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Thread: Favorite Lenses for shallow DOF (4x5)

  1. #1

    Favorite Lenses for shallow DOF (4x5)

    We have all heard of the 178mm f2.5 Aero Ektar, the 150mm f/2.8 Xenotar and the 135mm f/3.5 Planar. I have recently come across a few other cool ones like the Ernemann Ernostar 180mm f/2.7, the Soviet OF-233 210mm f/2.5 and the Leitz Hektor 150mm f/2.5 projection lens.

    They all have magical bokeh and other qualities that I find hard to describe. (The transition from in focus to out; perhaps falloff might be the word?) Some are sharper wide (or nearly wide) open than others. Some are better in other areas like flare, CA, and coverage. But when it comes down it, I just love the 3D effect we can achieve by separating the planes of an image using a shallow depth of field.

    What is your favorite lens for magical depth of field, bokeh, focus falloff and also sharpness? And Why?

    Link to pics if you've got em!

    Here's one I love:

  2. #2
    jp's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Re: Favorite Lenses for shallow DOF (4x5)

    190 optar that's on the RB Super D SLR:
    (Any old tessar like a xenar or fujinar or tessar with many/rounded aperture blades is also a similar pleasure and usually more inexpensive)

    210 Trioplan, not razor thin, but thin enough and very smooth.

    9" Gundlach Hyperion, soft and smooth and thin

    Aero Ektar :

    If you're loving the thin DOF, you might step up to 8x10 as well! Those big brass or aluminum lenses of old have more magic than most of us can handle.

  3. #3

    Re: Favorite Lenses for shallow DOF (4x5)

    Stunning stuff JP! Wow. Love the layers on the camping shot.

    Some day 8x10 might have to happen...

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Re: Favorite Lenses for shallow DOF (4x5)

    the 8" f/2.9 Pentac is definitely a player in this field. Lighter/cheaper than most of the others, and without an obnoxiously large rear element group, it will mount up where a lot of the others won't (on an RB SuperD for example). I don't have pics of my own to link to, but there are plenty out there. It's a heliar-derived design, so great rendering and bokeh.

    also, there's a fair number of 6" f/2.8 aerial lenses that can be used on 4x5. Also, 300mm f/4 was a common aerial lens spec, so those are usually pretty easily found also. Sometimes they won't have shutters (or the shutters will be huge/unfeasible), so a focal-plane shutter camera is ideal. (speed graphic, Super-D, Arca Reflex, etc.)

  5. #5
    Corran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    North GA Mountains

    Re: Favorite Lenses for shallow DOF (4x5)

    I recently shot a bit with my 90mm f/5.6 XL wide-open or at f/8 and the DOF was quite nice, despite being a wide-angle.

    I haven't done enough with it yet with short DOF but the 21cm f/4.5 APO Lanthar (and definitely it's little brother the 15cm) have excellent separation.

    jp is right regarding 8x10. I think overall the best 3D "pop-out" rendering I've done is with my 12" f/4.5 Gundlach Radar.
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  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Denmark, Europe

    Re: Favorite Lenses for shallow DOF (4x5)

    maybe this thread can bring you some nice examples...

  7. #7
    adelorenzo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Whitehorse, Yukon

    Re: Favorite Lenses for shallow DOF (4x5)

    Sandy Phimester is using a 200mm f2.5 cinema lens on a Speed Graphic. Check out his flickr or his instagram for some examples.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Leipzig, Germany

    Re: Favorite Lenses for shallow DOF (4x5)

    I love my 180mm Heliar (1910).

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Re: Favorite Lenses for shallow DOF (4x5)

    I'm partial to my 6" and 6.5" Cinephor projection Petzvals for 4x5 use, both around f/2.8. One is coated and one isn't. They were dirt cheap, too. Why do I like them? I just like the look, I guess.

    Recent close-up examples:

    Used closer to infinity they get a little wild around the edges:


  10. #10
    Green Hand pierre506's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Suzhou, China

    Re: Favorite Lenses for shallow DOF (4x5)

    Meyer Kinon 200mm F2.1 on 4x5
    Click image for larger version. 

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