View Full Version : Proper Lens for the Aletta 4X5.

Ryan Chai
22-Jan-2004, 22:32
I am interested (for many reasons) on building a Aletta 4X5 from the kit they offer. They have everything I need except the lens/shutter. My price range is anything up to 250-300 (used). I would like a 90-150mm lens. I was wondering if the 105mm f4.5 Tominon Polaroid lens is any good. I have tried to get info from the provider but they won't respond yet, how do I know what the f-stops are? It says Copal shutter with the add. Where can I find a cable release for this? What are the shutter speeds for this? The provider didn't say what size shutter it is. If I buy this lens will I need any other things pertaining to the lens/shutter systems other than a lens board? Thanks so much. These are the last of my questions concerining equipment before I make the jump into LF. Thanks for any help!

Darin Cozine
22-Jan-2004, 23:55
The 101mm tominon comes in a Copal size 0 shutter, but will not cover a 4x5 negative. I'm not sure a 127 would, but a 135mm tominon or 135mm rodenstock ysaron/ysarex will cover 4x5, but little room for movements. The Ysaron/Ysarex uses a special glass and is supposed to be quite sharp. Watch out though because some of the Tominon 135's are actually enlarging lenses mounted on the front of a shutter rather than proper lens elements on the front and back of the shutter.

Pay attention to the shutter the lens is mounted to. Many shutters will be lagging on the slow speeds. The prontors and copals used in polaroids are great shutters, but can still be off. Also some are not standard. Some have smaller-than-normal apertures (as in the 75mm Tominon), and some do not have apertures at all.

Your best bet for an inexpensive 90mm (wide angle) lens to start with would be an Angulon. For a normal lens, around 150mm, you can find deals on Symmar convertables, Xenars, or Ektars.

Bob Fowler
23-Jan-2004, 04:48
As has been mentioned, the 105mm Tominon won't cover 4X5 at infinity. Since this is your first 4X5, do yourself a BIG favor and spend the money on a lens in a modern, accurate shutter. 150mm to 165mm is a "normal" lens in 4X5. There are plenty of these available on the used market should you not have the green for a new one. I agree with Darin about the 90mm Angulon, it's a good "starter" wide angle. Most of them I've seen have been mounted in Synchro-Compur shutters (or Linhof badged Compurs).

Don't jump at the first piece of glass you see on ePay - shop around a bit. KEH, B&H, and Adorama all have used (as well as new) gear and have excellent return policies if you're not happy with your purchase.

Oh yes, welcome to the world of the big neg!

Dan Fromm
23-Jan-2004, 05:15
Darin is slightly mistaken about the Tominon lenses for the Polaroid MP-4 system. These lenses are easily recognized; they are in barrel, don't have serial numbers, and are threaded M40x0.75, i.e., #1 shutter, at the rear. They are all macro lenses intended to be used at magnifications above 1:1, i.e., with a small object in front of the lens and a larger image behind it. They are not enlarging lenses. Enlarging lenses are designed to work best with a small object behind the lens and a larger image in front of it.

Polaroid describes the 135/4.5 as a "general purpose lens." I've shot mine at infinity on 2x3. The results at f/16 and f/22 were very disappointing, much much worse than shots of the same subject with a 101/4.7 Ektar. Cheap yes, cheerful no.



Ernest Purdum
23-Jan-2004, 07:16
Ryan, in choosing a lens for a view camera, the first thing you want to consider is coverage. Your image circle needs to be larger than your film size or you can't use your movements. Your budget is quite adequate for a lens that will give you a good idea of what view camera advantages are. Your money, though, will go farther if your lens choice goes a little longer. Lenses that work at a wide angle commonly cost more than a longer lens with the same or larger image circle size. My first suggestion for a "budget" 4X5 lens is the f7.7 203mm Wollensak Raptar. It is a very versatile lens that usually costs much less than the excellent f7.7 Kodak Ektar which is similar in design. There are lots of good lenses in the 210 to 250mm range. Patience is your best asset in finding a realy good one within your budget range.

Within the focal length range you mentioned, you might find a G-Claron that has been put into a shutter, or a convertible Symmar. In the 150mm length, these have a moderate amount of excess coverage.

A visit to your local library could be very helpful. Look for "View Camera Technique" by Stroebel, "Using the View Camera" by Simmons or "A User's Guide to the View Camera" by Stone.

If you look through the older threads and articles of this site, you'll find lots of helpful information, including links to other sites.

Ryan Chai
23-Jan-2004, 10:06
Thank you all for such good advice. I am so excited about LF. It is so much more involved than 35mm. I don't remember getting this much help when I got into 35mm. Thanks again everyone!

23-Jan-2004, 10:32
My first LF camera had a lens that was "too long," and I spent two years with it, wishing for more (wider) coverage so I could shoot groups, buildings, interiors, landscapes, and that sort of thing. I'd recommend that you start with a good 135mm lens in a modern shutter (Copal or Press-Compur). They're cheap, plentiful, and if you want less that what is on the negative you can always crop. Be sure that your shutter has a "press focus" feature, so you don't have to sit it to "T" every time you want to focus. Enjoy!

Darin Cozine
23-Jan-2004, 10:49
Ryan, I am sure others would like to hear about your experience with the Aletta. Make sure to write back about your experiences.

Get involved! -Darin

Ernest Purdum
23-Jan-2004, 11:14
Focal length choice is a very personal matter, having a great deal to do with what sort of photography the user spends the most time on. I'm happy that Bill has found a shorter lens to suit his needs. The relatively inexpensive 135mm lenses I know of, however, particularly those in modern shutters, have little or no reserve coverage. Without the ability to use the cameras movements, you can't really come to appreciate how the camera can help you make your pictures something more than can be accomplished with a small format camera.

I don't know the Aletta. I assume it has at least some movement capability.

Ryan Chai
23-Jan-2004, 17:32
Thanks again,

I will try to give some feedback and whatnot after I get the Aletta and a lens etc. Someday I would like to buy a Linof or Sinar. But I am in college, so maybe in ten years or so. I have been searching more for some lenses. Here are some that I have been interested in since I posted my question here.

150/5.6 Caltar II-S

135/4.5 Carl Zeiss Tessar, Compur shutter

150/4.5 Schneider Xenar, Synchro-Compur (is Synchro-Compur the name of the shutter type?)

150/5.6 convertible Symmar-S, Sinar DB shutter.

Any thoughts? Any of them not work w/ 4X5? I am leaning more to the Scheider Xenar, but I don't know what Synchro Compur is, I am hoping it is a shutter if it is I am buying it asap!


Ernest Purdum
23-Jan-2004, 18:18
Ryan, all of them will work on 4X5, the 135mm just barely, the others with a little extra coverage, but not a lot. Yes, the Synchro-Compur is a shutter, and a very well-made one. As Bill suggested, a press-focus lever is a significant convenience, so ask if it has one. I think I have seen that Symmar-S. If it is the one I saw, it doesn't actually have a shutter, just a DB board to mount onto a Sinar shutter. This is quite a good lens and if it were in a shutter, I would expect it to be way out of your price range unless afflicted with fungus or sandpaper "cleaning marks".

One of the nice things about buying used is that if you find it doesn't meet your needs you can resell it, and consider any loss a cheap rental fee. A f4.5 lens is nice to use. It would give you a pleasantly bright greoundglass.

Ryan Chai
28-Feb-2004, 18:15
Hey everyone I am thinking about bagging the idea with the Aletta and just get a Graflex. I would rather get something to start shooting with now, then wait for the century that I can afford the nicer alternative.

Any advice . . .?

Michael S. Briggs
28-Feb-2004, 19:07
Ryan, the Xenar and the Tessar are both Tessar-type lenses. The Carl Zeiss one is called "Tessar" because Carl Zeiss owns that brand name. This design uses 4 lens elements, with two cemented together so that the lens has 3 groups of optical elements. This is one of the most common lens designs of all time, with probably all major lens manufacturers having used it at some point. Schneider calls their version "Xenar". Tessar-types are excellent lenses, but of only moderate coverage.

The Symmar and the Caltar II-S are the other very common lens design for normal focal length LF lenses. This is the plasmat design of 6 elements in 4 groups. If you can afford it, I would recommend a lens of this design over a tessar for a 135 or 150 mm focal length for 4x5. The tessars are fine choices in longer focal lengths, but you will be a bit pinched for coverage with a 150 mm for 4x5.

The "convertible Symmar-S" is probably misdescribed, since there is a convertible Symmar, and a non-convertible Symmar-S. The Sinar DB shutter system is a way of using lenses with a shutter behind the lens, allowing one to use multiple lenses with a single shutter. The seller may be saying that the Symmar is in a lensboard for thte Sinar DB shutter, in which case the lens does not have a shutter and would be a poor choice.

The Caltar II-S is from the retailer Calumet and is most likely from Schneider. The curent Caltars are from Rodenstock. Of the lenses on your list, I recommend this one.

Synchro-Compur and Copals are both excellent shutters. A lens in Compur will tend to be older and the shutter is more likely to need maintainence (a CLA -- clean, lube, adjust) to operate accuractely and reliably.

26-Sep-2012, 10:33
There is no one "best shutter". There are many excellant shutters. If you want synchronised flash, Kodak Supermatic synchro is one, Prontor S and SVS is another, Acme flash synchro is another a Rapax with synchro is another. Many people prefer Compur Synchro's because they are made in Germany...but so are Prontor's. The glass is the most important, any shutter that works will do the job. Some people still use Packards (including me). Copals are wonderful shutters, mostly because they are the newest. On the other hand, if you go with a Speed Graphic, shutter is not an issue as they have a focal plane shutter in the back, next to the film. So you can mount a barrel lens on the lensboard and use the focal plane shutter. I suggest that you search e-bay, or on here for a Speeder with a 150 to 162 mm Tessar type lens. Almost all press cameras come with their own shutter, so you have the option of using front (lens) or rear (F.P.) with a Graphic (Speed only to have both)