Visualizing for next lens : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Gentlemen, My question may seems immature to most, but am curious if there is an aid to visualizing what each focal length appears to contain. I have shot now for 2 years a very sharp Fuji 125 f5.6 and a Fuji 300 C f8.5, all correctly exposed images have been outstanding, graphically fulfilling. But not sure of the next lens focal length, or ideal grouping. Often, my eyes are drawn to the 240mm(pages 119 & 135 in Simmon's "Using The View Camera") Of course, not many available for field 4X5 landscape work. I sense I will not need more than 3 or 4 perspectives. I may replace the 125 with a 110XL, add a 180, then perhaps a 240, with my existing 300. If only 3 lenses, the 110, 210, and the 300. But that 240 view calls to me alot. Again, might there be a corrected visualizing tool to take in the field for experimenting without having to rent or buy literally every single lens between 110 and

-- Gary Albertson (, January 17, 2001


Adorama sells a viewing card (I forget the exact name) that consists of an 8x10 or thereabout sheet of plastic with a 4x5 inch hole cut in the center and a tape with various lens focal lengths marked on it. You hold the sheet to your eye, put the tape next to your cheek (the one on your face), and move the sheet in and out until you have a framing you like, then read the focal length for that framing off of the tape. It works pretty well and costs around $10. It wouldn't be difficult to make one yourself. Linhof makes a universal view finder (I think that's the name) that does much the same thing. It is probably more accurate and should be since it sells for around $600 new, $300 or so used on e bay.

-- Brian Ellis (, January 17, 2001.

Some use the old card cut to the proportions of the format you are using very effectively. I use a Linhof multi focus device that were designed to fit in a shoe on the top of their camera. I use it seperately to frame shots and experiment with various focal lengths before I start the set up process. It has saved me both time and trouble. I have one for 4x5 and another for 5x7.

-- Michael Kadillak (, January 17, 2001.

Gary: A very nice combination is a 110, 180 and 300. These step up in even ratios of about 1.66. There isn't much difference between a 180 and 210, and most 180's are much smaller, and a bit cheaper than 210's. If speed isn't particularly important, a Fuji 180A is very small and light, very sharp and has a big image circle. Four lenses between 110 and 300 is pretty close spacing for 4x5 where you have alot of freedom to crop.

-- Glenn Kroeger (, January 17, 2001.

Are you sure you need another lens? If so, it should be clear from the two lenses you already have. Do you find yourself cropping a lot in the enlarger? Do you often have to move back to fill the frame? Are you sure that it's not just gonna be one more piece of s**t to carry around? You don't need advice from the bleachers, you just need to pay attention to what you're doing now, and if you need another lens to make it easier.

-- Bill Mitchell (, January 17, 2001.

Bill Mitchell said it nicely. If you find yourself wanting to include more in the image than you're getting, you need a shorter focal length. If you're cropping from what you have, then you might want a longer focal length, but pay attention to what you're doing and it should answer the question for you.

Me: I've decided to only buy lenses that have 40.5 mm filter sizes. That might seem like an odd criterion, but it's for the sake of my pockebook and the weight of my kit. If all my lenses take the same filter size, that drastically reduces my filter costs. (And I like high quality filters, so they don't come cheap.)

A friend gave me a very nice 90 mm Angulon, that gives quite respectable performance. It takes 40.5 mm filters. My Pentax meter is the same size, so that's what got me started on this approach.

I have perfectly fine 120 mm and 210 Fujinons, but they are big & heavy for serious field work. (The 120 barely fits inside the bellows cavity of my camera.)

I bought a used Osaka 210 that has 40.5 mm filter. The cost of the lens was much less than duplicating my filters in another size. It's 4 elements, and very compact. A good choice for field work.

I'm considering the Caltar 135 (same filter size). I think 90-135-210 is a nice arrangement. The 90 is a bit wide for most of my work, so an intermediate length would be useful. I will say, however, that 210 covers a lot of what I do. I used to have a 180, and it's a useful lenght, but I like the 210 a tad better.

-- Charlie Strack (, January 17, 2001.

Gary: There is not all that much difference between the 240mm and 300mm. As you increase the focal length the difference becomes less with a given focal length difference. The difference between these two focal length is a little over two inches, which is not much at that length. I agree that the best choice seems to be 210mm. You would have a good workable combination of lenses that make a difference in your pictures.



-- Doug Paramore (, January 18, 2001.

Gary: Glenn recommends a 66% increment for the focal length of next lens. Good idea. I would say at least 50% and no more than 66%. Smaller and the differences are too small to make a substantial impact to the image or warrant the additional expense, weight and space. Like Michael Kadillak, I use the Linhof viewfinder for pre- visualizing. With it you approximate much better the actual perspective that you get with the lenses, not just the area covered by each lens. Some people recommend cards but those only block out a given area that changes depending on where you position the card in relation to your eyes. The Linhof viewfinder is very expensive but to me, worth it. Hint: mount the VF onto a shoe mount that has a hole at the base onto which you can screw a small tool or machine handle. (machine-shop supplies)then slide the VF into the shoe making sure that the screw connecting the shoe to the handle is tight onto both the shoe and the tool handle and that the VF is tight on the shoe. On the handle drill a small hole for a cord from which you hang the VF around your neck. In this way the VF is always with you and for use you grab it by the handle, avoiding the risk of having your $1500 VF become a fishing lure. -These VFs are most awkward to handle bare. After a few thousand LF shots I hope I can sell the VF to buy film. That will take a while yet.

-- Julio Fernandez (, January 21, 2001.

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