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r.e.
10-Feb-2009, 16:44
The best way to explain my question is with a picture that I found on Flickr: http://flickr.com/photos/msanseve/2887358063/

I want to make some 4x5 photographs of the community shown in this picture from the vantage point of the spit of land on which you see a lighthouse, and I don't want a whole lot of water and/or sky in the frame. According to the nautical chart that I have in front of me, the distance from the spit/lighthouse to the community shown in the photo is about 1 mile/1600m.

Is there a formula that will give me a rough idea of how long a lens I will need?

More generally, I'll be taking a lot of photographs in this area next summer and I think that I'm going to need at least one lens longer than what I have now. My longest lens is 150mm, leaving aside a 244mm Veritar. The camera is an Arca-Swiss, so I can extend the rail once I've finished gagging at the cost to do so. In any event, I'd love to see some 4x5 photographs that have been taken with lenses of about 400mm and up. Going through the archives, the only one that I came across was Kerry Thalman's photograph of Mount Hood, which he discusses on page 3 of this thread: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=9428&page=3&highlight=long+lenses+compression There's also a photograph in the technical part of Ken Lee's site taken with a Fuji 450mm C, but he desn't specify the distance except to say that it was far.

Thanks.

Bruce Watson
10-Feb-2009, 16:56
Is there a formula that will give me a rough idea of how long a lens I will need?

Of course. You are talking about the angle of view (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angle_of_view) equation. Determine the angle of view you'll need for your film format and from your preferred vantage point, then solve for focal length.

r.e.
10-Feb-2009, 17:24
Thanks, time to find my copy of Stroebel :)

Bill_1856
10-Feb-2009, 18:10
That Nfld shot was taken with a 105mm lens on a 20D digital camera, which is about the equivilant of a 560mm lens on a 4x5 camera. Of course, one of the beauties of Large Format is that cropping the image when you print it works so well.

r.e.
10-Feb-2009, 18:21
Bill,

Thanks. I gather that you downloaded the photo and opened the metadata. I should have thought of that.

Given what I want in the image, and the draw of my bellows, this points me in the direction of a lens around 450mm, and maybe reversing the lens board, if it is recessed, or using a top hat.

If anyone has photos that they could show, made with a 4x5 and a lens in the 400mm to 600mm range, I'd like to see the "look". Landscapes would be great, architecture at long range even better. In the thread to which Kerry Thalman contributed, the photograph that he showed belied what some people anticipated, so some concrete examples would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers.

Struan Gray
11-Feb-2009, 01:11
All the photographs on the Gaels page of my website were taken with either an 18" lens (465 mm) or a 420 mm.

http://struangray.com/gaels

This photo is taken standing on one clifftop, looking across the bay to another approximately 1.3km away:

http://struangray.com/gaels/02_camas_coille.htm

FWIW, my lens kit goes 90, 150, 240, 420. I want a 750-ish lens for the long end to complete the series. The 240 is my most-used lens here in crowded Sweden, but in the wide open of N.W. Scotland I almost always use the 420 (or a 250 on 6x6).

Struan Gray
11-Feb-2009, 01:34
.

http://struangray.com/miscpics/stoer.jpg

This was taken with a 250 mm on 6x6, standing on the same headland as the previous shot, but looking north to Point of Stoer, approximately 12 km away. The houses along the headland appear as white dots on the 6x6 negative, but have defined shapes on similar (unscanned) 4x5 negs taken with the 18" lens. The nipple on the pap at the end is a lighthouse: on the 4x5 neg you can count the windows.

Not that want to turn you into a sharpness freak, but it's worth remembering that LF will give you astonishing details if you print large enough to show them, and it's as true with long lens shots as with shorter focal lengths. You also get a more nuanced and less grainy depiction of all the subtle colours, which was my main motivation when I made the switch.

My 18" was \$100 Apo-Lustrar with blotchy coatings, shot at f22 but with an eight to twenty second exposure in a stiff breeze (I shielded the tripod with my body, but had no brolly or windshield). The results I got from that lens were pretty amazing to me. With a modern &#252;berobjektiv and still air you'll get an excellent rendition of your distant houses.

PS: I was standing here (http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=58.085636,-5.381203&spn=0.002277,0.004125&t=h&z=18), looking NW in the first shot, roughly due N in the second.

GPS
11-Feb-2009, 01:57
If you have the possibility to get there all you need is a 4x5 paper frame to frame the view with. The distance of the frame from your eye is the answer to your question. No calculation needed.

Joerg Krusche
11-Feb-2009, 07:30
Hello,

for what you want to do 400mm on 4x5 may perhaps still be too wide .. more convenient may be to consider MF on your Arca ...

1. get hold of a repro lens in the rage 400 - 600mm with mounting flange.. mount on Arca lens board.. these lenses are relatively cheap and good performers .. and use a roll film back 6x6/6x7/6x9/6x12 ... OR

2. .. instead ofusing a roll film back get hold of a focal plane MF camera body such as SL66 or Blad 200 series Pentax 645 or other .. mount this camera body on rear of your Arca .. you gain ca. 100 mm plus of extension .. focussing through rear standard.. and viewing through camera viewfinder is very convenient .. use of roll film anyway.. and total package is not overly expensive .. performance is since you just use the very center of the image circle very good ... good enough for 16x20 and more.

I have been shooting that way with lens on monorail and SL66 on rear standard ...with technical quality very encouraging.

Joerg

The best way to explain my question is with a picture that I found on Flickr: http://flickr.com/photos/msanseve/2887358063/

I want to make some 4x5 photographs of the community shown in this picture from the vantage point of the spit of land on which you see a lighthouse, and I don't want a whole lot of water and/or sky in the frame. According to the nautical chart that I have in front of me, the distance from the spit/lighthouse to the community shown in the photo is about 1 mile/1600m.

Is there a formula that will give me a rough idea of how long a lens I will need?

More generally, I'll be taking a lot of photographs in this area next summer and I think that I'm going to need at least one lens longer than what I have now. My longest lens is 150mm, leaving aside a 244mm Veritar. The camera is an Arca-Swiss, so I can extend the rail once I've finished gagging at the cost to do so. In any event, I'd love to see some 4x5 photographs that have been taken with lenses of about 400mm and up. Going through the archives, the only one that I came across was Kerry Thalman's photograph of Mount Hood, which he discusses on page 3 of this thread: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=9428&page=3&highlight=long+lenses+compression There's also a photograph in the technical part of Ken Lee's site taken with a Fuji 450mm C, but he desn't specify the distance except to say that it was far.

Thanks.

Tony Karnezis
11-Feb-2009, 12:11
That Nfld shot was taken with a 105mm lens on a 20D digital camera, which is about the equivilant of a 560mm lens on a 4x5 camera. Of course, one of the beauties of Large Format is that cropping the image when you print it works so well.

Or you could find an 8x10 with a 4x5 reducing back and use a 600mm lens on it. A Calumet C1 8x10/4x5 back kit can be had pretty cheap nowadays. Just a thought.

Ken Lee
11-Feb-2009, 12:47
Sorry, I don't know how far the subject was for that shot.

One rule of thumb you might find helpful (if you are accustomed to 35mm cameras) is that 4x5 lenses are generally 3x as long as their 35mm equivalents. So while a 50mm lens is considered a "standard normal" length, 150mm is the same for 4x5.

Thus, a 450mm lens on 4x5, is roughly equivalent to a 150mm lens on 35mm. That's not really a long lens, but you'll note that we don't use many really long lenses on large format. One reason is the demand for long bellows draw, which leads to the demand for big tripods, strong arms, and protection from wind and vibration. Another reason is that long lenses are large and harder to make, to the standards of normal lenses.

Tele designs help in this regard. Nikon makes/made a 1200mm Tele, which needs much less bellows draw than 1200mm. Even so, you will need rock-steady technique.

You may find that for extreme long distance work, a tele lens, along with a good medium format film holder (one which holds the film very very flat), and the user of fine-grain film, will serve you best - in terms of affordability and portability.

Toyon
11-Feb-2009, 15:04
Andreas Feininger, who died in 1999 at 92, was renowned for telephoto photographs of New York taken from new Jersey. Reportedly he cobbled together lenses, bellows and tripods to achieve his amazing photographs.

r.e.
11-Feb-2009, 15:31
GPS,
Thanks, I have a frame of the kind that you are describing, but I won't be back there until May.

Joerg,
Medium format is of course a possibility, but if I go that route, I'll probably just use a medium format camera. I don't think that I'll need movements for what I have in mind.

I have a Mamiya 7II, but I don't think that the 150mm lens will be enough. It's always been a mystery to me why someone would buy the 210mm lens for that camera, but maybe it would work for this application once I got used to the fact that it is not coupled to the rangefinder.

I guess that a roll film back might make sense if I wanted 6x9 images. That's kind of an interesting idea.

Tony,
That is a great excuse to buy an 8x10 camera, a temptation that I really need to resist :)

Toyon,
Thanks for directing me to Feininger's photographs. The Hudson is quite a bit narrower than what I'm talking about, but I want to have a look at the shots he did anyway.

I'm glad that I started this thread, if only because it brought my attention to Struan's recent work. I'll be very lucky if I can capture Newfoundland as well as he has captured Scotland.

Ken Lee
11-Feb-2009, 17:38
Here's another one made with a Fujinon 400T. As you can see, much of the subject was fairly close, but the extreme "flattening" effect is present nevertheless.

http://www.kenleegallery.com/images/forum/l25a.jpg

r.e.
11-Feb-2009, 18:00
Ken,

One of the reasons why I'm interested in seeing examples of photographs with these lenses is that I want to see how compression looks for the format.

Thanks for posting that.

vinny
11-Feb-2009, 18:10
I shoot quite a bit with a 450mm & 600mm on 4x5.
Ice fishermaen: 24" red dot artar, subject about 1/4 mile out
Powerline: 600mm fujinon, first pole about 150 yards away?
Joshua Tree: 450mm nikkor M, around 100ft away

Struan Gray
12-Feb-2009, 01:43
r.e., thanks very much for the appreciation. Unstinting praise is always welcome :-)

Sadly, these are not as recent as I would like (from 2004/5/6). I have more negs, but we now go in July rather than June and the gorgeous atmospherics are much rarer. I still use my 420 mm a lot, but it tends to be for more intimate views of the cultural landscape. I used to go and sit on a mountaintop like a mortar crew with a fixed tripod and table of bearings: set the focus to infinity, note the directions of favourite framings and then wait to see where that evening's light show put the action.

I've attached a couple of outtakes using the 18" lens of the farmhouse we stay in. The distant shot is from the top of a 200m tall hill 2.5 km away and gives you an idea of the setting. The closeup is from 600 m, taken from the left hand edge of the frame in the distant shot. The background mountains in the close shot are 8-12 km behind the farmhouse.

Around 18" is a sweet spot for me. It lets me use a single bellows and a single rail extension. It lets me adjust movements while looking at the ground glass - I use more movements, and larger ones, than folklore suggests I should. The lenses generally fit on a Technika board, which makes them easy to carry. And, for this impecunious amateur, good lenses like the late coated APO-Ronars are available at very reasonable prices.

Harley Goldman
12-Feb-2009, 09:35
The Fuji 450mm is a sweetheart of a lens. Small, light and sharp as heck. You can use it on an Arca with an extension board with no problem. I did that for years while I had an F-Classic. It will save the dough of buying the longer rail. Arca does like a pound of flesh for their stuff.

I have an Ebony extension board for sale if you wanted to go that direction. But regardless of that, look into the Fuji 450mm. Definitely one of my favorite lenses.

Ken Lee
12-Feb-2009, 09:43
With all due respect for Arca Swiss (I had one and loved it), for the price of an extension rail (and possibly a longer bellows) you can probably get an old 5x7 or 8x10 camera, with a 4x5 back. The bellows draw will be far more... impressive.

By the way, the "flattening effect", comes from subject distance, not the length of the lens. If we had a system with sufficiently high resolution - where we could crop to our heart's content - there would be no need for long lenses. We could shoot from a great distance, crop and enlarge. The images would look just as... "flat".

The reason we associate flat images with long lenses, is that long lenses allow/encourage us to shoot from a long distance.