120/135 on a Linhof V

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I'm sorry to post such a subjective question but after spending a good deal of time looking around the forum I feel that thanks to everyones experience and generosity this could prevent me from "putting my foot in it".

Well, my local 2nd hand shop is preparing a Linhof 5 for me. I decided on the Linhof to expand my portfolio of urban landscapes, until now, shot with a Leica and a modern ASPH 35mm lens. I am hoping to start by using it as a rangefinder but am sure that I will gradually feel the need to fully exploit LF and correct parallels. The camera is not an issue, my doubt is which "moderate" wide lens to use to give maximum image quality and scope for movement (coverage: more or less my 35mm on the Leica).

So my question is a follows, I am undecided between a 120 or 135 lens, I note that the Linhof is not the ideal choice for architectural photos due to its "limited" movements, so I am looking for a lens that will exploit the available movements of the camera and gives good image quality. Any experience would be greatly appreciated.



-- adrian tyler (tyler@nova.es), July 01, 2001


Adrian: Bob would be the best person to answer questions of the Linhof, but I think you will find the Linhof to give you far more movements than you realize if you do a bit of front and back tilts in conjunction with other movements. For example, if you tilt the camera upward, bring the front and back parallel and at right angles to the ground and then add front rise, you can probably outreach the limits of coverage of any shorter focal length lens. The Linhof is a very versatile camera. With the technical and view cameras, the amount of tilt, swing and rise figures don't mean as much as the figures with all movements figured in. Regardless of the focal length you buy, I would suggest getting as much coverage as possible within your budget. I would trade a few lpm for more coverage any day with LF.


-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alaweb.com), July 01, 2001.

I once looked into that same question when I owned a Master Technika. Additionally I wanted a lens that could remain mounted on the camera while folded.

The 135 Sironar-S was the best compromise in my opinion. It's HORIZONTAL angle of view is about equivalent to a 40mm lens on a 35mm camera. The coverage is the best of the modern 135's. And it has the reputation of being the sharpest - and can be used stopped down only 1 stop to f/8.

The 120 Apo-Symmar is plenty sharp but image circle size doesn't allow very much movement. 179mm (120 Apo-Symmar) vs 208mm (135mmSironar)-at f/22. Marflex can make a cam for either lens.

If you study depth of field tables for these focal lengths you may discover that much architectual work (meaning outside at pretty good distances over, say, 50ft) with proper consultation of the tables can done simply by focusing with the rangefinder first and then using a small amount of rise for perspective correction. (Provided that the camera is level.)

I am starting to use a Busch Pressman this way with an older Sironar-N. I didn't think that the newer S would fold up in my smaller camera.

-- Bob Eskridge (besk@shtc.net), July 02, 2001.

First, since the aspect ratios of 35 mm negatives and 4x5 negatives are different, it's not possible to have two lenses that produce the identical negatives in the two formats(which I'm sure you already knew but I figured I'd say it anyhow). Second, there is really not much difference between the two focal lengths you're considering. Although 15 mm sounds like a lot, when you translate it to a percentage of the total focal length it isn't much. In 35 mm terms, it's approximately the difference between a 40 mm lens and a 45 mm lens, so you're probably not going to go very far wrong with either focal length and your decision might be based more on price, maximum aperture, what's available, etc. in the two focal lengths without worrying too much about making a major mistake with either. Finally, FWIW, if it were me and assuming all other things were equal, I'd opt for the 120 mm because you can always crop extraneous information out of the print or transparency but you can't put anything back in that isn't there.

-- Brian Ellis (bellis60@earthlink.net), July 02, 2001.

I have a Tech V and a Symmar-S 5.6/135 and find both more than adequate for landscapes and architectural pictures. In fact, the 135 is my most used lens.


-- Martin Jangowski (Martin@jangowski.de), July 02, 2001.

I bought a 135 Nikkor upon the advice of a photographer whose word I respect and images I like. He uses a 135 as a short lens on his 5x7 with movements, so on a 4x5(my camera,) the lens is quite useful. You will be able to manipulate your Technical V in an urban area rather easily, assuming you aren't try to shoot a tall building from across the street. You would need a very wide lens for that, something in the 60-80mm area. I have used my 135, my friends their 120s, and I can create the same image they can, and I have a less expenive, lighter weight lens that requires no center filter. Bob

-- Bob Moulton (bobmargaretm@home.com), July 02, 2001.

Thanks to eveyone for the help I feel a lot more secure now, I have aske the camera people to supply me with a Sironar S, 135 along with the camera. So I am looking forward (albeit with a bit of trepidation) to discovering the world of lf phtography.

thanks again

-- adrian tyler (tyler@nova.es), July 03, 2001.

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