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View Full Version : What lenses do I need for Nature and Landscape



esbtse
22-May-2007, 14:35
HI,
Iím new in this forum and I have just stared using a View 4*5 Camera.

My background is 135 analogue Nikon and I have for the last 10 years taken nature photo courses in Sweden/ Scandinavia but I havenít been able to develop into a good photographer. There is always something missing in the picture.

I have A Horseman LX, a 240mm and a 150 mm. I would like to take nature, architecture and landscape photos.
What type of lenses do you recommend?
55/65/75mm?
90mm?
450mm?

Where can I get graduated ND filter?
Polarizing Filter & Warm Polarizing Filter?
81 Series Warming Filters?
And I also need a backpack can you recommend some?

Eric James
22-May-2007, 16:22
I shoot landscapes and nature and use a 90mm, 110mm, 150mm, 240mm, and 300mm lens. My current camera won't focus a 450mm but I'd use one if I could. My three-lens kit for traveling light includes the 110mm, 150mm, and 240mm.

Singh Ray, Lee, and Heliopan sell quality GND filters. All may be purchased through B & H Photo Video in New York. I use the Singh Ray filters for the Cokin P system; all of my screw-in filters are 72mm (I use step-up rings) so I can carry just a single 72mm Cokin adapter ring. Buying directly from Singh Ray has an advantage - everything is in stock. I use the 2 stop hard, 2 stop soft, 1 stop hard, 2 stop reverse, and plan to buy a 3 stop soft. Singh Ray's 2 stop soft is a good place to start. The Lee system allows one to adapt to large lenses; it's very expensive and a bit difficult to sort out all of their parts and products if you aren't near a supplier. Filter thickness is not the same across systems so you can run into compatibility problems. The Cokin GND filters are rumored to impart a color cast, so most folks try to resist their attractive price.

There are many good backpack discussions archived on the forum - just search "backpack" or something similar and you'll get a lot of useful tips. I use the Arctyrx Bora 55 and am very happy with it. The most important thing about your pack is that it fits you well. Going to a shop that has a large selection and a knowledgeable staff is the place to begin (after reading the threads). On the large format homepage you can read and see how the website’s founder carries his 5X7 gear - if you're in very good shape you'll be able to carry half the weight and volume comfortably.

Dykinga's Large Format Nature Photography is a good instructional guide but you'll learn a lot more by reading the articles on the homepage.

Good luck!

Walter Calahan
22-May-2007, 17:06
Whatever lens you have on the camera will work find for landscape and nature. So long as what you are composing with that lens works for your photographic vision.

When in doubt, buy them all, 47mm to 1200mm. Filters can be bought at all the big photo stores.

Backpacks? Whatever works for your gear and situation. Try them on to make sure they fit your body frame. What works for me, I'm 6' 7" tall, might not work for you.

This is the fun of self discovery. No one can spoon feed this stuff to us.

Rider
22-May-2007, 17:09
For backpack "solution," check out photobackpacker.com and let me know what you think.

Vick Vickery
22-May-2007, 17:44
You've gotten off to a pretty good start with the two lenses that you have; for landscape, you can do quite well with just those two. For architecture, you'll want to add at least a moderate wide angle such as a good 90mm with plenty of coverage; most folks around here like the SA 90mm's or similar lenses, but if you're on a tight budget the Wollensak Extreme Wide Angle 90mm f12.5 will do nicely and is readily available on eBay at fairly reasonable cost. I'd probably stay away from the 90mm Angulon (not Super) due to coverage limitations.

After you get you basic lens needs met, you can go as far as you want; I've presently got lenses ranging from 75mm thru 360 mm mounted on boards for my two 4x5's (with an adapter to use the Graphic boards on my Cambo) and keep my eyes open for other interesting lenses.

Have fun! :) :)

Kevin Crisp
22-May-2007, 19:35
Shitkicker -- You can get a pristine 240 APO Symmar for a lot less than $600. They go for $400 something all the time.

C. D. Keth
22-May-2007, 19:38
You're fine with what you have. Go shoot some stuff. After a few months of that, think of the focal length you wish you would have had. If, when the 150 was on you wished for something wider, pick up a 90mm. You get the picture.

andy bessette
22-May-2007, 20:40
[QUOTE=esbtse;243874]..I have A Horseman LX, a 240mm and a 150 mm. I would like to take nature, architecture and landscape photos.
What type of lenses do you recommend?
55/65/75mm?
90mm?
450mm?

QUOTE]

Yo ESB,

a 90mm could be the next logical choice. This is much like a 28mm lens on 135 format.

best, andy

THERE'S MORE TO OPTICS THAN MEETS THE EYE

Struan Gray
22-May-2007, 23:31
I agree with Christopher. You have a very capable LF outfit right now. What you need to do is identify why you are unhappy with your photographs. Until you do that, all LF will do is make your bad photographs grain-free and expensive.

Which photographers - in any format - do you admire, and how do your photographs differ from theirs?

Diane Maher
23-May-2007, 05:28
HI,
Iím new in this forum and I have just stared using a View 4*5 Camera.

My background is 135 analogue Nikon and I have for the last 10 years taken nature photo courses in Sweden/ Scandinavia but I havenít been able to develop into a good photographer. There is always something missing in the picture.

I have A Horseman LX, a 240mm and a 150 mm. I would like to take nature, architecture and landscape photos.
What type of lenses do you recommend?
55/65/75mm?
90mm?
450mm?

Where can I get graduated ND filter?
Polarizing Filter & Warm Polarizing Filter?
81 Series Warming Filters?
And I also need a backpack can you recommend some?

Before starting down the path of chasing magic bullets, i.e. equipment/lenses/accessories, I want to ask you a couple of questions based upon your statement, "There is always something missing in the picture."

What do you mean by this? What is the mysterious "something" that you want that isn't in your current pictures?

Isn't this what you should try to address before you succumb to what is known in the LF community as GAS (gear acquisition syndrome)?

Richard Kelham
23-May-2007, 16:10
As Struan and Diane have said, if you don't 'get' what landscape photography is about using a 35mm camera, just changing format isn't going to help.

I trained and worked as essentially a studio photographer and for many years I just didn't 'get' landscapes Ė whatever format I was using. The answer is to study and analyse photos you do like to try and figure out how and why they work Ė then go out and copy them! After a while you should learn to see for yourself. Then start to worry about shooting on LF.

I have discovered that the most important bit of kit for a landscape photographer is a good alarm clock. Personally I'd rather stay in bed...


Richard

C. D. Keth
23-May-2007, 16:45
An addendum to my previous post: I have a shen-hao 4x5 and a 150mm lens of rodenstock's lowest line. I rarely find something I can't photograph, though I often change my approach slightly to fit the equipment.

Patrik Roseen
24-May-2007, 03:55
Hello,
I think you are doing right to explore the Large Format and as others have stated it's not so much about which lens you have but how you capture an image.

As I started out in LF 2 years ago I also read/looked into lots of photographic books of all kinds, nature, landscape, portrait, commercial-advertising, how to photograph cars, nudes anything. And I always looked at the photos and asked myself what I liked about the specific image and how it might have been done. It's a good way to learn and ofcourse harder to master, but one can always try.

I think the difference for me in using a large format camera is that it mostly uses a tripod and in my case most often very close to the ground (Yes, my knees and back hurt after a while :) )
Something many photobooks talk about is the bad habit of shooting things from shoulder/head height which is very often done in 35mm. With a wideangle lens close to the ground things can very seldom be bad...from head height it gets dull.
With a large format it is possible to get close and far objects in focus at the same time. Closer objects bring 3D-perspectives (depth) into the picture etc.

Then there is the golden rule which many people use (1/3 and 1/3), i.e. not always placing interesting things in the center of the picture etc.

I started out with only one functioning lens 135mm and used it for about 6 months. I learned that I needed something wider and something longer (...then the 'acquire more lenses syndrom' hit me, but that's another story...)

For filters I use the Cokin-P holder. There are many low-cost versions of both coloured and polarizing filters on ebay (do a search on cokin-p)

A very good book is 'Photographing water in the landscape'...it includes information about filters used to give a better idea of what can be achieved etc)

The filters I mostly use are apart from red/green/yellow for B&W also ND Grad and a circular polarizer for both B&W and color.

Good luck with LF,
Patrik (Stockholm Sweden)

Pete Watkins
24-May-2007, 14:07
If by nature you mean fairly close up stuff, flowers, fungi and the like it could be worth considering one of those Tominon lenses in a Polaroid shutter. My one is very sharp and will cover 4x5 at close distancies. These lenses are cheap and very often the shutter alone is well worth the price, one problem many of these shutters have no diaphram.
Best wishes,
Pete.

esbtse
24-May-2007, 14:45
Thanks for the information. I got lots of good advice.
I’m broke now so I have to use what I got.
But I need to get some ND filters and I think Eric James have a good filter strategy.
Vick Vickery : What about the Nikon wide angle 90mm?
Struan Gray and Diane Maher: A good advice. My biggest problem is that I am in a hurry and I do not check the motive for the best and the cleanest angle, and I also need to get up before sunrise.

Regards,
Thomas

Struan Gray
24-May-2007, 23:41
If getting up before sunrise is your problem, you could always move to Kiruna or Riksgränsen, where there quite often is no sunrise :-)

A serious point though: a lot of classical nature photography is as much about behaviour as equipment. Getting up early, waiting for hours or days in a blind, learning and predicting weather patterns and migrations, not minding mosquito bites. For the best work, all of those things need to be got right before you start pointing the camera.

LF does concentrate the mind, especially if on a budget where wasting film costs a lot compared to digital or 35 mm film. The usual advice is to burn film and learn from your mistakes, but I learned more from looking at books and galleries and thinking about what I thought I was doing when I head out with a camera.

I think Hans Strand and Jan Töve have technical information in their books. Looking through them to see where they used LF and where not can be very instructive. Terje Hellesö has written a lot of interesting things about the mental side of nature photography, a lot of it available online at fotosidan.se (See his blog there for a quick overview of how he thinks and writes: http://www.fotosidan.se/blogs/terje/index.htm) or at his website helleso.com.

I personally can't fit my photography into a workshop format: my muse sulks if I try to force her pace. However, it is great if you can get together with other LF photographers. This site has taught me pretty well all I know, although sometimes in a roundabout quirky way. There is going to be an informal meeting of Swedish LF photographers in Bohuslän this September if you can make that:

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=23386

Ole Tjugen
25-May-2007, 10:29
What I like about June and July is that the sunrise is at about 2 am. So I don't have to get up early, I can just go to bed late. :)

I'm not the right person to give advice about focal lengths - I tend to bring all of them. Everything from 65mm to 355mm, at least. And often a second camera in a different size as well...

Vaughn
25-May-2007, 11:57
As Struan and Diane have said, if you don't 'get' what landscape photography is about using a 35mm camera, just changing format isn't going to help. <Snip>
I have discovered that the most important bit of kit for a landscape photographer is a good alarm clock. Personally I'd rather stay in bed...

Richard

That's one of the things I like about photographing in the redwoods -- often the best light is from 10 am to 2pm on a nice overcast day...that means I can have a leisurely breakfast and be out the door by 9am, and be back in time for happy hour.

vaughn

esbtse
25-May-2007, 13:18
Well I take a good look at Hans Strands books. I think I have already read some books from Jan T&#246;ve but I haven’t taken notes on where he used LF or not, so that is a good advice. I took some of Terje Helles&#246; courses and I learned a lot.
When I can afford it, I shall take his winter course but I think they all use DSLR nowdays.

I'm listing my Teachers down below.
Terje Helles&#248;, Jan Grahn, Bruno Helgesson, Jan Gustafsson, Jan Pedersen,
Olof Cardelus och John H&#229;kansson.

I think I need to let the photography take more of my time and I also need to work more on the motive and make it in a project form. My visual perception is good but I need to get more practise and do it more often.

Ole Tjugen: Nice collection of LF. I have that problem too when I using 135 system but I will not fall into that trap again. Do you think the engineer background cause it?

Vaughn: I have problem getting up and be out the door before noon.

I try to get to Bohusl&#228;n but my car is not in good shape.

Best regards,
Thomas

Ole Tjugen
25-May-2007, 14:43
... Ole Tjugen: Nice collection of LF. I have that problem too when I using 135 system but I will not fall into that trap again. Do you think the engineer background cause it? ...

I wouldn't know - I have a scientific background. Never could understand engineers. :D

For a long time I had nothing wider than a 90mm for 4x5", so I brought the 5x7" in case I needed a wider view. By now it's a habit, I guess...

Sometimes I leave a few lenses behind instead of bringing 65/90/121/135/150/165/180/210/240/300/355. And sometimes I find I should have brought the other 121mm, and the 420 as well...

esbtse
26-May-2007, 12:57
[QUOTE=Ole Tjugen;244565]I wouldn't know - I have a scientific background. Never could understand engineers. :D
/QUOTE]

Sorry! You gave that impression when I checked your profile.
I have a degree in Electrical engineering and I also have relatives on my Norwegian side that are engineers. On my Swedish side they are architects, or have degrees in economic or biology.
Best regards,
Thomas

Daniel Geiger
26-May-2007, 18:16
I've done the transition from 135 to 4x5 about three years ago. As several people have said before, identify what you do like about your 135 system and what not. And get Drynska (or however one spells his name again) book. Some people suggested to identify photographers you admire and imitate their work. I don't know any names of photographers and just like to shoot what I like. Have a look at what's in your backyard or at places you visit and take it from there. No need for a pilgrimage to Yosemite from Skandinavia just to imitate someone's shot of some pile of rocks.

As an example, on the 35 mm system I often use the 21 mm as well as a 100 mm macro. So I started out with a SA 90, upgraded to a SA 90 XL, and got the somewhat longer 180 mm macro (60 mm SLR quivalent; trade-off between needed extension, lighting flexibility and stability). Before I used a regular 150 mm for macro up to 1:1, but the images were not quite as crisp as I would have liked.

When I go out, I may not always find some nice landscape, but there is always some intersting close-up motivs around. The lichens in Skandinavia are just gorgeous, at least I remember them from Oeland that way. Also, get a x-sync cord (cheap) and use the flash you have from your SLR. Another thing I use all the time is a reflector. I have a round fold-up reflector with white, gold, silver, silver-gold, and diffuser surfaces. It can be used to alternatively put more light on a scene, diffuse light, change color temperature, balance lighting.

Pol filter is a good thing to have, possibly you can use the same you have for your SLR, just with stepper rings. I prefer 81 plus neutral pol, rather then warmtone pols. A little more versatility, though there are a couple of more surfaces, so not the best in terms of optics. ND grads, I got them, hardly use them, but when there is a need for them, there is no alternative. I would possibly first get my bearings with regular filters, and then move up to ND grads (20-20 hindsight, in my case).

Re backpack, see the LF-home pages "what's in Daniel Geiger's backpack"
http://www.largeformatphotography.info/camera-bag-daniel-geiger/
This gives plenty of info on the topic.

just a couple of my 2c from an other scientist (evolutionary marine biologist)

Ole Tjugen
27-May-2007, 06:52
[QUOTE=Ole Tjugen;244565]I wouldn't know - I have a scientific background. Never could understand engineers. :D
/QUOTE]

Sorry! You gave that impression when I checked your profile. ...

I know - and I still work as "engineer - sort of" for another three months. And that's the end of that vague title - I'll be a geologist once again. :)!

esbtse
2-Jun-2007, 14:15
identify what you do like about your 135 system and what not.
thing I use all the time is a reflector. I have a round fold-up reflector with white, gold, silver, silver-gold, and diffuser surfaces. It can be used to alternatively put more light on a scene, diffuse light, change color temperature, balance lighting.

Pol filter is a good thing to have, possibly you can use the same you have for your SLR, just with stepper rings. I prefer 81 plus neutral pol, rather then warmtone pols. A little more versatility, though there are a couple of more surfaces, so not the best in terms of optics. ND grads, I got them, hardly use them, but when there is a need for them, there is no alternative. I would possibly first get my bearings with regular filters, and then move up to ND grads (20-20 hindsight, in my case).

Hi
Lots of good advices, Thanks! I also use reflectors and I use a big flash light to get a light spot when I need one. I use a white umbrella to soften the overhead light. That is very effective method.

I will use this summer to get my equipment working and to learn LF. I think my next lens is going to be a Nikon 90mm/8 but before I get that lens I need some filters. I used Coking P-holder for 135 camera but the ND grads gave a blue colour cast so I need to change them. I am uncertain if I can Keep the P-system or if I shall exchange it to a Z or X.
Do I need softer ND grade filter than to the 135 system? I thinking about +1 soft, +2 and +3 Hard. I also need 81 warm tone filters.
Regards,
Thomas

John Kasaian
5-Jun-2007, 20:01
IMHO the lenses you'll need are the lenses you'll use.
you've already got a passel of nice lenses, so try them out first. If you feel the practical need for something wider or longer you'll know. If not, then you're already set. Adding stuff to your kit with no marked advantage will just make things more complicated (and heavier to carry!)

Bernard Kaye
7-Jun-2007, 14:39
I am late to this thread but have been taking "landscapes" since 1940s in Alaskan waters from a destroyer escort with a Zeiss Ikonta 120 camera with uncoated 75mm. Tesar f 3.5. A landscape is a picture or scene you like or want to memorialize The Ansco color print negatives faded; I have them as B & W. Having used 35 (Leica and Contax and Kodak Retina), better 120's, 4 x 5 Graphics and old Linhof's with 120 roll film adapter, being continuously surprised by results, both not good and good, my thoughts: take one camera that your hands operate almost by themselves, with one, maybe the two lenses you have, with film you like, a reflection exposure meter so you do not lose sight of your picture and do not look into the sun, do it in early morning or evening or on an overcast day (there is more light than you think, trust your instrument) AND ENJOY EVERY MINUTE OF IT: if you do not really want to preserve what you see, you get little that you want to look at in finished product. There really are no rules which is what these wonderful people have been telling you. You already know all you need to know. Break some rules, admire the results, enjoy this! Bernie

riooso
7-Jun-2007, 21:33
I started in LF a little over a year ago and someone in this forum suggested getting a 150mm lens. I am in love with my 150mm and like how it is a very versatile and easy to use. I to, came from 135 format and as was told at the time that there is no easy comparisons between LF and 135, and they were right. I was told to use the 150mm and learn to use it well before moving on to another lens and I think that was great advice.

Have fun with it, work it baby!

Richard