The bulk of the advice here seems to center on the effects of perspective and/or bellows length compatibility.
But the effects of lens length on "style" of portraiture (the process, not the product) are worth considering as well. For some subjects, the more distance between you and the subject, the better; for others, up-close-and-personal is the only thing that works.
To span the range from clinically sharp to dreamily soft with only one optic, the only "modern" lenses seem to be the Imagon and Fujinon SF. It is probably not an accident that for 4x5, they are both 250mm FL. However, my personal experience is that low-key pictures with an Imagon are a good bit harder to make work than those in high or moderately high key.
http://www.cameraeccentric.com/info.html there are two articles and a brochure). One of the things written is that more direct lightning is prefered to soft lights. I.e. much "tougher" light than what is normal for portraiture.
Does anyone have any experience with the longer Xenars for portraits? 180mm, 210mm, and 250mm?
Darin, a Xenar is Schneider's
version of the Zeiss Tessar.
It is a common lens design --
the Kodak Commercial Ektars,
for example, are Tessars.
They will be sharp and full
of contrast and generally
There is quite a lot of written material on the Imagon lens (on http://www.cameraeccentric.com/info.html there are two articles and a brochure). One of the things written is that more direct lightning is prefered to soft lights. I.e. much "tougher" light than what is normal for portraiture.
Very true, although this becomes less important as the effective aperture is reduced and the image becomes, overall, sharper. The need for harder light might be an argument against an Imagon as a "first" portrait lens, particularly if one is planning to use electronic flash. Flash spotlights do exist, but they are less common, more expensive, and harder to improvise than softboxes.
Another issue is that because of scatter, the effective contrast of the film is lower when the image is very diffused, and this may need to be compensated in development.
For all that, they do make lovely portraits, if you happen to like the soft-focus genre and if it suits your subject.
Well, folks, I may have had a partial solution, or at least another option, dropped into my lap, as I've detailed in this subsequent APUG thread.
To summarize, I've discovered that the old beat-up 8x10 view camera given me by my father-in-law some years ago as a decorative piece contains a Goerz Dogmar 10-3/4" lens in a Goerz Compound shutter. They are presently at SK Grimes for CLA, and to investigate the feasibility either of mounting the lens in a modern shutter that will fit a Linhof-style board; or of mounting shutter+lens on such a board, if the shutter can be restored to full function.
Needless to say, I'm excited about the prospect---I'll keep everyone apprised over on the linked thread.
Thanks again for everyone's input.
My favourite FL is about 10". I have an (uncoated) 10"/6.3 Conley Anastigmat Ser.V (Alphax shutter).....same as Wolly Ser. I, I think. Benefits from a good matte box and the round aperture makes for great OOF rendering, can sometimes be too sharp for some portrait situations though at small apertures and therefore gets used wide open to f8 a lot. I also like the 4x5 Wolly Teles 10"/4.5 (I only have the 15"/5.6 version though, for 5x7). Have you tried your 210mm though?
I have been using a 360 for a series I'm working on right now.