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Thread: 4x5 macro advice needed

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2022
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    4x5 macro advice needed

    Hi,
    Anyone here have with some experience with 4x5 macro photography?
    I failed my first attempt.

    I am using a 4x5 and tried with a few different lens (non-macro lens).
    As soon as I get close to 1:1 the lens canít focus anymore. I still can extend the bellows or move closer, but the lens canít focusÖ

    I want to photograph a small object (coin size) to two or three times its natural size.
    Do I need special lens? Or am I doing something wrong?
    Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Lachlan 717
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    2,512

    Re: 4x5 macro advice needed

    Perhaps details:

    Which camera?
    Which lens?
    How much bellow draw?
    Are you focusing via front or rear standard?
    Lachlan.

    You miss 100% of the shots you never take. -- Wayne Gretzky

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Newbury, Vermont
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    Re: 4x5 macro advice needed

    First, tape a foot long ruler to a wall. Then, with your camera on a tripod and its bellows extended to its comfortable maximum length, physically move the camera on its tripod towards the ruler until it falls into focus (do not adjust the bellows for this!). Trust me, the ruler will come into focus - and when it does, you can directly measure the image of the ruler on your focussing screen to establish your particular combo of camera and lens' maximum magnification ratio. If this ratio is not large enough...then you will need to use a lens of a shorter focal length.

    But yes, please do tell us something about your camera: particularly about just how long a bellows extension is possible, and also tell us about the specific focal length lens you are using, and what other lenses you might have at your disposal, also including any enlarging lenses.

    Edit - further notes: when you try the above, do what you can to ensure that both lens board and film plane are parallel with each other, and that they are also parallel to the ruler taped to the wall. If you can do this, and if the focussed image is indeed evenly sharp from top to bottom, then chances are you have a decent lens to uses for your macro-purposes. To further evaluate the lens's closeup performance, tape a sheet of printed material (like a newspaper article) on the wall as flat as possible, and repeat the close-focus procedure and see how sharp everything appears across the whole field. If the image appears a bit soft, try stopping the lens down to a smaller aperture to see if it looks any sharper (it should). Also, if the lenses design does not allow for a true "flat focus" (meaning the the center and the edges of the image field will not focus at the same distance from the wall), then try stopping down to a smaller aperture to see if this fixes the "problem." If not, and assuming that you need to obtain a good field of focus on one plane (but perhaps you don't for your particular subjects?) you may need to use a lens with better closeup correction. Often an enlarging lens can work, but you may need to mount this in a shutter unless your anticipated exposure times will be long enough (like longer than about ten seconds) to allow simple use of the lens cap to make the exposure.

  4. #4

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    Sep 2022
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    32

    Re: 4x5 macro advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Lachlan 717 View Post
    Perhaps details:

    Which camera?
    Which lens?
    How much bellow draw?
    Are you focusing via front or rear standard?
    I am using a Canham 4x5 DLC.
    I tried various lens and could focus all of them to what seemed 1:1.
    I have no idea how long the bellows was extended. Different lengths to different lens, but i could see the image in focus in what seemed 1:1.

    “Are you focusing via front or rear standard?” I don’t know what means.
    Normally I use the back of the camera to find my near positions and the front to tune-up focusing details.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Sep 2022
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    32

    Re: 4x5 macro advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by John Layton View Post
    First, tape a foot long ruler to a wall. Then, with your camera on a tripod and its bellows extended to its comfortable maximum length, physically move the camera on its tripod towards the ruler until it falls into focus (do not adjust the bellows for this!). Trust me, the ruler will come into focus - and when it does, you can directly measure the image of the ruler on your focussing screen to establish your particular combo of camera and lens' maximum magnification ratio. If this ratio is not large enough...then you will need to use a lens of a shorter focal length.

    Thank you very much. In a few days will try it again and will post the results.
    But are you suggesting that is it possible to get a two of three the original size of an object without a specifically designed macro lens?
    That will be great.

    But yes, please do tell us something about your camera: particularly about just how long a bellows extension is possible, and also tell us about the specific focal length lens you are using, and what other lenses you might have at your disposal, also including any enlarging lenses.

    Edit - further notes: when you try the above, do what you can to ensure that both lens board and film plane are parallel with each other, and that they are also parallel to the ruler taped to the wall. If you can do this, and if the focussed image is indeed evenly sharp from top to bottom, then chances are you have a decent lens to uses for your macro-purposes. To further evaluate the lens's closeup performance, tape a sheet of printed material (like a newspaper article) on the wall as flat as possible, and repeat the close-focus procedure and see how sharp everything appears across the whole field. If the image appears a bit soft, try stopping the lens down to a smaller aperture to see if it looks any sharper (it should). Also, if the lenses design does not allow for a true "flat focus" (meaning the the center and the edges of the image field will not focus at the same distance from the wall), then try stopping down to a smaller aperture to see if this fixes the "problem." If not, you may need to use a lens with better closeup correction. Often an enlarging lens can work, but you may need to mount this in a shutter unless your anticipated exposure times will be long enough (like longer than about ten seconds) to allow simple use of the lens cap to make the exposure.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Sep 2022
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    32

    Re: 4x5 macro advice needed

    John,
    “ Often an enlarging lens can work, but you may need to mount this in a shutter unless your anticipated exposure times will be long enough (like longer than about ten seconds) to allow simple use of the lens cap to make the exposure.”

    This was my original plan, but can’t find a board to fit my lens on the camera. I searched various places, ebay etc.
    Do you know where I can find one?

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jun 2004
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    52

    Re: 4x5 macro advice needed

    Many, I also have a DLC and worked up a chart with macro info for the various lenses I have. I can email you a pdf if you want to reply by private message

  8. #8

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    Sep 2022
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    Re: 4x5 macro advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Wagner View Post
    Many, I also have a DLC and worked up a chart with macro info for the various lenses I have. I can email you a pdf if you want to reply by private message
    Just sent you an email. Thank you very much.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jun 2014
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    2,079

    Re: 4x5 macro advice needed

    @many, macro with a large camera is just a pain. Sure it works, but no matter what you do, it's always a road paved with a multitude of inconveniences.

    It's correct that you noticed you "can't focus" anymore with the bellows extended all the way. In fact, you can still focus just fine, but the focus adjustments are relatively tiny at this extension, so nothing much happens. Focusing still works, but it's basically a matter of moving the entire camera like @John Layton explained. Btw, this is no different from doing macro with 35mm or digital - it's just a lot less convenient with a tripod-mounted view camera.

    Movements such as tilt and swing also need to be rather ridiculous to have the desired effect - look up the Scheimpflug rule, make a drawing of your setup and you'll see what I mean. You'll have to though, because stopping down to f/128 still won't be good enough for sufficient depth of focus to capture any object unless it's as flat as a pancake and happens to be perfectly parallel to the film plane.

    The ground glass is evidently pretty dark working at large magnifications, so be sure to throw as much light onto your subject so you can actually still see what you're doing.

    Use the shortest lens you've got, because the difficulties magnify as the focal length increases.

    Conversely, everything becomes so much easier if you just use a smaller format to record the object. Why does it have to be 4x5? Is this for contact printing?

  10. #10
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: 4x5 macro advice needed

    Where the desired image on film is significantly larger than the subject, reversing the lens usually improves image quality. I usually do this by mounting an old filter ring, threads outward, on an improvised lens board. Lenses from 35mm or digital cameras work well for this. Movie camera lenses provide even more magnification. Lens boards can be improvised from appropriate plywood or even built up from mat board.

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