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Thread: shooting landscape with the Chamonix

  1. #1
    lilmsmaggie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Elk Grove, CA.

    shooting landscape with the Chamonix

    First -- let me preface this question with: "I don't have the camera yet." And yes, I'm still a newbie to LF.

    After kicking around whether to go with medium format or a 4X5 camera, I'm still leaning towards the Chamonix 45n-1. The medium format camera I have in mind is a Mamiya RZ67. The Mamiya with a 110mm f2.8 lens would weigh aprox. 5.2 lbs.

    The Chamonix with a comparable focal length lens say a Schneider Super-Symmar XL110mm should weigh much less considering the Chamonix by itself is 3 lbs. give or take a few ounces. I can't imagine the Schneider weighing 2 lbs. but then again ...

    On to the question:

    As a landscape photographer, if you could have but one lens to shoot landscapes with the Chamonix 45n-1 (or any 4X5 for that matter); which lens would you choose and why?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Knoxville, Tennessee

    Re: shooting landscape with the Chamonix

    You might find this thread interesting:

    In general, people that use one lens use one approximating normal or slightly wider, for example press photographers typically used 127mm to 135mm. Other one-lens users seem to prefer around the 210mm focal length, say 180mm to 240mm.

    I think most of my work is done either with the 135mm FL, the 110mm, and the 180mm.

    Cheers, Steve

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Czech Republic

    Re: shooting landscape with the Chamonix

    To answer some of the questions:

    first a 110mm on a 6x7cm camera is not comparable to a 110mm lens on a 4x5". If your vision fits the 110mm of 6x7cm camera, it's most probable you'll like a 150-180mm (or even a 210mm) on 4x5".

    The Symmar XL 110mm is IMO quite overkill for 4x5", it's a large and heavy lens with a very large image circle - sufficient for 5x7" with movements. If you want a lens in a 110mm range, there are smaller (not necessarily sharper though) lenses.

    It's difficult to recommend a focal length for an unknown photographer - it depends on what and how you shoot. There are several threads here started by starting LF photographers. Most commonly the first lens recommendation is in the 120mm-150mm range (135mm most likely), some recommend longer, some shorter. I personally shoot most a 210mm lens on 5x7" format, which would be equivalent to a ~135mm on 4x5". If I had only one lens, I'd be happy with the 210mm.

    You don't need a super modern super expensive lens, especially if you were only finding your way in LF. I'd recommend buying a cheap(ish) older lens, testing your vision and work with LF. You can then sell it will a minimal loss. My 210mm lens is a Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 210mm f/4.5 from approx. 1945. There are much more attributes to a LF lens, then only it's sharpness (especially measured in lab)... If you don't mind, have a look at my work with it...

    As per weight of the camera: You're only considering the camera and lens. But there are other things necessary/useful to LF - film holders (it seems negligible, but if you have several holders - and you will want to - the weight quickly adds up), filters, darkcloth, loupe, light metter...

    But the satisfaction is better from a larger negative. My overall recommendation would be to not choose a Mamiya and choose the Chamonix (I have a Chamonix 5x8" and am very happy with it...)

    Hope this helps

    Last edited by Jiri Vasina; 21-Jul-2009 at 10:58. Reason: Bad math
    Jiri Vasina

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  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Re: shooting landscape with the Chamonix

    If you want to take landscape shots with everything in focus from foreground to background, you'll have to go for the LF camera with tilt movements. Even at f/32, a MF lens cannot do that.
    Of course, the Mamiya RZ67 (or even the RB67) is a very fine cameraeasy and fast to operate, and a 6x7 negative gives excellent image quality, but a few years ago, I became frustrated because my RB67 wouldn't allow me to take the kind of landscape shot I had in mind.
    It depends quite a bit on your type of photography.

    As for a first LF lens, I would also recommend a 150mm (approx. a 45mm in 35mm terms) because they are a bit easier to handle than a wide angle lens.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Washington, D.C.

    Re: shooting landscape with the Chamonix

    The RZ67 is a great studio camera, but I don't find too many photographers happy to lug them in the field. The Chamonix is much better suited to shooting landscapes for a lot reasons--including weight and the ability to use camera movements. I'd start with a light, inexpensive lens to get your bearings--something like a used Sironar-N 150mm, and then take it from there.

  6. #6

    Re: shooting landscape with the Chamonix

    Unless you're planning on putting a reflex finder on the Chamonix, the biggest deal is how you actually use the cameras. An RZ is a completely different beast than a 4x5 camera.

    I do almost all of my 4x5 landscape shooting with a 135mm f/5.6 lens.

  7. #7
    3d Visual Effects artist
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Culver City, CA

    Re: shooting landscape with the Chamonix

    I shoot most of my landscapes with 90mm or 240mm.

    I have an RB67, and I find the Chamonix (and large format in general) more enjoyable when shooting landscapes (and most other things too)
    Daniel Buck - 3d VFX artist
    3d work:
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  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jun 2006

    Re: shooting landscape with the Chamonix

    To answer your question the 110 SSXL would be my second choice of lens if I could have only one for 4x5 LF, my first choice would be a 150. And no I don't consider the 110 SSXL overkill for 4x5, I use its generous movements all the time, if anything I am frustrated by the lack of movements available from my 150.

    However I think you need to ask yourself a more basic question to decide between the Mamiya and a LF camera - what do you want from your images? If need movements to get the results you want and are happy to use a relatively limited range of lenses (particularly at the long end) then LF is for you. If not then the Mamiya or another medium format camera may well be a better choice.

    David Whistance

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Tucson, AZ

    Re: shooting landscape with the Chamonix

    More of my images are made with a 135mm lens. The second runner up is 240mm. Close behind that is 75mm. 400mm after that.

  10. #10
    lilmsmaggie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Elk Grove, CA.

    Re: shooting landscape with the Chamonix

    So far, most of the comments confirm my beliefs. In terms of compactness, weight, selection of lenses, etc., my gut says that the Chamonix is the biggest bang for the buck not to mention a larger negative size.

    As far as the comparable lens thing goes, I simply wanted to keep the "focal length of the lens" the same just for illustrative purposes. I realize that each photographer will have different preferences in terms of lenses used. That's why I asked the question: Given YOUR choice which lens would you chose. I'm also realized that the 110mm wouldn't necessarily be normal for both formats. For whatever reason, it seems that when I discuss the purchase of a 4X5 with photographic salesmen, they invariably suggest MF as an alternative.

    The other reason I asked about the "one lens," selection is that, unfortunately, I'm employed with the United Fascist Republic of "Kalifornia." And Ahhhnuuld, has implemented mandatory 3-day furloughs. For me that represents a 15% cut in pay which seriously errodes or eliminates any discretionary spending. Thus, I've had to put off purchasing LF equipment indefinitely.

    I'm still very interested in hearing more about lens choices for landscape, from an individual preference perspective. It gives me much to consider.

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