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Thread: Basic Lenses

  1. #11

    Join Date
    Oct 2001

    Basic Lenses

    during my years pursuing the holy grail of "fine art", i completed about four portfolios of self-portraiture, generally in unique settings that i would run across. in most cases, the image included a full, or near full body and included a considerable amount of the setting, rather than a "head-and-shoulders" type portrait, so longer lenses would not have been appropriate. i would recommend something along the lines of a 135/5.6 rodenstock, nikkor, or schneider - this is a super all-around lens that can handle "standard" views of environmental portraiture, smallish architectural subjects, landscapes, etc. if you would like to see a couple of my self- portraits, there are two on the website of the Seattle Art Museum - - sign in at the site, click on the search button, then click on "artist name (list)", scroll down the list of names to "james b norman" and hit the "next" button. on the next screen, my name will appear, and you hit the "search now" button. the first of the self- portraits will then show up - you can click the image for a larger version, and/or hit the >> button at top to go to the second image.

  2. #12

    Basic Lenses

    If you could only have one 35mm lens for this project, what would it be? Take that focal length and calculate the equivalent in 4x5. A 50mm lens in 35mm is basically equivalent to 150mm in 4x5.

    In addition to the lenses recommended, you might want to look at Caltars. Calumet sells these, but they are Rodenstock or Schneider lenses. I have a 150/5.6 Caltar S-II in a Copal 0. The lens was made by Schneider and is coated. I've been very pleased with it and I got it on fleabay for $200.


  3. #13

    Basic Lenses

    From the perspective of an avid armature, who couldn?t sell the idea of a $700+ lens to the wife, I am a big fan of ?60?s? era Wollensak Raptar lenses. They are sharp, light, and fast. The Vologstigmats (spelling?) were an earlier design, and I am not familiar with them. Here is some data that may be of use to you.

    162mm Wollensak Raptar f4.5max Angle of Coverage 64deg. IC 202mm 190mm Wollensak Raptar f4.5max Angle of Coverage 64deg. IC 237mm 240mm Wollensak Raptar f4.5max Angle of Coverage 64deg. IC 300mm

    If you consider 45deg of coverage on film as ?standard,? then a 180mm comes the closest. Only you can decide if this suites your needs the best, but it does make the price point for students. I have seen 240mm Raptars go for under $100 in ?good ? condition. You can pick up a 162mm or a 190mm for around the same price. Hope this helps.

  4. #14

    Join Date
    May 2002

    Basic Lenses

    thank you for all the response! everyone has great advise, but i think the cheaper lenses are going to be in my future, rather than a good portrait lens. my self portraits are not traditional self portraits -- think along the lines of pin-hole and rigging up a holga

    now i guess my final question would be the shutter -- does it matter what kind it is? (copal, etc?)


  5. #15

    Basic Lenses

    Based on my experience, it is important to have a shutter that is accurate. If you get a shutter that is too slow or fast, I would suggest having it calibrated, even if you are using B&W film. An accurate shutter just makes life easier.

  6. #16

    Basic Lenses

    I wrote my previous post when I was in a bit of a hurry, and when I read it again a while later I though, "Well, isn't that a nice bit of blindingly obvious advice?" So, to clarify (or at least not make it worse)...

    I'm borrowing an older lens that is mounted in a Synchro-Compur shutter. When I first used it I tested some of the slower speeds against a clock. I found that each speed was about 1/3 of a stop slow. I used this lens/shutter with some transparency film, and I had a hard time getting perfect exposures - even when I compensated for the slow speeds (I don't have this problem with my 35mm camera). I didn't have much trouble with B&W film, but I prefer to use Fujichrome. This problem with the shutter has kept me from using my favorite film, and consequently I haven't photographed as much as I would like. Eventually, I got an estimate for the cost calibrating the shutter (and fixing another problem), but it turned out to be more than I felt comfortable spending, and I didn't anticipate needing the lens for much longer. In short, I didn't trust the shutter very much, and would have been better off having it calibrated before I used a bunch of film.

    So, I think that it is important to make sure that any shutter that you buy has accurate times. Even if you buy an old, worn-out shutter, make sure that you have it checked (and calibrated, if necessary) so that you can trust it.

    I see that in making my answer more specific, I have made it no less blindingly obvious. Perhaps next time I will have it translated into Farsi. Anyway, I hope that someone may learn from my mistake.

  7. #17

    Join Date
    Dec 2001

    Basic Lenses

    I am with Jonathan, in that my Raptars and Ysarons have worked out very well, in the original Rapax and Prontor shutters. So far, I've been very fortunate in my purchases. For testing the accuracy of the shutters themselves, a good indication is to meter a scene or subject, and then shoot a Polaroid. If the picture looks right, you are in good shape. If not, you'll have a good idea of how far off you are, in short order. Reshoot for a better looking Polaroid and then note what exposure the shutter was set for. You could do the same test with a slide film, but the Polaroids give instant feedback. Then, you can either make a mental note, or a little cheat sheet for a reminder. Best of luck there.

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