View Full Version : Wisner 4x5 Technical—Wide Angle Recommendation & Portrait Lens

Mark Booth
9-Aug-2009, 16:08
I recently purchased a near mint Wisner 4x5 Technical model camera and would like to find a great wide-angle and portrait lens for this camera.

I realize that the shortcoming of this fine camera is that the 23 inches of bellows and design will not recess beyond 3 inches, thus limiting wide-angle usage.

I shoot a wide range of subjects, but my primary thought would be to go with a wide-angle for landscape. I was initially thinking of going with something like a Nikkor SW 120mm f/8.0 lens or a Fujinon SW 105mm f/8.0 for wide-angle, but can I go shorter than this without major concerns? I suspect that I am pushing the envelope to go down to a 90mm lens?

Also, I will purchase a longer focal length lens for both landscape and portraiture. Any recommendations or thoughts?

Thanks for your suggestions!

Donald Miller
9-Aug-2009, 16:35
If your bellows will compress as much as you stated you should be able to go to a 90mm lens. 90/25.4=3.54 inches at infinity. Anything nearer will require more bellows extension. Are you measuring from the lens nodal point to film plane or just the bellows extension? I will say that 90 mm was a lens that I did not use very often even with a bag bellows on my camera. I personally found the 120 mm focal length to be one of my favorites when I shot 4X5. For a longer lens I used 210 and 305 fairly regularly.

9-Aug-2009, 16:35
For landscape and portraiture: 210mm for landscapes, 240-300mm for portraits.

On the wide angle side you will have to measure the distance between the GG and the lensboard to see if a 90mm will fit, and how much room you will have for movements.
You can do that without the lens: set up the camera, put the lensboard at 90mm from the GG and see how much play you have.
If it is too little, set the front standard 1cm further forward to mimick a recessed board and check.
I don't know however if there is a recessed board for the Wisner though.


9-Aug-2009, 17:00
Can you get a wide angle bellow for you camera? The Nikkor 120mm SW is a very nice lens, and it has a very large image circle, will you be able take full advantage of the images circle with your current bellow? If not may I suggest the Schneider APO Symmar 120mm f5.6? It is much smaller, and a stop faster, which makes it easier to focus.

Gem Singer
9-Aug-2009, 17:14
When i owned Wisner 4X5 Tech fields, I found that a combination of the Nikkor f8 120SW and the Nikkor f9 300M was a great two lens combination for both landscape and portraiture.

Ideally, if you add a Nikkor f5.6 180W, you would then have a super three lens combination for that camera.

No recessed lens board available. However, in order to use a 90SW with the Tech Field, you can move the back forward with the geared tilt and then bring it up to vertical. In that case, you will need a bag bellows in order to eliminate the compression of the standard bellows.

Mark Booth
9-Aug-2009, 20:57
Hi Guys,

Thanks for your great recommendations. Donald and Peter, I'm going to take some measurements (been busy today) but will make time to confirm the use of a 90mm lens. I'll eventually pick up a bag bellows too.

Gem, I really like your lens combination recommendations so I am going to likely go in this direction. I sold a Nikkor-M 200mm last year and could kick myself for selling it, so I am already a believer in the performance qualities of the M-series lenses, like the Nikkor-M 300mm.

Spiky, the link to your pictures is great... I highly recommend that anyone viewing this discussion take the time to view your well done architectural photographs.

Thanks for everyone's input, for this really helps me to move forward with good ideas and assessment.

Thanks again,

10-Aug-2009, 03:40
I used to have a Wisner Tech field and there is no way you will get a 90 to focus without a bag bellows. The bellows just won't compress enough. A 120 will work without one. Shorter than 90 made me sell it as it was too much trouble to deal with the drop bed etc.

D. Bryant
10-Aug-2009, 15:15
I used to have a Wisner Tech field and there is no way you will get a 90 to focus without a bag bellows. The bellows just won't compress enough. A 120 will work without one. Shorter than 90 made me sell it as it was too much trouble to deal with the drop bed etc.

I agree. With the Wisner Tech you need the bag bellows to focus a 90mm lens. The 4x5 Traditional will compress with the standard bellows but not the Tech Field.

Don Bryant

Steve Barber
11-Aug-2009, 08:13
I don’t know about your Wisner cameras, but mine, a Technical Field model, will easily focus a 90mm lens using the standard bellows. In fact, it will focus a 72mm lens while using the standard bellows. However, with the 90mm lens, there will only be a little movement allowed; nowhere near the amount of movement a Super-Angulon XL will be capable of. With the 72mm lens, there will be no movement allowed as the standard bellows will be almost completely compressed with the lens focused at infinity. However, I don’t see this as being unusual for any camera with a standard bellows capable of focusing out to 20+ inches.

Using the bag bellows with the Wisner, even the large rear element of the 90mm Super-Angulon XL will not be interfered with and you can use all of the movement that lens is capable of within the limits of the its coverage. Also, it is possible, but not necessary to use a recessed lens board with the Wisner. I have one for a 47mm Super-Angulon XL that is mounted in a recessed lens board for use on an Ebony camera; with an adapter it is easily used on the Wisner Technical Field. Actually, with the bag bellows, the camera will focus the 47mm or an even shorter lens if it is mounted on a Wisner lens board; you just have to tilt the front standard back a bit more.

As to the problem of the back focusing rails intruding into the image when using a 47mm lens, that is easily solved. As Gem Singer suggests, moving the back forward using the geared tilt and, then, bringing the back vertical is the easy way to get the camera to focus shorter lenses. Since I use a geared head with the camera, it is not hard to drop the rails out of view by tilting the camera down with the head, moving the back forward with the geared tilt and, then bringing the back to vertical. The extra step of cranking down the geared head a bit requires very little in the way of extra effort and the bubble level mounted in the side of the back allows you to easily and surely return the back to exactly vertical.