What field of view for 5X4

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What coverage do I need as a minimum for 5X4 and what would be a good number. Responses to previous postings (blush) advised correctly that the lens I had acquired wouldnt cover 5X4. When looking up specs etc in future I would like to have an approx benchmark. I cant find a simple definition in the archives (probably means its not simple !) e.g. it must be a minimum of 165mm to be practical.



-- David Tolcher (davidjt@btinternet.com), September 26, 2001


I would say about 180 mm, the diagonal of a 4x5 film is 162 mm and you want to add about 5% for movements minimal, so about 180 mm.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (jorgegm@worldnet.att.net), September 26, 2001.

Dave, an image circle with a diameter of 155 to 160 would be the absolute minimum and would allow for no front up/down, lateral, or tilt/swing. You'd probably get away with a little rear tilt/swing, but no up/down or lateral movements. How much coverage you will need depends on the type of shooting you're anticipating, and the movements required. Most agree architectural shooting places the most demands on lens coverage, and landscape requires the least. My 90mm lens offers 216 coverage at F22, and it is more than adequate for landscapes and modest architectural applications.

-- Michael Mahoney (mmahoney@nfld.com), September 26, 2001.

What kind of pictures do you take? Landscapes are more forgiving of shallow coverage than architecture for instance. But even with landscapes which is a best case scenario you'll want to employ the "rule of thirds" a lot of the time which will require front rise if you like to stay level. If I were shopping for lenses I'd probably start considering about 195 - 200 although I do have some that are less than that and just work within their limitations. J

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@lnett.com), September 26, 2001.

Brilliant, thanks - I am doing almost exclusively landscape and was looking at a 135mm symmar on ebay in the UK. From the data spec it looks like it covers 190mm at F16.

The symmar S 100mm lens I have will be up for sale as it covers only 143 and is why I have been struggling.

Thanks for the really speedy responses


-- David Tolcher (davidjt@btinternet.com), September 26, 2001.

If you would ever consider using a roll-film back with your 4x5, you might find the 100mm lens useful.

You might also find it useful for close-up work. A fixed coverage angle makes a bigger circle when it's farther from the film, which happens in closer work.

-- Charlie Strack (charlie_strack@sti.com), September 26, 2001.

Dave if you find the lens has insufficient coverage when offset, tilt the lens panel back to bring the image circle back onto the film and with careful focusing and small aperture its surprising what you can get away with. Regards,

-- Trevor Crone (trevor.crone@uk.dreamcast.com), September 27, 2001.

For my landscape photography, I've never really needed much more than about a 1 1/4 inch rise. (One could be generous with 1 1/2 inches.) One obtains the least amount of rise with the back in landscape orientation. For a 4x5 negative, this equates to an image circle of 209mm for a 1 1/4 inch rise and 219mm for a 1 1/2 inch rise. Actually, one can achieve a little more rise than this, because the size of the image on a 4x5 negative is a little less than 4x5.

While it may work for some, a 135mm lens (image circle of about 190mm) would not cut it for me. I would instead opt for a Super Angulon or a Grandagon in about a 120mm. (e.g. 121mm S.A.'s can be reasonable in price, and they have an image circle of about 290mm.)

Check Schneider's webpage for info on coverages. Look for vintage lenses. These diameters tend to be about the same for Schneider as for other brands of this age, if they're standard plasmat lenses. (Or Super Angulons, when compared to Grandagons.)

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), September 30, 2001.


You make a good point about the amount of coverage for landscape needs. It pretty much parallels my experience. I CAN get away with less coverage on most occasions, but it's sure nice to have a little more when you need it.

That said, with respect to lenses in the 135mm focal length range, the 135mm APO Sironar-S has an image circle of 208mm - a little more than the other current 135s, so it is definitely worth considering and will still yield about 1 1/4" of front rise. I also use a 135mm APO Sironar-N for backpacking. It has a slightly smaller 200mm image circle - which still gives me about an inch of front rise. I am willing to live with the slightly smaller image circle in this case for the tiny size and light weight of this lens (perfect for backpacking). For many years, I used a 135mm Nikkor W for general landscpe photography (both backpacking and "road kills"). Like the 135mm APO Sironar-N, it also has a 200mm image circle. Not generous, but in all those years of shooting with it (probably a few thousand images), I only ran out of coverage a handful of times. So, the 200mm image circle met my needs 99.9+% of the time.

I personally shy away from the Grandagon and Super Angulon oferings in this range. They are really wide angles designed for 5x7. This gives them generous coverage (a plus), but also, in general, makes them much bigger, heavier and more expensive than the 135s and other smaller lenses in the 110 - 125mm range. They are also 1/2 - 1 full stop slower and take much bigger filters, which adds to the weight and expense of the outfit (not an issue for everyone - but it is for me). Although it's not cheap (then neither is a 115mm Grandagon-N), the 110mm Super Symmar XL has the benefit of huge coverage (288mm image circle), but is still reasonably compact and light and takes reasonable size 67mm filters.

Other options:

120mm Super Symmar HM - 211mm image circle 125mm Fujinon CM-W - 204mm Image Circle

And in vintage lenses:

135mm WF Ektar 229mm image circle

Granted everybody's needs are different, but for me, I use the 110mm SS XL (288mm IC) and 150mm APO Sironar-S (231m IC) for my general purpose landscape photography and the 135mm APO Sironar-N (200mm IC) for multiday backpacking trips. This gives me the luxury of having the best of both worlds (generous coverage for most usage and ultralight weight when backpacking). That said, if I could own only one lens between 90mm and 210mm, it would probably be the 135mm APO Sironar-S (or maybe the slightly longer 150mm APO Sironar-S). It's small enough (49mm filters) and light enough (215g) for backpacking, wonderfully sharp, reasonably fast (f5.6), and reasonably priced ($640 new at Badger). Coverage is not what I'd call generous (208mm IC), but adaquate (for me).

That's based on my needs and past experiences, YMMV.


-- Kerry Thalmann (largeformat@thalmann.com), September 30, 2001.

Whoops, forgot to add these to my previous post...

For more info on my favorite lenses in general, check out:


This provides more info, specs and pictures on many of the lenses I discussed in my previous post.

Also, if weight is an issue (as in backpacking) check out:


for my lightweight lens recommendations in the 135mm - 150mm range.


-- Kerry Thalmann (largeformat@thalmann.com), September 30, 2001.

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