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Thread: Portrait Lens Recommendation Needed

  1. #1
    Hack Pawlowski6132's Avatar
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    Portrait Lens Recommendation Needed

    I am a portrait photographer usually shooting 35mm and MF. Got a deal on a Calumet 4x5 and now want to give it a go.

    I have a Schneider 210mm but was wondering what the generally agreed upon focal length is for H&S portraits.

    Also, can I assume that all lenses will mount to my 4x4 lensboard and work with my camera?

    thanx in advance,

    Joe
    South Bend

  2. #2

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    Re: Portrait Lens Recommendation Needed

    It is really a matter of personal taste. You'll get all kinds of opinions on this, already stated in previous threads. But that is an excellent lens to experiment with. Remember that large format gives you the freedom to crop images and still get superb resolution.

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    Re: Portrait Lens Recommendation Needed

    210 is great for 1/2 or even full body, but for H&S I prefer a 300mm.

    Of course you will get answers from 180 to 360 to this.

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    Hack Pawlowski6132's Avatar
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    Re: Portrait Lens Recommendation Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Toyon View Post
    It is really a matter of personal taste. You'll get all kinds of opinions on this, already stated in previous threads. But that is an excellent lens to experiment with. Remember that large format gives you the freedom to crop images and still get superb resolution.
    Thanx! Good point.

    As I think about this more, I can probably figure the lens focal length part out by doing a little research. For example. On my 35mm I realy like 135mm to 200mm. There's probably some mathematical conversion table out there I can find.

    The part of my question though...once I determine which length, can I assume that any lens will mount on my board? Are these all standard sizes or will I be dealing with proprietary mount sizes?

    Also, one more question to show my ignorance; My 35mm and MF portraits lenses have HUGE apertures (e.g, f1.2) for great brokeh and shallow DOF. I notice that most LF lenses dont have apertures that wide. There must be a good reason. Probably the equation to determine aperture and the dimensions of the lens?

    Will I still be able to get shallow DOF for my portraits with f/5.6 LF lenses.

    Thanx for your patiences and time to answer some of these basic questions.

    Joe
    South Bend


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    Re: Portrait Lens Recommendation Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Pawlowski6132 View Post
    Also, one more question to show my ignorance; My 35mm and MF portraits lenses have HUGE apertures (e.g, f1.2) for great brokeh and shallow DOF. I notice that most LF lenses dont have apertures that wide. There must be a good reason. Probably the equation to determine aperture and the dimensions of the lens?

    Will I still be able to get shallow DOF for my portraits with f/5.6 LF lenses.

    Thanx for your patiences and time to answer some of these basic questions.

    Joe
    South Bend

    Check out a DOF calculator on the net; f5.6 or even f11 will have shallow DOF with a longer lens on 4x5.

    Modern lenses will fit into a 0,1 or 3 shutter; see this for lensboard hole sizes:

    http://www.largeformatphotography.in...ole_sizes.html

  6. #6

    Re: Portrait Lens Recommendation Needed

    On a 4x4 board you would be limited, the front opening of the camera would also be limiting the maximum size lens you can fit.

    210 & 240/4.5 Heliar, Xenar, and Raptars all fit 4x4 boards.
    300/6.3 Velostigmat, Commercial Ektar will fit 4x4 boards.
    300/5.5 Dogmar fits a 4x4 board.

    Going larger would require fitting and/or custom lens boards threaded for the flange.

    Achieving shallow DOF will not be a problem at portrait distance with any LF lens. DOF usually relates to the physical aperture size so a 210/5.6 would be equal to a 50/1.4 for DOF. Just look thru the GG to see the effect.

    Have fun with it.

  7. #7

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    Re: Portrait Lens Recommendation Needed

    I use nothing shorter than 300mm for 4x5 portraits. Often 450 or 600 mm is preferred. too much distortion with 210 or 240.

  8. #8
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: Portrait Lens Recommendation Needed

    Welcome! A great place to get a feel for different portrait lenses is to go through some of the monthly portrait threads. Hope this link works...

    http://www.largeformatphotography.in...archid=3225637

    You'll note that some of the older portrait and pictorial lenses have a very different feel from the modern lenses.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

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    Re: Portrait Lens Recommendation Needed

    If you're familiar with the lens FL you prefer when shooting 135 film then just multiply those FL by 3.5X if you print FF or 4X if you crop your prints to 4x5 ratio. It's pretty common to use a 105mm lens on a 135 camera for H/S portraits and crop the prints to say... 8x10. A similar perspective on FF 4x5 would be 420mm (105mm x4).

  10. #10

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    Re: Portrait Lens Recommendation Needed

    You need to be careful. Your Calumet has limited bellows draw. If it is the old round rail Calumet monorail then the limit is most likely 16 inches. There was a longer version providing 22 inches.

    If you are shooting tight head & shoulders portraits with a 135mm lens on 35mm film then you are probably shooting from about 10 feet, or from 14.5 feet with a 200mm lens. With only 16 inches of bellows draw you cannot focus to those distances with non-telephoto lens longer than about 360mm focal length. With a camera with 22 inches of bellows you can focus a 450mm to 480mm lens to approximately those distances. Neither of these are going to give you quite the same tight composition you get with your 35mm lenses from those distances although the 450mm lens on the camera with 22 inches of draw will come pretty close in framing to the 135mm lens on the 35mm format from the same distance.

    You may be able to find a longer telephoto lens (to be understood roughly as a lens whose flange to film distance at infinity focus is significantly shorter than its focal length) that will allow you to focus as close as you do with your 35mm setup. Telephoto lenses are relatively uncommon, have limited coverage and although they are capable of providing shallow depth of field, they are rarely listed among those lenses with mysteriously wonderful bokeh.

    Good luck.

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