What is a "normal" focal length for a 4x5 view camera?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by stradibarrius, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    Someone wants to trade me a Calumet 4x5 CC40 gray camera with a 180mm f/5.6 lens.
    I do not know anything about LF so I was curious if 180mm is a "normal" focal length? Or another way to ask the question is if I only had one lens and it was 180mm is that a versatile focal length?
     
  2. Brandon D.

    Brandon D. Member

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  3. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    180 might be a smidge shy of normaln like say a 45mm lens on a 45mm lens on a 35mm SLR. But definitely close enough. It's on the wide edge of normal I would think.
     
  4. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    It's roughly a 150mm lens for a 4x5.
     
  5. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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  6. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    hey barry

    if divide any 4x5 lens' focal length by 3
    you will get an idea what it is like ( sort of ) on a 35mm camera.

    normal is relative ...
    i use a 210 as a normal on my graflex slr ...

    as for versatility ...
    it depends if you like long lenses, short lenses
    or mid-length lenses .. the 180 isn't wide or long
    and the calumet has enough bellows that you can use it as
    macro lens and do nice close-ups on your instruments :smile:
    just make sure you look at jason brunner's video series
    and bellows factor with bacon will help you figure out
    bellows compensation
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwfRA615Mx8&feature=related

    have fun !
    john
     
  7. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    • If 'normal' is the diagonal of the frame, then 43mm is the 'normal' for 135 (24x36)format -- but 50mm is the one usually sold for 135 format cameras, but anywhere from 40mm - 58mm have been found as standard lenses for the format.
    • If 'normal' is the diagonal of the frame, then 70mm should be the 'normal' for 645 (43x55) format -- but 75mm is the one sold for 645 format cameras.
    • If 'normal' is the diagonal of the frame, then 148mm is the 'normal' for 4x5 (92x117 to 93x118mm) format -- and 150mm is one most sold for 4x5 format cameras, although some photographers have preferred as long as 210mm.

    Note that the last two formats have ratio of FL:[short dimension of frame] of about 1.7x ...which would yield 40mm as normal, based upon that criteria, for 135 format.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 10, 2011
  8. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    I believe a rule of thumb is to go with the length of the hypotenuse for "normal". The hypotenuse of 4" by 5" inches is 6.4 inches, or 163 mm. By that measure, 180 mm would be a trifle on the long side.
     
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    150mm is deemed Normal for 5"X4" cameras, some prefer a 135mm as Normal others a 180mm, and a far smaller percentage a 210mm but for studio work - not general use.

    Ian
     
  10. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    So 180 would be a focal length that would be usable in a lot of situations?

    If I do this trade, what else will I have to buy to be able to use it other than film? I have B&W chemistry. I guess I need either a 4x5 enlarger or scanner than will scan a 4x5 negative and a film box/tank to process the film... what else am i missing? I have a 670 enlarger and my scanner will do 6x12cm but I don't think it will do 4x5.
     
  11. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    film holders. 4x-6x focusing loupe for ground glass focusing; dark cloth (to focus under)
     
  12. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Film and film holders, dark cloth and a magnifier of sorts for critical focus, and a sturdy tripod. Don't forget a decent cable release. You can soup the negs in a tray or in a three reel daylight film can, you can use a plastic two reel AP or Arista brand Paterson two reel doesn't work. You will need a 4x5 enlarger or scan your negs. A Beseler 23c can be converted to 4x5 easily.
     
  13. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    A 180 might be a good "all around" lens, and would be a good starting point, maybe slightly short for portraits though. My favorite for 4x5 is 210, for studio work it gives you a nice working distance, and works well in the field too when you want a selective point of view. But, as stated much depends on whether your taste runs to wide or long.

    When you get into large formats it's easier to think in terms of image size and angle of view rather than "wide angle" or "telephoto". It amounts to the same thing though.

    Processing in trays is easy if you don't mind being in the dark for the processing time. Otherwise, you have the "taco" method in roll film tanks, Jobo reels and tank, or the HP Combi Plan tank, not to mention BTZ tubes. My preference is hangers in deep tanks which is not a method that finds a lot of favor here, but it's what I'm used to.

    4x5 enlargers are easy to find cheaply if you'e willing to invest some patience for the right one to come your way via Craigslist or ebay local pick up auctions.
     
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  15. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Press photographers preferred 135mm on their 4x5s so get would be sure to get the photograph and do the cropping later. That is why Speed and Crown Graphics often come with 135mm lenses.

    Steve
     
  16. voceumana

    voceumana Member

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    180 is a very useful focal length for a 4x5 camera, and the lens probably has a large enough image circle to allow for considerable camera adjustments.

    My 1st view camera was a Calument with a 180 Rodenstock Sironar, and I never felt that lens to be lacking in any way at all.

    While 135 is a slightly wide view lens for 4x5, I have found no 135's with a large enough image circle to allow much camera adjustment, but they are nice compact lenses, and useful for landscape work where adjustments don't need to be extreme, usually.
     
  17. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    I realize why people settled on this idea, about the hypotenuse. They had to pick something.

    But I find the better rule of thumb, for me at least, is to think of a normal lens as the length of the long side of the film. Thus for 4x5 I think of 127mm (or 135, depending on which camera body - I don't have all lenses for all bodies!) as normal, and for 135 I think of 35mm as normal. So my "standard" is a bit wider than the common usage.

    I don't shoot wild sizes like 12x20.
     
  18. rpsawin

    rpsawin Member

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    Stout tripod and head.
     
  19. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    Yep, I have a great tripod/head stout enough to handle my RB67, Have a great meter. The kit comes with a hood cloth, 3 backs plus a poloroid back, lens, lens board, original owners manual and some film. A loupe seems to be all I am missing???
    Will my lightbox loupe work?
     
  20. Wayne

    Wayne Member

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    My normal lens is my Caltar 135 because it folds up nicely inside my Wista 45sp while still mounted in the camera, so I'm ready to shoot in seconds. Since I rarely shoot at infinity it gives me ample coverage too. 180 is my second most used lens.
     
  21. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Until I acquired a Crown Graphic I'd never used a 135mm, mine came with a 1930's 135mm Tessar, nearly 30 years older than the camera (which has a Range-finder cammed for a 150mm - non adjustable).

    However I think this comment's an important consideration:

    So if going for a shorter standard it pays to get the best you can afford. 135mm Tessar's and clone designs are OK stopped down to f22 but edge and particularly corner sharpness drops of rapidly at wider apertures, and coverage is insufficient for anything more than minimal movements. 135mm Sironars & Symmars (& Nikon, Fuji etc equivalents) are much sharper at wider apertures and allow slightly more movements than Tessar designs but still need a lot of care as mentioned above.

    My experience using both a Crown Graphic and now a Super Graphic match Steve's comments though about 135mm once being a common choice for Press cameras, I often use mine hand held and find no problems composing with the 135mm and either the direct viewfinder or sports funder, there's an added advantage over a 150mm and particularly a 180mm lens because a 135mm has greater DOF at similar apertures, important when critical focussing is more difficult when working hand held.

    Ian
     
  22. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    That's what I have on mine too.... well, it's a 13.5cm Tessar. I don't know its age though.


    Steve.
     
  23. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    Your lightbox loupe will be fine.
     
  24. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Steve, the date of both the lens and Compur shutters can be found here. As companies made lenses in batches and bought in shutters in batches as well the two dates don't always coincide. Zeiss Jena changed from cm to mm markings after WWII my 150mm 1950's CZJ Tessar is marked 150

    Ian
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 11, 2011
  25. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    I have found the 135mm Sironar S to have plenty of coverage, is very sharp and is just about the perfect lens for me. It is my "normal" lens, sort of like a 35mm in 35mm format.

    The 180 will be a good focal length to get started with.
     
  26. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Subscriber

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    And now I know why Barry got scared about complexity. You just had to bring up the hypotenuse, didn't you! :smile: