order. Most of the names you'll recognize got the job done with a couple of lenses. For me, that would be a recipe for boredom.

Leonard Metcalf
20-Mar-2007, 01:56
To quote Mike Johnston

"1. The fewer lenses you use, the cooler you are.**

** Four is fairly cool. Three is definitely cool. Two is very, very cool. One, and you are a God, and I kowtow to you." - from The Online Photographer blog. 19th Feb 2007
________

Personally I am now starting to agree with him. The times I wander around with just one lens, one camera & one film I am at my happiest and take my best shots. So far that has to be the 135mm. They say the best telephoto is your legs. :)

Carsten Wolff
20-Mar-2007, 04:03
Agreed, although there is sometimes the: "Dho'! I wish I'd brought THAT one along!" - as I'm often hiking, I limit (read: free) myself by taking only 2-4 lenses. Nothing wrong with walking a few steps instead and/or a bit of mild cropping later if needed, unless you're stuck with contact-formats - even then still doable. (But that's why I'm happy with 5x7).

wfwhitaker
20-Mar-2007, 06:00
Everytime I go through my cabinet, I find lenses I forgot I had. Life's full of wonderful surprises.

Colin Graham
20-Mar-2007, 06:58
"So I have one lens board in each size (00, 0, 1, 2 and Compound 3) for each camera, and swap lenses as needed."

Wow.

First I would drop my spanner in the mud. Then, after cleaning it off, I would drop the front lens assembly on a rock. Trying to catch it before it hit the ground, I would accidentally drop the shutter with the rear assembly on it. Trying to break their fall with my foot, I would kick them into a river.

Wow Dave that's the funniest thing I've read in awhile, thanks.

naturephoto1
20-Mar-2007, 07:35
I use an assortment of lenses in different focal lengths and size/weight for different purposes for 4 X 5. Most of my work in 4 X 5 is for photographing landscape and nature. When closer to the automobile I may use some of my larger versions of lenses with larger image circle and more movement available. Though I may carry between 3 and as many as 7 lenses, I usually find myself using 1, 2, or 3 most frequently. But, when they are needed I am glad that I have them. Additionally, wider angle lenses, particularly the 75mm and to a lesser extent, the 90mm lenses are more useful for the western landscapes than the eastern landscapes. As mentioned when greater walking/hiking distances are involved. I will tend to carry fewer and/or lighter versions of my lenses. I use the following focal lengths: 75mm, 90mm (2 available), 120mm (3 available, 1 a macro lens), 150mm, 210mm, 240mm, 300mm, 360mm, 450mm, 500mm tele, 720mm tele.

Rich

Doug Dolde
20-Mar-2007, 08:49
First I would drop my spanner in the mud. Then, after cleaning it off, I would drop the front lens assembly on a rock. Trying to catch it before it hit the ground, I would accidentally drop the shutter with the rear assembly on it. Trying to break their fall with my foot, I would kick them into a river.


I thought a "spanner" was one that spanned the whole toilet bowl :)

Robert Hughes
20-Mar-2007, 09:49
For my press camera I have a 101 Optar, a 135 Raptar and a 10 1/2" Apo Raptar process lens. I may replace them all with the pinhole I just got - but ground glass viewing is a pain!

PViapiano
20-Mar-2007, 10:43
Keep it simple, less is more, it's not about the bike, etc...

ljb0904
20-Mar-2007, 10:55
Sometimes I like wide, sometimes I like medium, sometimes I like long. Anyone can choose to make images how they like. I have three views that I "see", and I have three lenses that satisfy those views. I have two more for occasional use.

Basic kit: 75, 135, 240 (25%, 50%, 25%)
Extended kit: 400 (for more reach), 180 for macro work

I use 'em all. I don't want or need any more lenses unless I need something for a specific use.

John Berry
20-Mar-2007, 14:54
The only way to get over this irrational thought that 1-2 lenses are enough, is therapy or collect a heap. I have four 210s', they each have a different flavor.

John Alexander Dow
20-Mar-2007, 15:11
Clearly a personal thing - 90% of my pics on 4 x 5 are with 80 XL or 150mm - the rest are with 270mm. I also have a 47XL but have only used it in two years really just to see what it was like. Expensive experiment. It is just such a pain to use - even by LF standards. regards JayDee

snuck
20-Mar-2007, 15:41
I'm with you here. The lack of a lense selection is made up for by increased mobility in my opinion.

Capocheny
20-Mar-2007, 23:33
Yes, highly, highly over-rated..... until you need a lens you don't have! :)

Cheers

Joseph O'Neil
21-Mar-2007, 05:43
Having too many lenses is not overrated - it's an illness, an addiction, but an enjoyable one at that. Life is too short to begin with, so enjoy your lenses, as many as you can.
:)

joe

Dave_B
21-Mar-2007, 16:07
Given the number of lenses I own, I am going to have a hard time arguing with a straight face for a minimalist approach to LF photography. I guess the closest I come to this is while backpacking. My standard backpacking kit (4x5) consists of four lenses, all Nikkors. They are the 90mm f8, the 135, the 200M and the 300M. Checking my logs, I see that I use the 90 and the 300 about a third of the time each. I guess that I tend to either go wide or go long. The 135 and the 200M get used less often, maybe they split the last third of my backpacking photos between them. In this case the limitation is weight I'm willing to carry. This enforces a certain economy of lens usage.

However, when the car is being used things get pretty out of hand and my compulsive illness is on full display. My evolution from photgrapher to lens collector is then quite evident. My typical car kit consists of 47, 90, 120, 150, 210, 270, 360, 500 and 720mm lenses. In the course of any given day I probably use the 90, 120, 270 and 360mm lenses the most. The 47 and 720 lenses are still a work in progress for me. I can't honestly say I have ever gotten an excellent image from either. The lenses are fine-it's my technique. The 47mm images I take are usually too cluttered and the 720 is too long for most landscape scenes I see and want to shoot.

To answer the question, is having too many lenses overrated? For me, it is clear that they do not make me a better photographer. Probably the opposite. I should spend more time taking pictures and less time playing with lenses. However, I find owning them is part of the enjoyment of the entire LF experience and for me, enjoyment is the point. I console myself with the thought that there are probably worse ways to spend my time.
Cheers,
Dave B.

Jim Noel
22-Mar-2007, 08:11
I have a lot of lenses covering 4x5-8x10, from 65mm to 22 inches.
When I plan a trip, I put the 10 most likely to be used in my lens case and go with that. It is rare that I do not use at least 8 or 9 of them on a photographic excursion. In addition, if one of the shutters balks, I have something to fall back on even if the FL might not be the most desired one.

Rakesh Malik
22-Mar-2007, 08:30
Wow... you have quite a collection :)

I only have 5 lenses -- 80mm SSXL, 135mm Sironar-S, 300mm Fujinon-C, and 500/720 mm Nikkor T*ED. The only gap I feel like I have is between 135 and 300, and that's mainly because I found 210 to be nice for closeups. I get pretty good use out of all of my lenses, though in a single spot I might use only one or two.

That's also pretty much my upper limit, because I do carry all that stuff into the field with me, and I don't have space for much more in my bag :)

What I have works well for me. The 300mm and 500 get the most use, followed by the 135 and 720, and the 80mm least. But the shots that I DO use the 80mm for usually end up being my favorites (unless I goof 'em up technically), so it will never stay home when I go out shooting.

John Berry
22-Mar-2007, 21:20
Just think, when I croak, my kids will have that many more $15.00 tages to make out for the garage sale.

Jack Flesher
23-Mar-2007, 07:01
Just think, when I croak, my kids will have that many more $15.00 tages to make out for the garage sale.

How old are you, what meds are you on and where do live?

:D :D :D,

Salty
23-Mar-2007, 07:34
Just think, when I croak, my kids will have that many more $15.00 tages to make out for the garage sale.

I wonder if that would make a nice thread, what will happen to people's lenses (or camera equipment) when they pass away? I'd hate to think that my stuff might get sold off for a very small price when I'm gone. I don't have anyone to leave the stuff to (not that I'm planning on leaving soon) and besides, how many times have you seen a string like "I was just given ---- and I'd like to know how much I can sell it for."

Jack Flesher
23-Mar-2007, 08:30
As much as I like the idea of minimalism, I have to admit that it doesn't always work for me either. I was out earlier in the week with only the 4x5's, but I tossed the 240 and 450 from the 8x10 kit in the car with me just in case. As it turned out, the first scene I set up to capture needed the 240 -- which is NOT one of my "normal" 4x5 kit lenses. For this image, the 300 was a step too long and there was no room for me to back up. The 150 was of course too short, but the 240 was perfect. Fortunately I was within a hundred yards of the car, so grabbing the 240 was no big deal. Sure, I could have made a good image with the 300, and tried, but it was clearly a different image than the one I made with the 240.

Ralph Barker
23-Mar-2007, 08:46
I wonder if that would make a nice thread, what will happen to people's lenses (or camera equipment) when they pass away? I'd hate to think that my stuff might get sold off for a very small price when I'm gone. I don't have anyone to leave the stuff to (not that I'm planning on leaving soon) and besides, how many times have you seen a string like "I was just given ---- and I'd like to know how much I can sell it for."

Interesting question. See this thread (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=24356)