View Full Version : 4x5 Portrait Lens Recommendation

Jimmy Sour
8-May-2012, 21:04

I've been out of the large format world for a few years now, but am brushing up and looking at purchasing some new LF gear. I've been reading up on lenses in particular and trying to understand what kind of lens would best suit my tastes. The options are staggering. I've attached a sample of what I'm looking for. This is an image from Quinn Jacobson's site. I understand that it's wet plate, brass lens, etc. What I'm looking for is a similarly shallow depth of field and similar subject framing at normal working distance to subject. I'd like this in a modern lens with a shutter. I've already looked into having a brass lens mounted into a shutter and that's starting to seem like an option that isn't likely to be a good fit for me. My preference is to go with 4x5, but I'm open to an 8x10.

So if I wanted a head and shoulders portrait with very shallow depth of field, at a camera to subject distance of 5 or 6 feet, what would you recommend?




8-May-2012, 21:17
For 4x5, anything in the 210mm-300mm range.

Richard Rankin
8-May-2012, 21:57
For 4x5, anything in the 210mm-300mm range.

ditto. I like 210mm


8-May-2012, 22:21
I would guess that image was made from 8x10 or larger format, since there is a very narrow depth of field. Its difficult to achieve that look with 4x5, as there are really no choices that correspond to the F:3 or F:4's you find with some of the vintage 8x10 lenses. If you decide on 8x10 there are a lot of options, but most of those really wide aperture lenses do not have shutters, so that's another adventure.

Paul Fitzgerald
8-May-2012, 22:37

the shallow DOF also has to do with the enlargement factor and viewing distance. How large will you be enlarging?

The photo you posted looks to be a petzval, normal to format length (not overly long or wide), very close and wide open. You could duplicate the look with an 8" - 10" petzval wide open.

Mark Sawyer
8-May-2012, 23:36
With a Petzval, you're seeing the curved field as much as the shallow depth of field. That's a big part of the look of the lens in that portrait.

9-May-2012, 16:45
look for a 10" wollensak vitax and shoot it wideopen
the 14" for a 5x7 and longer for 8x10
the worst is to have your lens inches away from your subject