In retrospect,would you have gone wider or longer sooner?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Joe Vee, Jan 1, 2014.

  1. Joe Vee

    Joe Vee Member

    Messages:
    3
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2014
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    For those that shoot landscape and portraits, when you consider your lens collection, what focal length did/would you have purchased sooner because you get more versatility and use from it - a wider or longer lens?

    What wide or long focal length (say LT 100mm GT 240mm) is/was it?
     
  2. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

    Messages:
    2,004
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2004
    Location:
    Enroute
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I would have went longer sooner in seeing how I underestimated the mental game of 240-350mm in 4x5 being no where near as long as those numericals in 35mm. Fortunately, I filled those slots pretty quickly with a Fuji 240 A and 350 Schnieder Apo-Tele-Xenar.
     
  3. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

    Messages:
    6,740
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My answer is, actually, of minimal value to you Joe... you really need to figure out what interests and needs you have. My interests appear about the same as yours, though. But in all formats I went normal to longer (but not too long) and eventually got a very conservative wide, which rarely gets used. In 35mm my longest is 200 and shortest is 35; MF, longest is 250 and shortest is 80; and in 4x5 longest is about 300 and shortest is 90. I didn't get the MF 250 or the LF 300 until much later in life... I would do that earlier if I had a time machine. I'm not much for extremes since they don't enhance my photographic interests/needs.
     
  4. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,086
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2009
    Location:
    St. Louis, M
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    With my 8x10 camera I bought a 14" Kodak Commercial Ektar as my first lens. A 14" is considered a "normal" lens for 8x10. I was in a hurry to try out 8x10 and actually overpaid for this lens but it was the exact lens that I wanted.

    While trying to decide on what I wanted for a second lens (longer or shorter), a Fujinon 250mm f/6.7 lens came up on Ebay at a great price so I bought it. A 250mm is a slight wide angle and on 8x10 similar to a 35mm lens on a 35mm camera. For my next lens I wanted longer and watched for a 19" Artar at a good price. A 121mm Super Angulon became available for dirt cheap so I bought it. The 121 is super wide and just barely covers 8x10. After months of watching, I finally found my 19" Artar for a good price so I'm very happy with what I have.

    So to answer your question, after over paying for my "normal" lens, I took my time on my additional lenses and bought them in the order that I found them at good prices.
     
  5. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,086
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2009
    Location:
    St. Louis, M
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Joe, since you are on the fence there is another thing to think about. It's winter right now! Are you the sort to brave the wet and cold to get those great snow covered, wide angled landscapes or do you prefer shooting tight portraits inside your nice warm and dry living room? :D
     
  6. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,129
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2005
    Location:
    Two inches to the left
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm going wider than my S/K Symmar 180 for 4x5 as soon as I can afford. I might be able to get down to 90mm but probably stay at 100 to be safe. Then about a 300 or more when I can swing that. Might get lucky and bag both next month. So, I hope not to have the problem past the get go.
     
  7. snapguy

    snapguy Member

    Messages:
    1,295
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2014
    Location:
    California d
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I spent one year (in my spare time) photographing fields of flowers grown for seeds along the California Coast. I used normal, wide angle and telephoto lenses. I even bought a cast iron-bodied camera that shot 90-degree wide angle photos without distortion on 120 film, seven inches wide. Some flower fields had gaps in the rows but a telephoto lens would squish the flower rows together so you could not notice the gaps. Other fields begged for a very wide angle lens. I had a Praktisix 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 SLR with an 80mm lens, a 180 Sonnar Olympic lens and a Killfit 400mm lens.
    I shot through some tree branches to frame the flower fields for a photo using the 400mm lens and it was used on the cover of a magazine. The same magazine used one of my 2 1/4 by 7 inch photos uncropped spread over two pages (a "double truck").
    Since the coastal area was rainy and overcast a lot, I had to keep visiting various locations until the weather was right and the field was "ripe." A lot of work, but worth it.
     
  8. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,961
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    Location:
    Melbourne, V
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    360mm Tele-Xenar f/5.5 for Portraits in 4x5"

    I wouldn't want to go shorter unless I had no space to work with.
     
  9. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

    Messages:
    4,330
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Location:
    Geelong/Richmond Vic AU
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Twenty years ago a Horseman 45FA was fitted with a 180mm lens of some description that I cannot recall now. It was very rudimentary but did the job over 6 years of ownership with weddings and commercial shoots before leaving the partnership and moving down in format. Later, the 24mm in 35mm format was an instant 'go-to' optic and remains so. I have probably 'converted' several hundred people to the 24mm genre through my teaching (through Canon) of planar/close-focus manipulation with Canon's TS-E three PC optics. Following from 24mm I purchased a 20mm, yet this gets nowhere near the use that 24mm does. In retrospect, all the choices I made first off were the correct ones which suited my work then, as they do now, while later choices could be said to have 'missed the mark', just not in favour. With MF, the 45mm 'standard' lens again points to my roots with ultra-wide angles. If I moved up to LF, a 65mm would be considered my standard working lens, and probably just one of two that would be employed in the landscape context.
     
  10. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,160
    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2012
    Location:
    Connecticut,
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Depends if the OP has a field camera it probably doesn't take that lens. ESPECIALLY for portraits. He/She did say landscape and portraits.

    Anyway, it's hard to answer, you already have a 180mm so if you want a nice portrait lens, you probably want longer right? So 300mm is better, but if it's a field, get the fujinon 300 C f/8.5 as it focuses much closer than other 300mm so bellows legnth will be much less of an issue.
     
  11. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,374
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2006
    Location:
    Humboldt Co.
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    For a couple decades or so I stuck with 'normal' lenses as I moved up in format. Once settled in with 8x10 and the 12" (300mm), I eventually went longer (19"). I went up to 24", but rarely use it...don't even carry it in my pack. In fact, I rarely carry the 19" these days as I have put it on another lensboard for the 11x14.

    Going the other way, I found a 6.25" (159mm) at a good price, but moved up to a 8.25" (210mm) as the widest I used for a long while. It is a Wollensak Graphic Raptar -- nice lightweight barrel lens that I did not even notice in my pack, weight-wise. I am now carrying a Fuji 250mm/6.7 as my widest...mostly due to it being in a shutter. But I can throw the 210mm into the pack if I know I will be working in tight (and low-light) quarters such as in Fern Canyon.

    But to answer your question, if I just had the 300mm and was going to get one more lens, I would still go up to the 19" first -- and then look for a 210mm in a shutter as my third lens. Before getting my own 8x10, a friend loaned me his 8x10 Deardorff with a 210 Schneider Angulon. It was not until a long time after that I came to realize what a fine lens that was.
     
  12. Joe Vee

    Joe Vee Member

    Messages:
    3
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2014
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Thanks to all. Great info to consider.

    I have been working with my LF 100-240 lenses for quite some time, with long breaks to do 8x10 wet plate portraits. As I'm now getting ready to add a LF lens to my bag, I'm leaning towards going longer for additional options with portrait work. I make all my wet plate equipment, so I tend to be very conservative on purchases. My work is all creative so I really like to maximize movement and DoF options even though there is a price to pay in sharpness. A trade off I can deal with do to required acceptance of the nature of wet place process artifacts (mistakes in other forms of photography) that regular occur due to emulsion and other anomalies that can occur. When you get faster than f8 at 90mm and below these days things can get pricey as can a good longer lens. So I'll keep my eyes open for a longer lens deal.

    For or those working with over 300mm at 4x5, is there a length or speed you would not want to go to for portrait work?

    Thanks again for the thoughtful insight.
     
  13. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

    Messages:
    4,970
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2011
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I've never even owned a "normal" for either my 4x5 or 8x10. Generally I go either longer or much longer, and only once in awhile, shorter. It
    all depends on the individual. But I probably will never own a "normal" view camera lens.
     
  14. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,160
    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2012
    Location:
    Connecticut,
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Compensating for something? :wink:
     
  15. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,374
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2006
    Location:
    Humboldt Co.
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    probably -- for being in mountains instead of molehills...:wink:
     
  16. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,086
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2009
    Location:
    St. Louis, M
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Back when I shot a 35mm Contax I owned 5 lenses (25, 35, 50, 100, 180). Probably 90% of my shots or more were shot with either the 25 or 100.

    When digital arrived and film camera prices dropped, I started shooting medium format and eventually large format. For some reason I now lean more towards the normal perspective. I don't know why and I don't know if it's going to stay that way or change. I don't worry about it and just shoot what works for me.

    It's just like you said, Drew. It all depends on the individual.
     
  17. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

    Messages:
    4,970
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2011
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Unless I'm in a confined space, I almost always take to a narrow perspective. I have a friend who often backpacks with me, who consistently gravitates toward either wide or very wide lenses, while I never even carry a wide-angle or normal lens in the mtns. This past Sept, I happened to stumble out of a willow thicket onto an old abandoned trail in the upper Kings Can country, and pretty soon arrived at exactly the same point where AA took a famous landscape shot across a lake back in his relative youth. I looked at that scene, which was indeed lovely, but saw nothing in it for myself, but set up my tripod at the same spot, aimed it a completely different direction with a long lens, and picked out some absolutely delicious intricate details on a distant peak face. Oddly, even though this spot once had a popular trail, I've never seen a picture by anyone of what seemed to me to be a ridiculously obvious
    subject. That just goes to show how different we all are, and why we have somewhat different equipment needs. ... I don't know about Stone, but I guess
    if he lugged his gear down to the bottom of the Grand Can and back, there's hope even for him... Of course, he could always come out here and see some
    REAL canyons twice as deep, and we'll see how he holds up.
     
  18. rossb

    rossb Member

    Messages:
    28
    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2006
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I started in LF landscape with a 150mm lens. Over a couple of years I began to favour the perspective of the 210mm and pretty much use it as my "standard" lens. A 90mm Grandagon and 400mm Apo tele Xenar fulfil my needs for both wider and longer
     
  19. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    20,246
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    "normal" is whatever you are shooting at the time it means nothing
    when it comes to focal length

    favored focal length all depends on what the point of your photography is.
    there are plenty of reasons to shoot head + shoulders
    as there are to shoot wide and environmental as there is to
    shoot as the eye sees
    and the same can be said for landscapes ...

    over the years i have migrated back to the center
    after wasting my time at both ends ...
    but at the same time there are always exceptions ..
    sometimes you want something far away to seem near
    as you do with a portrait that might be different.
     
  20. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

    Messages:
    3,107
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I use most of my lenses on my 5x7(formerly both 4x5 and 8x10, now just 5x7) kit about the same amount of the time.

    I kept most of my lenses, traded a few(and have done a good bit of buying/selling whilst figuring out what I like(they're all about the same really, mfg's that is, if of the same vintage)

    However, the lens that has given me the most "winners" has been my 180A Fujinon, which is a wide(ish) lens for 5x7. I use it for close-up shooting, and it's been the #1 lens I've used while traveling here in Australia the past month or so. About 75% of my shots have been with this single lens. Great for close-ups and "macro" work(usually in the 1:3-1:1 ratio). But TBH, my 450C Fujinon also gives me that bit of extra reach I so much adore.

    Own the tools that allow you to work unhindered, and will not leave you feeling like "what should I use". Be able to determine what you NEED(not just what you want) before you even set up the camera. Let your brain determine the FL you'll need. I would love to have a lens longer than my 450C for use with 5x7, however only having ~23" of bellows won't allow me to use a 600mm lens(and I don't want a tophat board). So I just crop in post(or shoot 4x5). Not hard, and the quality is still there(just not as good as a well shot 5x7 :wink:!)

    cheers,
    Dan
     
  21. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,086
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2009
    Location:
    St. Louis, M
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Dan, I completely agree. For myself I like to own just a few lenses with enough spacing between the focal lengths that I always know immediately which lens to grab for the subject. For 8x10 I have 3 main lenses: 250mm, 14" (360mm), 19" (480mm). I also own a 121mm that I bought for dirt cheap. I like the focal length for 4x5 but have yet to expose an 8x10 negative with it. It is super wide on 8x10!

    Some photographers use only one lens and others own 20 lenses and claim that they always know which one to use. I can't argue with them because looking at their photographs they obviously know what they are doing! :D

    We are all different but your point does ring true.

    Alan
     
  22. bob01721

    bob01721 Member

    Messages:
    415
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2005
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Funny. When I started with 35mm, I wanted a longer lens first. With 4x5, I'd like to get a wider lens.
     
  23. pgomena

    pgomena Member

    Messages:
    1,386
    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2003
    Location:
    Portland, Or
    My first view camera lens was a 210mm, my second was a 120mm. After several years, I decided I needed a normal lens and bought a 150mm. I probably use the 150mm and 210mm the most.