Lens Choice for Close-ups

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For doing close-ups in the field, what would be the preferred lens? Rather than carrying one specifically designed for macro work, I'd like to use a lens I already own, either a 135mm or 210mm, both Symmar-S. Can those of you in the know (there are so many on this Q&A!) give me some advice? I'm not doing micro-photos of bacteria or anything, I just want to take photos of small arrangements of wildflowers and such, as I stumble across them on the trail. I'm guessing a 1:1 ratio or less, give or take. Thanks in advance for your comments.

www.toddcaudle.com (misc. landscape photos) www.skylinepress.com (Colorado books & calendars)

-- Todd Caudle (todd@skylinepress.com), May 22, 2000


Both lenses should perform the same, but the 135mm may be better because it will require less bellows extention. You really ought to have a 150mm G-claron for this. They are a few hundred used.

-- William Marderness (wmarderness@hotmail.com), May 22, 2000.

If you already own a decent enlarging lens,use that. It doesn't even have to be for LF, an 80mm lens will cover 5x4 at 1:1. You should really mount it reversed, but it doesn't seem to make a lot of difference in practice, it's still a darn sight sharper than a 'normal' lens. The lack of a shutter can be a bit of a pain, though, if what you're trying to photograph won't stay still while you use a bit of black card to cover and uncover the lens.

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), May 22, 2000.

Regarding the use of enlarging lenses for photomacrography: Last summer on this forum, Mr. John Hicks described a Schneider adapter ring which will allow you to screw a 39 mm Leica-thread enlarging lens into the front of a Copal #1 shutter. The ring is Schneider product number #92-056002; Calumet sells it for $40 on their web site (it's their part # SC9002, described as "Leica-40mm Adapter Metal"). I bought one last year, and it works perfectly. I can screw either my 80 or 135 mm El-Nikkor enlarging lens onto the Copal #1 shutter from one of my other lenses and have a convenient high-quality macro lens in shutter a lot cheaper than a new Macro-Sironar.

-- Jay Packer (jaymp@earthlink.net), May 22, 2000.

Thank you so much for the tip on the Leica 40mm adapter. I also have both the 80 and 135mm El-Nikkors, and have been thinking about a kludge to use them for macro work.

You provided the solution for my problem, and I just finished ordering that solution from Calumet. Now they will send me some more free catalogs too!

-- Bruce Gavin (doc@compudox.com), May 22, 2000.

I've been using a Componon-S mounted in a Copal 0 shutter (Schneider's recomendation) and get amazingly sharp results. You will need to do some testing to determine the appropriate ASA. Depending on the focal length of the lens from which you borrow the shutter, the aperature scale will probably be way off. You can use the "ASA" testing to correct for this.

One would need to recommend against the Symmar S lens. As I understand it, the larger front element (when compared to the back) optimizes this lens for non-closeup work.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@worldnet.att.net), May 24, 2000.

Thanks to Jay, and John Hicks for jump-starting my brain with the idea of adapting an existing shutter to take enlarging lenses. Funny how some things aren't obvious until someone else points them out! I must borrow some time on a lathe and knock out a couple of adapters.

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), May 24, 2000.

Addendum: I ordered mine from Calumet, and got a confirmation back about the item being out of stock for 3 or 4 weeks.

I contacted SK Grimes, and he can whip one up in 3 days in plain aluminum. Steve recommended waiting a bit longer (3 weeks) and getting one of his adapters in anodized black aluminum instead. He said it would be worth the wait.

I cancelled the Calumet order, and place an order with SK Grimes for the anodized adapter. It will still take 3 weeks, but I know for sure it will be arriving in that time frame. Even more important, I know it will be fabricated correctly.

This adapter will mount the enlarging lens in the standard way, with the flange side toward the negative. My 80mm and 135mm EL-Nikkor lenses are optimized for 5x enlargements, so I would think they would provide optimum taking results at 1:5 magnification.

If want wants to go greater than 1:1, I would think it best to reverse the lens. This will require a different adapter: Copal #1 39x.075 to the specific filter thread of the enlarging lens.

-- Bruce Gavin (doc@compudox.com), May 25, 2000.

I live in England and I recently bought a Dallmeyer copying lens at a camera fair for #15-00. It is mounted on a Prontour Press shutter with speeds up to 1/125 and B and T. It does a brilliant job. It covers up to 5x4 on close up, but it excells when I use 6x7 & 6x9 backs.

-- Pete Watkins (pete_watkins@lineone.net), May 28, 2000.

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