View Full Version : 4x5 wide angle lenses

Matus Kalisky
18-Nov-2007, 04:41

already longer time I have a wide angle lens on the waiting list and mostly because of financial reasons it did not make it through yet. But first - my current set consists of 125/5.6, 210/6.8 and 400/8. The camera is Tachihara 4x5.

The usage of the wide angle lens would be both exteriors (landscape cityscapes) but I would like to try some interiors as well (houses churches) and therefore would prefere a good coverage.

Now - there are several problems. The main one is the desision wheter should I go with 75 or 90mm lens (the 80mm XL is out of the $$ range). The 90mm one is indeed more common one - peple say it is easier to use. But I am worried it may be too close to the 125. The 75 is more of a special lens - indeed very wide but one can still crop in the worst case. So - I am leaning more towards the 75 at the moment. The best woul be to have both for a while and try them out but I do no see such a possibility in the near future.

Now - on the technical side. For the 75 lenses I would prefere either Nikkor or Grandagon N (Caltar) - only the 4.5 versions because of the coverage. For the 90mm I would probably go for a f8 lens because of the size/weight. I have seen Grandagon 90/4.5 once and it was HUGE. Maybe the Grandagon 6.8 would be also an option. So in the 90mm class I would prefere Nikkor followed by all the rest (Grandagon, Super Angulon and Fujinon).

[And then there are lenses like Angulon 90/6.8, Congo/Osaka 90/6.8 geronar 90/8, aristostigmats, optars and others that are not considered here NOT because of the quality, but because of the coverage]

But I would like to ask how do the older versions perform? They I usually quite a bit cheaper. I mean Super Angulon 75/5.6 and 90/8 - single coated versions or Grandagon (without the "N")? Also the Fujinon 90 SW and 75 SWD single coated ones .. What is your experiance ? Which would you chose or avoid ?


Miguel Curbelo
18-Nov-2007, 05:09
I make regular use of a 72XL, a Nikon 90 f8 and the 110XL. A 90mm lens is definitely not "close" to a 125mm and I find that it is a nice compromise between coverage and a discreet "wide angle" look. I use it out of choice a good deal more often than my 72XL, which I shoot with as a last resort when space is too cramped for any other longer lens.

John Brady
18-Nov-2007, 05:41
My feeling is if you're gonna go wide, go really wide. My kit include a 47xl, 58xl and
the 72xl. Each of these lenses are unique, the available movement on the 72xl is spectacular. This perugia back alley shot is the 72xl,the middle is jewel key 47xl and the last is fisheating creek 58xl. Sorry, I know you asked about older versions too but I have no examples.

David A. Goldfarb
18-Nov-2007, 05:50
Regarding your last question, the older Super-Angulons are usually quite sharp, and they are more compact and take smaller filters than the latest fast lenses of the same focal length, but the newest wide lenses are a little sharper at wide apertures and have larger image circles and a larger maximum aperture for focusing and composing on the groundglass. I was happy with my 75/8 Super-Angulon for 4x5", but switched to a 75/4.5 Grandagon-N when I wanted to shoot 6x17cm and needed the additional coverage. I still use a 90/8 Super-Angulon, but if wanted to do more architectural photography, I might consider a newer lens with a larger image circle.

David Karp
18-Nov-2007, 07:37
One way to look at whether a 90 is to close to a 125 is to think in 35mm terms. If a 28 is to close to a 35mm lens, then the 125 and 90 will likely be too close for you.

That being said, I used a 24mm lens pretty regularly with my 35mm kit, but don't use the 75mm nearly as much in 4x5. I rarely go wider than my 125mm Fuji for landscapes. When I do, I go to a 90mm.

In the end it is all in the way you see, but hopefully the 35mm analogy will help.

Ed Richards
18-Nov-2007, 07:51
I would disagree with David - I think the 90mm is more like a 24mm - it is hard to resolve the 35mm comparisions because of the different shapes of the formats. I use a 90mm and a 120mm wide, and I find that the difference is striking. 90mm is clearly wide and fraught with wide angle distortion if you do not use it correctly. The 120mm is like a normal view. The Grandagon 6.8 is a great compromise - a little easier to focus than the F8, but uses 67mm filters.

Matus Kalisky
18-Nov-2007, 08:08
Oh, thanks - I guess the weather is bad when I got so many responses so fast :)

It seems that 90 and 125 are not supposed to be too close. Hmmm. According to my favourit factor F = 3.2 (according to the longer side of the negative) the 125mm is cca 40mm , 90mm is cca 28mm and 75 is about 24mm in the small format.

My experience with small forat is based on Minolta 7 + Sigma 20 - 40. There I had a feeling that 28 is rather close to 40. But the zoom ring was not too precise either. But indeed once I had the possibility to go really wide - I used the 20 - 24 settings a lot.

With DSLR (Minolta 7D) my most used lenses are 28 and 50 what makes it cca 35 and 75 on small format film.

In the LF 125mm and 210mm lenses are also fine.

I can understand that for a landscape a lens wider than 90mm is rarely needed - I did well last time in Alps with 125, but I have in mind some architecture too and the possibility of exaggerating of near-far relations is also interesting.

But still - the question about the optical quality of older wide angle lenses remains.

thanks for all your answers and opinions so far.

Aender Brepsom
18-Nov-2007, 09:55
If I had to pick only one, I'd go for the 90mm over the 75mm. I have both, but the 75mm doesn't get used very often. For me, the 6.8/90mm Grandagon-N is an ideal compromise between aperture and bulk. BTW, my next focal lenth is 150mm, so I cannot comment on 90mm and 125mm being too close.

Jean-Marie Solichon
18-Nov-2007, 11:05
My most used lens is the Schneider SSHM 120 and I feel that a 90mm is too close. 75mm is the WA I choosed. I first bought a used non MC SA 75/5,6 but it rendered colors cooler than my other more recent MC lenses. So I bought new the MC 75/5,6 SA which has served me very well since then.

18-Nov-2007, 11:10
Hello Matus,

I use my 4x5 gear mostly for architecture and landscape. I own the 58xl and the 90mm Caltar II plus a variety of longer lenses. I also have access to the 47xl that is owned by my business partner.

I would guess that 75% of the interiors I shoot are done with the 90. I use either of the xl's only when in very tight quarters or when only that extreme wide angle effect is called for.

In my landscape work, I tend to choose the lens to fit the "look" that I"m "seeing" when confronted by a scene. Some cry out for extreme stretching of the perspective, others tell me that they will work best if I use much longer lenses. It's a very strong "on the spot" evaluation.

In terms of older lenses, I used to own the old Ilex/Caltar 90mm f8 lens that dated from the sixties. I was always quite satisfied with the results in prints up to 24x30. I never went larger, so I can only assume that the performance would stay sharp above that size.

I also remember using the high school's Crown Graphic with a 90mm Wollensak lens to shoot a special portrait of our pep band. I later enlarged that 4x5 negative to a print that stretched out to nearly 12 feet for the band room wall. It remained incredibly sharp to that extreme size.

That was an interesting night with a buddy and I slathering Dektol and then fixer over this mural paper monster with fresh mops while it was anchored to the basement floor. It then went into the bathtub for a series of water bath exchanges over a few hours and then got hung up in the basement to dry. Very indulgent parents!!!!

I guess my take is that I've owned and used lots of older lenses that have performed quite well and do not hesitate to work with them to this day.

Testing is always advised before using them on a serious job.

Good luck.


18-Nov-2007, 20:47
I like the caltar / grandagon 90 f/6.8. Decent coverage for movements, faster than f/8, not too huge, and reasonably priced.

Mark Sampson
19-Nov-2007, 07:17
Get one of the 90mm f/8 (or 6.8) series lenses- any of the major manufacturer's are more than good enough. I use the Nikon 90/8 SW myself; the focal length is very useful, and they are easy to use. The 75 I have is very much a special-purpose lens; on 4x5 it's v e r y w i d e , and I rarely see this way when self-assigned. It's been most useful for photographing interiors; kitchens and bathrooms especially.

Matus Kalisky
27-Nov-2007, 02:45
A little update:

So I did it finaly. As I was not able to take a clear decision - I finaly took a good deal on Grandagaon N 75/4.5 for about $480 as I could not resist. It should arrive in some 2 weeks from Luxemburg.

So - thank you all for your help and advices. Should it be too wide for me - I will upload it here - the price will be good ;-)