Press King w/ zeiss tessar : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am new to large format. Just purchased an older Press King Camera w/ a zeiss tessar 15cm f/4.5 lens. My question is: Can i take portraiture with this lens? If not, what lens should I look for? I am just a poor grad student, so I don't have big bucks.

-- Laura Koskinen (, March 24, 2002


Your lens corresponds roughly to a 50 mm. for a 35 mm. film size. The lens would give you a litle distortion, accentuating the size of the nose, expecially if your portraits are somewhat tight. I have taken satisfactory portraits with 180 mm., although the "ideal" lenghth would be 210 - 240 mm. On e-bay you can find very interesting lenses for portraiture, at prices not too expensive. In a sense you are lucky because poirtature generally doesn't require the ultimate sharpness which is a characteristic of fairly expensive lenses . I have been using for a year for my poirtraits a 240 mm. Dallmeyer F. 3 produced in 1860 which gives me outstanding results, and very shallow depth of field. You can also sell your lens on e-bay so that with that money you can buy another lens.....

Good luck and enjoy the large format realm.......

-- domenico (, March 24, 2002.

Yes, you can make beautiful portraits with this fast lens. You may want to explore the ability this lens offers for very limited depth of field at close focus distances. Or it will offer nice sharpness stopped down to f22 or so. A longer lens may offer different results but the bellows draw of your camera determines how long a lens you can use. Portrait distances require very long bellows. The 300 mm lens I use routinely takes more that 16 inches of draw. I doubt if your camera has much beyond 10 inches or so. One approach is to use and master what you have.

-- vernon (, March 24, 2002.

You can take "head and shoulders" portraits, "entire upper half of the body" portraits, and "environmental" portraits. Closeups of only the face will cause a little distortion as has already been noted. If you have access to your school's darkroom, you could always crop in on the face with an enlarger when making the final print too. If you want a lens for portraits, there are a lot out there... 210mm to 300mm should do fairly well.

-- Steve Gangi (, March 24, 2002.

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