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Thread: Lens questions from a new 4x5 shooter

  1. #21
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Lens questions from a new 4x5 shooter

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm View Post
    Be conventional and ignore all this nonsense, just get a decent 150 and go shooting. If it doesn't suit you, sell it and get something more to your taste.
    Exactly, or a 90mm if you want the standard wide.

    PS: shutter releases will be mostly standard between shutters. Some exceptions but none you need to worry about at the moment. Typical 90mm and a 150mm lenses from Schneider, Fuji, Nikon, or Rodenstock will set you back only $400 or less for the pair if you shop well.
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    All comments and thoughtful critique welcome

  2. #22

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    Re: Lens questions from a new 4x5 shooter

    +1

    Get a 150mm f5.6 from any of the big four, Fujinon, Nikon, Rodenstock Schneider in a known good shutter and burn film. Need to start some where and the sooner the better.

    ~At some point, starring at the water in the swimming pool will not teach ya how to swim.. Gotta "Jump In" at some point.


    Bernice


    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm View Post
    The 4x5 focal length that's roughly equivalent to 50 mm on full frame 35 mm is conventionally said to be 150 mm, which is 4x5's normal (= film gate's diagonal) focal length. However, 35 mm's normal focal length is actually 43 mm, that 50 mm is considered normal is due to an historical accident. The 4x5 rough equivalent to 43 mm on 35 is 174 mm.

    I say rough equivalent because the two formats' aspect ratios are different. 166 mm on 4x5 has the same horizontal angle of view as 50 mm on 35.

    Be conventional and ignore all this nonsense, just get a decent 150 and go shooting. If it doesn't suit you, sell it and get something more to your taste.

  3. #23

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    Re: Lens questions from a new 4x5 shooter

    Don't overlook the Caltar lenses. They're every bit as good as their Schneider and Rodenstock cousins and usually sell for less.
    Never is always wrong; always is never right.

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  4. #24

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    Re: Lens questions from a new 4x5 shooter

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Stahlke View Post
    Don't overlook the Caltar lenses. They're every bit as good as their Schneider and Rodenstock cousins and usually sell for less.
    Sure that Caltar stamped lenses are good enough, but I'd prefer the same Sch/Rod lens stamped by Technika or by SINAR than by Caltar.

    There was a sample performance variation in the production, and while I guess that no really defective glass was commercialized each brand had their own additional QC standards and their discounts.

    It is undisclosed how production was segmentated or not by particular unit performance, but you won't find a singe Technika stamped dog, this is for sure.

  5. #25

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    Re: Lens questions from a new 4x5 shooter

    BennoLF,

    Maybe you already know this, but there are "families" of lenses. Theses can be divided roughly into groups based on angle of view/coverage. It helps to know about this generally when choosing lenses. All the different lens designs can get a bit daunting, but here's the simplified version:

    "Normal" modern lenses are Plasmats for the most part, a design that gives generous coverage in moderate to long focal lengths and has a large maximum aperture. Most modern 135-210 (and longer) lenses are Plasmats. Nikkor and Fujinon designate these lenses with a "W" (for wide...) and combinations with "W" (e.g., "CW" for the newer Fuji lenses). Schneider Plasmats are designated "Symmar"; Rodenstock, "Sironar." Later models of these lenses have other modifiers (e.g., "Super" and "Apo") but the root designation is always there. Most of these lenses have f/5.6 as maximum aperture. These lenses provide generous coverage for focal lengths of 150mm and higher. The 125-135mm Plasmats give moderate coverage. Shorter than this, and the image circle becomes too small to use on 4x5. (There are exceptions: remember, I'm speaking generally).

    For shorter focal lengths (think "wide-angle" lenses) on 4x5, you need lenses with a different design, i.e., with more coverage. These lenses have different optical designs to get a greater coverage angle and are proportionally larger for a given focal length. We need these lenses for anything 100mm or shorter on 4x5. A standard focal length in this category is 90mm. 75mm and 65mm are also common. Less common are the very wide 47mm, 58mm and a few others. Nikkor and Fujinon lenses in this group are designates "SW" with or without other modifiers. Schneider lenses are "Super Angulon"; Rodenstocks in this category are "Grandagons." These lenses are made in longer focal lengths for larger film formats (e.g., 8x10), but anything longer than 120mm or so is really overkill for 4x5; the lenses are just too big, bulky and heavy compared to the Plasmats (plus they take much larger filters).

    Plasmats themselves get to be too large for 4x5 in longer focal lengths too. A 300mm Plasmat is a "normal" lens on an 8x10 camera, but overkill for 4x5. It makes sense, then, that for longer focal lengths for 4x5 we can move to other lens designs or variations to get a more convenient size and still have more than enough coverage (remember, longer = more coverage, so a long lens that has a small angle of coverage still gives us a big image circle). So, for lenses longer than, say 210-240mm, we can use Tessars or modifed Plasmats that are smaller and lighter. Lenses to look for in this category are the Nikkor M series (the 300mm M f/9 is a classic; small with large coverage), the Fujinon A series (the 240mm Fuji A is also a classic) and the Schneider G-Claron lenses. There are others as well.

    And, there are lots of other designs and specialized lenses out there; the above are just an incomplete overview. However, it may help you in understanding which lenses you want for your first forays into LF.

    Now, for my advice, which is unabashedly personal. I'd get a 135mm Plasmat for my first lens. It's close enough to the standard "normal" 150mm that a slight crop will get you that image, but wide enough that it is really practical in tighter situations. I'd add to this something around 210mm later for the longer side and something around 90mm for the shorter side. This kit, 90mm - 135mm - 210mm, serves me well for 90% of my work.

    Personal choices: My go-to 135mm lens is an old Wide-Field Ektar for it's extra coverage, but I'm really happy with my Plasmats. I'd look at the Rodenstock Apo-Sironars first, but any 135mm from the big four will be great (Nikkor W, Fujinon W or CW, Schneider Symmar or Apo-Symmar). For a 90mm look for any of the standbys from the big four (Rodenstock Grandagon, Schneider Super Angulon, Nikkor/Fujinon SW). Note that these lenses always come in two sizes, a larger-aperture f/5.6 (or f/4.5) version and a smaller f/8 (f/6.8) version. The bigger ones are too larger for me, but have greater coverage. My personal favorite is the Nikkor f/8 90mm since it has the largest coverage of the smaller-size 90s.

    210mm is a bit more personal. Many like 210 Plasmats; I think they are too large. I happily use a bunch of smaller lenses in this focal length category. I have an older Ektar 203mm f/7.7 that is superb. I recommend it highly for its small size and image quality, but you need to find one in good condition. The Fujinon A 180mm is just a tad shorter, but really light and of excellent quality. The G-Claron 210mm is also really small an light as is the Nikkor M 200mm (if you can find one). The trade-off here is the small aperture; usually around f/8. A bit larger Tessar lens, like the Fujinon L 210mm, has a larger aperture and isn't quite as big as the Plasmats (I used one a lot when I lived in Europe - great lens).

    There is a lot more to learn, but the above should get you started and you can learn as you go from there.

    Best,

    Doremus

  6. #26
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Lens questions from a new 4x5 shooter

    I favor a 150mm/5.6 plasmat as a first lens. Caltar being an excellent choice for quality and cost. but as others mentioned, any of the big names as long as the shutter, most likely a Copal 0, operates smoothly and sounds/tests accurate. But a 150mm/5.6 Caltar II-N is what I used for years for 4x5 (still do, just not much 4x5 these days), so that is my bias.

    A 150mm as a standard lens gives a lot of room for movements, a do-it-all general landscape lens, and is a nice jumping-off focal length once one gets a handle on the type of imagery a 4x5 is capable of.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

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