Three lenses for field work : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am considering upgrading my lense set by replacing one or two of my press style lenses with more flexible modern lenses. I've read through Kerry Thalmann's and Chris Perez's info on specific lenses, and really don't need much help there, but I would certainly be interested in focal length preferences. I would plan to keep my super angulon and build up from there. I have 13" of bellows availible. I would guess the obvious options might be 90/135/210 or 90/150/240. I have also considered using a convertible, but these seem to get some bad press, and I know little about them. I think at the time my back and wallet will have to live with a 3 lens set, but might like to leave some room for a fourth. I know this is somewhat an issue of style and personal preference, but as I'm still learning, I'd certainly benefit from the experience of others. Thoughts on this appreciated.

-- Roger Rouch (, January 27, 2000


It is something of a personal choice. I personally find that about 300mm is really the least you need as a long lens. I worked with 150mm and 210mm and while they are very useful for situations requiring extremely precise perspective and framing (architecture rather than landscape). The two lengths are not really separated well enough to make a difference for most picture taking and are probably a bad choice at least for a field kit. In my opinion, keep the 90. Either the 135 or the 150 will be fine (given the larger film size, you might be inclined to lean in the direction of the 135mm since you can always crop). For the third, I would suggest a tele design. With 13" of bellows you can probably handle even a 360mm tele. There are plenty of reasonably priced tele designs (Dallmeyer, Wollensak, Tele- Artons - I'm sure there's lots more) which were designed for press style camera which would probably be adequate to the task within their limitations (limited coverage and wierd tilts etc since the nodal point lies out in front somewhere). Good luck. DJ

-- N Dhananjay (, January 27, 2000.

My personal preference for a wide-angle, if I were to limit it to one, would be a decent 75mm (late Super-angulon, SW Nikkor, or Grandagon). There isn't a lot of price differential between these and their 90mm versions, but you get a lot more degrees for your money. After all, you can always crop down to what the 90mm would have given you, unless you're of the "print 'em as you take 'em" persuasion. I've got both 90 and 75mm lenses in my 5x4 outfit, and always reach for the 75mm first.

Of course movements are a bit more restricted, until you hit f/32 and beyond, but rise and cross give more effect on shorter focal lengths, and the extra DOF helps a lot with swing and tilt.

Just my own HO.

-- Pete Andrews (, January 27, 2000.

A 75 or 72XL super angulon would be nice, paired with the 110XL Schneider and a 215-240 focal length. Or, even with limited bellows you could go with one of the small 300mm lenses and use an extension lens board to make up for the lack of bellows draw. The 300 Nikkor M takes 52mm filters, which makes it perfect for using for macro work with the multi-element multi coated close up lens made by Nikon or Canon.

-- Dan Smith (, January 27, 2000.

It really is a very personal decision. I find that 47, 72 and 150mm works well for me, but I'm quite a wide-angle freak.

-- Alan Gibson (, January 27, 2000.

In my humble opinion go for the 72XL, the 110XL (what a fabulous lens!!) and then go for a 210mm (I understand Schneider are planning a 210XL pretty soon)what a combination (if funds permitted). I use the 110XL and am "smitten". Regards Paul

-- Paul Owen (, January 27, 2000.

Since you said this was for field work: a 90mm f/4.5 Grandagon or Nikkor SW ( or the Schneider 110mm XL, a truly great lens!) ; a 180mm (Nikkor, Rodenstock or Schneider); and a 300mm f/9 M-Nikkor.

I'd rule out the 72mm & 90mm XL Super Angulons because they are physically big lenses and might not fit your camera, and the 4.5 Grandagon & Nikkor SW lenses produce a plenty large image circle (will just cover a 5x7). The Schneider 110 mm XL is a wonder of a lens. Supposedly it is the sharpest lens currently being made for large format (4x5 and larger) photography and the image circle will nearly cover an 8x10 even when focused at infinity.

I think it is a toss up between the various brands of normal, normal focal length lenses and the 300mm f/9 M-Nikkor is a very fine lens: sharp, lightweight and small.

-- Ellis Vener (, January 27, 2000.

The ratio between consecutive focal lengths should be about the same, and I've found that around 1.5 is a good choice, so your first suggestion of 90...135...210 seems just about right. By the way, you can get all three lenses with a 67mm filter size, which is very convenient.

-- Stewart Ethier (, January 27, 2000.

Well, there certainly alot of ideas I hadn't considered. Much to think over. Thank you all. Incidentally, the super angulon I refered building around is a 90. One of the press lenses I intend to trade off is a 135. I've actually developed a liking for that length, but need more coverage for what ever I select. And, I need some more experience (and advice) to really home in on preferences. I rather doubt that I will be getting into the XL lenses right now because of their price, though I can appreciate the recommendation.

-- roger rouch (, January 27, 2000.

My "standard" kit used to be, just what you offer, 90-135-210. A 90 SA, 135 APO Symmar and 210 APO Symmar. As I progressed, I found that in my area, the 210 was a tad to long. I ended up with a 180 and have used it about 40% of the time since, the 90 gets about 40% and the 135 ( now a 121 SA) gets about 15%, the other 5% is spread between a 210 and 240 and 300. I think everyone has stated preferences, that, are probably arrived at the way I arrived at mine; my local has dictated my needs, as I am sure there's has also. I have few far off vistas to bring closer and lots of stuff up close to include. Good luck, these kinds of decisions are very important to ones "productivity". It's heck always wishing for a little longer or shorter lens. That's where the 180 worked so well for me, it fit that niche, now you just have to figure out what your niche is.

-- Marv (, January 28, 2000.

Roger: I use the following: 75mm Nikkor; 110XL Schneider; 210 Rodenstock APO-S; and 300/8.5 Fuji C. The 110XL is fantastic. The Fuji is small, lighter than the Nikkor M, has a greater image circle than the M, and appears a little sharper than the M (I used to have an M and sold it). The 210 is great. I thought about buying the 72XL Schneider but it is monstrous. The 75 Nikkor is small and sharp. Just my HO as a landscape shooter. Regards.

-- john costo (, January 29, 2000.

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