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Thread: help choosing portrait lens?

  1. #11

    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    La Quinta, CA
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    Re: help choosing portrait lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by gnd2 View Post
    Thanks for all the replies. I found a Heliar in a Compound shutter online that looks pretty nice, may spring for that. Would put a bit of a dent in the bank account but it's the only one I've found longer than 210mm that isn't a barrel lens.

    The other suggestions are interesting too. I tend not to favor shorter focal lengths but may try something out since they're more affordable and could be a good experience.

    Dan, I'm in Rancho Penasquitos, about 30 min from Carlsbad (in light traffic). Do you use your barrel lenses with a shutter of some sort?

    For my barrel lenses (mainly for the 8 x 10), I put together a packard shutter that I can slip on to the front of them when I want to use it. It gives me about 1/20 sec exposure time. A lot of my images are done with a slow enough shutter speed that I can just do it with a lens cap. I also do the Gallli shutter approach many times when out in the field. If you don't know what that is, search on this site and you'll find out.

    The heliar is a real nice lens and I use mine a lot (it doesn't have shutter). You might also look for a Schneider G-Claron - very sharp lens. I'm pretty sure that they make one at about 240 mm, and those many times are in shutter. Mine is for my 8 x 10 (355 mm).

    If you are interested in making the drive up to Carlsbad after work some time and meet for dinner, let me know and we can see if we can coordinate a day when I'm in town. I'm always interested in meeting other LF photogs and talking shop. James Mickelson also lives in that area. He is a very good bromoil printer.

  2. #12
    Les
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    Dec 2011
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    Seattle, WA
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    Re: help choosing portrait lens?

    I've seen some nice images from Heliar, but the Fuji 240A delivers as well, not to mention several variations of Fuji 250. Don't have any info on the F4.5, but the F6.3 and F6.7 will cover 5x7 and 8x10 respectively.

    Les

  3. #13
    (Shrek)
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Montreal
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    1,644

    Re: help choosing portrait lens?

    If you can find (and afford) a Heliar in shutter, go for it, you won't be disappointed and if you are you can simply re-sell it whenever you want. Personally I prefer Tessar formulations for portraits, I'm very fond of the Bausch & Lomb Tessars but they don't normally come in shutters. There are however many modern coated Tessars in modern shutters available on fleabay or wherever you buy your lenses, and for a fraction of the cost of a Heliar. Just figure out what each lens manufacturer called their Tessars.

    There may be a few uncoated Tessars in working shutters from Wollensak and Kodak's pre-WWII period kicking around for very little money, as well as German Tessars in better shutters. The uncoated ones tend to be softer (from flare) wide open, which I find pleasing. Longer focal lengths ideal for portraiture are harder to find from that period. Kodak's Commercial Ektar and Wolly's Velostigmat II are still very much in demand as a portrait lenses; the Ilex version is comparable and cheaper.

  4. #14

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    Sep 2014
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    North Dakota
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    867

    Re: help choosing portrait lens?

    Don't know how you feel about sharpness but a 10 inch Commercial Ektar is a good lens.
    "My forumla for successful printing remains ordinary chemicals, an ordinary enlarger, music, a bottle of scotch - and stubbornness." W. Eugene Smith

  5. #15

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    Sep 2013
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    Hong Kong
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    Re: help choosing portrait lens?

    Heliar is one of the best lens for portrait.

  6. #16

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    Jul 2008
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    1,559

    Re: help choosing portrait lens?

    "I know this type of question has been asked quite a bit, I've been searching and reading but still having a hard time getting a clear idea in my head. Hoping some of you wouldn't mind helping me try and sort it out."

    *Spend some time, do some study of what portrait photographers and portrait painters have done in the past and in the here and now. This can go a long ways to helping sort out what tools could work best for your print making goals.*

    Deciding on a "Portrait Lens"...

    ~There is NO ideal "Best" portrait lens~

    Define the specifics of what the portrait print should be. This can be environmental where a medium wide "sharp" everything appears in focus print to head shot with diffusion soft nothing in "sharp" focus with a longer than normal focal length lens.

    Lens itself is only the beginning of the makings of a portrait image. While there are differences in lens rendering, this is greatly affected by lighting-shadows, pose, location, props (if used) and a LOT more.

    There is NO such thing as a magical-special Portrait lens, only what the portrait image maker and the portrait sitter would like to convey as a moment in time of their human condition, of their emotional expression.

    Suggest deciding what the finished and mounted print might be, then decide on how to achieve it which includes possible lenses-lighting-pose-film-processing and all related to achieve the print with portrait sitter in mind then proceed to sort out how best to achieve this.


    Bernice

  7. #17
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Stuck inside of Tucson with the Eastern Seaboard Blues again...
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    Re: help choosing portrait lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernice Loui View Post
    ~There is NO ideal "Best" portrait lens~
    Yes, there is. I'm sure of it. And maybe if I buy just one more, I might find it...
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  8. #18

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    Re: help choosing portrait lens?

    Only to end up with G.A.S.


    Bernice

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sawyer View Post
    Yes, there is. I'm sure of it. And maybe if I buy just one more, I might find it...

  9. #19
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: help choosing portrait lens?

    The most rare and most expensive is always the 'best' anything...

    Fame also counts, in all kinds of acquisitions...

    Notice the Bullitt Mustang sale

    LOL
    sin eater

  10. #20

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    1,559

    Re: help choosing portrait lens?

    Most expensive does not imply best, it simply means some individual or group with excessive monetary means will willing to trade to gain their desired item.

    That Bullitt Mustang has zero value to me, for another it has value.

    Analogy is easily applied to image making. Story is told, the Heliar was coveted as "The Best" portrait lens (Rooted in Japanese Emperor words). These were easily purchased back in the day (majority were purchased for $50 to $150 tops) . Ended up with several focal lengths including the sought after Universal Heliar... Plenty of film was burned and more..

    Most ended with another owner except the 215mm f3.5 which was aftermarket coated by Burke & James. Not used this lens in decades, it sits as a novelty (it was not expensive to purchase back then) more than a print making lens. Yes, get the thing about roundness of focus transitions from sharp to our of focus, contrast renditions and all that. Yet these coveted qualities are lesser relative to the expression of print, emotional expression of the portrait sitter and how this is conveyed to the mind of the portrait print observer.

    Goal of a print is to communicate with content.

    Then came a long list of soft focus lenses from Imagon to Verito-Veritar and a LOT more. What was learned, lighting-shadow, pose, environment and print making were much more of the greater whole.. It all goes back to content rather than lens or any single article of the print making process alone.

    Bottom line, work on how best to communicate and work with any given portrait sitter to help them say what they need to say in a print. Again, the tools to achieve this is secondary.


    Bernice


    Quote Originally Posted by Tin Can View Post
    The most rare and most expensive is always the 'best' anything...

    Fame also counts, in all kinds of acquisitions...

    Notice the Bullitt Mustang sale

    LOL

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