View Full Version : New to 5x7: Are 240mm and 300mm lenses in one kit redundant? Opinions sought...

4-Feb-2009, 11:55
Hello everyone.

I'm new to 5x7, coming mostly from shooting 35mm. I primarily shoot portraits and landscapes.

I have access to a 150mm lens, and now have the ability to purchase both a 240mm and 300mm lenses at reasonable prices. I'm considering getting both, however my instinct tells me that the 240mm and 300mm focal lenses would be a bit redundant. I'm wondering if this necessarily true and I'm hoping that someone with experience in the format might share some opinions on this.

I have a variety of lenses in my 35mm kit, mostly wide to normal (28mm - 75mm). I enjoy having a close spread of focal lengths in that format, but since 5x7 is my "secondary" format I imagine that I'll settle on a two-lens or at the most a three-lens kit, at least in the near future.


Gene McCluney
4-Feb-2009, 11:57
I find that I need them both for my style of work in 5x7.

Kevin Crisp
4-Feb-2009, 12:01
Me too. The 180mm is most used, then a 150 G Claron, then 305, then a 240mm. The 305 fits in the shutter for the 240, which is handy.

Ken Lee
4-Feb-2009, 12:13
If you like to fill the 5x7 frame exactly, and prefer not to crop, then it's nice to have a range of lenses which will let you do just that.

Cropping issues aside... I currently have a 210 Heliar, a 240 Fujinon A, a 250 Tessar, a 300 Heliar, and a 300 Fujinon A. Each lens has its own personality, and it's fun to experiment with them all. I use them all.

Some like to visualize the scene first, and then choose their equipment accordingly. Some like to choose their equipment first, and then find a photo to match. Some do a little bit of both. Some find it gratifying to introduce an element of spontaneity into their shooting, and having a variety of lenses is one way to do it.

Ole Tjugen
4-Feb-2009, 12:24
If you intend to have few lenses, then I would recommend a greater difference. If you can find a good 210mm instead of the 240mm, that would IMO be better.

Personally I use 90, 120, 150, 180, 210, 240, 270, 300, 360, 420, and 500mm lenses for 5x7"...

Walter Calahan
4-Feb-2009, 12:37
You can't have too many lenses. If you can afford buy them, do it. Once you have them you'll learn if they are redundant or not pretty quickly.

Ron Marshall
4-Feb-2009, 12:42
For 5x7 I use 120, 210, 300 and 450.

I would prefer a 180 to the 210, but that is what I happen to have.

I think 240 is a good step from 150. A 360 would be a better step from 240 than a 300.

Bruce Watson
4-Feb-2009, 12:42
I have access to a 150mm lens, and now have the ability to purchase both a 240mm and 300mm lenses at reasonable prices. I'm considering getting both, however my instinct tells me that the 240mm and 300mm focal lenses would be a bit redundant.

You won't know what you need or want until you gain some experience using your 5x7. When you find that you are seeing scenes you'd like to capture but that you don't have the lenses to do it, and this happens over and over, then you need (or want) an additional lens.

But... just for fun, run the angle of view (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angle_of_view) numbers:

Your 150mm lens, across your 7 inch film dimension, gives you a angle of view of 61.3 degrees. That's how much of the scene in front it the long dimension of the film can "see" when the lens is focused at infinity. Similarly, a 240mm lens gives you 40.7 degrees, and a 300 gives you 33.0 degrees.

The more interesting thing here is the delta between lenses. There's a 21 degree delta between the 150 and the 240, but only an 8 degree delta between the 240 and the 300.

I personally like 15 degree "steps" between my lenses. Others like 20. Some like very small steps and therefore have shelves full of lenses. But I believe your instinct is correct and that you might find that the 240 and the 300 are redundant. The numbers show that they are fairly close together.

Gem Singer
4-Feb-2009, 12:46
I use a Nikkor f8 120SW, a Fuji f5.6 180CM-W, a Fuji f6.3 250CM-W, and a Nikkor f9 300M for the 5X7 format.

That combination is my favorite four lens set. However, If I only wanted to use three lenses for 5X7, it would be the 120, 180, and the 250.

Most 240 and 300 mm lenses are large, mounted in a Copal 3 shutters. The Fuji 250CM-W and Nikkor 300M are smaller lenses in Copal 1 shutters. A Fuji f9 240A is smaller, yet.

If you're talking about a 300 and a 240, also in a Copal 3, you are in for carrying a lot of weight around.

Gene McCluney
4-Feb-2009, 13:00
You know, it all depends. I don't want to scare off a new LF enthusiast. FOR MY WORK, which involves trying to "fill the frame" with subjects that sometimes have to be shot within confined spaces (no room to back up) I need various focal lengths, and I can never have enough choices. For a beginner who is not trying to accomplish what I need to accomplish, who can afford to pick his subjects to fit his equipment, then you can make quite good images with just a few lenses, but be prepared to move your camera around to "fit" the subject to the film size.

I can't pick my subjects to fit my equipment. If you are shooting for pleasure, you can just choose to shoot images that work in harmony with the equipment you have.

Chauncey Walden
4-Feb-2009, 13:34
I suppose it depends, too, upon the lenses you have available. Some 150s won't make it. What are the 240 and 300 on offer? Myself, in shutter: 90, 135, 180, 215, 240, 270, 300, and 360. Most used: maybe 135, 215, 300.

4-Feb-2009, 13:58
John - I'm a minimalist at heart, plus I now shoot with 8x10 and often hike long distances with my LF kit, so I tend to keep my lens list to a minimum. To answer your original question, from my way of doing things, 240mm and 300mm are a bit redundant if you are only going to carry a few lenses. When I was shooting 5x7, I carried 90mm, 210mm and 360mm.

Keith Pitman
4-Feb-2009, 17:13
I currently use a 165, 240, 305, and 450. It makes a nice spacing: each lens after the 165 is approximately 150% of the focal length of the preceding one. As someone said, you'll have to find your own likes and dislikes.

5-Feb-2009, 08:08
Hi everyone, thanks for your thoughtful responses. Bruce, your analysis was particularly helpful.

I'm leaning toward going for the 300mm (which I believe is a Nikkor). I'll have a nice complement to the 150mm and I can always fill in between later.

I'll be back with photos!


5-Feb-2009, 10:29
I'm building a 5x7 kit (slowly on the lenses due to $). To keep it less expensive, I've decided on 4 lenses, in a logical series of focal lengths from Gordon Hutchings: 150, 210, 300 and 450. Maybe a 110 or even a 90, but that's getting wide to the point I wouldn't use it much and they're alot of $. I tried a 180 as my 1st "normal" lens but found it too wide. I traded it in for a 210 and it better represents how I see. Some people see 240 as normal on a 5x7. You may want to try all 3 out then build from there in a series. If you used a 240, I guess you'd get a 110, 180, 360 and maybe a 450. I looked into this when I had my 180 and couldn't find a decent small (light) inexpensive 360. I didn't want to jump from 180 to 210 then continue to 300 and 450 because of redundancy. Keep in mind that dividing by around 4 gives you the 35mm equivalents- this may help you decide if a lens is too close in focal length to be redundant. I'm glad I shifted to the other series.... Since you already have the 150, I'd go with this (more common to find) series. Plus the 210 is the sharpest of all these lenses for the smaller formats 4x5, 5x7 (the companies made the 210 as their initial lens then used that design to go to 150, 300, etc).


5-Feb-2009, 10:53
Maybe a 110 or even a 90, but that's getting wide to the point I wouldn't use it much and they're alot of $.

You could consider the Fuji 105mm SW F/8. Used it's often quite a bit cheaper then the 90mms that cover 5x7 or the 110s.

Gem Singer
5-Feb-2009, 11:02

If your Nikon/ Nikkor is a 300M, you will have great lens for shooting the type of subjects you mentioned. If it is a Nikkor 300W in a Copal 3 shutter, it might turn out to be too large and heavy for 5X7. However, it's a great lens for 8X10.

My favorite lens for shooting the urban scenes here in the DFW metroplex is the Nikkor 120SW. I found very little difference between a 180W and a 210W, when used on the 5X7 format. However, 120, 210, and 300 will give you equal focal length spacing.

5-Feb-2009, 14:24
What lens is your 150mm? Except for wide angle lenses, they won't cover 5x7 (not even a 6" Dagor).

Ken Lee
5-Feb-2009, 14:29
There are 150mm lenses which cover 5x7.

Two which come to mind, are the Rodenstock APO Sironar-S and the Schneider Super Symmar HM. See Kerry Thalmann's Future Classics (http://www.thalmann.com/largeformat/future.htm) for more info. I have used my Rodenstock 150 on 5x7.

If I recall correctly, my 1970's 121mm Super Angulon covered 8x10 at infinity. The list is probably quite long.

I currently use an old 135mm Tessar on 5 x7 too: but for shooting closer-than-infinity. It is sharp, has great blur rendition, and requires only 270mm of bellows draw at 1:1.

And coverage is no issue: At 1:1, lenses which only cover 4x5, will cover 8x10.

Kevin Crisp
5-Feb-2009, 14:44
Stopped down a g claron 150 will cover 5X7 with much room to spare. And it is small and weighs very little. And it is cheap.

john collins
5-Feb-2009, 14:53
I think you nailed it, John. The 300 & another selection later is a logical way to go. I have 150, 180, 240, 300 and 480. The 240 and 300 are too close to be really useful IMO. When I have the chance to try a 210 I'll decide the final spacing.

Kevin Crisp
5-Feb-2009, 15:02
The factory specs for the 150mm APO Symmar described it as a 5X7 lens. I do not know how much room for movement you would have.

5-Feb-2009, 16:22
There are two commonly mentioned alternatives for how to best space ones lenses, rather than to seek to have a constant difference in acceptance angle. One alternative is to try to maintain an approximately constant ratio between adjacent focal lengths. The other is to choose lengths which are analogous to the focal lengths that you preferred in another camera format (e.g. 35mm) with which you are familiar.

I have not read anybody say anything nice here about the small format analogy approach in quite a while. There seems to be solidifying conventional wisdom that analogies to small formats are not useful, however I believe that under certain circumstances it can make sense. It seems to me that if many of your small format photos were ones that would have been suitable for photographing in large format, then it might work for you. First of all, you probably should not have been too reliant on zoom lenses, since practical analogs do not exist for large format. Most of my 35mm work was done with a 24, a 35, or an 85mm lens. When I encountered a subject, I would look at it from various perspectives and decide whether I wanted to present if from an intimate/close perspective (24mm), a familiar/normal perspective (35mm) or a stand-offish/long perspective (85mm). With that decision made it was my job to gather my materials and hike to the location dictated by my lens choice. If your way of working and your subjects (and their surroundings) will allow you to work that way in large format then this approach is likely to allow you to select 3, 4 or 5 lenses that give you a sufficient choice of perspectives.

The common ratio approach seems to be popular and pretty commonly applied either by design or by accident. It is my sense that the constant ratio approach is based on selecting first the one right place from which you can capture your image and then simply choosing the longest focal length that will fit the composition into the frame. The ratio between lens focal lengths is then selected based on how much negative cropping your quality standards allow you to accept. If you are shooting 5x7, printing to 20x24 and want to maintain 4 line pair/mm in the print, you might discover that you can make due if the composition takes up no less than 82% of the negative width or height. In that case 1/82% gives 122% and you will want each lens to be no more than 22% longer than the next shorter one. Many people report gravitating to sets of lenses related to each other by between 138% and 142%. (I think that they judge print quality on the basis of a smaller print and find that such a critical sharpness criterion as in my example is not required in enlargements of that size.) It also happens that the ratios between many popular focal lengths fall into that range.

In answer to your original question, my own sense by either of theses approaches is that 240 and 300 are quite close together. 1) the ratio between these is 125% and 2) their 35mm equivalents are 49.5mm & 61.9mm (others may calculate these equivalents differently, I scale by the ratio of the 35mm & 5x7 negative diagonals, but in any case it is hard to argue that these two lengths offer distinctly different ways of seeing.)

By the way, I own 210, 240, 250, 273 & 360mm lenses for 5x7 but that is just an accident and I plan to trim several of these while I improve the quality. - So I say "Do what you like, not as I do."?

David Karp
5-Feb-2009, 16:56
I have a 150mm f/5.6 Fujinon NW (says Fujinon W on the outside of the barrel). It covers 5x7 and there is some room for movement. (This tested on my WP camera with a 5x7 reducing back.)

I used to own a 135mm f/5.6 Fujinon W (lettering on the inside front - single coated) which according to the specs will cover 5x7.

Dan Fromm
5-Feb-2009, 17:48
About spacing, long long ago when I bought a Nikkormat it came with a little pamphlet from Nikon that recommended spacing focal lengths at around 2x steps. So, in the Nikon 35 mm scheme of things, 24, 55, 105, 200, ... is a good start. This was my Nikon kit for many years and with it I rarely felt deprived.

The equivalent series for 5x7 would be 105, 210, 420, ... 240 is really very close to 210, which is normal for the format. 300 is farther away, so if 420 or so isn't available it would make better sense than a 240.

Don Dudenbostel
6-Feb-2009, 11:58
My 5x7 kit consists of:

90 4.5 Nikkor
120 8 Nikkor
180 5.6 Nikkor
240 9 G-Claron
305 9 G Claron
450 9 M Nikkor

I rarely use the 90 but find the rest of the kit equally used. It really depends on your style of shooting.

I have a few other lenses form my 8x10 kit that I can add to the kit but rarely carry:

6" WA Dagor
10" WF Ektar
14" RD Artar
19" RD Artar

I don't need every FL but would rather have a reasonably spaced range of lenses without carrying too much weight.