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View Full Version : What is a wide angle on large format?

Stanley Kubrick
5-Dec-2012, 13:16
Hello, just wondering if somebody could tell me what millimetre numbers are used for the various different focal lengths in large format lenses for 5x4 cameras. As an example, a 50mm lens is the standard for 35mm film, 28mm is a wide angle lens. I know that a standard "50mm" lens on a 6x6 medium camera is around 80mm.

Thank You

Kirk Gittings
5-Dec-2012, 13:21
see this: http://photo.net/photo/lens-table

goamules
5-Dec-2012, 13:24
Or: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/matos-begin.html

Bob Salomon
5-Dec-2012, 13:43
The general rule is that a normal focal length lens is the diagonal of the format so a true normal for 35mm would be about a 44mm not a 50. A wide angle is the length of the short side of the negative or shorter and a long lens is equal to the long side of the negative or longer. For 4x5, 135 to 180mm are usually considered normal focal lengths. Shorter then 135 would be a wide and longer then 180mm would be a long lens. I intentionally did not use the term telephoto as that is really a design type and not just a longer focal length.

The exception to this rule, of course, are square formats like 6x6cm, 5x5" and so on.

Stanley Kubrick
5-Dec-2012, 18:30
Thats great, thanks a lot for all you're advice

C. D. Keth
5-Dec-2012, 19:49
If you want to know the equivalent lens on a format and you're familiar with another format, just set up a simple proportion equation.

To figure out what lens on 4x5 is like a 28mm on 35mm film, just set up the lens of each format over the diagonal of each format:

28/43=x/162

Solve that for X and you get 105mm.

Tom Sobota
7-Dec-2012, 02:11
"A wide angle is the length of the short side of the negative or shorter and a long lens is equal to the long side of the negative or longer"
Do I understand this correctly? Since the diagonal is longer than the long side, this would mean that the normal lens is always a long lens? Hmmm...

Dan Fromm
7-Dec-2012, 07:10
"A wide angle is the length of the short side of the negative or shorter and a long lens is equal to the long side of the negative or longer"
Do I understand this correctly? Since the diagonal is longer than the long side, this would mean that the normal lens is always a long lens? Hmmm...No, you've just received some Internet nonsense.

In LF, the normal lens' focal length is the format's diagonal. In smaller formats, normal focal length is sometimes determined by convention, e.g., the quaint concept that the normal focal length for 24x36 (diagonal 43 mm) is 50 mm. Except when it is as long as 58 mm, as was the case before designers solved the problem of making 50 mm 6/4 double Gauss lenses that would clear a 35 mm SLR's mirror. Lotta BS and marketing nonsense out there.

Brian Ellis
7-Dec-2012, 07:27
A rough guide you can apply in your head is to multiply a 35mm format focal length by 3 to get the approximate 4x5 equivalent. As I'm sure you know, because the aspect ratios of the two formats are different there are no exact equivalents and 3 isn't the closest possible number to use but it's easy to use in your head and it's close enough for most purposes).

I wouldn't worry too much about diagonals or ratios and formulas for determining what's "normal." Different people have different ideas. FWIW I consider 210mm to be long normal, 150mm to be mid-normal, and 135mm to be wide normal.

Tom Sobota
7-Dec-2012, 07:52
No, you've just received some Internet nonsense.

In LF, the normal lens' focal length is the format's diagonal. In smaller formats, normal focal length is sometimes determined by convention, e.g., the quaint concept that the normal focal length for 24x36 (diagonal 43 mm) is 50 mm. Except when it is as long as 58 mm, as was the case before designers solved the problem of making 50 mm 6/4 double Gauss lenses that would clear a 35 mm SLR's mirror. Lotta BS and marketing nonsense out there.

Yes, I know. I was just reacting to a previous Bob Salomon's post in this same thread.

Alan Gales
7-Dec-2012, 23:18
A rough guide you can apply in your head is to multiply a 35mm format focal length by 3 to get the approximate 4x5 equivalent. As I'm sure you know, because the aspect ratios of the two formats are different there are no exact equivalents and 3 isn't the closest possible number to use but it's easy to use in your head and it's close enough for most purposes).

I wouldn't worry too much about diagonals or ratios and formulas for determining what's "normal." Different people have different ideas. FWIW I consider 210mm to be long normal, 150mm to be mid-normal, and 135mm to be wide normal.

One of my favorite lenses that I used on my Contax 139 35mm camera was the 25mm Zeiss. When I bought a 4x5 I wanted to duplicate that focal length so I divided by three and bought a 75mm lens. Now to me the 75mm seems wide. A 90mm to me seems closer to the 25mm that I used to use. Like you said Brian, different people have different ideas. I think some of it has to do with 4x5 being a more square format than 35mm but then when I started shooting 8x10 so called equivalent lenses seemed even a little wider. I don't know. What I do know is that you need to shoot film and learn what you like. Fortunately you don't have to spend a lot of money on large format lenses unless you want too.

C. D. Keth
8-Dec-2012, 00:38
"A wide angle is the length of the short side of the negative or shorter and a long lens is equal to the long side of the negative or longer"
Do I understand this correctly? Since the diagonal is longer than the long side, this would mean that the normal lens is always a long lens? Hmmm...

I've never heard that before. I usually starting thinking wide around 2/3 the normal lens length. It's not like there's a line sharply delineating normal from wide so it's all kind of silly.

Ed Bray
8-Dec-2012, 01:07
I just use a simple multiplication to get an approximation of the 35mm equivalent:

6x9cm = 35mm focal length x 2.2
4x5in = 35mm focal length x 3.0
5x7in = 35mm focal length x 4.5
8x10 = 35mm focal length x 6.0

For example if it covered all formats, a 72mm lens would give an approximate field of view similar to the following lenses on 35mm

6x9cm = 32mm
4x5in = 24mm
5x7in = 16mm
8x10 = 12mm

This gives me an approximation to get an idea of what I might need, but it is not until you see the image on the ground glass that your choice of focal length matters.

m1tch
8-Dec-2012, 02:07
I was about to post up LF lenses are 3x focal length compared to a 35mm camera for a 5x4, so a 'normal' is 150 etc, if shooting on a 5x4 look at something around the 90mm range. Although i've not yet shot it, I have a 135mm lens on my speed graphic which is the equivilent of a 45mm lens, so a slightly wide normal, looking at the ground glass I like what I see :)

Ari
8-Dec-2012, 12:26
If you want to know the equivalent lens on a format and you're familiar with another format, just set up a simple proportion equation.

To figure out what lens on 4x5 is like a 28mm on 35mm film, just set up the lens of each format over the diagonal of each format:

28/43=x/162

Solve that for X and you get 105mm.

I just use a simple multiplication to get an approximation of the 35mm equivalent:

6x9cm = 35mm focal length x 2.2
4x5in = 35mm focal length x 3.0
5x7in = 35mm focal length x 4.5
8x10 = 35mm focal length x 6.0

For example if it covered all formats, a 72mm lens would give an approximate field of view similar to the following lenses on 35mm

6x9cm = 32mm
4x5in = 24mm
5x7in = 16mm
8x10 = 12mm

This gives me an approximation to get an idea of what I might need, but it is not until you see the image on the ground glass that your choice of focal length matters.

Using Christopher's method above, I found that a 72mm lens would be equal to a 19mm lens on 4x5; the 24mm focal length is equivalent to a 90mm on 4x5.

Leonard Evens
9-Dec-2012, 16:43
It is hard to judge what is appropriate for a 4 x 5 view camera by comparing with 3 5 mm.

I have five lenses: 300 mm, 210 mm, 150 mm, 90 mm and 75 mm, The 90 mm and 75 mm would be considered wide angle. It is hard to go much below 70 mm if you want a lens allowing some movement. Movements, particularly rises, are helpful in avoiding large empty foregrounds.

rdenney
9-Dec-2012, 20:06
Just a note on nomenclature:

Large-format lenses are routinely used on different formats. So, the term "wide-angle" usually refers more to their design than to their focal length with respect to the format diameter. Wide-angle lenses are those designs that provide a lot of coverage with respect to their focal length. In the old days, the standard "normal" lens was a tessar-type lens that would provide enough coverage for some movements when the focal length was about the same as the format diameter. So, a 6" lens tessar provided some room for movements on a 4x5 camera.

Lenses of shorter focal lengths required a wider design to provide sufficient coverage to light up the corners. In the deep past, the most common wide-angle design was the dagor-type, but there were others, too.

Nowadays, all lenses have greater coverage than they once did. The modern plasmat, which is a direct descendant of the dagor design, is considered the "normal" lens. The wide type is really two retrofocus wide-angle lenses (like one might use on an SLR) in opposition. The Super Angulon and Grandagon are a couple of examples.

So, a 165mm Super Angulon, which has a focal length that is greater than the diameter of 4x5 film, is still a wide-angle lens. It has sufficient coverage for the 8x10 format, but it still might be used for 4x5 when extreme movements are needed.

And "telephoto" is a specific design, where the lens focuses to infinity at a distance much closer to the film than its effective focal length. In the large-format world, such lenses are called "telephoto" lenses no matter what that focal length is with respect to the format diameter. They are used primarily to avoid needing so much bellows extension for those cameras that are limited to a maximum extension.

Most large-format photographers use the term "short" and "long" to describe the lens with respect to the format's diameter. Thus, I might talk about how easy it is for my 4x5 Sinar camera's standard bellows to accommodate "moderately short" lenses and also "moderately long" lenses. The short lens might be in the 120-135mm range, which could include (as examples) a wide-angle design like a Schneider Super Angulon, a (now) normal plasmat design like a Schneider Symmar, or a (vintage) normal like a Graflex Optar. And the long lens might be in the 360mm range, which might include examples such as a telephoto design like a 360mm Tele-Xenar, a modern normal plasmat like a 360mm Symmar, or a vintage normal like a 14" Commercial Ektar (tessar type).

Rick "noting that the long dimension of film is necessarily smaller than the diameter" Denney

JMO
12-Dec-2012, 20:34
Hello, just wondering if somebody could tell me what millimetre numbers are used for the various different focal lengths in large format lenses for 5x4 cameras. As an example, a 50mm lens is the standard for 35mm film, 28mm is a wide angle lens. I know that a standard "50mm" lens on a 6x6 medium camera is around 80mm.

Thank You

Jim Galli
12-Dec-2012, 21:13
Can't believe there's 18 non-answers so far. A wide angle lens in LF is a lens that is capable of casting a sharp image corner to corner over an angle of at least 100 degrees. 90 degree lenses like the f6.8 Angulon are "wide field" lenses. A true wide angle can see 100+ degrees. The normal variety modern ones are all 105 degrees. I think the Schneider XL's are 110 degrees. The vintage Zeiss Protar V was 110 degrees - mostly. some of the giants were less.

SO, if you take a Schneider Super Angulon 210mm lens and shine it on 6X6 CM, you have a 48X48CM image in space with a little 6X6 box cut out of the middle of it. Not a wide angle at all! But if you put the same lens on a 7X17" camera you'll have a vast wide sharp image.

Hope I didn't confuse you worse.

urs0polar
12-Dec-2012, 21:56
One would think Mr Kubrick would just have asked his director of photography.

rdenney
12-Dec-2012, 22:01
Can't believe there's 18 non-answers so far. A wide angle lens in LF is a lens that is capable of casting a sharp image corner to corner over an angle of at least 100 degrees.

My post said much the same, but without the specific angle. Is that some formal definition that I missed somewhere along the line?

Rick "suspecting that the nomenclature has drifted over time" Denney

C. D. Keth
12-Dec-2012, 23:54
Can't believe there's 18 non-answers so far. A wide angle lens in LF is a lens that is capable of casting a sharp image corner to corner over an angle of at least 100 degrees.

That means that on 4x5 a lens isn't "wide angle" until you hit 68mm, and that's even giving your method the benefit of the doubt by using a diagonal field of view. It's more like a 52mm if you use a horizontal field of view. That's much wider than where most conversations on this forum start calling it a wide lens.

Dan Fromm
13-Dec-2012, 07:29
Can't believe there's 18 non-answers so far. A wide angle lens in LF is a lens that is capable of casting a sharp image corner to corner over an angle of at least 100 degrees. 90 degree lenses like the f6.8 Angulon are "wide field" lenses. A true wide angle can see 100+ degrees. The normal variety modern ones are all 105 degrees. I think the Schneider XL's are 110 degrees. The vintage Zeiss Protar V was 110 degrees - mostly. some of the giants were less.

Jimbo, time was when 80 degrees meant wide angle. 90 degrees and wider meant ultra-wide angle. If you want to get absurd, shooters of 35 mm still (diagonal 43 mm) will say that a 35 mm lens (63 degrees on 24x36) is a wide angle lens.

The only safe definition is that lenses that cover a format and are shorter than normal (the format's diagonal) are wide angle lenses with respect to the format. This definition subsumes all definitions that are more specific and avoids the wrangling that they cause. Similarly, lenses that cover and are longer than normal are narrow angle lenses.

Following my simpleton's definition, my little 100/6.3 Weitwinkel Aristostigmat is a normal lens for 2x3, but depending on who you believe it will cover up to (or nearly) 5x7. I wouldn't use it as a normal lens on 2x3, there are better lenses for that purpose, but could see taking advantage of its coverage on larger formats (no larger than 5x7).

Cheers,

Dan

Jim Galli
13-Dec-2012, 07:55
A little wrangling helps the OP understand some of the variables and the impossibility of such a subjective question. Since no format is delineated, you can only talk about angles of view. That, as you say, is totally subjective to the viewer and the photographer. For me, a 210 is plenty wide on 8X10 and seldom used. Still, a 210 on 8X10 is a Wide Field lens. I do get tired of all the moronic ads on ebay telling me a 105mm tessar from an old folding camera is a wide angle for my 8X10. Like to choke those guys.

Jimbo, time was when 80 degrees meant wide angle. 90 degrees and wider meant ultra-wide angle. If you want to get absurd, shooters of 35 mm still (diagonal 43 mm) will say that a 35 mm lens (63 degrees on 24x36) is a wide angle lens.

The only safe definition is that lenses that cover a format and are shorter than normal (the format's diagonal) are wide angle lenses with respect to the format. This definition subsumes all definitions that are more specific and avoids the wrangling that they cause. Similarly, lenses that cover and are longer than normal are narrow angle lenses.

Following my simpleton's definition, my little 100/6.3 Weitwinkel Aristostigmat is a normal lens for 2x3, but depending on who you believe it will cover up to (or nearly) 5x7. I wouldn't use it as a normal lens on 2x3, there are better lenses for that purpose, but could see taking advantage of its coverage on larger formats (no larger than 5x7).

Cheers,

Dan

Dan Fromm
13-Dec-2012, 08:24
I do get tired of all the moronic ads on ebay telling me a 105mm tessar from an old folding camera is a wide angle for my 8X10. Like to choke those guys.I'm with you on that.

Jim Galli
13-Dec-2012, 09:38
I'm with you on that.

Oh, you're with me on more than that, we just enjoy semantic wars :D:D