4x5 300mm Distortion

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Xander Fischer, Apr 21, 2013.

  1. Xander Fischer

    Xander Fischer Member

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    I've looked through a few past threads on similar topics, but didn't find a satisfactory answer. I do mostly landscape/architectural work, so I'm looking for a 300mm 4x5 lens that will allow coverage for good movement, great sharpness edge to edge, and as little distortion as possible above all. I like the compact size of the nikon 300mm f/9, but I hear the distortion can be pretty bad. I want to be able to shoot pretty close if necessary (~6-8ft or closer). God, I hope I can avoid filter sizes exceeding 82mm. Interested to hear your input.
     
  2. karl

    karl Subscriber

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    Fujinon C 300mm f8.5 is a fine choice. Love mine.
     
  3. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    cite examples of this "distortion" you speak of.
    nikkor, rodenstock 305mm or fuji, can't go wrong.
     
  4. Xander Fischer

    Xander Fischer Member

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    I'm talking about barrel distortion that causes verticals/horizontals to bow or bend. I've read that some 300mm lenses do exhibit some barrel distortion, and given that I shoot a lot of subjects with strong vertical/horizontal lines, I want to be sure that I'm getting the lens with least distortion.
     
  5. lenslens

    lenslens Member

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    Nikkor M 300 mm - this lens has enough coverage for 8 x 10... so the little bit you need in the middle will be pretty good. This is a stunning lens in my humble opinion. Been using it for years and years... it is a lens preferred by people reproducing artworks.
     
  6. LJH

    LJH Member

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    305mm G Claron for B&W work. It has a massive image circle (covers 7x17" stopped down), and is also corrected for closer work. It is a flat field lens, so shouldn't have much (if any discernible) distortion in the small part of the IC you'll use on a 4x5.

    I've also used my 240mm G Claron and 355mm G Claron for coloured work, and found it to be a fine performer.
     
  7. LJH

    LJH Member

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    Oh, and is should be a lot cheaper than the 300mm Nikkor...
     
  8. Jesper

    Jesper Subscriber

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    I've used the Nikkor 300/9 for twelve years now without having any trouble barrel distortion. You can safely use that one, or one of the others suggested in this thread.
     
  9. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Be careful what/where you read. I've used and owned 300s from turn-of-the-last century Goerz Double Anastigmats to modern Symmar-S Schneiders, and have yet to see noticeable barrel distortion from any of them.

    Also, be wary of lenses with huge image circles, they can cause bellows flare. A 12" Red Dot Artar would be very sharp, distortion free, with superb color balance and still have a large enough image circle for movements on 4x5.
     
  10. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    In any case, any 300mm (non-telephoto) lens will have enough coverage that you won't run into the distortion (if it exists) before you run out of camera movements. Any of the modern (Schneider, Rodenstock, Nikon, Fuji) 300mm lenses will be just fine, but if you want a more traditional lens option without spending a fortune, a 12" Kodak Commercial Ektar would be a great choice. If your budget will allow more headroom, then a nice Goerz Dagor 12" would fit the bill. The G-Claron mentioned before is a great lens, but it will not be that cheap - they're known for their massive coverage and as such are sought after by th Ultra-Large Format crowd.
     
  11. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    What you've heard probably is in reference to 35mm zoom lenses. Rectilinear lenses have been manufactured for quite some time, and the lenses have been good for at least a century.
     
  12. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    I agree. It's flange back (true focusing distance) is the shortest of all the main 300mm choices (282.3mm). This allows me to focus closer than the other options on my Toyo 45AII. If you have limited bellows extension on your camera it might be something to consider.

    Here is a table I found helpful.

    http://www.ebonycamera.com/articles/lenses.html

    Good luck!
     
  13. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Yes it would, but with the caveat of the large image circle. This can be managed with a compendium shade.
    I've been using a ca. 1925 CPG Berlin 30cm Dagor for about 20 years, as my one and only 300.
     
  14. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    You're not likely to get any distortion on a modern 300mm on 4x5. But if you are really paranoid about it, select a lens like an Apo-Ronar, G-Claron, or Fuji A. But I'll bet the Nikkor M and Fuji C will be just as good. Ordinary 300 or 305 plastmats will be cheaper on the used market, but a lot heavier, and probably have more vibration due to big #3 shutters, as well as the extra stress on the front standard.
    I've never owned a large format lens with barrel distortion.
     
  15. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    If the 300M Nikkor is anything like the 450M Nikkor, it will be distortionless throughout the range - I don't get any with my 450M even in my 14x17 negatives. With movements applied.
     
  16. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I never even think about this when shooting architecture. I might think about differences in image circle
    or possibly minor nuances in contrast. But I could choose a Nikkor M or Fuji A or C or W, or a G-Claron, or even a Dagor from my selection (not that I own 'em all in 300, but close enough!). Not one of them would have a distortion issue unless you were way outside the usable circle of coverage. I guess if one was doing really high-end copy camera work in the old days, the lens of choice would be an Apo Nikkor process lens, or an Apo El Nikkor if you could put that next car purchase on hold, but that amounts to ridiculous overkill for any typical application.
     
  17. JohnArs

    JohnArs Subscriber

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    Apo Ronar 300mm is also very distortion free!

    Cheers Armin
     
  18. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    And if you don't mind a lens in barrel, the Konica Hexanon GR-II 300mm would be another outstanding choice. But again, if you can find one you'll be fighting the ULF crowd for the lens.