Building my kit, lens tips needed...

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by PKM-25, May 1, 2012.

  1. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

    Messages:
    2,004
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2004
    Location:
    Enroute
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    So I am going to get a good light field camera, what ever presents it self as the best deal at the time, Wista, Calumet Woodfield, Ikeda, etc...

    I am using this camera entirely for landscapes, black and white film traditionally printed only, so no need for color conscious lens choices.

    I really want to avoid the need to use center grad filters on the wide end at all costs, so which lens array will give me the best coverage for movements, be killer sharp, not too dark for focusing and not break the bank:

    1. 65mm F5.6, 90mm F5.6 and 150mm F5.6
    2. 75mm F5.6, 120mm F5.6 and 180mm F5.6

    The longest lens I could ever seeing using in LF is a 210mm, so the range above pretty much pegs my required vision, now it just comes down to can I get killer sharp versions of these lenses for $300-$500 each and what are going to be the best for the money, the least amount of hassle for max image circle / coverage, etc.

    As an aside, I friend of mine is going to sell his Technika with 72mm, 90mm and 210mm lenses, but if they are the more spendy XL versions, it could be too rich for my blood, he's out of town until next month...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2012
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,040
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well for my main5x4 kit I carry a 65mm f8 SA, a 90mm f6.8 Grandagon and a 150mm f5.6 Sironar as well as a 210 f5.6 Symmar S, all lenses easy to find at reasonable prices and in good condition should be around $300 or less.

    I also have 75mm f8 SA on a 617 camera as its standard lens, this would allow slightly more movements on one of my 5x4 cameras but I rarely use wider than my 90mm anyway. I can cope without a centre filter for B&W work.

    If your lucky enough to find a reasonably priced f5.6 65 or 75mm then go for it, but I haven't found the f8 versions to be a problem focussing and the f6.8 Grandagon is no harder to focus than my 90mm f5.6 Super Angulon.

    Ian
     
  3. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,536
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Given you're doing landscape, to be honest I doubt you'd need a wider lens than 90mm very often, so your first trio seems too wide-biased to me. Particularly for a 3-lens landscape kit, 90 would probably be the widest I'd start with, so that you can get 2 lenses in the more "normal" range. This would also solve most of your coverage and light falloff/center filter issues, since that doesn't get too problematic until you get wider than around 90.

    The 75/120/180 combo seems nice, and I love 120mm, but it seems to be a problematic focal length when it comes to finding lenses that have good coverage and a wide aperture, and I still think 75 is a little too wide for a 3-lens landscape kit. You want to make sure you get the most utility out of the three lenses.

    So, I'd probably suggest something like 90mm/135mm/180mm, or 90mm/150mm/210mm.
     
  4. John Austin

    John Austin Member

    Messages:
    521
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2010
    Location:
    Southern For
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Buy only one lens at a time, get used to that lens - Think about your first intended subject, choose a lens that should fit that and that is your first choice - When you have exhausted the exploration of that lens go for the next one

    Don't fall into the trap of too many lenses, they will slow down your progress - There are a few APUG members who boast more lenses than sense

    If you want a number I would suggest a 135mm, which is roughly the same as 35mm on 35mm, given that standard for 35mm is 43.2mm - (If anyone doubts this do the arithmetic, square two adjacent sides of the frame, add these and find the square root of the sum - it is about 43mm, or just measure the diagonal of the frame without putting your vernier caliper through the shutter curtain)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2012
  5. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,916
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    Location:
    Ye Olde England
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Agreed, the 90mm/135mm/180mm set covers most landscape, but I'd add a 300mm to the line up. If I had to cut it down to a three lens set, drop the 90mm as anything with decent coverage is likely to weigh quite a bit. On a recent trip where I took all four, the 90mm saw the least use, and I would probably leave it behind next time.
     
  6. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

    Messages:
    2,004
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2004
    Location:
    Enroute
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Sounds good to me folks, I also thought about getting a 120-135-ish lens first and rolling with it. My favorite focal length in 35mm is a 35mm lens, 60mm in 6x6. But, I can not tell you how many landscapes I have sold that are wider than 24mm equivalents in 35mm, there is something about the foreground sweeping people into the background that they just love, hence my considering a lens wider than a 90 for some work.

    I thought about the one lens approach too, but I have been shooting for so damn long that I know what lens I want on a scene often before I even get the camera out...if I am missing the right lens, then I am missing the right lens. At $300-$400 a piece, it would not kill me to start with a trio nearly as much as not having the right framing for a shot.

    I see glass come and go on here often enough, but what about KEH? Are they a tad high which they can often be?

    What is a stellar 135mm lens with great coverage that I could look for?
     
  7. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,536
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It depends what you mean by great coverage. Like I was saying before, the current gentle wide angles (say around 110 to 135) are typically not wide angle designs so coverage is usually not huge. the transition to true wide angle designs is usually around 90mm where there start to be options for bigger coverage (at a cost in size, $$) etc because lenses of 90mm and wider are often used in architectural photography, where you typically need to use a lot of front rise, for example.

    I would say though, that generally when it comes to landscape work, people tend to overestimate the amount of coverage they need. In typical landscape work you won't need massive shifts/rise/fall. Mostly you'll be using tilts for depth of field, and you usually need only a small amount of front tilt. Back tilt can also be helpful in landscapes if there are coverage constraints.

    Regarding 135mm lenses, I'm not all that familiar with older lenses so others could probably be more helpful, but in a current lens people seem to love the Rodenstock Apo Sironar S 135mm 5.6. Not a huge image circle, but likely enough for landscape.

    This is making me think perhaps you should indeed try one lens, at least for some practice and experimental work in the field. It will give you a much better idea of how much coverage you need before buying more lenses.
     
  8. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

    Messages:
    494
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2010
    Location:
    Everett, WA
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    +1

    Years ago, after I found MF limiting, I bought a Super Graphic. It came with a Wollensak 135mm Optar lens, standard equipment. Guess what? It's a very sharp lens. I am still using that rig, and I used it Sunday, traipsing along a local shore. The lens doesn't have a lot of movement, and the Graphic doesn't have a lot of movements. But they have enough for 90% of what I want to do.

    PKM, get something normal-ish, like 135mm to 150mm. You have lots of lens choices. Look on the Large Format Forum for example images, and a few side-by-side comparisons.

    Do you shoot wide-angle now? If not, then don't worry about it. I'd recommend getting a telephoto, like a Schneider 360mm. These aren't expensive, and they have coverage for 5x7. I've had more use for a long lens than a wide, like 75mm or 90mm. Of course, when you want to spread things out, a wide is good to have.

    As for "color" lenses vs "black and white" lenses, don't worry about it. Remember, the Lumière brothers were doing good color in 1900, and Kodachrome came in 1935.
     
  9. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,916
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    Location:
    Ye Olde England
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    The older Fujinon-W 135mm f/5.6 in a Seiko shutter. Single coated, but reportedly having a 228mm circle of coverage, so plenty of scope for movements or for use on a 5x7. I picked one up from Japan a while back, and it is fast becoming my favourite lens. Small, light, and with a 46mm-58mm step-up ring, takes all my regular filters.
     
  10. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

    Messages:
    2,004
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2004
    Location:
    Enroute
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks guys, I am going to be on the hunt for a 90mm 6.8 Grandagon, 135mm 5.6 and 180mm 5.6, for around a grand, should not be too hard...

    Now....what about the Caltar version of the 90mm 6.8 Grandagon? Is it just re-badged and the same image quality or.....
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2012
  11. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

    Messages:
    2,004
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2004
    Location:
    Enroute
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ok, kit is nearly built:

    Like new condition Toyo 45CF, two copal 0 boards and a copal 1.
    90mm F6.8 Caltar II, mint
    135mm F5.6 Apo Sironar-N, like new
    180mm F5.6 Apo Symmar, Mint

    All for $500 under budget, whew!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2012
  12. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,040
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The Caltar version is identical, I'm using an older rebadged Symmar S - a Caltar-S II that I bought3-4 years ago from someone on this forum (thanks Thomas) and it's a superb lens as good as my other SChneider/Rodenstock lenses. Just rebadged, they bought producyion blocks of lenses.

    Ian