which lens to get started?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by jono, Mar 14, 2011.

  1. jono

    jono Member

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    just getting my first 4x5!, and need to select a lens.....

    I am being offered the following:

    65 mm lens, Calumet f 8. $125

    75 mm lens Fujinon SW, f 5.6. , $450.

    Schneider Tele-Arton, Schneider 180, f 4. $250.

    Technika Tele-Arton, Schneider 240 mm f 5.6, $250.

    Fujinon L, 210 mm f5.6, with $350.

    Schneider Technika Symmar 150 mm / 265 mm (convertable), f 5.6, $350.

    What would you get started with (and does the price seem fair?)? I perhaps will get two lenses. I plan on mostly shooting landscapes and city scapes. Too bad $$ is always a limited commodity! Thank you, APUG community! Hope to post pics soon enough!
     
  2. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    My first lens was a 127mm Ysarex(Rodenstock) which is slightly wide angle, followed by a 150 Schneider. I have a 90mm Wollensak for wide angle, and a 10" Ilex Paragon for portraits. I like the 90 for architecture and the 127 and 150 for general landscape work.
     
  3. borisdeswan

    borisdeswan Member

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    I have a 210MM F 5.6 Fujinon, have had it for close to 30 years and it is outstanding and IMO the most versatile of the above mentioned focal-lengths.
    It works with lanscapes, portraits and any kind of table-top or studio photography.
    65MM is extremely wide, and so is 75mm 150mm is a usefull lens but it's not as usefull as 210.the rest are very restricted to one function.
     
  4. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    As you've already discovered, you'll get at least as many opinions as photographers asked. Compare prices of similar lenses on www.keh.com before you do something foolish. Hint, you'll want a lens or lenses in shutter, not in Sinar DB mount. 'nother hint, the Ilex is effectively a 65/8 Super Angulon, if the glass and shutter are in good order is worth buying with resale in mind. Everything else listed seems overpriced and I suspect -- haven't checked, its your money, you check -- that the 180 Tele-Arton and perhaps the 240 too are for 2x3, not 4x5.

    150 mm is normal for 4x5, more shots are taken with a normal lens than with any other focal length.

    Good luck, have fun, educate yourself before spending money,

    Dan
     
  5. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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    Those prices seem very high. I just saw a nice looking 210 Sironar in the classifieds for $160. That's the kind of low end prices that are out there. But they usually go fast. Ebay can be a crap shoot but I've gotten some nice things for fair prices. Try putting a WTB ad up here on APUG. On the subjective side I'd look for a 90 and 210 to start with. They are common and therefore cheaper.

    Also Caltar branded lenses are a good value. You will have to study to find out exactly what you are buying as far as original manufacturer but that info should be out on the web. Also always make sure the lens comes with a mounting ring or flange. You don't want to get stuck having to buy the mounting parts separately and some flanges are expensive.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2011
  6. Jesper

    Jesper Subscriber

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    I think that many people starting in LF start with a normal and take it from there.
    The Symmar 150 is a good lens and easy to use, but should be a bit cheaper than $350, but that depends on where you are
     
  7. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I don't know if you currently shoot MF or 35mm, but it's helpful to know what focal length (in those formats) best accommodates your style. Also, when you shoot landscapes and cityscapes, how much flexibility do you have to move in and out (i.e. if your lens is too long, can you back up with your tripod)?
     
  8. A Sabai

    A Sabai Member

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    What subjects are you shooting?
     
  9. ArtTwisted

    ArtTwisted Member

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    I cant comment on the optical quality of the brands but I can comment on focal length, 90 is already very wide with 4x5 so the wides you list are very very wide and may not be suitable for all the uses your planning. Id recommend a good 210 or similar, its my favorite, I do mostly portraits though but a longish standard lens is very suitable for landscape work as well and you can always get your ultra wide lens later.

    So from that list the 210 or the 180 would be what I would look at and do some research on, and of course check the bay for pricing.
     
  10. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    Get the Fuji or the Symmar.
    WHY?
    The 65 & 75mm are painfully wide on a 4x5. If you are going to specialize in architectural interiors, fine (the 65 may not even cover.)

    Teles are a PITA. If you need a long lens and don't have the bellows, thats a different story. Any 4x5 camera should be able to handle a 180mm without going to a tele. A new guy starting out with a tele equates to cruel and unusual punishment!

    That leaves the Fuji and the Symmar. Since the Symmar is convertible,that gives you a bit more bang for your buck, but either lens should give you a good start (210 & 150mms are considered "normal" and should offer excellent movements) Both Fuji & Schneider are deservingly very well respected for their optical products. What condition are the shutters?
    One of my favorite 4x5 lenses is the Kodak 203mm f7.7 (or Wollensak equivalent)---look real hard and you might find one in a good working shutter for $200 or under.
     
  11. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    I am in the camp that they all seem a bit overpriced. The best lens in the lot is probably the 210 Fuji if the shutter is in good shape. But 350 is a lot to pay for it. I would look for either a 210 or 150 Fuji at a reasonable price.

    tim in san jose
     
  12. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Fujinon L, 210 mm f5.6. But I'd find another one, as that one is clearly too expensive.

    210 is your standard 4x5 lens. They are just a hair long. 180mm on 4x5 is equivalent to a 50mm lens on a small format camera when comparing horizontal angle of view. So, a 210 being 1/6 longer than the 50mm small format equivalent makes the 210 equivalent to a 58mm lens on a small format camera. In other words, it is only slightly longer than normal on the wide dimension. And I would personally argue that it seems about the same in the end anyhow, as the 4:5 ratio frame makes a lens of a given horizontal AOV seem a bit wider than its small format equivalent. I prefer to use a slightly longer than normal lens as a standard lens, as opposed to a slightly wider than normal one, like a 150. When using my standard lens, I like being able to move back a bit from the subject just a bit more than normal, for various reasons. For example, I slightly prefer a 55mm lens to a 50 on a small format camera.

    The benefit of 210's over 150's (which most people call normal for 4x5, basing their definition on the diagonal AOV) is that they generally have larger image circles, which allow more movements.

    For studio and close-to-the-car work, I recommend a 240mm lens built for a 5x7 camera, such as a Symmar or a Nikkor-W. The extra size and weight won't bother you if you are not lugging it far, and you will never have to worry about running out of image circle on 4x5 when using one of these lenses. They are also quite cheap, as 5x7 tends to be an overlooked format. These lenses were thousands of dollars when they were new, but can be had for a few hundred today on the used market. For the same $350 you would spend on that Fuji lens, you could probably get one. And you would also be covered with a normal lens for 5x7 if you go that route some day. Most of them will also cover 8x10 to give you a moderate wide, though they will not allow a lot of movement with that format.

    But make sure you don't get a 240mm telephoto design. It will make working with tilts a bear, and they have smaller image circles than non-telephotos of the same focal length.

    If the size of 240mm non-teles bothers you, I'd suggest any quality 210mm lens from a reputable maker like Schneider, Rodenstock, Nikkor, or Fuji. I'd not bother saving money by going for models slower than f/5.6. The 5.6 ones will be cheap enough, and will help you with focusing and composing. Same thing with new versus old. I'd get a newer one, as they are technically superior in a few ways, and not much more expensive. Though the older glass does make beautiful and technically sound images, many improvements have been made in coatings and what not for both casual and serious shooters. Also, there may be an increase in image circle size on the newer lenses over the older ones.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2011
  13. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Rob, the standard definition of "normal" focal length for a format is the format's diagonal. It is pretty universally accepted for formats larger than 24 x 36. Cine-camera formats and derivatives -- 24 x 36 is double frame 18 x 24, the classic "35 mm" cine camera format -- use arbitrary definitions that bear no relation to the format. By convention, 24 x 36's normal focal length is 50 mm even though the format's diagonal is 43 mm. Except when the SLR manufacturer can't make a fast 50 mm lens that will clear the mirror, in which case "normal" is redefined as 58 mm. Whence the 58/1.4s "normal lenses" for 35 mm SLRs of the late '50s through mid-60s.

    And then there's Humpty Dumpty. " “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” That's you, I think. Ignorant or willfully idiosyncratic.

    To get back on topic, 4x5's diagonal is approximately 150 mm.
     
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  15. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    The suggestions of looking at KEH is a good one (along with most of the other info!). I'd sooner get one very good lens at the right focal length than two OK ones. As suggested, forget the Tele-versions. Not fun to use and may be for 2x3. The 65 may or may not cover and it is really,really wide. For what you are doing, I'd just get a modern 150 or 135 and get started. There are a number of them. Here is a Nikkor f5.6 150 for $350 which is a good lens, in a modern shutter and in great shape.
     
  16. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I have a copy of the lens that Mark pointed to, and it is a very good lens. It is so good that you will probably not be able to fully exploit its qualities until you've got some considerable LF practice under your belt. That said, my only and very minor complaint with this lens is that it can be a bit too wide at times. I have a 203mm f/7.5 Graflex Optar (not supposed to be that good, but I'm not complaining) when I want a little tighter view. Truth is that when you're working with such a large negative, lens quality, unless it's truly bad, isn't nearly as important a factor as it is when working with smaller formats because you won't be enlarging the negative nearky as much.. If your goal is to make contact prints, you'll never see it. Anything up to 4x to 6x enlargements will be beautiful. Only when you get into far higher magnifications do the shortcomings of lesser lenses become obvious. So my advice to you is to find something in the 150 mm to 210 mm range that fits your budget as your starter lens. Avoid the true telephoto designs for the reasons already noted by previous posters. You won't be happy if you need to use movements. A convertible lens might be a fun thing to play around with, but be advised that the results will be a little bit soft when used with the the top down (one set of lens cells removed. Then again, it might not be enough to be of any real consequence. After all, photographers have been using them happily to make marvelous images for years.
     
  17. jono

    jono Member

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    All, thank you for your comments, it was extremely helpful. I've settled on a 210, and am excited to get started!
     
  18. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Dan, my name is not Rob, first of all. Why do you think that it is? Nor is it Humpty Dumpty. Nor was my tone in my post "scornful." Nor was my post off topic.

    If you read what I wrote more carefully, you should see that what I did was to equate a 4x5 lens on 4x5 to a 50mm lens on small format specifically, not to the standard definition of a "normal" lens (the diagonal), which would be 43mm on small format (and 163 mm on 4x5). I did not invent or try to push a new definition for the technical term "normal lens." In fact, in my first few sentences of the second paragraph of my post, I say, "210 is your standard lens on 4x5. They are just a hair long." Not only do I specifically not use the term "normal," but I specifically say that the lens is "long," not normal.

    Also, if you call a 50mm, 55mm, or 58mm lens normal on small format, then calling a 180 or 210 on 4x5 "normal" after explaining your point should not lead to confusion...but did I even do that, or was I very careful with my wording?

    Nor did I tell the OP that he ought to strive for a "normal" lens. Quite the opposite, in fact. My point was to not be drawn in to what lens to choose by picking the one that meets the technical definition of "normal." A 50mm lens is not "normal" for small format; it is simply "standard," and that doesn't seem to bother anyone. If one gets a 150mm lens for 4x5 expecting it to "feel" like a 50mm lens on small format, then he or she will be disappointed. Based on the diagonal, a 150mm 4x5 lens is closest to a 40mm lens on small format, which is closer to "normal," but only 80 percent of the "standard" 50mm.

    Additionally, to be clear, I even defined the common use of the term "normal" a bit later, by stating that it is based on the diagonal, but made it clear early on that I was talking about comparing horizontal AOVs. I was talking about horizontal AOVs not to redefine the term "normal," but to try to give a 4x5 equivalent of the width one gets with a standard small format lens. This was to prevent the OP from being disappointed if he were to select a FL based on comparing diagonals between formats with different aspect ratios.

    I was making a point against the common "150mm on LF is equivalent to a 50mm on SF" statement that the OP is sure to encounter along the road, by saying that a 150mm actually seems quite more wide on 4x5 than a 50 seems on small format. Not only is a 150mm actually 8 percent wider than the technically "normal" lens for 4x5, but 50mm is actually 6 percent longer than the technically "normal" lens for 35mm format. (In other words, a 150mm lens is farther from "normal" on 4x5 than a 50mm lens is from "normal" on small format, though in the other direction.) Look at this difference (one 8 percent under normal and the other 6 percent over normal), then consider the difference in aspect ratio, and you have a notable difference between how a 50mm lens "feels" on small format and how a 150mm lens "feels" on large format. I said that if you look at horizontal AOV, a 180 mm lens gives you the most similar match to the horizontal AOV of a 50 mm on small format; then I made the point that a 210 is probably read by our brains as being the most similar to a 50mm lens on small format, due to the fatter frame of the 4:5 ratio.

    I was also making a point against the common argument that a 210 sounds too long to be a standard lens for 4x5, by saying that it really is not that different than some standard lenses used for small format (which, again, are called "normal," even though they are not). And since you mention "convention," I should also say here that 210 is pretty much the most common standard 4x5 lens, even though it does not meet the technical definition of a normal lens, just like 50mm is pretty much the most common standard small format lens, even though it does not meet the technical definition of a normal lens.

    So, again, my point was that if you like your 50mm lens on your small format camera, and that is what you want for 4x5, do not use the "normal" length lens on 4x5, but use the lens closest to a 50mm on small format, which would be either a 180 or a 210. I am making a point against the argument that a 150 lens should be ones standard lens on a 4x5 camera if one wants a lens equivalent to 50mm lens on small format.

    So, please reread and tell me where I have turned the world on end or scorned anybody by attempting to redefine the technical term "normal lens."
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2011
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    2F/2F:

    I think a lot of us here thought your name was Rob Tyner, because of the way your APUG "signature" is laid out.
     
  20. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    1:1, with feathers now ruffled, wrote:

    Standard? Really? (120/36)*50 = 167. (180/120)*36 = 75. Check your arithmetic before posting and remember that the long side of the 4x5 gate is 120 mm. (210/120)*50 = 87.5. That's more than twice normal (43 mm) for 35 mm still. More than a rch long, I think.

    If you use a pseudonym for a screen name and use a real name in your tag line you must expect a little confusion about who you are.
     
  21. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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  22. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Did you even read what I wrote? A 180 lens on large format has the same horizontal AOV of a 50 lens on small format. Both are close to 40 degrees. A 210 has a horizontal AOV close to that of a 58 lens (33-34 degrees). Again, I was attempting to equate the 50mm lens specifically with a 4x5 equivalent by using horizontal AOV, not to define what a normal lens for 4x5 is.

    "Standard" is decidedly different than the technical photographic definition of "normal." When I say standard lens, I mean your default, commonly used lens for the format, that is generally within a certain range of "normal." Standard lenses can vary. 150 is certainly one of them, but 210 is more commonly used as a standard lens for 4x5. Neither one of them are "normal." But 210 is the most common standard lens for 4x5. 50mm is a standard lens for 35mm format, not a normal lens. 80mm is standard on 6x6 cm, but it is not normal. So what is your beef? My posts have not only been accurate, but very carefully stated to avoid the confusion that you are introducing.

    I used standard conventions for quoting Tyner. Quotation marks around the statement, followed by a break, then a dash with the writer's name following. If I was the one who wrote the statement, I wouldn't need to use quotations or name the author. So, I "must" not have expected any confusion, though I do not hold it against anyone. I just find odd the idea that I must have expected it. Regardless, my screen name is clearly 2F/2F, so that or 2F is the obvious way to address me if you don't know my name, not by the name of the guy I quoted.

    Additionally, to prevent any further snarky mathematical "reduction" or "restatement" of "2F/2F" (except by Tim; that's ok :D), I should say that it is not a ratio, but a port/starboard division. It's main coolant pump orientation in a submarine nuclear power plant; two MCPs at fast speed on the port side, and two at fast speed on the starboard side. Seriously, Dan; do I call you D'Afro or something similarly silly and snarky when I disagree with you?
     
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  23. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    Schneider Tele-Arton, Schneider 180, f 4. $250.

    Technika Tele-Arton, Schneider 240 mm f 5.6, $250.

    And offer $200 for either. That 210 is good if you can afford it.
     
  24. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    A Tele-Arton 180mm is NOT a good choise for 4x5". Any tele-anything at all is NOT a good choise for a first LF lens, since you will get headaches immediately on trying to use movements.

    A simple good "standard" Plasmat-type lens, in focal length from 150mm to 210mm, is a much better start. The Schneider Symmar is one such.
    Longer Plasmats, like a 210mm, are big and heavy. Get a 150mm if you find one for below $200. They provide sufficient coverage to play with movements, sufficient speed that you can see what you are doing on the ground glass, and give very decent performance for very little muney - usually LESS than the shutter would cost on its own.
     
  25. jbbooks

    jbbooks Member

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    I would not comment on specific lenses, you can use KEH as a standard for the upper end for price comparisons and check the completed listings on eBay for more comparisons and the current listings for what is on offer.

    As to focal lengths, for 4x5, you will, probably, end up with some combination of 90mm, 150mm and 210mm lenses. You will, probably, also, end up using the 150mm the least, with one or the other of the other two lenses used most of the time. For me, also primarily interested in architecture and landscapes, the 90mm and 210mm lenses are used 80 to 90 percent of the time. For the 90mm, a Super-Angulon XL or a Grandagon-N and, for the 210mm, either an APO Symmar L or the Rodenstock APO-Sironar-S are the current high end versions of these two focal lengths. I like keeping the same manufacturer for both, but I am partial to the Super-Angulon XL for the 90mm. The problem with it is that not all view cameras have movements sufficient to take advantage of its full movement capability and some, that do have sufficient movement, will not accept its large rear element or will interfere with its being moved, fully, when mounted on the camera. The faster Grandagon-N has a real advantage in terms of size and speed, but has a slightly smaller image circle than the Super-Angulon XL

    As to cost, paying less may get you less capability, but it does not mean that you cannot find some version of any focal length that will more than do the job for a lot less money. Just know what you are getting and what the reasons are as to why it costs less.
     
  26. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    The OP picked out a 210. Not a bad choice if the objective is learning portraiture, architectural detail, or just product shooting. I think they will find it too long for landscape and most general architecture. But... you have to start somewhere. Everyone views the world different, even through the groundglass of a LF camera. I have used a 150 Fuji lens for most of my 4x5 landscape work, it shoots what I see, as I see it. I also use a 300 for my 8x10 with no real difficulties except overrunning the movements on the Deardorff. But then again, my 30 YO FM2 has only had two lens on it in it's long and happy life, a 35mm and a 105. It's how I see.

    Good luck OP, ask many questions and revel when you get two titans of the board to discuss matters of technical import. You will learn much here on APUG.

    tim in san jose