View Full Version : Lenses for nature and landscape LF photography?

Ted Stoddard
21-Apr-2004, 07:31
I am looking into buying a lens or lenses for nature and landscape photography..... I specifically will be using it on a Tachihara 4x5 Camera..... Does anyone have specific suggestions on the type of lens i could get without having to take out a second mortgage on the house...... i need something that works well and is reasonable in price....thanks for the help..... and what types of lens board they take

Edward (Halifax,NS)
21-Apr-2004, 08:14
I love the perspective of the normal lens. My favorite pictures are ones that Ansel Adams took with a 12 1/4 inch lens - on 8X10. This corresponds with the 150mm lens for 4X5. I just (last night) bought a 150mm f/9 G Claron for a very good price - $67. If I had the money I would have bought a 150mm f/5.6 Sironar-n. They go for about $350 used. The drawbacks on the G Claron are that it is single coated instead of multicoated, it has a small max aperture so focusing in low light situations may be more difficult, and it is optimized for close focusing so at normal shooting you need to stop down to f/22 - which I do anyway.

david clark
21-Apr-2004, 08:19
Hi Ted, I don't think there is any restrictions on this type of photography and so anything is OK. The tradition in pictorial photography was for a longer lens something around 210mm to 240mm, but it seems more modern trends are for wide angle, so something 90mm or smaller and the composition might be cut for a panoramic effect. The standard of course is 150mm which would probably serve you just fine, and since it is the standard many good 150s are to be had at a cheaper price. Do you mean lens boards or size of holes drilled in the lens board. For a lens board look at the camera and ask yourself if you can make one, if not call a used camera place until you find one. Back to the lens - I assume you are looking for a good used lens - in my opinion you want something mounted in a modern Copal shutter that is warranted to be working correctly at all speeds. For instance a 150mm lens would be mounted in a Copal #0, and you would call a used camera place like Midwest Photo Exchange and tell them you need a lens board for your camera that has been drilled for a Copal #0. Good Luck I would think the 150mm could be had for somewhere in the 300$ to 400$ range.

John Kasaian
21-Apr-2004, 08:22
IMHO, The 203mm f7.7 Ektar is a very nice lens that can be found quite reasonably. The 210 f9 G-Claron seem to be going for considerably more than the Ektars these days, but are excellent lenses worth considering. For a wide 90mm lens I'd take a serious look at model Wollensaks or Ilexs---and of course the Dagor!

Ernest Purdum
21-Apr-2004, 10:08
The 203mm f7.5 Graphic Optar is, in my opinion, as much lens/$ as you are apt to find. They were no doubt made by Wollensak and come in a "Graphex" shutter, also a Wollensak product. This is less convenient than a modern Copal, but with occasional CLA should get the job done.

The trouble with wide-angle lenses 90mm or shorter is that the ones which have enough excess coverage for movements on 4X5 are apt to be out of the "budget" category.

G-Clarons in barrel show up on eBay all the time. They will fit into several inexpensive shutters and then all you have to do is to make or buy an iris scale.

Ralph Barker
21-Apr-2004, 10:13
I think lenses are rather like women. While friends can give suggestions about which types of women to avoid, everything else is a matter of personal preference and budget. ;-)

It might help to get a sense of what your personal preferences are with respect to angle of view first. For that purpose, walking around for a week or so with a framing aid like this (http://www.rbarkerphoto.com/misc/Photo-gear/FramingAid1-500.jpg) might be interesting. The knots are tied sequentially at various focal lengths, and then held against the cheek while closing the opposite eye. What you see is what the film would see with a lens of that focal length. Personally, I find about 80% of what I shoot is done with either a 110mm Super Symmar XL, or a 210mm APO Symmar - both "modern" designs.

There are, as suggested by others, various older lenses that provide excellent optical quality and are good bargains. The trade-off to consider is size and weight. The older lenses will tend to be larger, mounted in older, larger shutters, and will be heavier than many modern equivalent lenses. Of course, there are a few monster modern lenses, too. Here's what an older Artar in a #4 shutter looks like on a 110mm lens board (about the same size as your 4x5 Tachihara):


There are a couple of excellent background articles on older lenses linked on the home page of this site (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/). Just scroll down to the lens section.

Ken Lee
21-Apr-2004, 10:57
First, determine the focal length you want, based on your artistic preferences and shooting habits. Then consider price, availability, coverage, filter size, size, and weight. Keep in mind that you may not keep the Tachihara forever. For example, if you really like long lenses, you may trade it in for something with greater bellows draw, or wider range of movements. Keep in mind that some lenses take huge filters, and are heavy. Others are small and take small filters, and are outstanding performers nonetheless.

David Vickery
21-Apr-2004, 12:49
Hello, First, I would suggest that you not worry about the focal length-as long as it is in the range of 120mm to 210mm. Just get something and start using it. I happen to think that it should really be something in the 135mm to 180mm range ideally. Anything in this range of focal lengths will be easy to use and will not require any specific mode of "seeing" as something longer or shorter would require. My second recommendation is that you look for a good deal in the form of a tessar formula lens. Common examples include some of the Kodak Ektars, Wollensak Raptars, and Ilex Paragons of the 40's, 50's, and 60's. I have a 152mm f/4.5 ektar that if you found it on ebay it would probably be very affordable- less than $100!? Of course, it does not have to be a Tessar type lens, its just that these are usually cheaper and will give excellent results for general photography. Just about any lens that you buy can be made to fit on just about any type of lens board that you could make or buy. But since you have a tachihara then you need to buy or make boards that fit that camera. If you buy your lens from a dealer then they can probably also sell you a lens board to go with it that will fit your camera.

Ted Stoddard
21-Apr-2004, 13:01
Ok guys everyone has some great suggestions and i already own 2 lenses i use on my 8x10 the first one is a Kodak Wide Field Ektar 10inch 250mm lens....this lens has worked well for me and i also own a Wollensak with a Betax #4 shutter in it and they both seem to work very well for me as 8x10 lenses........ I wanted to get something a little lighter for the long treks into many hard to reach spots which makes it easier with a lighter camera and lighter lens....I will definitely look into each and every suggestion attainable from all of you....Thank You Very Much...... Ted Stoddard

Ken Lee
21-Apr-2004, 15:23
If it's lightweight lenses you're interested in, have a look at this article (http://www.thalmann.com/largeformat/lightwei.htm" target="_blank)
and this article (http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/kit.html" target="_blank)

Ken Lee
21-Apr-2004, 15:26
I had a Tachihara, and based on the articles cited above, I got a 150 Rodenstock APO Sironar-S and Fujinon 240A. They are very small, very light, take small filters, and are top performers. Subsequently, I got 2 more Fujinon A lenses, for the same reason.

John Kasaian
23-Apr-2004, 08:08

If you like the 10" 250mm WF Ektar, there is a 135mm WF Ektar thats the same gauss design. Like the 10" WF, they don't come cheap.