View Full Version : wide angle 4x5

jenn wilson
28-Apr-2007, 19:50
I need help sorting through listings, specs, etc. on lenses. I just acquired a 4x5 field camera and am eager to get shooting. Something in the 90-135mm range would be ideal. Coatings are of NO concern. I actually want it to go all soft when wide open. But I also want to know that it will definitely cover 4x5 with some movements. Oh yeah, and I don't want to pay through the nose for it. Please help...all my research has succeeded only in confusing me more.

Vick Vickery
28-Apr-2007, 20:22
Jenn, don't make the mistake of thinking that an older uncoated lens will definately be soft when wide open...lots of them were razor-sharp. They will, though, be inclined to show you more flare if you're not really careful about shading the lens when shooting.

If you don't need much movement, you'll find that 135mm Ektars and Optars go for practically nothing on eBay; up from that, offering a bit more movement are such lens as the 135mm Schneider Symmar (not Symmar-S), still not too expensive, mostly single coated, and CONVERTIBLE to a longer focal length for such shooting as portraits by just removing the front element and using the rear element alone (the f-scale on the lens has both lengths), making it an especially versitile lens. Up from that, you can pretty well spend as much as you want or are able!

My "normal" lens, by the way, is a 160mm Turner-Reich Triple-convertible that can be use at 275mm and 350mm as well.

Vick Vickery
28-Apr-2007, 20:26
Oh, forgot...if you end up with a convertible lens, be sure to check the focus after stopping down when using only one element (a good idea all the time, actually) because these lenses often have a little focus-shift after stopping down with only one element in use.

Gene McCluney
28-Apr-2007, 21:01
In regards convertable lenses. With some field cameras, there may not be enough bellows extension to use the convertables with one element removed. The most common "wide angle" lens for 4x5 is a 90mm. Plenty of choices used.

jenn wilson
28-Apr-2007, 21:22
Bellows extension will not be an issue. Got plenty of it. No sweat.

The symmars do look pretty tasty, but I know the odds that I'll use the longer focal lengths are slim at best.

Most of my work to date has come out of using "toy" cameras, pinholes, and the like. As a result, I'm really not worried about spherical abberations or most of the issues that come with using older optics. The problem seems to be in finding the older wide angle lenses that will actually cover 4x5. Some listings on a lens make one claim but then I dig a little deeper and find contradictions and confusion.

Curious about Wollensak, Goerz, Meyer, etc...

William Barnett-Lewis
28-Apr-2007, 21:40
I've been shooting an Anniversary Speed for awhile and recently added a Calumet CC-400 to the mix. As a result, I've been looking for bottom feeder lenses that have decent coverage. The Symmars seem the best bet at this point. As a data point on the price of Symmars, I have a 135/5.6 (235/12) Symmar coming for a winning bid of $62. I'm told it will let me do some movements at 135 & be pretzel bendable at 235. It'll be fun finding out :)

Don't forget that 235 on 4x5 is a very nice portrait length. Personally I need to find a cheap longer tele :rolleyes: and in shutter at that :eek:

The 127/4.7 Ektar has a very nice mild wide FOV on 4x5 but it just barely covers it. Inexpensive 90's won't have much coverage either - certainly the 90/6.8 Wollensak Raptar in a Rapax shutter I recently sold to a friend for $50 didn't (they seem to be about $100 normally on ebay. Since this was to a friend...)

Hope these thoughts are of some help,


Ole Tjugen
28-Apr-2007, 22:16
In the last few months I've been using an antique 80mm (or 3 1/4") Perken Son & Rayment 5x4" "Optimus Portable", a 90mm Angulon, a 120mm Angulon, a 120mm WA Aristostigmat, and Super-Angulon f:8 in both 90 and 121mm, and a Leitmeyr 121mm Weitwinkel-anastigmat.

None of them are "bad", all are capable of good, sharp results on 4x5". The Aristostigmat and the Optimus are barrel lenses, so I used them on a Speed graphic.

If I had owned a 135mm Symmar, I would have used that, too. ;)

John Kasaian
28-Apr-2007, 22:38

Take a look at a 127mm Ektar, They go for a pittance and ncoated ones even cheaper(well under $100!) They will barely cover 4x5 but since sharpness isn't an issue that could work to your favor---while they are still pretty sharp in the center of the image circle they rapidly go to the worms at the edges, even moderate use of movements will accentuate this. There is also the Wollensak Optar version which I suspect will behave in the same fashion.

Have fun!

29-Apr-2007, 04:02
There are a ton of old lenses in that focal range. One thing to watch out for is the shutter though. You will want to avoid hassles as you start out with all that "new to 4x5" energy. Some of the old lenses have fine glass but the shutters can be sticky, inaccurate and have funky shutter speeds. Having to have the shutter cleaned and serviced can make that "cheap" old lens not so cheap. A good send it away CLA service usually takes several weeks as well. You might want to look into a more modern used lens from a good outfit like Midwest Photo Exchange. Be sure to ask for Jim. You should be able to get a nice Fujinon W 135/5.6 in the $200 - $300 range. I just got one for my old Busch Pressman. The lens is sharp when you want it, is easy to focus, has accurate shutter speeds in a modern shutter and is hassle free.

Ted Harris
29-Apr-2007, 04:37
jenn, one point that no one has mentioned is bellows compression and this can be an issue with movements for lenses 90mm and shorter on some field cameras. I can't think of a camera where 90mm is a problem but if you go shorter than that there are some cameras where the bellow are just compressed so tight and the lens is so far back inside the body of the camera that no movement is possible. This is all assuming you don't have a bag bellows or a recessed lensboard, both of which make the situationsomewhat easier to deal with. I use 75mm and 58mm lenses with some frequency and have little trouble with the 75 but often find myself in bellows limiting situations with the 58.