View Full Version : 4X5 Portrait Lens Recommendation?

23-Nov-2003, 13:57
Could anyone recommend a few really nice portrait lenses suitable for 4X5? I am wanting something capable of producing the wonderful effects of my medium format Mamiya RZ Pro's 180mm lens, perhaps with a longer focal length. Thanks.

John Cook
23-Nov-2003, 14:48
I'd suggest the longer the better, within the limits of your length of bellows and strength of camera. Of the modern lenses, the Nikkor-W (or equivalent) 300mm f5.6 or 360mm f6.5 are nice and bright but too heavy for a field camera.

If you have the light to focus and want something smaller, I'd recommend the M Series 300mm f9 or 450mm f9.

There are more obscure lenses which would also work well. But again, your limitations will be bellows, lens weight and ground glass image brightness.

23-Nov-2003, 15:10
i'm not familiar with the lens you mention, but i have a 10" wollensak portrait veritar, and while it was marketed for 5x7, it is ideal on a 4x5. wide open is is nice and soft, and closed down it still yields softness, but it is kind of sharp as well. it is in an alphax shutter, synced w/ bi-post, and while it's grandfather the verito can also be shot with color film, wollensak boasted that the veritar is coated and "corrected for color" ... whatever that means :)

- john

Frank Petronio
23-Nov-2003, 15:34
It's not long but the portrait lens I want is the Schneider 150/2.8 Xenotar. Not that you would use it at 2.8, but it would be great for short depth of field 3/4 length portraits at f/8. Their are also some older, faster 300/4.5 portrait lenses in the vein of John Nanian's mentioned above. Check out the eBay auctions by dagor77@earthlink.com or Lens and Repro's, Stephan Shuart's websites.

Bruce E. Rathbun
23-Nov-2003, 15:50
I would agree with John. I use a 250mm Ektar lens for most of my 4x5 portrait work. For what you are talking about a 360mm would be a good start. Keep in mind that you will be somewhat limited on depth of field. If the depth of field is not a problem then I would not worry.

Also keep in mind that the longer the lens the less of the subject you will see in the frame generally speaking.

Jay DeFehr
23-Nov-2003, 16:22
Bellows draw is most likely going to limit your choice of focal length. Your 180mm lens on 6x7 format is going to equate roughly to a 14" on your 4x5. I have a f4.5 14 1/2" Verito, and while it's a great portrait lens for 4x5, I don't know of many 4x5 cameras with lensboards large enough to accomodate this lens, even if you do have enough bellows. On the other hand, I've seen some convertible lenses in similar focal lengths that are more likely to fit into a real shutter, fit on your lensboard, and produce beautiful, soft portraits wide open, and sharpen noticeably as you stop down. As a bonus, the convertibles can be had fairly cheap, as the have dubious reputations for sharpness. Have a look at these:



These convertibles aren't rare, or collectable and come up quite often. Good luck.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
23-Nov-2003, 16:46
I am a big fan of the Voightländer Heliar as a portrait lens. If you you have enough bellows and can fit the no. 5 shutter on your lensboard, the 300mm would be a great replacement of your 180mm. Otherwise, consider the 240mm or 210mm Heliars. Heliars are great on skin, smooth transitions between colors or tones, with excellent out of focus areas ("bokeh"), smooth but not diffused or soft. Look for recent coated versions.

Tim Curry
24-Nov-2003, 05:57
I've had good luck with an old Fujinon 180mm soft focus lens for portraits in 4x5. It can stop down to sharp, but gives plenty of soft at lower apertures. There was an interesting series of 20x24 polaroid portraits in a back issue of View Camera last year or the year before. The lens was, I think if I'm not mistaken, only a 240mm for this article. It gave a surprisingly pleasant look on what would have to be considered a "wide" lens for this format. Anyone remember the issue it was in?

I've used a 300mm on 8x10 portraits and the depth of field is trying at times. A 250mm Fujinon soft focus would be better than the 300mm lens to work with, but it is still pretty shallow.

David A. Goldfarb
24-Nov-2003, 07:20
I also like the Heliar and the Verito, if you've got room for one. Both produce a very smooth look. The Heliar produces a kind of three-dimensional look, with the in-focus area separating sharply from the out-of-focus area. The Verito is soft wide open and gives more strongly glowing highlights, producing very smooth tonal transitions.

The Schneider 210-370/5.6-12 Symmar convertible also makes a nice portrait lens, if you want something more modern. The later versions of this lens are not sold as convertibles and should be sharper at 210mm.

Scott Walton
24-Nov-2003, 09:37
Personally I love my Imagon 250mm using the 7.7 and 11 setting and also my Linhof 360mm.

Frank Petronio
24-Nov-2003, 17:15
Get a new Cooke! - only $2500 or so - but they are lovely - see http://www.cookeoptics.com/

Ole Tjugen
26-Nov-2003, 02:04
Top of my list are 150mm/f:4.5 Heliar and 180mm/f:4.5 Xenar. Both vintage and uncoated, which is what I'm after. The Xenar is realy too sharp, but the flare helps a lot. I would not use a coated Xenar for portraits.

If I need a longer focal lenght, the rear half of a 150mm/f:5.6 Symmar is good for portraits, too.

Jim Rice
26-Nov-2003, 06:57

The 20x24 article was in the July/August 2002 issue of VC. The focal lengths mentioned were 360 and 210 mm.