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Thread: 4x5 Portrait lens recommendation with "classic" look and feel

  1. #1

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    4x5 Portrait lens recommendation with "classic" look and feel

    Hi there! I'm in the market for a new lens for my 4x5; I'm looking for something in the 210mm range with an aperture of f5.6 or wider.

    Ideally, I'm looking for something that has less elements and more of that classic old fashioned look to it, with a rendering similar to the legendary Kodak Aero Ektar f2.8 lens (but not looking to spend more than 500ish, so unfortunately that lens is not in my radar). I see lots of options on eBay, but it's hard to differentiate between all of them since these lenses are rarely reviewed anymore. I also would need a copal shutter since I'm using an intrepid 4x5 camera.

    Does anyone have any recommendations? What have been some of your favorite portrait lenses for 4x5 with a less modern and more classic rendering?

    Thank you!

  2. #2

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    Re: 4x5 Portrait lens recommendation with "classic" look and feel

    For "sharp" focused portrait images, Kodak f4.5 Ektar or f6.3 Commercial Ektar in the focal length as needed and similar Tessar formula (Zeiss Tessar, Schneider Xenar, Fujinar and many others) lenses. Taking aperture from full aperture to no smaller than f16.

    For Sorta Focus ("soft focus") Kodak Portrait Ektar, these are nice at f8.

    More important than just the lens, lighting is IMO by FAR the more significant aspect of portrait images.

    Prime importance is expression frozen in the image of the portrait sitter. Combo of portrait sitter expression, lighting should be the top priority aspects of portrait making. Lens choice is an aid at best.



    Bernice



    Quote Originally Posted by formanproject View Post
    Hi there! I'm in the market for a new lens for my 4x5; I'm looking for something in the 210mm range with an aperture of f5.6 or wider.

    Ideally, I'm looking for something that has less elements and more of that classic old fashioned look to it, with a rendering similar to the legendary Kodak Ektar f2.8 lens (but not looking to spend more than 500ish). I see lots of options on eBay, but it's hard to differentiate between all of them since these lenses are rarely reviewed anymore.

    Does anyone have any recommendations? What have been some of your favorite portrait lenses for 4x5 with a less modern and more classic rendering?

    Thank you!

  3. #3
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: 4x5 Portrait lens recommendation with "classic" look and feel

    My recommendation would be the 9.5-inch Wollensak Velostigmat Series II with the soft-focus adjustment. Versatile with a very classic rendering, though you won't find one in a Copal shutter. That shutter requirement in itself disqualifies most "classic look" lenses.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  4. #4

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    Re: 4x5 Portrait lens recommendation with "classic" look and feel

    Solution to the lens in barrel "problem" became the Sinar shutter about four decades ago.. About zero has changed since then to now.
    It was the curiosity and fondness with "vintage" lenses that made using a Sinar shutter de-facto to this day with some exceptions (modern wide angle lenses and similar).

    If strobe is used, shutter speed accuracy is of less importance than relying in shutter speed accuracy-precision-consistency than constant light film exposures. Using strobe for portraits tend to upset the portrait sitters expression as portrait sitters are often already stressed from doing a portrait sitting, waiting for that "flash" to go off adds to this stress for the portrait sitter.


    Bernice


    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sawyer View Post
    My recommendation would be the 9.5-inch Wollensak Velostigmat Series II with the soft-focus adjustment. Versatile with a very classic rendering, though you won't find one in a Copal shutter. That shutter requirement in itself disqualifies most "classic look" lenses.

  5. #5
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: 4x5 Portrait lens recommendation with "classic" look and feel

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernice Loui View Post
    Solution to the lens in barrel "problem" became the Sinar shutter about four decades ago...
    Agreed, but as the OP stipulated a Copal shutter, I'm guessing he doesn't have a Sinar system.

    Another front-shuttered system is the Mentor, though those are sometimes for metric-sized films.

    For strobe work, any synchronized shutter would work, even a synchronized Packard shutter. Or if the studio isn't too bright, the old uncover-pop-cover-the-lens trick.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  6. #6

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    Re: 4x5 Portrait lens recommendation with "classic" look and feel

    Another under appreciated option, Packard shutter. These work GOOD for studio portrait images constant or strobe light.
    Air bulb or long cable release is a must for portrait images as this allows that important interaction with the portrait sitter. This often under appreciated aspect of portrait image making can make all the difference in the portrait sitter's expression frozen on the still image.

    Need for a modern "Copal" shutter IMO, is too limiting for "classic" portrait lens choices.


    Bernice

  7. #7

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    Re: 4x5 Portrait lens recommendation with "classic" look and feel

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernice Loui View Post
    Solution to the lens in barrel "problem" became the Sinar shutter about four decades ago.. About zero has changed since then to now.
    It was the curiosity and fondness with "vintage" lenses that made using a Sinar shutter de-facto to this day with some exceptions (modern wide angle lenses and similar).

    If strobe is used, shutter speed accuracy is of less importance than relying in shutter speed accuracy-precision-consistency than constant light film exposures. Using strobe for portraits tend to upset the portrait sitters expression as portrait sitters are often already stressed from doing a portrait sitting, waiting for that "flash" to go off adds to this stress for the portrait sitter.


    Bernice
    “ Solution to the lens in barrel "problem" became the Sinar shutter about four decades ago.”
    Try 6 decades ago. I used it in my studio in the 60s.
    The original Sinar shutter was introduced in 1951.

  8. #8
    (Shrek)
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    Re: 4x5 Portrait lens recommendation with "classic" look and feel

    If you can fit an older dial-set Compur shutter, the ideal lens (for my portrait needs) is the quite affordable uncoated 210 Xenar.

  9. #9
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: 4x5 Portrait lens recommendation with "classic" look and feel

    I am a big fan of heavy duty cameras

    The Burke James 5+ models of Rembrandt made 1951...both folding and not

    I believe they were designed for the many heavy barrel lenses B&J sold from war surplus

    There are 2 basic models 8X10 are rare

    The 5X7 is better as it also has 4X5 backs and sliders down to 2X3

    OE is a synced Packard shutter, with quick release clips behind the lensboard

    Additionally the Die Cast GG frame is VERY slow to wear, making 'T' more accurate over years than wood

    If you buy one, make sure it has a good OE Packard

    I like the 240mm Xenar mine came with

    Here is my nice one

    Xenar f4.5 240mm by TIN CAN COLLEGE, on Flickr
    Tin Can

  10. #10
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: 4x5 Portrait lens recommendation with "classic" look and feel

    Packard is over 100 years old

    and still in business

    https://packardshutter.com/
    Tin Can

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