4 x 5 Newbie

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Bobman, Sep 17, 2005.

  1. Bobman

    Bobman Member

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    Hi all,

    I am starting to use LF. Need some advise as to what choice of lens should I use for studio. I am only interested in portraiture. So I have a 210mm f/6.8. So what other lens do I need to get? I would like to be able to shoot head shot, half body and full body. Many thanks.
     
  2. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    If you've used another format, you can just convert the focal lengths you're comfortable with to 4x5 lens lengths. Lenses on 4x5 are approximately equivalent to 35mm lenses of 1/3rd of the focal lenght (that is, a 50mm lens on 35mm is about the same as a 150mm lens on 4x5). Conversions aren't exact due to the different aspect ratios of the films (35mm is 2:3 while 4x5 is, well, 4:5).

    I'd probably go for a 150mm for the shots in which you want to include more of the person, but ultimately the amount of space you have in your studio will come into play. For example, if your studio's large enough, you can just use the 210 and move the camera back for full-lenght portraits. I doubt that this is what you have in mind, but you should figure out just how much room you have for moving the camera about to help you decide what lenses will be useful to you. (Again, if you've shot another format this way, converting the focal lengths that have worked for you is the easiest way to figure out what will work in LF.)

    Best of luck to you with your move to LF. It's extremely addictive...and extremely satisfying.

    Be well.
    Dave
     
  3. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    I've always thought 7-1/2" Wollensak Velostigmat (or the later, coated Raptar) were pretty special when it comes to a portrait lens. You can get a good example for under $100.
     
  4. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    I like the 210 Geronar for portraits. Simple, cheap and not so sharp that you end up doing bodily harm to your subjects :smile:. I would however, like to find something similar in a longer focal length for "head and shoulders" shots.
     
  5. steve simmons

    steve simmons Inactive

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    If you have a 210 I would think about a 300 for the next step. Your camera will need to have at least 16" of bellows for the 300mm/12" lens.

    steve simmons
     
  6. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    One question is "Which 210mm lens"? Character of the lens is as important as focal length. As noted above by Brad, sometimes extreme sharpness isn't the answer. Also, extreme softness isn't always the answer (no everyone wants a Verito shot).

    Matt
     
  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If you've got enough bellows to get close and enough floorspace to step back, a 210mm lens can do it all. Spend the money on lighting.
     
  8. bob01721

    bob01721 Member

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    Well put.
     
  9. Bobman

    Bobman Member

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    Thank you for answering my questions. However, my studio is about 30ft in length and 16ft in width. I have only bought 2 x 1000watts tungsten light. Currently I am using 35mm and 6x7 medium format. So I am going to do 4x5 LF soon. I hope in this forum, I can get to know more about LF. Thanks.
     
  10. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    With 30 feet of studio and putting the subject 10 feet from the background, you can still get a full length portrait of a basketball player with a 4x5" camera and 210mm lens. Seriously, if you're just doing portraits from tight headshot to full length, I don't think you need more than a 210mm lens. It would be the first lens I'd grab from the bag for a portrait on 4x5" in any range, unless I didn't have room to back up and needed a wider lens, or unless I wanted soft focus, in which case I'd use a Verito.
     
  11. Bobman

    Bobman Member

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    Thanks all. I guess I have to settle for 210mm f/6.8 for a moment. Any good lens to recommend for portrait? I like to do nude photography. One of my friends recommends cooke 229 lens if I have the budget. What you guys think?
     
  12. steve simmons

    steve simmons Inactive

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    The Cooke 229 is soft focus when opened wider then f11. After that it is a normal sharpness lens. There is a review of it on the View Camera web site

    www.viewcamera.com

    in the Free Articles section.

    steve simmons
     
  13. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    By all accounts from the few who can afford one the Cooke is a great lens, but if you're really interested in the classic soft focus look, you could buy an 8x10" setup and a classic lens like a Verito (in fact, you could buy a few classic lenses) for the same price, and arguably have a better tool for the job.

    The main attractions of the Cooke over an 8x10" setup are--the specific look of the Cooke (if that happens to appeal to you more than some other soft focus lens), modern shutter, and a good focal length for 4x5", if you are committed to 4x5". If you use strobes, the modern shutter is irrelevant, because you can add strobe sync to an old shutter or use a synched Packard shutter. If you use hot lights or natural light, a modern shutter is more of an advantage.
     
  14. steve simmons

    steve simmons Inactive

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    We are doing an article on soft focus lenses in the November/December issue.

    steve simmons
     
  15. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    Does anyone have an opinion on the Fujinon SF lenses? They will also have the modern shutter and seem to fall into an appropriate range for 4X5 portraiture at 250mm. Depending on the disks included they range from $250 to about $400 at KEH.
     
  16. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I haven't tried the Fujinon, but I've seen a few sample images. It's a different look from the Cooke (diffuse image layered on a sharp image)--more like an Imagon (more diffuse all over). Which of these lenses you like is very much a matter of personal taste, and there isn't much correlation between price and what one person or another person likes.
     
  17. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    I have mixed feelings all the way around on soft lenses, but based on your statement about the benefits of modern shutters, the Fujinon popped into my mind. I can't tell from the original posted whether he wants soft focus or not, except for the mention of Cooke.

    By the way, to the original poster, what lens do you have? You say it is a 210mm f/6.8, that sounds like a Geronar/Caltar IIE to me. From what I have heard, and from Brad's comments, they are not quite as brutally sharp as a higher end lens and might be great for portraiture. Since it is what you have, I would start out using it.
     
  18. Bobman

    Bobman Member

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    Paul, you are right, its the Caltar lens. Someone offer me another lens which is the Rodenstock APO-Sironar-S 210mm/5.6 for US$500.00 (Mint Condition). What do you guys think of this lens? Is it worth the money? Thanks for your advise again.
     
  19. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    That is about the sharpest lens money can buy in the 210mm length (the new APO Symmar-L is arguably as good or better). However, it is probably not the right lens for portraits. It is just wickedly sharp and contrasty. Give the Caltar that you already own a try. I suspect it may be all the lens you'll ever need for people pictures.
     
  20. Bobman

    Bobman Member

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    Thanks Brad.
     
  21. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi bobman -

    you might look into they schneider symmar convertable lenses.
    with the front element removed they make a nice portrait lens ( it is a plastmat design). i have and use one a 210/370 as a portrait lens from time to time.

    as david goldfarb suggested, the new cooke portrait lens is supposed to be the cat's meow as a new lens in a modern shutter, but for the price of that lens, you could buy a handful of "vintage" portrait lenses, decide which one/ones you like and sell the rest for pretty much what you bought them for.

    if you are looking for a verito, seth at cameraeccentric.com has a one in a factory mounted betax shutter, so you'll get more than just a "studio shutter"(maybe 1/10S). it really all depends on what sort of "look" you are trying to get. olde lenses are nice, and new(er) lenses are too ...

    good luck!

    john