HUGE Image Circles (lens coverage)

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Sparky, Jun 24, 2005.

  1. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    MASSIVELY overrated. What do you think? Everyone's so hung up on this. I spent COUNTLESS hours trying to figure out which lenses had the biggest coverage - even to the point of considering a 150 grandagon for my normal lens on 4x5. I'm an architectural photographer, too - so you'd think it would be important to me. When I do lens rises - they tend to be pretty subtle - rarely more than 10-20mm. And QUITE often I use 5mm or less. I even think it's quite refreshing not to use ANY. More than 10mm on 4x5 just starts to look kind of silly IMHO. Others' opinions?
     
  2. David

    David Member

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    Using ULF this becomes a primary consideration. Horses for courses - you don;t need 25 inches of coverage for a 4x5 but try architectural photography with an 11x14 or 8x20. HUGE image circles aren;t overrated at all in those circumstances.
     
  3. matt miller

    matt miller Subscriber

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    Looks silly how?
     
  4. Ian

    Ian Member

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    Talking of huge, how about 900mm coverage. That big enough.

    Fine Art lenses from S-K 550mm and 1100mm.
     
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'd guess that he means that if you need more than 10mm of front rise on 4x5", the subject starts to look unnaturally forshortened.

    That said, here in New York where the structures are tall and the working distance is small and scaffolds are expensive and involve permits, I'm often using all the direct and indirect front rise I can get. If I could have gotten another 1/4" (on 8x10") to avoid clipping this arch, I would have taken it (when they finally take down the construction fence I was backed up against, I'll try it again)--

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I run out of front rise on landscapes - and sometimes front drop too. But I blame the geography for that.
     
  7. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Well, I personally think that ten inches of rise (WERE that even POSSIBLE on an 11x14 camera) would look pretty silly. It's all relative. Whereas 100mm of rise on 11x14 is reasonably conservative in my book. I usually find that,when I need to use too much front rise - say 35 mm or more on 4x5 that it's a sign that my vantage point is the wrong one. Of course - MUCH depends on the geometry of the scene. I think tall buildings shot with excessive front rise introduce distortions which cast the building in a pretty unflattering light. Now, when I say 'distortions' I am referring to the exaggeration of one axis over the other (vertical vs. horizontal) - yes, an issue of foreshortening. I think that such buildings are shot better with a long lens - from much further away (see new york cityscape shot - 210mm sironar from empire state bldg, 45th floor). The other shot I've included for illustration is an interior which I shot with a 75mm grandagon with over 35mm of rise. To me the geometry is looking pretty strained. To the point where the composition is kind of falling apart as a result. Not that I don't like the shot - it's just something that subtracts from my enjoyment a bit. So what am I trying to say here? Well, coverage is really handy if you absolutely HAVE to get the shot... but I would choose NOT to use it for personal work if it were up to me. The other issue was that I was wondering if people get too hung up sometimes on these technical aspects - when the lack of coverage might otherwise force them to become more creative. It's not any dogma on my part - simply a conversation starter whose trajectory I thought might be interesting. That's all.
     
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  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I think with the interior shot, the problem isn't so much the rise per se, as much as the sense that there are two competing compositional elements--the painting and the structure. You could have selected a higher vantage point by using a ladder (if there was room for one) to avoid using as much front rise, so the structure would look better proportioned, but then I think the painting would look wrong or the lines wouldn't lead in the right direction.
     
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  9. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I would agree with David. I don't see an issue with picture relating to image circle or maybe I'm missing something. I do think that the right hand wall (or painting not both) is not needed and the image as a whole could have benefited by shooting when the sky was darker (earlier later in the day) or if the room was better illuminated.
     
  10. MichaelBriggs

    MichaelBriggs Member

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    I don't think coverage is over rated. Of course, it depends. Coverage is confusing for beginners at LF photography because it is a new concept that they didn't have to deal with for for small or medium format photography.

    Sure, a 150 Grandagon is overkill for 4x5 since the plasmats have plenty of coverage. But the 90 mm focal length is a diffferent story. A Grandagon (or Super-Angulon or Nikkor-SW) is a real advance over a plain Angulon or the like.

    Looking over my notes, I find that I routinely use front rise up to 30 mm. There are many times when I use little or no rise, but others when it makes the photo possible.
     
  11. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I think that the only time that lens coverage is overrated is when the image circle exceeds the cameras movements.
     
  12. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    My primary concern is simply when people use it indiscriminately. As an architectural photographer and an architect, I would personally rather point the camera up a bit - or find a mid-level POV or back way, way off. I think it completely changes your experience of the building and is simply one of those 'conventions' we've gotten stuck with. I think a lot of people are very stuck on parallel verticals - and think that just because they've got the ability to 'conrol perspective' - that they should. Sorry - just a sticky point for me - call me a snob if you want.
     
  13. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Call me fololish, but I thought the main purpose of an architectural photographer was to show the client's building in the best light (in all the meanings of the word). I dont think a client would be too thrilled if you gave him a shot showing keystoning or where the building is a tiny portion of the shot. I know many architectural photographers, some of them very successful, and the one thing they all want in their lenses is more coverage, heck they dont mind paying $2000 or $3000 per lens, or having it weight 10 pounds if it allows them to get in close and show the structure. Bottom line, do you design buildings that look like they are falling back?
     
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  15. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    My suggestion is to go get yourself a 35 mm or med format camera. If you can find anyone, with any degree of knowledge, that wants the keystoning that pointing the camera upward produces then you will have located a very "snobbish" clientelle. That sounds like a marriage made in heaven to me.
     
  16. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    OT: Just wanted to say I really enjoyed looking at the attachments in this topic. Anyone got a bw shot of the Brooklyn Bridge they need to use as an example? :smile:
     
  17. MichaelBriggs

    MichaelBriggs Member

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    We LF photographers do not generally avoid converging verticals when photographing buildings just because we have the technology that makes it possible to do so (i.e., the view camera) -- we avoid converging verticals to follow the perspective convention that has prevailed in Western Art for more than 500 years.

    If you go to a major art museum, I am sure that you will be able to find a painting of a building (from before the invention of photography) that you would not be able to duplicate as a photograph without either: 1) using a view camera and front rise, 2) leveling a regular camera and drastically cropping the photograph, 3) tilting the camera and correcting the perspective in photoshop.

    The decision to show parallel or converging verticals ranges from an artistic one to meeting the expectations of your clients and the viewers of your photographers. If you think a photo looks better with the camera back tilted, then tilt the camera back. I find the excess coverage of some of my LF lenses to be very useful for the photos that I want to make.
     
  18. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Jorge.

    Sometimes this "keystoning" can show the original design intent better than a pat convention applied without thought. I mean - think about it... do we ever talk about applying the same sort of fascism to the horizontal axis that we do to the vertical? What if it was very unfashionable to shoot down the length of a building...? And that all shots had to be taken straight on - or else slightly off axis with horizontal shift applied? What then? I guess we'd be having the same discussion with the same back and forth and same arguments.
     
  19. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    For a very tall structure, or when it's impossible to get a reasonable distance, many photographers do find it acceptable and even desirable to have a little keystoning, if the main goal is to convey a sense of height. I don't think it is that controversial.

    I also don't think it's that controversial to try to use the longest lens possible for the most natural perspective, but it just isn't possible in many cases.
     
  20. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Sorry, I have yet to see a good archetectural picture where keystoning shows a better design intent, perhaps you can post some......
     
  21. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Okay - let me just put it this way. We all know that extreme rises tend to make buildings look a bit TOP-heavy, right? What if that's not what the architect had intended? Sorry Jorge, I am not talking about artsy architectural photos here. I am talking about serving a client. It would be impossible to verify if an image serves their purpose well unless you speak to the architect in question and know what their intention was. If we have a large number of framed elements near the top of the building... the angle subtended in conveying these elements to the film is going to ensure that they look thicker than they ought to - and therefore betraying the designer's intent.

    At any rate, Jorge, here are two photographs by myself, for different clients, which have been remarked on in this regard. The first one is an office interior. The general complaint was that the soffit overhead looks much deeper than it actually is. This is really not the sense you have when you are in the space. This was, of course, compounded by the low angle chosen by myself. It was a compromise situation - as they all tend to be. The second photo is another interior (of a restaurant) and the specific remark made was that the truss going diagonally through the picture on the upper left made the structure of the building look irregular - though it was crossing the space perfectly perpendicularly. They also remarked that the screened enclosure looked 'out of proportion' from what they were expecting. It does certainly look different from further away. Specifically, the 'struts' passing beyond the top of the plexiglas screen looked too long. Their height was exaggerated by the angle of view. In both cases, I was constrained by the surroundings and it was really the only spot possible to take the shot in. However - the point I am attempting to illustrate is that there are times when lens rise DOES cause some aesthetic problems.
     
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  22. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Wrong, extreme rise with the wrong kind of lens could make the building look top heavy. But not necessarily is this always the case.

    Yep, me too....

    From the pictures you posted, it seem given the space constraints you had to use extreme wide angle, the distortion presented is not due to rise or fall, but to the focal lenght. In these situations I imagine it is your job as the expert to explain this to the customer.

    Rise or fall does not affect image distortion, it simply moves the image circle up or down. Given the circumstances I dont know that a choice of a different lens would have been possible, but I have to agree with your clients assesments, in the retaurant the hanging structure is overpowering, in the office the depth is clearly due to the wide angle and low view point. If this was 4x5 it looks like it was taken with a 65 mm lens, and I am not surprised by the distortion, but make no mistake this is due to the lens, not the rise and fall.
     
  23. MichaelBriggs

    MichaelBriggs Member

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    The visual peculiarities in these last two examples of interiors aren't so much from using front rise as simply from using a very wide angle lens. Depending on the subject, the rendition of perspective can seem disturbing -- close objects off axis can seem too large, and spheres will render as ellipses -- the lights in the upper left corner of the second photo are examples of both effects. (Many photographers call these effects "distortion", though that isn't really the correct usage of the word -- the word "distortion" is properly used for a lens that renders straight lines in the scene as curved lines in the photograph. either barrel or pincushion, depending on the direction of the curvature.) The cause of the exaggerated sizes and shapes changes for both wide-angle and long focus lenses is that we are not viewing the prints at the optical center that would replicate the taking conditions. If you could place your eye much closer to these images and still focus they would look more natural.

    Possible solutions to these problems are: a camera position farther away from all subject elements, or a camera position in which the corners (and edges even) don't have close elements, or simply a longer lens that shows less of the scene. If no better camera position is possible and you must show all the subject elements, then you will just have to use a very wide lens and accept the "distortions".

    For the photo with the lights (of what appears to be an office, not a restaurant), if you had used less front rise, then the near floor might have loomed larger. It probably would have looked less peculiar than way the lights and ceiling now appear, but more boring. Given that there wasn't a better camera position, the best solution might be to crop and show less.
     
  24. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Sorry, distortion is correctly applied, and it is not confined to pin cushion, etc. In fact the correct term for pin cushion, barrel and comma is lens aberration, which is enterely different than image distortion due to focal lens or tilting the camera up or down.
     
  25. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Yes, Jorge, so we're in agreement then...! Glad to see it..! Keep smiling.
     
  26. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    BTW - it was a 75mm Grandagon. Not 65. Apparently we're having a discussion about a semantic issue. I don't see how you can separate talking about the 'results of use of the edge of the field of an extreme wide angle lens' and the concept of 'rise' (though I did not use front std. rise. just rear 'fall'). Anyway - whatever. I'm not getting my point through - so be it.