Choosing a couple of wide angle lenses

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I'm loooking to purchase a wide-angle lens, I know it's a personal bend to choose the appropiate focal lenght, but any comment from more experienced photographers will be helpful. In Nikon SLR, I start using all the range of lenses from 20mm to 180mm, including macro lenses and at this time I only use the 20/2.8 (30% of the shots, interiors), 28/2.8 (60%, interiors, exteriors) and the 105/2 (10%, objets, portraits, exteriors).

For me the 28/2.8 is the "normal" lens. That's the reason because I choose this couple of lenses for my 4x5: Super-angulon 90/5.6 XL and Apo-grandagon 55/4.5, but, Have the Apo-grandagon enought capacity of movements for an adequate work in interiors? (decoration magazine shots, furniture in real locations, rooms, etc.)

Another pair could be a Super-symmar 110/5.6 XL (I don't like the 35mm perspective in my SLR, too "long" for me, but I could get used to this wonderful? lens) and a Super-angulon 72/5.6 XL, but, Is this lens (72XL) enough wide for interior work? (I never shot below 20mm SLR)

I compare formats in the horizontal coverage. Another suggestion? What do you think, pros? Any comment would be greatly appreciated.

-- jose angel (acquatek@teleline.es), January 25, 2001

Answers

Jose, the 110 would maybe be a bit narrow for interiors, other than big buildings. Calculated on the diagonal of 4x5 versus the diagonal of 24x36 (ratios are not the same!), a 90 mm would be equivalent of a 28 mm and a 80 mm to a 24 mm. The 80 XL has a rise possibility of 40 mm which meets most demands in interior photography. The 72 is a huge lens compared to it and would not be my choice. Next would be the 55 mm ApoGrandagon or the 58 mm SuperAngulonXL (equ. 24x36: 17 mm). Both would allow for approx. 10 mm of rise, according to the spec sheets, maybe a bit more in practice. I would not recommend 47 mm. It tweeks the perspectives too much to be pleasant.

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), January 25, 2001.

Jose:

Two comments: I used the 110XL on 4x5 and found that it "felt" wider than a 35mm on 35mm. I found that a 120 feels more like a 35mm. Since the aspect ratios are different, it is hard to compare for all subjects, but for my landscape work, the 110XL was nice, and is certainly smaller and lighter than most of its 90mm brethren.

I use the 55 Apo-Grandagon on 6x9 as a 24mm equivalent. It is spectacularly sharp, but movments on 4x5 will be limited. You might check and see if the 58 Schneider XL gives you a larger image circle.

Glenn

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (gkroeger@trinity.edu), January 25, 2001.


I too would like to hear from experienced LF photographers about this. I have been using an old Yashica TLR for about nine years, and have become unhappy with the view from its normal lens. To be specific, I want to use shorter lenses. I take a lot of pictures of museums and historic sites, both interiors and exteriors, and many landscapes as well. I plan to buy a large format camera later this year, perhaps in the Spring (make and model as yet undetermined).

-- Erec Smith Grim (smit1125@tc.umn.edu), January 25, 2001.

For architectural work, where extensive camera movements are going to be needed, then 75 or 72mm is about the shortest lens you can use on 5x4. I have 90mm and 75mm lenses, and the movement available with the 75mm is quite restricted.
Like you, I tend to favour working with very wide angles in 35mm, but with LF you just have to rein in those tendencies and work within the technical confines of the medium.
You can have parallel verticals, or super-wide angles of view, but I'm afraid you can't have both.

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), January 26, 2001.

Jose, Glenn is correct that the 110XL is wider then a 35 on 35mm and it has a lot of coverage to boot on 4x5. However my most used lens on 4x5 at present is a Grandagon 75/f4.5 which has a fair ammount of cover but of course nothing like the 110. Do consider a 90, close to a 28 on 35mm. The two Nikon's offer excellent coverage and their f8 is quite compact. Regards,

-- Trevor Crone (trevor.crone@uk.dreamcast.com), January 26, 2001.


Thank you very much for your comments. I spend five hours yesterday on the web looking for the best solution, and the general opinion is that the 110XL is a lens to substitute olders 120 and 90. I think it could be an intelligent election. It seems that some people who have been using the 90 Super Angulon are changing to the 110XL. If I'm not wrong, P. Shilliger are one of the photographers who gone for the 110XL, and the question is Do the photographers who bought the new 110XL use this lens now in substitution of their old 90mm? Yes, Pete, I think you are on the right way. I want absolute parallel lines and a super wide angle of view (like my 20/2.8 in 35mm or more), but I see thats impossible. The limit of the compromise could be a 72/75mm. Then I understand that a good solution is the 72XL for interior work, or better a 75 if sacrifices movement in benefit of comfort. All photographers who use the SA 90 or 72 XL warn about the big size of this lenses, (a problem with filters, compendium hoods, weight, etc.), and I'm afraid with this lens, but if you want the goods of the 72XL you have to pay this lacks. The change of format looks relative, in a equivalent 35mm horizontal coverage I obtain more vertical with the 4x5. Respect the SS 80XL, it's a new lens, and some people said that isn't as good as the 110/150XL. New opinions? The 55/58 results very attractive (the same filters with all my lenses, with adapter rings), but if the 110XL goes to my bag, perhaps the jump between them... will be a big jump. Last question: Filters in the 110XL. Could I use 72mm filters with an adapter ring 72-67 in this lens directly? Sorry for the lenght...

-- jose angel (acquatek@teleline.es), January 26, 2001.

Jose, just to put some things straight, I did change my SuperAngulon 121 mm for a 110 XL. The 90 mm is a lot wider than the 110. I used 90 alot for interiors, that's why I choose a f 5,6. If I had to purchase now, I would probably get a 80 SuperSymmar instead, and use a center filter where needed. That's because I do now more backpacking than commercial photography. But if you are not a landscape photographer and weight is not an issue, get the SuperAngulon at a good price! You won't be desappointed, they are excellent lenses, if you can still find one. The current 90 XL takes a huge, expensive center filter.

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), January 26, 2001.

Hi Jose

I work almost for architecture mags 60-70 interiors 30-40 outside! I just say what I use at most: 1.35mm camera 15mm about 40%, 20mm ab.30%, 28mm shift ab. 20%, 24 mm 10%; MF 6x7cm 90% 50mm 10% 100mm; LF about 80% 75mm, 15% 135 mm, 5% 300mm. 50% are made with 35mm cameras,40% MF and only 10% LF in may case! You will be happy with a 72 or 75mm, on the other hand I know the personel photographer of Jean Nouvel one of the leading architects in europe, I only saw him with a 90mm Schneider for 2 days! Its a bit differnet when I take picture for landscapes for my self. Good luck!

-- Armin Seeholzer (armin.seeholzer@smile.ch), January 26, 2001.


Exterior architecture photography is a modest fraction of the type of photography I do. Typical lenses that I use for this are the 72 Super-Angulon XL and the 110 Super-Symmar XL. Sometimes for more distant views or details I use a normal or even a long lens. If architecture was a larger fraction of my interests, I might also carry a 90 mm lens, but I don't want the extra weight for the rather small step between focal lengths (you can always crop!) I probably wouldn't even buy a 90 mm lens today, but it is left over from when my wide-angles were 90 and 120 mm.

I find the 72 mm lens fairly difficult to use (substantially more difficult than even a 90 mm lens), but this is more because of the focal length than the size of the lens. The shorter focal lengths give a "hot-spot" effect on the ground glass, so it difficult to view the entire image simultaneously.

The Super-Symmar XL series is wonderful, but for 4x5 and focal lengths shorter than 110 mm, it probably isn't the best choice for architecture photography. The extra coverage of the older wide-angle designs is valuable, at least for exterior architecture work. What the 72 mm XL can do when your back is to a wall and the building you want to photograph is too close is simply amazing. The coverage difference isn't as important in landscape work. The importance of the weight difference will depend on how far you will carry the lens.

For interior work a wider lens than 72 mm would probably be useful.

-- Michael Briggs (michaelbriggs@earthlink.net), January 27, 2001.


Thanks to all of you for your help. Your experience help me so much to make a decision. I have decided to choose the couple formed with the 110XL and 72XL. I find the 72XL the widest lens I can use in LF (4x5, 6x17) with big capacity of movements, that's what I'm looking for. I assume the lack of weight and expensive filters. The 110XL could be a narrower substitute of the 28 (in 35mm SLR) that I use normally. With my great Apo-sironar-S 210 could form a wonderful two lenses portable set. My best wishes for all of you.

-- jose angel (acquatek@teleline.es), January 29, 2001.


I do a lot of interior work in homes and small commercial spaces (bars, nightclubs, restaurants, some offices) and I shoot 4x5 and 6x17 (6x17 with a V-Pan Mk. III). A better combination for 4x5 is the 90mm and a 65mm. My lenses are both Rodenstock Grandagons.

I use the 90mm /4.5 Grandagon and use a Heliopan 0.45ND center weighted filter when using it with the V-Pan to even out the falloff from corner to center. The 65mm doesn't cover 6x17 but my tests with a 75mm displayed way too much stretching (perspective) distortion in the corners for me to feel comfortable with it for architectural work.

The 110mm is a great lens but I think you will shortly be also wanting something that covers a wider subject angle in the 4x5 format.

The 65mm doesn't cover 6x17cm but that is no big loss.

-- Ellis Vener (evphoto@insync.net), January 29, 2001.


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