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Thread: FLs for LF beginner?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2005

    FLs for LF beginner?

    Well, thanks in part to all of you here on this forum, I'm almost ready to shoot my first LF images, after 20+ years of fairly serious 35mm, and lately dSLRs.

    My camera is a beautiful 4x5 Graphic View II that's again like new after getting some TLC and a lube/adjustment of the focusing gear.

    My first LF lens, as it turns out (due to a handy trade for a 35mm lens) is a mint Fujinon W 210mm/f5.6 in a Copal No. 1 shutter.

    I originally wanted a 90mm (Super Angulon or Fuji SW) as I felt it would more closely approximate the 20mm I've lately been using for landscapes, trees, etc. on my dSLR (equivalent to 30mm fl on 35).
    However, now I'm not sure a 90mm will work well enough on my camera, given the limited amount of bellows compression, even with a recessed lens board. A 105 or 120mm, though probably a nice useable length for the GVII, would have comparatively little coverage to make sense, I think.

    My questions:

    Is there a good 90mm with fairly wide coverage on a shutter small enough to fit into a recessed lens board in the GVII? (I will build a custom lens board if necessary). I think maybe the SA and Fuji SW are too big to fit.

    Is my 210mm Fujinon W a good 'all round' lens to get started in LF? How about it's sharpness compared to other 210mms? I'd guess that I might be 'backing off' quite often(?) I know it's coverage is terrific and should allow full use of the camera's movements, and therefore be a good learning tool as well as perhaps a 'second' lens to a WA..

    Which brings me back to my desire for the 90mm. Am I wrong in thinking that you 'need' a wide-angle for LF at all, in the way you seem to for 35mm?

    Apologies for the convoluted form of my questions.. Any advice at all will be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.

    David Honey

  2. #2

    FLs for LF beginner?

    I can't comment on all of your questions, but here's what I can:

    A recessed lens board (5/8) was made for the View II cameras. Considering the LF format is 4x5: A 90mm LF WA lens is the equivalent of a 18mm in the 35mm format. 150mm in LF is a normal. Therefore your 210mm is a moderate long focal length.


  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 1999

    FLs for LF beginner?

    A 90mm lens on a 4x5 is approx equivilent to a 28mm on a 35mm. How often did you use that focal length?.

    Ys, the 210Fuji is fine. Just photograph and enjoy.

    steve simmons

  4. #4
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Stuck inside of Tucson with the Eastern Seaboard Blues again...

    FLs for LF beginner?

    Hey, David! Welcome to the lf forum!

    The 90mm is a very useful lens, and fairly common for 4x5 photographers, which tells you that it definitely has usefulness. I like shooting with wide angle lenses in large format (8x10) too.

    Is it necessary? No, but it may well be the best lens for your particular vision. That you used a wide angle lens on your digital camera is an indication that you might like one on your 4x5, but be open to the thought that your vision might change with the new format. One thing composing on a ground glass is known for is changing how you see. Even if you decide a few years from now to go back to a digital SLR, your experiences with large format will influence your imagery more than you think.

    A 150mm is the "normal" lens for a 4x5, but then, who wants to be normal... I'd make it a point to work with the 210 and give it a fair chance. It will (I suspect) tend to isolate the subject and allow for more formal composition, (working with the upside down image helps some people see the abstract nature of how their images are put together.) I suspect you'll want that 90mm, but the 210mm will make a nice counterpoint.

    BTW, yes, you'll have more room for movements with the 210's increased coverage, but the longer focal lengths need more movements to get the same effect, so it's kind of a wash.

    If you're on a budget, consider a later Linhof Select/Technica version of the 90mm Angulon. Not as much coverage as the SA or Fuji SW, but still a nice, compact lens at a much lower price. (Some knowledgable people will poo-poo that lens, but I like it!)

    And remember, you'll have to run both standards way forward on the monorail to keep the rail out of the image with a 90mm. If the back of the rail isn't poking you in the throat while focusing, better check the top of the ground glass...
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Nov 2005

    FLs for LF beginner?

    Thanks for the welcome, and for the advice.

    Yes, of course the thing is to get out and shoot some film (which I haven't done in a long time, let alone develop my own). I can't wait, but on the other hand I don't want to rush.. there's still a bit for me to learn by reading...

    I picked up some Polaroid 52, 55, and 59, and a 550 back, so it shouldn't be too long. After that I'll get a box of Tri-X and test the girlfriend's reaction to having trays of chemicals in the bathtub ;-)

    The 210 seems like as good a starter as any; Eugene (thanks again for the email) is recommending a Fuji 105 SW to go with the 210, so I'll give it a look when the budget allows.


  6. #6
    not an junior member Janko Belaj's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Knezija, Zagreb, Croatia, Europe...

    FLs for LF beginner?

    David, I have, for my backpacking, small Tachihara with 210 (G-Claron) and 135 (Symmar) mm lenses. I had plans to use 90mm SA, but, lazy as I am, have found that old 135mm symmar is almost perfect companion for 210mm lens. Fine wider normal lens. something like 40mm on leica format. (What I really like.) Right now I think it would be better with combination like 120+240... the latter one I have got for my 8x10, but something like 120(+/-) will wait... just my 2 cents.

  7. #7

    FLs for LF beginner?

    I do landscapes and I usually find myself using my 135 wide field Ektar or 121 SA more than the 90 fuji that I have. I find the 90 wants to let the mountains in the background get small too fast. I did find it to be a great lens shooting in the slot canyons though. My first LF view camera came with an 8 1/2 in comercial Ektar. It was the only lens I had for 2 years. There is somthing to be said about only having one lens. I think it helped me to learn how to see things in more than one way when I had to make one lens work. That said, I now have a choice of 8 focal lengths. 90mm-24"

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    FLs for LF beginner?

    "A 105 or 120mm, though probably a nice useable length for the GVII, would have comparatively little coverage to make sense, I think."

    I'm not sure I understand this. You can get 105mm that almost cover 8x10. Or 120mm that do cover 8x10.

  9. #9

    FLs for LF beginner?

    The 90mm to me was a lens where I had to be practically on top of the subject to get a frame filled photo, otherwise for typical landscapes everything looked too far back. I shoot a 135mm now which seems to be a decent all around and slightly wide lens.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Fremantle, Western Australia

    FLs for LF beginner?

    Welcome to the world at large, David.

    When I first got into LF (4x5) I bought a 90mm SA to go with my Tachihara. I preferred a 24mm lens on my 35mm gear and the 90mm turned out to be a pretty good approximation - in 4x5, a 90mm "seems" wider than the 28mm lens on 35mm gear, probably due to the squarer format.

    You need a WA lens for LF, and the 90mm SA is a good one to get. It's certainly sharp enough and I would recommend one. You may not even need a recessed lens board.


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