The preferred aperture for landscapes and portraits.

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Henry Alive, May 3, 2011.

  1. Henry Alive

    Henry Alive Subscriber

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    When you are taking landscapes, do you work with the smaller f/ aperture (ie f/22) or you work with a medium one (ie f/8)? And what about a portrait?
    Thanks,
    Henry.
     
  2. Pgeobc

    Pgeobc Member

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    Very much local situation/subject dependent.
     
  3. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Since I do most of my photography in the dense forest, and prefer everything to be within the DoF, I close all the way down -- or very close to it (f64 to f90). If I am out in the open, I'll open the lens up a bit if I do not have a lot of foreground (~f22).

    I have not done enough portraits to have a favorite f/stop.

    Vaughn

    Edited to add: Since I only contact print 8x10 negs, I am not worried about sharpness at f/90. If there is a touch of unsharpness, I'd rather have that than some areas sharply out of focus.
     
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  4. Henry Alive

    Henry Alive Subscriber

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    Thanks, Geo. I am talking in general situations. My question comes from the fact that a medium aperture produces the best performance, but the highest depth of field is gotten in the smaller one.
     
  5. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    I stay away from f16 and f22 with most of my lenses unless I REALY need DOF. I find things are less sharp at those apertures....
    Portraits I shoot them WIDE OPEN!!

    This is all very situational and to personal taste and style..
     
  6. R gould

    R gould Member

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    For landscapes I will, as far as possible, use 11 as the majority of my lenses are over 50 years old and 11 seems to be the aperture that gives the best quality, for portraits it depends where the portrait is taken, most of them are outside and the aperture is set by the light, I use classic cameras and a lot of them have prontor shutters with fastest speed of 1/300 so opening up wide is not always possible, although some of my lenses such as a nova give interesting portraits wide open,when using one of my 35mm rangefinder with a compur shutter I have 1/500, so I can,when using one of these I can and often do go for 5.6
    Richard
     
  7. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    Way back in school, learning to use a 4x5 camera for portraiture (besides being a classic style and the cameras having movements, you could retouch the negatives) we were encouraged not to stop down below f/11. Not only were the studio flash units we used not all that powerful, but by limiting the DOF a little for head/shoulder closeups, you produced a more pleasing effect. Also, the effect of the home-made diffusers we fashioned (black tulle in a cardboard frame) would show, but the net pattern would not. Stopping down to f/16 began to show the pattern. Old-fashioned portrait lenses often were used wide open for limited DOF effects as well as speed on very slow old films. Much depends on the situation, style of portrait, subject-to-camera distance, lighting.

    In the landscape, I often am in a position where I want everything to be in focus. I'm not afraid to stop a MF lens down to f/22 or a LF lens down to f/32. I've even used f/64 and higher on 8x10. Depends on the situation. Since I rarely make big enlargements, I notice no appreciable quality loss due to small apertures.

    Peter Gomena
     
  8. Henry Alive

    Henry Alive Subscriber

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    Thanks to everybody. I am going to photography landscapes with f/8 aperture, and for portraits I am going to taste different apertures.
    Henry.
     
  9. cjbecker

    cjbecker Member

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    All is your vision.
     
  10. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    The aperture to use is depends on the film format.

    In general the optimum aperture for resolution is around f5.6-f8 for 35mm, f9-f13 for 2 1/4 and f16-f22 for 4x5 & f32-f45 for 8x10. Higher quality lenses take the wider stop of the range, lower quality the narrower stop.

    Landscape photography would, in general, use the optimum aperture, with exceptions for depth of field issues.

    Portraiture works best with less sharpness and less depth of field - a portrait can look OK if only the nearest eye is in focus. Often 1 stop down from wide open is the best spot, very good lenses can be used wide-open.
     
  11. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    The idea that landscape equals front-to-back sharpness is rather tired by now. Shoot some landscapes as you please... with wacky tilts with your lens wide open or whatever you fancy... and don't be surprised if people call it refreshing :wink:

    And I would say the inverse about portraiture: the idea that the eyes need to be tack sharp while the ears are blurred out... <yawn>

    There are no firm rules, but there are a lot of shots that have been done before. Experiment and find your own way....

    You might even (OMG!!!!) use a petzval for a landscape or use a pinhole for a portrait....
     
  12. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    The table here summarized it very, very well. You don't need the actual table, though. Just look through your 'normal' lens of any focal length from the front and adjust the aperture to be about 6mm.

    If you change to a longer or shorter lens, just remember the F-Stop Number read off your lens aperture scale from above and keep using that.
    http://www.prograf.ru/rodenstock/largeformat_en.html#table2
     
  13. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I'm sure that many people will disagree with me but I like f16 to f32 for landscapes.

    Jeff
     
  14. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    For fairly close-up portraits - it depends on the lens and the depth of field they produce. It's about the size of the aperture, and not the f/stop.
    For the 35mm format:
    35mm lens - f/2 (see attached picture if you don't believe decent portraits can be had with wide angle)
    50mm lens - f/2.8
    100mm lens - 5/5.6

    For the 120 6x6 format:
    80mm lens - f/5.6
    150mm lens - f/8 or f/11 (sometimes I'll shoot at f/5.6 too, depending on subject distance)

    For landscape:
    I use the hyperfocal distance to get into focus what I deem important, but my lenses perform best at around f/5.6 to f/8 (50mm Distagon and 80mm Planar).

    - Thomas
     

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  15. mohawk51

    mohawk51 Member

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    I'm comfortable shooting landscapes at the F5.6-F11 range. That seems to cover sharpness for me and the editors out there. Don't shoot portraits though. If I did I would imagine I would shoot one to two stops down from open.
     
  16. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    Well, I am so glad Rodenstock agrees with my findings [insert smiley if you need one].

    The optimum entrance pupil >for a normal lens< is in the 9 to 6cm range. Better lenses work best at 9mm.

    What I found in my testing, and that interests me and is born out in the Rodenstock table, is that the optimum aperture goes by format and not focal length..

    A 135mm lens used for 35mm works best at f5.6 - f8, a 135mm lens used for 8x10 works best at f32 - f45. The entrance pupil varies from 24mm - 17mm for 35mm format to 4mm - 3mm for 8x10 format.

    Why this is so is a mystery to me - any optics mavens care to comment [or sputter themselves into apoplexy].
     
  17. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Nicholas I thought you knew this. Among the lenses with focal length that matches the film diagonal, as we have pointed out 6 to 9 cm across the board.

    The way it works when you change to a shorter or longer lens then the format diagonal is like this:
    Wider (shorter) lenses minimize the effects of diffraction by making the circles of confusion and Airy disks smaller on the film (allowing you to get by with an aperture smaller than 6mm)
    Longer lenses make the circles of confusion and Airy disks larger on the film (so you need an aperture larger than 6mm)

    Once you do the math on the bigger and smaller circles of confusion and the linear aperture and divide by focal length it works out that for a given format the optimum aperture f-stop NUMBER stays constant in each format.

    Is that what you were asking?
     
  18. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    I think the image of a 135, behind the lens, on the focal plane, is at the same magnification (the lens for large format will have a greater coverage circle but the same magnification).
    The 135mm looks a tele lens on 135 while the 135 on large format looks like a wide angle lens because the subject, in the large format, will appear smaller relative to the entire image.
    If you take a picture of a bell tower with a 135mm on 135 and a 135mm on LF, the bell tower will have the same absolute dimensions, in millimitres, on both films. But there will be more "stuff" (more film, more subject) around the bell tower of the LF film.

    I suppose the reason why there is more "tolerance" toward diffraction in LF is that LF is supposed to be magnified less during printing.

    Ralph Lambrecht will certainly explain this better (and correct me if I got it wrong).

    Fabrizio
     
  19. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    it is all personal taste ...

    i usually don't stop down for either.
     
  20. Jose LS Gil

    Jose LS Gil Member

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    f stops here

    There is a saying that I learned many years ago when I was freelancing.

    "What is the photo's end result or use?"

    If you want dreamy out of focus images, open the lens up. If you want your images tack sharp. Close down the f stops and be prepared to use a tripod and cable release.

    The one thing about photography is that there is more than one way to get an image on film. The question is. How do you want that image to print or be seen? What is the photo's end result or use?
     
  21. pinhole_dreamer

    pinhole_dreamer Member

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    It depends on the landscape subject. I'll use anything from f/5.6 to f/22.
     
  22. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Diffraction increases as the aperture decreases to a point that diffraction dominates. The aperture size is the physical diameter not the f/stop per se. Before this gradual limit there is a sweet point for each format. I use the following as an approximation:

    35mm........... f/5.6 to f/8
    6x6 [120]...... f/8 to f/16
    4"x5"............ f/11 to f/22
    8"x10".......... f/16 to f/32

    Ralph Lambrecht has posted in APUG a formal analysis from his book, Way Beyond Monochrome, second edition pages 136 to 139, on this subject.

    Steve
     
  23. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    It depends on the depth of field that I want.
     
  24. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Are you using LF or small format (35mm)?
    What f/length of lens do you normally use for it or each?
    Portraits feature a shallow depth of field with focus confined chiefly to the face e.g. f4 to 5.6 with 80 to 135mm lenses common (but there is no universal lens or setting for every person to follow — you find this yourself through experience).

    Landscapes, with wide angle lenses in 35mm e.g. 17 to 24mm are fine af f11 to f16. Personally I use f8 to f11 only on my 24mm prime. Any deeper Av and you risk diffusion caused by light bending around the aperture blades. It is not necessary (nor effective) to go to f22 in landscape with wide- to ultrawide lenses; the latter being fine at a stop or two from wide open.

    Deeper apertures right up to f45 feature as the norm in LF. You will need to actively experiment to find is right for you with a great deal of variance possible in landscape.
     
  25. yurisrey

    yurisrey Member

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    depends on the situation and available llight but generally I like to have a very small aperture for landscapes, although if there is a lot of wind or a large body of water with movement I may choose to use a faster stop for obvious reasons. for portraits I generally shoot with a fast lens.