Favorite 4x5" "portrait" lens?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by MikeSeb, Feb 8, 2009.

  1. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    I'm getting back up to speed after a long hiatus with 4x5. Looking forward to it, as I have a portrait project I'm eager to try in LF. I have a Sinar F with 90, 150, and 210 lenses.

    I'll be shooting head-and-shoulders or tighter head shots, and I'm wondering if my 210 is going to do the job. Since I have nothing longer, I can't really experiment to see how it would look. I'd like to be able to throw the backgrounds well out of focus, but still be able to stop down enough to have workable DOF. I like the perspective of longer lenses; for instance, my favorite portrait lens for 6x4.5 format is the 140, so taking a 150 as "normal" for the 4x5, and the 80 as normal for 6x4.5, this would suggest roughly a 250 or longer lens. I realize that simply applying ratios is not the whole story, however.

    What does everyone here think? What is your favorite "portrait" lens for 4x5 work like this? Thanks in advance, everyone!
     
  2. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    240mm f:4.5 Heliar. Mine is uncoated, in a sunk barrel mount, and just barely fits on a Speed Graphic board.
     
  3. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    Either the 9" verito

    [​IMG]

    or 360mm fujinon

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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  5. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    10" Commercial Ektar.

    The difference between a 250 and 210 makes a difference,
    210 is just too short. 300 is too long.
     
  6. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    My vote is for a 240mm-250mm lens. As df cardwell said in his post, it makes a difference over a 210mm. 210mm is a great general-purpose lens, good for a lot of tabletop and scenic work, but it's a bit flavorless for portraiture. 240 to 250 adds to your ability to soften the background and center attention on facial features. Longer focal lengths can work, but the camera-to-subject distance gets pretty long and depth-of-field becomes an issue. Yes, you can stop down, but exposures get longer or require more light from flash units. Rent or borrow a 240 or 250 for a test.

    Peter Gomena
     
  7. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    Since you already own the 210 I would just use it. I love the 210 on 4x5 and have done all kinds of portraits with it from putting it on an 8x10 and cropping right into a face or backing off and doing whole bodies on 4x5. it is great for waist up shots. You don't need to buy another lens. I did put a 300 on the 4x5 once and shot a bunch of portraits of a couple of people and found myself to far away during the shooting. I felt a distance with my subject rather than a closeness. I think it is better to be comfortably close to someone when photographing them.
     
  8. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    Mike, I used a 240mm lens stopped down to f/8 for the head shots you and I discussed yesterday.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 9, 2009
  9. Andrew Moxom

    Andrew Moxom Member

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    Mike I am using a couple of old petzval lenses for the occasional portrait.... Anything from 5" to 8" should suffice depending on ho wmuch vignetting you want. These pics were all done with an old B&L 4.75" modified petzval. Coverage is minimal on 4x5 and cropping square gives interesting results. All of these were shot WIDE open @ F2.5!!!
     

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  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    21cm tessar or a 10" veritar ( for 4x5 at least )
     
  11. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    Since you're afraid that the 210mm lens is too short for your purposes, the next steps up are 240mm and 300mm. I don't suppose there's any chance that you could rent or borrow a 300 for a week? That should give you a chance to see if a longer lens is really what you want, before committing your money to a purchase. Certainly with your camera the necessary bellows extension for the 300 is no problem. You might even find yourself wishing for a 360--there's no accounting for personal taste, and you might prefer the increased compression. So trying out a 300 sounds like a logical course of action to me. I certainly wouldn't recommend buying a bunch of lenses which are close to your 210, which you already have--I don't know why some people in this thread have recommended it.
     
  12. vet173

    vet173 Member

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    You might want to look at a Zeiss softar for the 210. Not cheap, but cheaper than a new lens. Will give soft effect even when stopped down. I recommend a #2.
     
  13. eddym

    eddym Member

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    I always found the 210mm lens either too short or too long. I use a 180 as a normal and a 270mm f9 Apo Artar as my portrait lens. It's sharp though, so if you want a soft focus lens, it's not the one to choose.
     
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  15. Drew B.

    Drew B. Subscriber

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    ok...how about environmental portrature? (like the left thumbnail above by Andrew) Does the 210 work well for this...? Sorry, not great at converting inches to mm's...
     
  16. gerryyaum

    gerryyaum Subscriber

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    I would go with the 210mm, it should work fine. I prefer a slightly wider lens to include more of the enviroment/subject (135mm for the linked photo). The important thing to remember is to not waste to much time obsessed with slight differences in focal length, just go out and make lots of photos with the equipment you have, thats the best solution.

    http://www.gerryyaum.com/LB4.htm

    www.gerryyaum.com
    www.gerryyaum.blogspot.com
     
  17. Doug Webb

    Doug Webb Member

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    A 210 can work for portraits, but with tighter than head and shoulders, some people will want a longer lens. My favorite by far for 4x5 portraits is the Fujinon 250 soft focus, you can do anything with it in terms of sharp to very soft and once you get the hang of it, the results are stunning. I know it seems like the difference between 210 and 250 wouldn't be that much, but to me, there is a meaningful difference, especially when you get closer to the subject. Go ahead and experiment some with the 210 and see what you think, if you are satisfied no need to look further.
    Good luck
    Doug Webb
     
  18. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    Thanks, everyone; this has been most helpful. I'm going to try to borrow something in the 250-300 range and see how it goes. Not eager to buy another lens sight unseen, so to speak.

    Really appreciate your suggestions and wisdom, gang.
     
  19. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    For me the 250mm Imagon from soft to reasonably sharp and contrasty.
     
  20. Stefan Findel

    Stefan Findel Member

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    Mike, depending on which 150 and 210 you have, you might be able to convert them to a longer focal length by unscrewing the front element. You may not even need to buy another lens.
    Stefan
     
  21. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

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    Mr. Cardwell as always is the voice of
    reason here. For once, though, I would
    disagree with him only in his opinion
    that 300 is too long. I use a 12-inch
    Commercial Ektar on my Sinar Norma
    for most of my work in 4x5 and 5x7
    and I find it to be the ideal length for
    my purposes. I'm attaching a close
    headshot with the 12-inch CE on 4x5
    for reference.
     

    Attached Files:

  22. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Ditto.
     
  23. greybeard

    greybeard Member

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    The bulk of the advice here seems to center on the effects of perspective and/or bellows length compatibility.

    But the effects of lens length on "style" of portraiture (the process, not the product) are worth considering as well. For some subjects, the more distance between you and the subject, the better; for others, up-close-and-personal is the only thing that works.

    To span the range from clinically sharp to dreamily soft with only one optic, the only "modern" lenses seem to be the Imagon and Fujinon SF. It is probably not an accident that for 4x5, they are both 250mm FL. However, my personal experience is that low-key pictures with an Imagon are a good bit harder to make work than those in high or moderately high key.
     
  24. edtbjon

    edtbjon Member

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    There is quite a lot of written material on the Imagon lens (on http://www.cameraeccentric.com/info.html there are two articles and a brochure). One of the things written is that more direct lightning is prefered to soft lights. I.e. much "tougher" light than what is normal for portraiture.

    //Björn
     
  25. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    Does anyone have any experience with the longer Xenars for portraits? 180mm, 210mm, and 250mm?
     
  26. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

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    Darin, a Xenar is Schneider's
    version of the Zeiss Tessar.
    It is a common lens design --
    the Kodak Commercial Ektars,
    for example, are Tessars.
    They will be sharp and full
    of contrast and generally
    well-mannered.