View Full Version : 47mm lens on a 4x5 for super-wide shots

24-Apr-2008, 12:45
Hi Everyone,

I currently use either of the following for capturing super-wide views, particularly for architectural interior shots in cathedrals and other massive structures:

1) 10.5mm Nikkor fisheye lens on my D300 digital camera (DX sensor - not full frame)
2) 4x5 pinhole camera with a 25mm focal length, shooting at f/138 or thereabouts

The pinhole camera gives me rectilinear imaging and infinite depth of field, but I also get blurring at the edges of my super-wide view, plus, at f/138, my exposure times are usually around 40 MINUTES.

The fisheye lens allows me to take dramatic photos with short exposure times, but I have "curved edges" in my photos, and I'm limited to 12 megapixels (I'm thinking really huge enlargements here), since the 10.5mm fisheye is really like a 15mm lens on a "fulll-frame" digital camera.

So, I've been wondering about these two possible FUTURE options, to hopefully give me super-wide shots without "curved edges" along with shorter exposure times:

1) 14-24mm Nikkor lens (I have this lens already), that offers a 14mm focal length at full-frame, on a Nikon D3 ($5,000). This would give me a non-curved perspective, plus a very wide view (14mm focal length) and short exposure times (less than 40 MINUTES, at least!). The down-side is the expense of the D3, and, it being a digital camera, will rather quickly become outmoded in the following years, by newer models, and 5 grand is a lot to spend on something with a shorter lifetime of usefulness relative to newer technologies.

2) Fotomann 4x5 camera with a Schneider 47mm large format lens, shooting on 4x5 b/w film at high f-ratios, like f/22.

My question is, will the 47mm lens on a 4x5 camera give me a wider view than the 14mm lens on a D3 (pretty much a 35mm frame, as far as I know)? If it were AT LEAST as wide as 14mm on a D3, then I would prefer the 47mm lens on the 4x5, since I could get the dynamic range of b/w negative film, plus the HUGE scanning resolution with 4x5 negatives (even with my pinhole camera, I get great 40 megapixel scans).

I've considered the Fotomann 4x5 camera since it would be relatively compact and easy to maneuver with inside a cathedral, potentially with lots of tourists beside me, etc. It also allows shooting with really short focal length lenses. I already have a Crown Graphic for doing 4x5 shooting with some basic camera motions, so the lack of such capabilities on the Fotomann wouldn't be an issue.

From an artistic perspective, my basic approach is to provide very dramatic and surreal views of large interior structures (like cathedrals, temples, etc) without going for "pure architectural realism".

As an example of the kind of photography I'm "aiming for", here is my latest 35 minute pinhole exposure from inside National Cathedral in Washington DC, using my Zero Image 4x5 pinhole camera on Fuji Acros-100:


Any basic thought on this would be appreciated.

Sheldon N
24-Apr-2008, 13:06
Yes, the 47mm XL would be slightly wider than the 14mm on full frame. Here are the equivalent angular fields of view.

14mm on 35mm
Hor 104.2500
Vert 81.2026
Diag 114.1821

47mm on 4x5
Hor 106.9855
Vert 94.4502
Diag 119.9471

24-Apr-2008, 13:48
I like the example shot very much.

I think the 47 will provide what you're looking for. Even a 65mm is very wide on a 4X5, though not this wide.

Ole Tjugen
24-Apr-2008, 13:54
The widest I've used on sheet film so far is a 90mm on 5x7" - or perhaps the 150mm on 24x30cm.

But as soon as I've finished the most urgent of the other 150 projects (like getting my sailboat back on the water this weekend), I'm going out for a walk in the woods armed with a 4x5" camera, a 65mm Ilex acugon, and a 47mm Super Angulon XL.

Results will be posted, unless I do one of the 380 classic mistakes like forgetting to pull the dark slide or forgetting to load the film in the first place...

24-Apr-2008, 14:06

Fantastic shot, especially from a pin hope. I love the choice of point of view.

I've got a 47mm Super Angulon that I occasionally shoot on 4x5. It is actually designed for 6x7 or possibly 6x9 so there is always some vignetting in the corners unless I shoot it on my Cambo 6x12 roll back for panoramas. The image circle is just big enough to cover that format without noticeable fall off in the corners.

I'm quite happy with it on the roll film and the occasional 4x5 for architectural exteriors, especially dusk or night shots when the vignetting disappears into the dark sky and foreground.

It does have a really forced perspective, not unlike what you've done in your sample.


Daniel Unkefer
24-Apr-2008, 16:10
I use my Cosina Voigtlander 12mm f5.6 lens on a Bessa-L, and it's even wider than what you're describing. It's very sharp and even to the corners, as well as being rectilinear. You might consider it for your uses. 12mm by the way is quite a bit wider than 14mm, the difference is surprising. The 47XL for sheet film.

Jeff Keller
25-Apr-2008, 00:58
An Olympus 7-14mm zoom on a Four-Thirds digital camera gives a 114 deg diagonal with a rectilinear image. The lens is about $1600. A 10Mpixel Olymmpus E-410 costs about $500. The lens has some barrel distortion at 7mm. The camera has live view, dust removal, and is quite small.

Frank Petronio
25-Apr-2008, 05:02
I like the pinhole shot and I like the edge softness and vignetting, they add to the image quality.

Instead of complaining about the 40 minute exposure times, why not buy 4-5 more pinholes and cheap digital timers (and maybe tripods) for each -- and run around keeping multiple cameras busy to be more productive?

The Nikon 10.5 on a D300 is the best bang for buck and buying a few pinhole boxes isn't too $$$...

25-Apr-2008, 05:19
Thanks for all the info, everyone, and for your thoughts on the pinhole image.

I don't really mean to complain about the exposure times with the pinhole -- it's just that there are shots I want to take, right out in the middle of several cathedrals, that isn't that possible due to the tourist traffic. I'm worried someone will bump the tripod, 35 minutes into a 50 minute exposure...

On the other hand, super-long exposures have their ADVANTAGES -- they "average out" people in the photo. In fact, the photo link I provided, in the cathedral -- there were dozens of people in the bottom of that frame at any given moment, but they kept moving, never staying in the same place for more than 3 or 4 minutes. Yes, 3 or 4 minutes, and they were STILL invisible!

And the idea of running more than one pinhole cam at once -- it's a good one, and I was actually planning on it, so long as I can watch each tripod and prevent it from being bumped.

For now, I think I'll stick with what I've got, possibly adding more pinhole cameras, and using my 10.5mm on the D300. I got the "hemi" software which does do a reasonable job in "de-warping" the fisheye images, but only in limited cases (when I don't want the warp effect).

Thanks again,

Frank Petronio
25-Apr-2008, 05:30
Just make up some serious look laminated cards that say "Don't f with the tripod under penalty of the law" in seven languages -- add a little bright green-yellow surveyor's tape around your tripods -- make it look like some Government agency is responsible -- and people will leave your set-ups alone.

You could even get some of the small kiddie traffic cones, etc.

25-Apr-2008, 05:32
Hey, those are some great ideas! I'm also thinking of talking with the cathedral tour guides and letting them know my plans, and they can hopefully steer a couple tours around me.


Frank Petronio
25-Apr-2008, 05:54
I saw it done in the European Cathedrals before -- all those surveying instruments and such...

4-May-2008, 04:33
Am after a Schneider 47 XL myself . use the 58 Xl on Cambo 6 x 12...going for sinar 6 x 12 ( and 65, 75 nikon..90 fuji etc ). The pinhole effort is great - love the perspective. Scott has a creative viewpoint....so next consideration is overall resolution and the perspective of the lens - or pinhole - which will be basically angle of view versus horizontal width of the film. That's where the quality super wides onto a large film ( or sweeping digital capture back ) are usually the best answer...they don't give the chronic wide angle distortion of 35mm etc. The ability to shoot 2 edges of a field on 35 mm lens on 35 mm film or 70mm lens on 6 x 7 is only part of the issue. Everything within the field looks different and with bigger film the perspective is normally truer with distant objects looking larger. Why big formats are great for the mountains.
Scott can still do very long exposures with a proper superwides-small aperture-even pola filter on- and if in doubt just put black cloth or cap over lens if people stop. Can use a stopwatch to total the exposure easily.

But for architecture you need the perspective controls of a view camera...then make sure it can focus your wide ( short ) lens/lenses. I tend to customise mine and today using a simple Linhof monorail ( with a Toyo reflex finder ) doctored so it will focus a 58mm ( or 47mm ). Without that it would really only do 75 mm. But a Sinar f will focus anything - great choice for exploring architecture. Buy used.

1-May-2010, 17:36
For the guy who was interested in using a 47XL with 6x12: If you can live without movements, a 47/5.6 will cover and is a lot cheaper. Yes, the corners will be dark.

In the shot linked here, I used 12mm on 24x36 format. I didn't have a tripod and so was limited to angles achievable with the camera braced horizontally or vertically. I like your perspective better.

Salisbury Cathedral ceiling with Canon 5D (http://www.rickdenney.com/IMG_0539_ceiling_lores.jpg)

I would love to own a 47XL. At the current rate, they ought to be under $100 in about 15 minutes.

Rick "waiting for prices to come down" Denney

Mike Anderson
1-May-2010, 18:07
Hi Everyone,

I currently use ...10.5mm Nikkor fisheye lens on my D300 digital camera ...
The fisheye lens allows me to take dramatic photos with short exposure times, but I have "curved edges" in my photos, ...

This response is late, a little off topic and blasphemous, but: if DXO optics (raw processor) supports that 10.5mm fisheye, it can miraculously straighten out the lens distortion (various kinds). Given that it supports the lens/camera that you use it's magical.