New to LF - lense choice

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by KEK, Jun 28, 2005.

  1. KEK

    KEK Member

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    Hi.

    I've purchased a 5 x 7 with an additional 4 x 5 back and need to get a lense. I'll be using it mainly for table top and portrait work. The landscapes will come later when I feel a little more confident that I could answer a passerby's question about the camera.

    Thanks

    Kevin
     
  2. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi kevin

    depeding on what you are looking to do ...

    usually people use a longer focal length for head/shoulders portrait work -
    a 10" for 4x5 and a 14 +/- " for 5x7. i am not sure what sort of set-up you have for shooting table top ... and if you wanted to use the 5x7 for that or the 4x5 ? a longer lens might work in that situation as well, but again it depends on what you are looking to do. depending on if you have a lot of money to spend ( new lens ) or if you are looking to use older glass (always my choice) you could look into some of the schneider convertible symmar lenses. they offer 2 focal lengths and the image circle for the converted focal length (remove front element to do this) will cover your 5x7 negative. i have a 210-370 symmar and like it alot. you'll need a lot of bellows to get to 370, but i think your 5x7 camera can handle it. :smile:


    i've had good luck from places like keh(.com) camera brokers, equinoxphotographic(.com) and thanks to john kasaian i was turned on to igor's camera exchange (igorcamera.com). then again there is always FEEbay:smile:

    good luck and congratulations on the 5x7 ..

    -john
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 28, 2005
  3. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I second John's suggestion of a Symmar. There are many photographers who believe these are inferior to more modern lenses - which in my opinion has the great advantage of bringing the price down to where they are an exellent low-cost lens to begin with and go on with. A 210/370mm will offer ample coverage on 5x7", without being too long for closer work. The large coverage allows movements which are often only limited by the camera, it nearly covers 8x10"!

    In the "converted" state (front group removed) it will show slight loss of definition in the corners of 5x7", but not so much that it's troublesome except in very special circumstances (like bare branches against a bright sky). I have not found a filter to make much difference, whether grenn, yellow or red.

    I have used a 150/265mm extensively on 4x5", and now use a 240/420 on 5x7" and 18x24cm. I bought the 240 after having sold the 150, but I sold that one because I realised I had too many lenses in the 135 to 180mm range. Now I only have 6 of these left :wink:
     
  4. KEK

    KEK Member

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    John thanks for the reply sorry I wasn't more specific.

    I'll be using the 5 x 7 to start (contact printing)before I invest in a 4 x 5 enlarger. I've never done table top with any format so I'm not sure what set up to use.

    What would be the normal lense for the 5 x 7 format and maybe I can make a choice based on that ?

    I don't have the funds for a new lense so it will have to be used.

    Do you have any experiance with the caltar lenses they seem to be the most inexpensive.

    Kevin
     
  5. Troy Ammons

    Troy Ammons Member

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    I would go here...

    http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/testing.html

    and here....

    http://www.graflex.org/lenses/lens-spec.html

    and find the sharpest one in the range you want. You said portrait so I would assume you would want a longish normal lens. I have a 210mm G-claron that is super sharp that I use for 4x5, but that might be a bit wide for 5x7 portrait lens. Maybe a G-claron 240mm or a 305mm. You can get those used for a very reasonable amount. I think I paid $310 for mine.
     
  6. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    How much bellows draw does your camera have? I think that your lens selection needs to consider that.

    Normal lens for 5X7 is 210 mm

    Some people like to use a wide angle for table top/product photography and a longer lens for portraiture. I personally would not select a convertible lens because they seem to be compromises with the longer focal length usually recognized as being soft in the corners.

    Caltar lenses can be either Rodenstock or Schneider depending on the vintage.
     
  7. KEK

    KEK Member

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    I haven't recieved the camera yet so i'm not sure of the bellows. It's a B&J 5 x 7 (hope it's in as good a shape as the pictures in the auction)
     
  8. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    What type B&J Monorail or field? The monorail will handle just about anything you want to put on it, the field not so much but you can get extension bedrail for it.

    For tabletop work, I would shoot for a 240mm lens, gives you lots of axis movements to work with while not being too foreshortening a lens. That lens will also work for doing head and shoulders and of course, landscape photography.

    I have something called a 5x7 lens, it appears to be about 210mm and also a 180 mm Tessar that covers into the corners quite nicely, but I suspect has no movements to speak of.

    Best of luck, you can always go with a shorter lens and shoot 4x5 for awhile. A 135 to 150mm lens will work well with that setup even for tabletop images.


    tim in san jose
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    sorry, i don't know much about caltar lenses ...
    but if is a schneider lens, if you go here :

    http://www.schneideroptics.com/info/age_of_lenses/

    you can check the serial # to see the age of the lens.
    if you go with the g-claron lens, often times they fit right into
    a copal shutter ( it is a "0" i think) or a prontar/ polaroid press shutter.
    they are nice sharp lenses, but i tend to shy against the "sharp stuff" for
    making portraits ...

    i'd see if you can find a sweet convertable ... lots of companies made them .. wollensak, turner reich, schneider ...

    this is a 150 / 235 and a 210 / 370

    and it looks like they might not go for very much $$

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=30077&item=7525746922&rd=1

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=30076&item=7525971183&rd=1


    - john
     
  10. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Kevin,
    I have a 150 Caltar that most will tell you does not cover 5x7, but Jeremy Moore and I gave it a good workout a couple of months ago and it covered just fine. We were both using a B&J 5x7 field camera. Also, have a 210 Rodenstock Geronar (that is like the current Caltar E series) and it also, covers. If your camera is one of the rail cameras, can't speak for the coverage on it...but these are nice lens for a lot less $$ than some of the others. I would go with a 210 for now and decide later what you plan to shoot the most and upgrade or purchase a nicer lens (though I consider mine very nice, enough for my needs).

    Most of all remember to enjoy the new camera..congratulations...

    BTW... I would not hesitate to follow Johns advice either..I just got lucky with the lens I have..
     
  11. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    No personal experience, but I can tell you that Caltar II N series lenses are equivalent to the Rodenstock Sironar and Grandagon series lenses and are very good. Caltar II E are less expensive and equivalent to the Rodenstock Geronar series. They are also nice, but simpler in construction than the II N lenses. There are also some very nice Caltar II S lenses that are Schneider lenses and equivalent to the Symmar-S and Super Angular series. I would think that any of these lenses will be great if you find one with enough for your 5X7 and I agree that they seem to be less expensive then their brand name bretheren.

    There are also older Caltar lenses which might be nice but information seems sketchier. It appears that some were made by Topcon in Japan and also some of the really old ones were Ilex lenses made in the US.

    Good luck!

    Paul.
     
  12. KEK

    KEK Member

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    Tim my B&J is a field (didn't know extensions were available)

    Thanks everyone It's been a great help

    Kevin
     
  13. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Caltar II-S and Caltar II-N lenses are good values, but more expensive than the Symmar convertibles suggested above.

    I think the Symmar convertibles are great deals, and good first lenses, since you get two focal lengths. They are a little less sharp at wider apertures than the later non-convertible versions, but you might not see much of a difference past f:22, where you are likely to be shooting anyway in many cases. Contrast will be better, of course, with later multicoated versions. The longer focal length will be a little soft wide open, but stopped down they're not too bad for landscapes, and a little softness doesn't necessarily hurt for portraits at wider apertures. They are also usually in Sychro-Compur shutters, which are very reliable and easy to service (usually the slow speeds will be slow if the shutter hasn't been cleaned in a long time, but it's a quick fix).
     
  14. photobum

    photobum Member

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    I'm another fan of convertibles. I have Wollensak, Schneider and Caltar-Rodenstock. I will address the Caltar-Rodenstock which is a 210/400 that would seem to fit your needs size and cost wise.

    The Rodenstock were made to convert by removing the rear element unlike Schneider and Wollensak. That is what gives it 400mm converted instead of the standard 370. Other's have said that they go soft in the corners. At 400mm (370) you are looking at 8x10 coverage. That means you have a long way to go to get to the corners with a 4x5 or 5x7.

    You can help them along by using a #8 to a #25 filter. Also check for focus shift after stopping down. This is very important

    The 210 is a long normal lens for 4x5 and normal for 5x7. You will need better than 18 inches of bellows to work with 370/400mm lenses.
     
  15. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    Might I simply suggest one of each? :smile:
     
  16. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    If you look at the end of the fold up piece, the bedrail towards the back, you should see a couple of holes and a centered screw jack. If you had an extension piece, it would fit in there. Not a problem if you don't, just a restriction on how much lens you can use or how close you can focus.


    tim in san jose
     
  17. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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