Perfect Lens for a 617 with Movements???
Iím in the process of very slowly designing a custom 6x17cm camera with bellows for movements. 120 is much easier to work with and costs a lot less than a 5x7 crop, and my camera design is significantly smaller than a LF camera. Most of the 617 cameras on the market and ones that are custom built typically have a fixed lens, or a lens board that shifts. Iím building mine with bellows intended to allow all movements, for maximum flexibility in creativity.
Iíve done lots of research on the best possible lens for this application, and have found the Rodenstock Grandagon-N 115mm f6.8 has the largest coverage and the least distortion of all the other 4x5 (semi 5x7) lenses on the market. But, Iím new to this game, so Iíd love to hear your thoughts.
Iím in med school and have an extremely limited budget, but I know better than most that itís best to invest in the correct tools rather than buy a series of cheap ones, only to eventually replace them with the expensive ones that would have worked the first time..
The Grandagon 115s go for anywhere between $250-800 depending on condition and who is selling, and I currently have an offer to buy one from a respectable photographer for the high end of that range. Before I shell out over a monthís worth of rent on a part of a project that might not work, I figured itíd be best to confirm my ideas with the folks that know the most about this game.
I know nothing of 5x7 lenses or 8x10 lenses, so I suspect there may be more options than the Grandagon. My ideal lens has enough coverage to allow decent sized movements, is a wide angle (wider than 115 would be fantastic, but I can work with it), has the least distortion, and is tack sharp closer to wide open.
Thatís a dream lens, but maybe you know of something close? If you do, and you happen to have one for sale, Iíd love to buy it from you. Or if you know of a cheaper option for the 115, the more money I save on the lens, the more I can spend on my build..
Thanks for your help!
You shouldn't have to spend anywhere near $800 for a modern lens, with clean glass in a properly working shutter, that will cover - $400 is more like it, particularly if you don't mind a bit of wear on the barrel. Look among the slower (f/6.8, f/8) wide-angle types in the 90mm-125mm range, toward the longer end if you want to go whole-hog with movements and minimize the need for a center filter. Fuji, Nikon, Rodenstock and Schneider all have modern wide-angle offerings in that range. Rodenstocks can often be found less expensively under the Caltar II-N label, Schneider Super-Angulons under the Caltar-W II label. The lenses Fuji and Linhof have offered with their 617 cameras are all just LF lenses mounted in focusing helical; any existing 617 focal length that interests you from either vendor is also available as an ordinary LF lens in shutter.
(Is that DNA or RNA polymerase? Or can you switch-hit? )
Thanks for the thoughts Oren!
Sadly, the reason many of those cheaper lenses won't work for my design is their small image circle. The goal of this camera is to allow camera movements with bellows. Without a huge image circle, I can't pull off movements.
There's a pretty decent conversation about this on my identical thread on LFF, if you or anyone else is curious.
The general consensus there seems to be go with the Schneider 90mm f/5.6 Super-Angulon XL.
The Schneider 72 SAXL has an image circle of 226mm.
The Nikkor SW 90 has an image circle of 235mm.
The Schneider 90 SAXL has an image circle of 259mm.
The Schneider 110 SSXL has an image circle of 288mm.
The Grandagon-N 115 has an image circle of 291mm.
The Nikkor SW 120 has an image circle of 312mm.
Do any of you folks have any experience with these lenses wide open? Iíd love to hear your thoughts on light falloff and sharpness..
Do you think the wider 90SAXL is worth the shorter movements compared to the 110-120 lenses? To give you an idea of my shooting style, my favorite 35mm-format lenses are all 24mm, and my favorite MF lenses are 40mm.
Thanks again for all of your help!
Also, I'll happily unravel either.
(But I'm a heterozygous type of guy.)
I never ran out of room with a [non-XL] SA 90mm f5.6 on my 617.
My advice would be to buy cheap and then trade up if you find that your initial choice doesn't work for you. I.e., start with one of the 115/120/125 wides at ~$400. Or perhaps one of the slower 90's if you can live with less movement and more falloff - those are very common and tend to be inexpensive. So far as I'm concerned the 90 SA-XL is an expensive, somewhat awkward-handling, special-purpose problem-solving lens, not something you want to start with just because the specs look great on paper.
I don't think "invest in the correct tool from the start" tells you what to do, because you don't yet necessarily know what the correct tool is. Your FL preferences for 35 and MF may not be a reliable guide to what will make you happiest for 6x17. 90 gives a comfortable, normal-to-semiwide vertical field of view on 120 rollfilm, but the horizontal field of 90 on 6x17 is very wide. Many users of panoramic formats end up going a bit tighter on the vertical field after they get over the thrill of the ultrawide view and it starts to sink in how difficult it can be to compose with the shorter FLs. By the same token, your assumptions about how much movement you're going to need may or may not hold up once you start working in the field.
My experience with the 90 SA-XL is limited to one test exposure so far, as an ultrawide on whole plate. For that kind of stretch the falloff is very substantial, even stopped down. But I haven't tried the lens at open aperture nor am I likely to anytime soon, I'm afraid. I always use my 115 Grandagon stopped down, too.
I did just take a peek at the LFF thread. My inclination is to agree substantially with Frank.
Now, time to unwind - though truth be told, I'm sufficiently old and creaky that my mind turns more to telomerase these days...
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Thanks Oren, those are some very good thoughts.
I can always move up if I start low with a deal. I suppose I'll hunt for any of the recommended lenses and jump on the one I can find for the best price. I'm in no hurry.
And I'm sure you've got long enough telomeres to hold you over for quite some time .
I just wanted to let you know that even after our great discussion, I ended up buying a brand new Caltar II-N 115 a moment ago for $500. I figured I couldn't pass up that deal. Worst case scenario, I sell it for at least what I bought it for and move on to something different. The 115 will let me do all the crazy movements/shots I've been planning, then I can move to something physically lighter and wider (I'll keep this chat in the back of my mind in the future).
I'll post another thread when I start building/assembling my beast (probably around the start of July). Until then, I'm collecting parts and refining my design.
Thanks again for all of your help! Happy shooting!