View Full Version : LF Head-Toe Portrait Lens

26-Oct-2008, 18:58
Newbie to large format photography here and have a question that I'm hoping you all might be able to help with.

I want to shoot a head to toe portrait using my 8x10 camera. Because of limited shooting distance, I need to be able to shoot within about 12 feet from the sitter.

What size lens should I be looking for if I shoot an 8x10 portrait? What if I shoot it with the 4x5 back instead, same size lens?

Just so you don't think I'm a total bum, I've tried reading some articles on LF lenses and find figuring out needed lenses a bit challenging.

BTW, I have about 16 inches of bellows.

Gem Singer
26-Oct-2008, 19:26
Within a maximum distance of twelve feet, you should be able to a cover a head to toe portrait of a normal size person with a 300 mm lens, on the 8X10 format. The same shot on 4X5, a 150 mm lens. The 300 would be too long for a head to toe shot on the 4X5 format, but ideal for a head and shoulders portrait.

If the subject is very tall, you would probably need a 240 mm lens in order to include the entire body, from head to toe, at twelve feet.

Paul Fitzgerald
26-Oct-2008, 21:29
"I want to shoot a head to toe portrait using my 8x10 camera. Because of limited shooting distance, I need to be able to shoot within about 12 feet from the sitter."

You did remember to leave 4ft for you and the camera and 2ft for the sitter from the back wall, yes?

According the my spiffy little number cruncher a 360mm will just make 12ft with 16in bellows so a 300mm should be fine, f/8 should give you enough DOF.

You're getting close enough to start getting distortion, like the sitter put on about 15lbs, a 240mm would help AND make it worse.

have fun with it.

Drew Wiley
27-Oct-2008, 16:09
I once used a 14x14 ft room as a studio space. A 360 gold-dot dagor worked superbly
for full-length shots on the 8x10. I don't like using wide-angles for portraiture. And the
multiple-blade aperture of this kind of lens renders a beautiful "bokeh" when it is used at wider apertures. Unfortunately, most 4x5's don't handle a #3 shutter very well. The
Compur 3 on the last version of these lenses (the multicoated one) set up a horrible
buzz vibration. I now use a single-coated version in Copal. A 12ft room might work
well on the diagonal with this focal length; otherwise I ditto the 300mm advice.

Ralph Barker
28-Oct-2008, 08:52
I was hoping one of our formula wizards would jump in here. Absent that, I took some rough actual measurements.

Assuming the camera is in "portrait" orientation, a 300mm lens, at a lens-to-subject distance of 10', will provide a bit over 7' of subject height - sufficient for most subjects. At a lens-to-subject distance of 7' (assuming the 12' distance is partly consumed by camera space and a couple of feet behind the subject), however, the subject height shrinks to just over 5' with the 300mm lens. Switching to a 240mm lens at the 7' distance increases the subject height to right at 6' - OK for shorties, but leaving little head room for taller subjects.

Jim Bradley
28-Oct-2008, 10:32
I've attached a simple Excel spreadsheet (had to zip it can't attach a xls file)that calculates the image size vs focal length / distance / object size (amongest other things). I THINK the formulas are correct (they pass simple obvious test points). Date entry are the "Yellow" cells. You get what you pay for :rolleyes:


31-Oct-2008, 07:40
I found this chart in an old Kodak publication.