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Thread: Lens questions from a new 4x5 shooter

  1. #1

    Lens questions from a new 4x5 shooter

    Hey y'all,

    I've been shooting digital for years, 35mm for a little while and I'm now moving into 4x5.
    Most of what I do it landscape and portraiture(more environmental than studio).
    I got my hands on a 4x5 camera but I don't have a lens yet.

    Any recommendations? I'm thinking something in the 90-115mm range. Is this stupid? From what I've heard it's better to err on the side of too wide, as you can crop without losing too much detail(I'm not planning on doing any ginormous prints so some cropping won't be a huge IQ image for me)

    Are there any mistake I need to avoid, lens specs I need to find before buying, etc? I'm looking at a Tominon 105mm f/4.5. It's not on the list of 4x5 lenses, and I can't find much about it. Does anybody know anything about it? Specifically its coverage? I think with the landscape I do I'll probably be doing some view movements and I'd rather not be hampered too much by undercoverage. Also, is the fact that it only stops down to f/32 an issue? For a 90mm I would expect this to still have a very large dof but I don't know.

    Sorry this is so much. I'm kind of overwhelmed by how much I don't know. Any help would be appreciated.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    South Dakota

    Re: Lens questions from a new 4x5 shooter

    I would skip the Tominon. Go with lenses from these four manufacturers and you really can't go wrong" Fuji, Nikon, Rodenstock, Schneider. Caltar is OK too. I'd suggest anything from 90mm to 135mm for landscapes, and 210mm for portraits. I personally never stop down more than f22 as diffraction kicks in after that.

    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2015

    Re: Lens questions from a new 4x5 shooter

    I agree with Kent; stick to the major players in LF lenses. One of my favorite focal lengths for 4x5 landscapes is a 120mm (roughly equivalent to 35mm on 35mm film or ff digital.) IMO, something in the 210-240mm range would be nice for portraits. And, if you're going to drop, shoot MF and save yourself the trouble and expense of LF.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2010
    St. Louis, Mo.

    Re: Lens questions from a new 4x5 shooter

    To me a 90mm on 4x5 feels like my old 25mm Zeiss lens felt on my 35mm Contax camera. I own a 121mm and like Alan9940 says, feels like a 35mm lens. A 150-180 will feel close to a nifty fifty.

    Long lenses get more difficult because of the lack of bellows draw on field cameras. A 210 lens is great for environmental portraiture. With some field cameras you can use a 240 or 250. I tried a 300mm on a Tachihara I had. With only 13" of bellows draw I could only close focus the 300 down to about 16' if I remember correctly.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jul 2016

    Re: Lens questions from a new 4x5 shooter


    Quote Originally Posted by BennoLF View Post
    I'm looking at a Tominon 105mm f/4.5.
    It will illuminate the 4x5" negative but with lower quality in the corners, you can still make nice creative shots with it, and it will work better if stopped a couple of stops, but I'd not recommend this choice to start. Also 105mm may be a bit short for portraiture.


    I'd take, instead, a fully featured LF lens to start, with a larger circle which would be good to learn movements. Most common/versatile "general usage" modern LF lenses are plasmats, in that category you have:

    Rodenstock Sironar-N

    Schneider Symmar-S

    Nikon W

    Fujinon CM-W

    I'd take multi coated versions for the moment (some of the mentioned have early single coated versions that are not much seen but exist).

    I'd start with a 135mm or (better) a 150mm, which are "normal" lenses for 4x5", for around $150

    A key point is checking shutter speeds:

    I'd start with a "normal" focal until you refine your own criterion to select a short focal for landscape. You may want a 65mm, a 90mm, both, or a 75mm intermediate focal substituting the 65 and the 90.

    Buy cheap glass until you know what you want, in the future for short focal landscape you may find that you want a Biogon type derivative that may have lower fall-off and better performance in the corners, so the easiest descision for now is a conventional plasmat of normal focal, you can do a lot with that, and having a normal focal in a kit is mostly essential, IMHO, so I guess it's an easy decision.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Chichester, UK

    Re: Lens questions from a new 4x5 shooter

    It's not always the case, but 105mm lenses are usually standard lenses for 6x9 so it's not really a LF lens. Tominons were often found on the front of polaroid cameras, I think (but I'm not completely sure). Far better to go for something more mainstream, you less likely to have issues and if you do, there are lots of people with the same lens who can help you.

  7. #7

    Re: Lens questions from a new 4x5 shooter

    This is all great, thanks!

    Other questions: What do I look for in a shutter? Pere Casals mentioned checking speed but is there anything else? I'm assuming I won't need a shutter any faster than 1/200, is this true?

    The math for optimal f-stops shows using more than f/32 for any show with more than 6mm of focus draw. Will I ever run into this? the heck do you find the filter thread for LF lenses? Do you just have to bop around the internet until someone tells you? As far as I've found there's no indicator, so you just measure it?

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Aurora, Colorado

    Re: Lens questions from a new 4x5 shooter

    The lens charts on the home page show the filter size for most lenses.
    Never is always wrong; always is never right.

  9. #9

    Re: Lens questions from a new 4x5 shooter

    Ooh haha I'm so oblivious. Thanks!

  10. #10
    Corran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    North GA Mountains

    Re: Lens questions from a new 4x5 shooter

    Will you need a shutter faster than 1/200? Well most landscapes are shot at f/22 and beyond, and the fastest film available is 400 speed. Quiz time - at sunny-16 and shot at f/22 on 400-speed film, your shutter speed would be...?

    Buy a lens and start shooting, you'll figure out a lot of things much faster, including what questions you need answers to. A simple Schneider 150mm Symmar-S will cost you under $150 and serve you well for decades.
    Bryan | Blog | YouTube | Instagram
    All comments and thoughtful critique welcome

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