Lenses for Close-Ups

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I'm moving up to 4x5 and have read things about the need for special lenses for close-ups, especially apochromatic lenses. Why is this, and are there other problems associated with photographing close-ups in large format? Are such lenses expected for commercial/editorial photography?

By the way, I shot my first large-format photos today. It was pretty easy, although focusing takes longer than with my N90s.


-- Matthew Runde (actorm@hotmail.com), January 12, 2002


Normal lenses for any format camera do not perform well outside their designed parameters. For general photography lenses this is from infinity focus to perhaps 1/10 life size. As the magnification gets higher you will see decreasing performance. That is why Nikon, e.g., produced the 55/2.8 Micro Nikkor and other specialized lenses for close up. You can certainly use a 50/1.4 Nikkor on a bellows or extension tube but it will not perform as well as a lens intended for higher magnification. The same holds true for large format lenses where the Symmar, Sironar, etc. were intended for general use. You can certainly use these general purpose lenses at 1:1 if you like and may not notice the loss of performance.

-- Dave Schneider (dschneider@arjaynet.com), January 13, 2002.

Other problems with photographing close ups in large format are calculating the exposure factor caused by the necesary bellows extension and a solid tripod because of long exposure times. On my Tachihara I use my 150mm apo-symmar for up to about 1:1 and for more magnification I use a reversed enlarger lens. I have an old 60mm componon mounted backwards on an old shutter that I use for close ups on a 6 x 9 century graphic and the 4 x 5 tachihara. See http://www.webstar.nl/~job/rosepage.html Also check out the older messages section for techniques on close up and macro photography.

-- julian bell (j.o.bell@chello.nl), January 13, 2002.

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