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Thread: Portrait Lens Question

  1. #1

    Portrait Lens Question

    Hi All,

    First post, just getting into LF (8x10) photography. As a way of learning i'm going to shoot a series in the style of Avedon's In the American West (ie crisp portraits. Some nice bokeh if needed though not soft focus images like Paolo Roveri). I've searched a lot and found that he shot it with a 360mm Symmar-S. I was going to just get one of these on ebay and get shooting but after much research i'm now considering putting my money into a 360mm Tessar instead. My question is therefore, what should i be expecting from each lens? Obviously there are many variables but should i be pulling my hair out or are either going to suits my needs when trying to get crisp portraits. For that matter would any "big 4" 360 get me in the ball park (eg Nikon, Fuji, Shneider, Rodenstock)?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula

    Re: Portrait Lens Question

    Either should suit your needs quite well.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Nov 2010

    Re: Portrait Lens Question

    When I was shooting 8x10 I had a 360 Symmar S. It was a great portrait lens, very sharp and the images had a great look. I'm sure any of the 360 plasmats would do the job just fine. But the Symmar S seems like a great option.

    I'd be more concerned about the condition of the shutter. Since all of the 360 plasmats will be great for your needs, you might buy whichever one comes with the newest shutter.

    When I bought mine on Ebay, I wasn't quite prepared for how large it was going to be!

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Santa Barbara

    Re: Portrait Lens Question

    Lets not forget the 14" Commercial Ektar

  5. #5
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Fond du Lac, WI, USA

    Re: Portrait Lens Question

    Nor the 420mm Fujinon L.
    “You often feel tired, not because you've done too much, but because you've done too little of what sparks a light in you.”
    ― Alexander Den Heijer, Nothing You Don't Already Know

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Tonopah, Nevada, USA

    Re: Portrait Lens Question

    Per your description, I'd look for a large Marge earlier Symmar in the Compound 4 that was f5.6 Once upon a time I had an Osaka f6.3 14" Tessar and it impressed me with how sharp and lovely the images were. Pretty hard to go wrong with your stated parameters. Get a big lens and go make pictures. Lots to learn about lighting etc. but your lens isn't going to be a huge player one way or another. Leave the 'big guns' and 'silver bullet' lenses alone. A gold dot Dagor won't help.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Brewster, NY

    Re: Portrait Lens Question

    Quote Originally Posted by DrTang View Post
    Lets not forget the 14" Commercial Ektar

  8. #8
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Ottawa, Canada

    Re: Portrait Lens Question

    Many fine lenses to choose from, including the 14" CE, but the OP is after a different look that what the CE imparts.
    I remember reading that Avedon used a Fuji-W 360 f6.3 for the American West series, but I may be mis-remembering that fact.
    In any case, yes, you should be just fine with any lenses from the Big 4, if that's the kind of look you're after.

  9. #9

    Re: Portrait Lens Question

    Many thanks Jim. Sound advice for sure.

  10. #10

    Re: Portrait Lens Question

    Thanks Ari, I had read that he used a Fuji as well but wasn't sure if it was a back-up or not to the Symmar. Thanks for putting my mind (and $) at ease.

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