View Full Version : Lens for City Skyline Photography

Scott Teven
27-Dec-2008, 12:16
I am buying my first 4x5 monorail camera and my first lens. Since my initial goal is to photograph City Skylines I wish to get a lens that would be good for this purpose. From my experience, a 50-100mm lens has been a good focal length when using a film SLR. I can spend in the range of $500-$700 for this lens. Occassionally, I will also use a 6x9 back on the 4x5 camera for the conveniance of roll film.

27-Dec-2008, 12:46
I would use a 90/5.6 for that kind of application. That would be about "normal" but that would suit me. I'd stay away from a f/8 lens for night work so focussing is a bit easier. You can probably find a decent modern lens from one of the big-4 makers in your price range fairly easily.

EDIT: I should have said about the 90, "That would be about "normal" FOR THE 6x9 BACK..."

For 4x5, QT has it right... a 150 or 135 (135 being my preference). If you shop carefully it might be possible to find both a normal and a wider angle lens like a 90!

QT Luong
27-Dec-2008, 13:01
Get something equivalent to 50mm (on 35mm) for your 4x5, this way when you use it as a 6x9 it will be close to 100mm (on 35mm). Any modern 150/5.6 lens would be good. I have the Rodenstock apo-sironar-s which is particularly sharp.

Walter Calahan
27-Dec-2008, 14:06
A good 135 or 150 mm to start.

Brian Vuillemenot
27-Dec-2008, 19:10
For cityscapes, my favorite lens is a 450- it really helps to bring those buildings closer. You may want to start with a 210, then get a longer lens as well.

Scott Teven
28-Dec-2008, 11:49
I currently own a medium format Century Graphic, 2 lenses (101mm Kodak Ektar and an 8" Wollensack Raptor) that I use with a 6x9 Graflex back. Neither of these are probably very good lenses but the 101mm Kodak Ektar might cover me on the wide end for awhile if I get a longer, better quality lens. Any thoughts?

Bjorn Nilsson
28-Dec-2008, 13:40
You are not mentioning what your planning to produce (Print size, film choice etc.), but I assume you want to improve your results from the Graphic that you use at the moment.
You do own a couple of lenses out of which the Ektar seems to be OK for 6x9cm. If you go up to 4x5" the 101 corresponds to a 150 and the Raptor to a 300mm.
Moneywise, the best deals are found in the 180-210mm lenses (as there are plenty to choose from). These lenses comes in a size 1 shutter, which is a bit larger than the size 0 shutter of the 150mm lenses. The 150 lenses may cost a few $$ more but there are plenty of these to choose from too. What to choose from in the 150-210 range of lenses are just about any modern Plasmat-type lens from any of the four great manufacturers (Fuji, Nikkor, Schneider or Rodenstock) or Caltar lenses (Calumets house-brand, nowadays re-branded Rodenstock lenses.) Lenses from 240mm and up are a bit more expensive.
The Ektar will probably not suffice as a wide-angle for 4x5" work. At least it's not good at it.

Finally you will also have to take a look at your tripods etc. This is part of getting a better (read: sharper) result.


Scott Teven
29-Dec-2008, 22:12
Thank you for your all your replies. I am considering a 150 f5.6 NIkkor-W in a copal #0 shutter. I hope this will provide a large enough image circle for both 4x5 and 6x9.

Scott Teven
30-Dec-2008, 16:17
Based on the helpful suggestions & opinions of many of you on this forum I have an order pending for 2 lenses which seems to be priced fairly. I selected a normal and wide angle lens also from KEH. I wanted to get lenses made by the same manufacturer. My understanding is they are both Rodenstock lenses but the 150mm has the Caltar name on it.

90mm F6.8 Rodenstock Grandagon MC, Copal 0, "Bargain Condition" $415
150mm F5.6 Caltar II-N MC, Copal 0, EX+ $350

My only concern is the 90 F6.8 Grandagon won't be very bright on the ground glass. They also had a Caltar 4.5 II-N but it cost about twice as much.