View Full Version : 4x5 Lens Kit for Interiors

Shawn Dougherty
28-Oct-2011, 09:51
I've put together a landscape lens kit for my Toyo 45AII. It consists of:
90mm MC Super Angulon f8
150mm g-claron f9
210mm g-claron f9
305mm g-claron f9

I have a nice 4 lens Gnass Gear case they fit into perfectly. I couldn't be happier and never feel like I'm missing a thing. My Toyo has a Fresnel and I can see the ground glass just fine, even in the dawn / twilight hours.

However, I'm doing more and more work indoors and want to get away from my RB setup and use my 4x5. My "outdoor / hiking" lens kit is just too slow for shooting inside. I would like to put together a second, 3 lens kit. I'm funding this by selling off my seldom used 8x10, RB67 and 35mm equipment. This will leave me with my Rolleiflex T for a take everywhere and 4x5 for everything else. I don't think I'll need much of a telephoto.... So far I already have:
Nikkor 90mm SW f4.5.

So, what should lenses 2 and 3 be? I'm fairly certain I don't want anything wider than the 90mm. A f5.6 aperture is key and I'd like to have reasonable movements, enough to cover 5x7 (I see this format in my future at some point). The Fuji 125mm f5.6, Fuji & Nikon 135mm f5.6, Fuji & Nikkor 150mm f5.6 and Fuji & Nikkor 180mm f5.6 all sound interesting.... I have no problem doubling up focal lengths with my other kit.

A 90mm, 135mm and 180mm seems to make mathematical sense.... Again this will be mostly intimate indoor work - no paid, big boy, architectural gigs. =) I think MC glass is important since these are wide-ish lenses in often times high contrast / available light scenes. I'd also like to keep the glass around $300 each or less.

Any thoughts and personal experience is appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

P.S. Here is one example of the images I'll be making. I used my 150mm g-claron and a flashlight so that I could see everything....
Framer's Saw (http://www.shawndougherty.com/p498857880/h2eb984c0#h2eb984c0)

Shawn Dougherty
28-Oct-2011, 09:52
Sorry, I meant to put this in the "Lenses & Lens Accessories " forum...

David Karp
28-Oct-2011, 10:02
You might consider throwing the 120mm f/8 Nikkor into the mix. I know it has an f/8 max aperture, which you are not very excited about, but it has much, much more coverage than the 125mm f/5.6 Fujinon or the 135mm lenses you mentioned. The 125mm Fuji is really nice. I have an older version. It would be great if you don't need the coverage of the Nikkor, which will cover 8x10.

28-Oct-2011, 10:03
If you want to shoot all kinds of interiors, I'd suggest trying out a shorter-than-90mm lens, like a 75, or better still, a 72XL with its large image circle.
Once inside, there are only so many steps backward you can take.

John Powers
28-Oct-2011, 10:40

I had an f8 90mm Super Angulon. It was just too dark in there for me. I upgraded to a 90mm f4.5 Rodenstock Grandagon-N MC and a Boss Screen. At that wide an angle you need more light to make sure your verticals and horizontals are straight.

Unfortunately I sold both last week. Look at the f4.5s of the better brands and a brighter gg. However my f4.5 went for $595 with a recent CLA. KEH wanted more than that without the CLA. Wish we had spoken earlier.


Shawn Dougherty
28-Oct-2011, 11:35
Thanks fellows!

David, I've looked through a 120mm Nikkor f8. It's just too dark for me indoors.

Ari, there's just something about the wider than 90mm look that doesn't jive with me. Maybe I need to seek out more images made with those lenses? Your point is well taken though, space is what it is indoors. Maybe I should look at the Nikkor 75mm f4.5 as well?

John, you're right on. I already have a Nikkor 90mm f4.5 (bought it at the Richfield show this March from Igor.) It's super bright on my GG (Toyo with a nice Fresnel). Just trying to decide what other lenses to get.

Joshua Dunn
28-Oct-2011, 13:35
I have a 90mm Sinaron W 102 degree f/4.5 which is great for interiors (they also made a 105 degree version), you’ll be impressed how much the additional 2 stops make over your 90mm Super Angulon f/8. But unless you are in a very large interior you might want to listen to Ari and get a 75mm as well. You will be surprised how quickly you run out of room with a 90mm on 4x5 indoors.

You mentioned maybe investing in a 5x7 format in the future. That would be another option to get more coverage. Instead of getting a wider lens get a larger film plane. A 90mm on 5x7 is very wide.

Frank Petronio
28-Oct-2011, 14:17
I'd just get a $300 German 1990s-era 210/5.6 and shoot away. Once you shoot more then you'll know if you even need anything else. 210s were the most popular focal length for studio shooters and they are still the best bang for the buck, plus they make a great slightly wide-normal lens for 5x7.

Really a 90/4.5 and a 210/5.6 can do 98% of all the 4x5 shots ever done ;-p

You could always get a fancy 135/5.6 like a Sironar-S, state-of-the-art and only a little larger than your 150 G-Claron so you could take it camping too.

OR... use the f/9 lenses you have and learn how to make your darkcloth really dark, let your eyes adjust, etc. because especially with the longer lenses, 1.5 stops slower isn't really much of a difference with focusing if you truly can get it dark. Penlights in the scene or brighter modeling lamps really help too.

Shawn Dougherty
28-Oct-2011, 14:39
Thanks fellows!

Joshua, I agree. I already have a 90mm Nikkor SW f4.5. It is nice and bright on my ground glass indoors. That's an interesting point about the 90mm being wider on 5x7.... hmmmm.

Really a 90/4.5 and a 210/5.6 can do 98% of all the 4x5 shots ever done ;-p

Frank, that's funny because it's so true. Actually, combine that with your other points and that might be my best answer.

Like you say, my 210mm and 305mm f9 seem much brighter than the 150mm and 90mm f9 and f8 lenses.

Maybe I should just pick up a nice 180mm f5.6, then Id have a bright 90mm and a bright 180mm which should handle 98% of everything. If I need something longer I could just use the lenses I have and I'll figure out through experience if I need anything wider.

Thanks again, fellows.

David Karp
28-Oct-2011, 15:26
The 180 would work. When you set two cameras up side-by-side, one with a 180 and one with a 210 and look at the GG, there is very little difference between the two. Since you are doing interiors, the slightly wider 180 might be just the ticket.

28-Oct-2011, 16:30
I have found that I usually use the same mix of lens when shooting interiors as I do when shooting landscapes. So far this week I have exposed 13 sheets, both B&W and C-41, shooting landscapes with a Toyo 45CF Field. Here's the breakdown on the focal lengths used:

150mm: 1 Sheet
90mm: 10 Sheets
75mm: 2 Sheets

My 150mm lens is a Rodenstock Apo Sirona-S and I have found that the 120mm Nikkor is only a tad wider and for some time I thought that I made an expensive mistake by adding it to my kit. However earlier this year I purchased a Toyo 810G and, wow, that lens works as a super wide with the 8x10 and even allows for some movements. So now I am glad that I did purchased the 120 Nikkor!

In addition to the above 3 lens, I have also found that I use a 210mm and 300mm for interior close-ups as well as on landscapes. But for the landscapes I shot this week I knew that I wouldn't need anything longer than a 150mm and probably not shorter than the 90mm. I packed the 75mm along "just in case" and sure enough it worked for 1 shot that the 90mm couldn't handle.

In summary, I think that you need the full complement of focal lengths that you need for landscapes. For me that would be: 75mm, 90mm, 150mm, 210mm and 300mm.


Forgot to add: In addition to focal lengths I have found that a monorail camera is often needed. I own the Toyo AX but often find that the AX doesn't have sufficient movements for a particular interior but my Toyo Robos or 45C does.

28-Oct-2011, 17:37
Really a 90/4.5 and a 210/5.6 can do 98% of all the 4x5 shots ever done ;-p

Aye, that is ever so true.
But what about the other 2%, in which case a 75 or 65 would not be out of place?

Ed Richards
28-Oct-2011, 18:53
I do a lot of architectural interior work and I find a real difference between a 90 and a 110/120. The longer lenses look "normal" while the 90 will look wide unless used very carefully. Once I got an 80, I found that I seldom use the 90, but instead switch back and forth between the 80 and the 110, moving to the 150 when I have enough room to move back. In extreme cases I use a 72 or 47.

John Powers
29-Oct-2011, 06:16

If the work will be done as a series where all the work from each lens will be presented as a portfolio, you may want to stay with the look of one brand. I had forgotten that you had bought the Nikkor last spring. Since you have that I would try to stay with the brand in what ever mm and f stop you want or can afford.


Shawn Dougherty
2-Nov-2011, 12:59
Lots of great ideas. Appreciate all the thoughts fellows.

Shawn Dougherty
9-Nov-2011, 08:52
So I've sold some equipment and have decided to buy a 180mm f5.6 to go with my 90mm Nikkor SW f4.5. As Mr. Powers said I thought I'd keep my daylight / outside glass Schneider and my nighttime / indoor glass Japanese... Now the question is - should I buy a Fuji or a Nikkor? Or should I stick with Nikkor? Any thoughts on these 180mm lenses in particular. Seems like the Fuji has slightly more coverage.

HERE (http://www.shawndougherty.com/p498857880/h261276a0#h261276a0) is a recent example of an image I made with the Nikkor 90mm.

Shawn Dougherty
24-Mar-2012, 08:02
After much research and some great advice here via PM, e-mail and in person I finally finished putting my 'kit for interiors' together. Doubling up on the same lenses with different max apertures seemed like an unneeded expense and would have given me way too many shutters to worry about. Changing from the focal length grouping which I know and has become somewhat intuitive seemed like a bad idea as well.

I've ended up with the following:
Nikkor 90mm SW f4.5, 150mm Fujinon NW f5.6, Nikkor 210mm W f5.6 and a Fujinon C 300mm f8.5.

I've attached a couple of print scans thus far. Thanks again (especially Gem). This forum is the best.
Porch, Mid-morning - Leechburg, PA
Parking Garage Stairwell - Sharon, PA

Frank Petronio
24-Mar-2012, 08:11
They are both excellent images ~

Shawn Dougherty
24-Mar-2012, 08:35
Thanks, Frank! As you may have guessed... both were made with the 210mm. =P

John NYC
24-Mar-2012, 11:03
They are both excellent images ~


Shawn, I looked at a lot of the work on your site just now. Lovely work. I'm a fan!

Kirk Gittings
24-Mar-2012, 11:47
You are a bit short on the necessary info to give you any advice. Are you just shooting indoors like still lifes or are you shooting interior spacess?-very different animals.

Shawn Dougherty
26-Mar-2012, 07:24

Shawn, I looked at a lot of the work on your site just now. Lovely work. I'm a fan!

Thank you, John! Glad to hear you enjoyed it. (The website is still a little messy, I'm not a big fan of that sort of work... =)

Shawn Dougherty
26-Mar-2012, 07:51
You are a bit short on the necessary info to give you any advice. Are you just shooting indoors like still lifes or are you shooting interior spacess?-very different animals.

I couldn't ask for advice from a better source!

I'm at the point, however, where I have 4 solid lenses to use, which I can actually see through indoors ;) . Now I simply need to make some more work, once I have a better idea of the problems / challenges that are giving me the most trouble I will certainly check back in here.