View Full Version : Lens for Landscape in Alaska

29-Mar-2010, 13:43
I'm traveling to Alaska this summer and want a wide angle lens for 4x5 landscape work. So far, all I have is a 150/256 beautiful Schneider convertible lens from the 70's. It's super sharp even opened up and has been great for portraiture and some still life/nature shots. I now want a good lens for landscape work.

I'm a student and I can't spend too much on the lens which brought me to the 6.8 90mm Schneiders that can be found for under $150.00. However, the lack of movement and lack of coverage with that lens scares me. So far, I shoot almost exclusively B&W but I'm hoping to get into color soon. Im relatively new to the LF thign but I've been looking around and reading this forum constantly looking for other lenses.

The Rodenstock Grandagons seem awesome but they are kind of expensive. Same deal with the SA 90mm 5.6 lens.

I don't really want to deal with a f/8 lens just because if I want to shoot at night in Alaska with the wide angle, I'll be out of luck.

So, please, any suggestions, corrections, thoughts, opinions would be MUCH appreciated.

29-Mar-2010, 14:39
When I was last in Alaska, I reached for my 240 more often than my 110 – and that surprised me. Your landscape interests & travel plans may be different than mine, but you may quickly discover just how useful the long end of your convertible lens will be.

If I could do it again, I’d consider exchanging my 110/240 travel kit for a 180/300 kit! That’s just how my eye worked on lonely, unimproved roads in Alaska. Below is one example from the “Trains” thread. Many times I came across middle-distance landscape details – like these abandoned tracks – w/ mountains serving as a back-drop. A “near-far” shot of a different sort.

Have a great time – and look forward to seeing your photos when you return!

(And remember that GND filter. ;) )

Tachi 4x5
Fuji A 240mm/9
Old Fuji Pro 160s
Epson 4990/Epson Scan

Eric James
29-Mar-2010, 15:10
I don't believe that there is anything special about AK with regard to landscape lens choice; your 150/256 convertible will be a valuable set for landscape work. For much of the time I lived in Southcentral AK I owned a 90mm, a 150mm and a 240mm lens. By far, the least used was the 90mm. Your vision may vary.

Near summer solstice, in much of the state, sunset and sunrise are conveniently close together. I don't think that you'll have too much difficulty focusing a 90mm f8 at sunset; sunrise may be more difficult but you can find ways around this. Depending on your schedule you may find a 2:15 AM sunrise to be a little ambitious.

By the way, Keller's in Anchorage still provides a dip-and-dunk service (through DEC 2010 I'm told).

Kirk Fry
29-Mar-2010, 21:05
I've always found wide angle lenses are a great way to make great big landscapes, inky dinky. Wide angles work best for me for stuff 5 ft way. I'd get a good 210 mm and the good news is they are cheap. The 90mm Angulon is a good lens. KFry

29-Mar-2010, 22:57
Thanks for the very insightFul quick responses. So it seems like I should shift my focus (hah) to a longer focal length lens. Somwhere closer to 240mm? Maybe I'll pick up a f8 Schneider 90mm and and then a longer one too.
What would you guys suggest in terms of a longer lens in the cheaper price range?

I'd prefer not to use my convertible converted as a 256mm because when you do, the shutter blades and aperture blades become exposed to the open air and that makes me feel uncomfortable when I'm not in a studio.

30-Mar-2010, 00:24
Honestly I believe you're making a mistake by asking others to decide lens lengths for you. The choice of using wide/normal/telephoto lengths for any landscape, be it Alaska or the tropics, is far more best decided by only you and your shooting style. Some lean more to wide angles... some to normals... some to telephotos... based upon how they like to capture scenes. Some like sweeping vistas... some like detail shots... some like compressed backgrounds... some like foreground anchor points... some like looming foregrounds... etc.

Seems to me that if you already have a 150/256 covered, there's not much sense in a 240 (too close to the 256 to bother with in my opinion), if anything you're lacking in the wide angle department. What you need next, again, will depend on your shooting style.

My most used lenses for landscapes: 75, 120, and 210. My 150 is rarely used, and my 300 is extremely rarely used. But that only fits my personally "vision" and I would be loath to suggest is "the best" for you or any other.

30-Mar-2010, 04:53
You are obsessng over intangables. For landscape the Angulon f:6.8 or Super Angulon f:8 are your least expensive options which will either do an excellent job.

Kirk Fry
30-Mar-2010, 23:08
Let me take another shot at this. I was in Alaska 2 years ago and I think I used exactly one lens (135mm). The one on my Crown Graphic. Try using a View Camera on a boat (the best way to see much of Alaska). Anyway, a hand held camera made the difference between getting large format pictures or nothing. I mostly used it like a large point and shoot presetting the focus. I reloaded film holders in bathrooms at night.
I am not sure it ever gets dark in Alaska, it never was in early July. KFry

31-Mar-2010, 07:22
I agree that the 90mm f/8 lenses are the real value lenses in this category. They have plenty of coverage for 4x5 and modern image quality.

Photographing Alaska at night suggests you are seeking aurora as a target. Don't optimize for that target--the chances of even seeing it are slim. The solar cycle is still at a minimum, so the nights with good aurora are still rarer than they will be in three or four more years. It takes considerable luck to be in a place where you can photograph aurora, on a night when it is active, and when the sky is clear.

When I have been in Alaska, I used all the lenses I took. I needed longer lenses more often than shorter lenses, but I was glad I had both.

Rick "who would probably want something in the 120 range before a 90, and who would also want something in the 300-360 range" Denney