Portrait with a 127mm lens on 4x5 camera

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I use a 50mm lens for portraits on 35mm. For large format 4x5, if I bought an inexpensive used 127 (135?)mm Kodak Ektar can I achieve the same perspective by pulling the bellows more forward than normal and focus? I've read that a 150mm lens for 4x5" is equivalent to a 45mm lens on 35mm film. It seems that I wouldn't be able to focus at infinity (and I could be wrong) but that is ok for portraits I want to take.


-- David Roy (droy@cascade-cdc.com), July 03, 2001


Hi David

Its a little bit a wide lens, for portraits. Its at least a 180mm better a 210mm or 240mm or my favorit a 300mm, but if you make it with shoulder then it could be working, just test it!

Good luck!

-- Armin Seeholzer (armin.seeholzer@smile.ch), July 03, 2001.

Yes, shoulders, actually they are full height portraits. I like the 50mm 35mm film because of the normal perspective. It doesn't appear to distort someone out of figure.

-- David Roy (droy@cascade-cdc.com), July 03, 2001.

David: The 150mm lens is considered "normal" for 4x5. There are a lot of 135mm lenses out there, as they used to be for the 4x5 press cameras as they gave slightly wider shots, which the press and wedding photographers needed. If you do your own enlarging, you can use either one and crop a bit. I, too, recommend the 210 as a long normal. It gives good perspective to portraits.


-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alaweb.com), July 03, 2001.

Well, it looks like I'm looking for a used 210. Thank you.

-- David Roy (droy@cascade-cdc.com), July 04, 2001.

A 210 is a better choice by far but if you stumble into a 300mm range (300-400mm), that is best by far for a more pleasing look. The compression you will get is superb for portraits!

-- Scott Walton (f64sw@hotmail.com), July 05, 2001.

actually, using long focal lens doesn't necessarily make for better portraits.

It helps with some types of faces - mostly, white caucasians. However, for a lot of black and asian men, I find shorter focal lengths to be better compared to longer ones.

-- edward kang (ekang@cse.nd.edu), July 05, 2001.

Edward: That is good to know. I never thought it matter.

-- David Roy (droy@cascade-cdc.com), July 05, 2001.

On long vs short and face features, the longs help enormously for two problems, long noses, which they shorten, and sunken eyes, which they bring forward. It's the perspective effect, a group of things (e.g. eyeball, cheek, tip of nose) seems closer together the farther away you get.

210 seems to do ok for head and shoulders on 4x5 in this respect. I have a 350 for my 4x5 and i find that I have to be about 10 or 12 feet away from the subject, unless i want to get really tight on the face- also your rail needs to be extra long to focus that length in 4x5.

-- Chris Yeager (cyeager@ix.netcom.com), July 09, 2001.

So from the points raised above one would really need a 210mm for some types of subject characteristics and a 300 for others. I suppose cause I'm cheap I could use the 210mm and crop a bit as a comment way above suggested for 127mm. At least until next year when I could afford the other lens.

-- David Roy (david_h_roy@excite.com), July 09, 2001.

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