using normal 4x5 lens versus macro lens

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Willie Jan, Dec 1, 2008.

  1. Willie Jan

    Willie Jan Member

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    Hi,

    I am working in my studio with little plants and stuff which bring me often around the 1:1 on 4x5".

    Currently I use a sironar-n 150mm for this work.

    I am curious about the quality when I would use a macro for this kind of work.
    Would it increase the quality increadible or it the quality gain almost not visible on the print?

    Thanks.

    Willie
     
  2. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    At around 1:1, there would be a visible improvement. Macro lenses really are better than "normal" lenses between 1:3 and 3:1, and better than most "normal" lenses to 1:5 or a bit more - depends on the lens, of course.

    If you go even closer a reversed normal lens is worth considering.
     
  3. Willie Jan

    Willie Jan Member

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    Benefit of the 180 is the longer distance to subject, but bellow extension is much more.
    A 120mm would be better for the bellow, but distance is much closer.

    Which macro lens are you guys using?
     
  4. lazylu

    lazylu Member

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    In my experience, the difference between my regular 150 mm Apo Symmar and my Apo Makro Sironar 120 mm is clearly visible. Makro Sironar sharpness at short distance is much better.
     
  5. Philippe-Georges

    Philippe-Georges Member

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    A 'close up' lens is always better then a 'normal' lens.
    I have shot with the Hasselblad S-Planar 120 mm on 4"x5". At the time I had no other option for macro on 4"x5".
    But the results are wonderful; sharp, lots of tonality and bokeh, I did not liked it with the 'normal' 4"x5" lens.
    Because I could not use the shutter, I worked in the total darkness and fired the studio flash by hand once the sleeve of the film holder was taken out.
    Look here for some examples : http://www.photoeil.be/books/finefleur/finefleur-cover.html

    Philippe
     
  6. Thingy

    Thingy Member

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    I have a Schneider Makro Symmar 120mm HM which I recently bought half price (secondhand) off Robert White. With any lens the question is will you use the lens enough to justify the price? The above new, costs £824 with VAT on top. I could not have justified that price, but the price I paid for the secondhand one was worth the money. If the price of the Schneider Symmar is too steep and you cannot get one secondhand, then the Rodenstock 120mm Apo Macro Sironar lens is good quality and significantly cheaper at £580 with VAT on top.
     
  7. gracjan

    gracjan Member

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    Macro lenses are usually corrected for reproducing flat objects, so there's no sharpness loss on the edges, even with shallow depth of field. "Normal" lenses are designed to reproduce rather 3-dimensional reality (inside of the sphere). As a result, with depth of field typical for close-ups, only middle of the picture is sharp, or only edges - depending on what are you focusing.
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    You might also look for a G Claron they are optimised for 1:1 and work best between 5:1 and 1:5

    Another option is find a 135mm Comonon or Compnon S, they were sold in shutters as Macro lenses at one time. The elements from my 135mm Componon will fit into a Copal 0 shutter. Schneider still sell Componon's as Macro lenses, and I've used a Componon-S on my Pentax bellows for 35mm macro work and it's excellent.

    Ian
     
  9. Pupfish

    Pupfish Member

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    I'm wondering why the playing field isn't being described here as being essentially level between the practical picture taking properties of LF macro and APO lenses for a subject like flowers-- which typically have conical or spherical rather than flat shapes, and which will require stopping way down to what I'll venture will be a diffraction-limiting aperture to get any reasonable DOF with a large format? Now, I can understand the argument why LF macro lens blows away a standard LF lens and/or smaller formats for any subject that lies primarily in one plane, which with view camera movements could be brought into sharp focus at optimum apertures. But flowers? At f/32 or smaller? Is it even theoretically possible to get more than 50 lpmm on large format film here, even with a lens capable of much greater resolution at larger apertures? Adding in the diffraction limit increase from bellows extension, it seems all the more daunting, when a marked f/22 becomes f/45, at 1:1.

    If ever there's a case to made for smaller formats and their inherent boost in DOF for a given angle of view, and the resolution improvement of smaller format macro optics, this would seem to be it-- or am I missing something?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 10, 2008
  10. Philippe-Georges

    Philippe-Georges Member

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    Eh... could you repeat that please? I feel I am missing more than 'something' here...:wink:

    Philippe
     
  11. Pupfish

    Pupfish Member

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    Philippe,

    Your link takes me to a page with a too-small image to interpret much detail, but from what I can see, you appear in the larger bloom to have shot in diffused portraiture style with a slice of sharp focus but no attempt made for sharp near-far DOF. That's a perfectly good style which is more pictorial and not as literal, but rather beyond the realm of what I was addressing with traditional macro work. Your use of a MF lens is interesting but without knowing whether you were covering the entirety of the 4x5 sheet with the Planar would be harder still to interpret. But let's see if any of the following clarifies my point with you.

    There are sharpness limits imposed by stopping down due to bending light around that distant pinhole of light created by the iris AKA the aperture. Macro work not only requires greatly stopping down for adequate near-far depth of field but also adds to this distance with the additional bellows or helix extension beyond infinity focus to get to 1:1 magnification ("life-size"). The effective aperture at 1:1 will be two stops smaller than the marked aperture at infinity with any symmetrical lens design. Now further add to this that large format lenses due to their longer equivalent focal lengths, worsen the already shallow macro DOF issue due to telephoto effect. So LF requires stopping down considerably more, to get the same DOF result as can be achieved in smaller formats, several stops more for the same FOV lens equivalent. By an effective f/32 severe diffraction limits will start to be encountered. With LF macro it'll be a challenge to stay within these limits whenever photography three- dimensional objects if movements don't help address DOF..

    Yet for all the extra bulk, film cost, and hardship, you'd think 4x5 should still give you a much better final image because the bigger neg won't require as much enlargement, right? Well, frankly, no-- not at the original poster's specified 1:1 repro ratio. On film this is exactly the same life-size image regardless of format, and will require exactly the same degree of enlargement for the subject matter to appear at the same size on the final print . True you will get a larger field of view at 1:1 with large format, but to get the same size flower blossom in the final print you'd be blowing it up just the same whether the original was shot on a roll of 35mm film or an 8x10 sheet.

    At 1:1 and beyond we're getting down into the magnification realm where LF has not only lost any natural advantage, it has, in fact, become a liability. There's really not much call to use large format for true macro.

    Medium format and especially 35mm macro lenses at this repro ratio are significantly sharper to begin with (astoundingly so) and won't suffer diffraction limits to nearly the same degree as LF because they'll be shot at effective taking apertures that are wider to get the same DOF. I'll make an educated guess that the nexus of where absolute film limits meets absolute best available macro lens would test out between 35mm and 645, rarely 6x7 and will be dependent on many variables such as the resolving power of the particular film and development, and how small an aperture is needed to get adequate DOF for any given subject. In other words, a moving target, depending on how flat or 3-dimensional the subject.

    None of which has yet addressed the inconvenience factor of the larger formats, and the outlandish extensions required for macro that become impractical or downright prohibitive beyond the studio. There are the practical considerations with shooting macro, like shutter shake. At the extremes of focal lengths, smaller formats do have distinct advantages; it's always more practical to shoot macro with more DOF available, less flash power, less reciprocity-falilure compensation, less overall extension, smaller tripods, etc.--benefits that smaller formats will afford.
     
  12. Bruce Watson

    Bruce Watson Member

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    I've wrestled with this same question. My conclusion was that if you were only going to 1:1 and no farther, and you aren't trying to make huge enlargements, then you can get away without a macro lens.

    I have no doubt that a macro lens would do better (sharper, better corrected). But I don't do enough 1:1 work to make it worth it to me to spend the money for a macro lens to do it. Clearly, YMMV.

    An example is better than a thousand words maybe. I hope this passion flower illustrates what I'm talking about. It's close to but not quite 1:1 with a 150 Sironar-S using 5x4 160PortraVC. IIRC, f/22 with a lot of movements. I've examined the negative pretty closely with a 10x loupe. It's really quite sharp. I'm not sure that I'd get much more from a macro lens to be honest.

    My advice is to use your existing 150mm lens until you aren't satisfied with your results. Once you get to that point it'll be clear to you that you need the macro lens. But... you may never get to that point. I haven't. And if you don't, you'll have that money to spend on film, and that's a good thing. ;-)