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 Subject: large format photography Category: Arts and Entertainment > Visual Arts Asked by: tinroof-ga List Price: \$7.00 Posted: 09 Feb 2003 10:19 PST Expires: 11 Mar 2003 10:19 PST Question ID: 159080
 ```what size of lens would i need to photograph macro (flower bud) size subjects with a 4x5 field camera, where the bellows do not extend more than 15 inches?```
 ```Hello, you have an interesting problem that boils down to a couple of factors, which I have addressed below. Please let me know if you have any questions before rating this answer...I want you to be satisfied. The short answer is that you can use an 80mm or shorter lens on a camera with 15 inches or less of bellows draw. But the complication is finding a lens that short that is of good macro capability. I explain both parts of the problem below as best I can, and if you need clarification, please let me know, because I enjoy this field and am a large format photographer myself. First of all, let's just presume you have a flower bud about an inch across like a rosebud), and you want it to nearly but not quite fill the space of a negative (which is about 3 7/8 by 4 7/8 inches when you subtract the margins). In other words, the one inch bud will be about 3 1/2 inches on the negative or transparency. That means a magnification of about 3.5X. Using the standard table of lenses for macro photography in the Kodak Professional Guide (full citation below) on page 33, a fifteen inch extension will give the magnification we are talking about with a 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 inch lens (which is about an 80mm). This is the outside limit, meaning that if you use any lens shorter than 80mm, you can get this magnification with less than 15 inches of extension on the camera. To give one more example, if you were to use a 50mm lens, you could get a 3.5X magnification with about 9 inches of extension. As you can see, using a shorter macro lens will give greater magnification with a corresponding extension of the bellows on the camera. However, finding a macro lens for 4x5 large format use in these short focal lengths is not easy. The Nikon, Rodenstock, and Schneider Macro series lenses, according to the B&H Professional Photo Source Book, provide only a 120mm at the shortest. You can check the B&H web site, probably the most comprehensive professional supply company in the country, to confirm this at: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bh2.sph/FrameWork.class?FNC=CatalogActivator__Acatalog_html___CatID=24___SID=F3BF8B73480 So this begs a second question: is there an 80mm or 50mm lens that will work as a macro for large format photography? You don’t ask that specifically but I imagine you will be wondering just that by now, so here goes! The answer takes us into less conventional territory, but I have myself adapted a 50mm f/3.5 Zuiko (Olympus) macro to a 4x5 camera and gotten acceptable results, with the camera bellows extended to the range we have been discussing. This is a well corrected lens in the center, but it probably does not match the standards of a true large format macro in terms of contrast and sharpness. It may no longer be truly flat field, either, but unless you are doing copy work, this should not be an issue. According to View Camera Technique By Leslie Stroebel (I have the 1967 edition cited below), macro lenses for what he calls “miniature” cameras, meaning 35mm cameras, are excellent, but present the problem of not having built in shutters. Large format lenses typically have shutters, of course, and I would assume, from experience, an acceptable result would be possible with a high quality large format lens even though not designed specifically for closeup work. These should maintain good if not surpassing results at great bellows extensions. One commonly sharp example of a short (70 to 80mm) lens for normal (non-macro) use is the newly introduced Schneider Super Symmar 80mm f/4.5. At the shorter end, the Rodenstock APO Grandagon 55mm f/4.5 is unusually sharp, and would probably hold up better than most in macro settings. Resolution characteristics of both of these lenses is available from this independent test site (but remember, they are testing at infinity): http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/testing.html Finally, between these two extremes, you might find an 80mm Zeiss Planar or 80mm Schneider Xenotar (both are available used on ebay at times in separate lenses with their own shutters, or new as accessories for Rollei and Hasselblad medium format camera systems). Like the Olympus example above, these would not cover 4x5 at infinity, but when doing macro work they would easily cover the whole negative, and with very good results. This might be the best overall choice if starting from scratch. One last note: to increase sharpness using lenses not meant for macro work, you can try mounting them backwards on the lens board...this makes them both sharper and harder to use! Something to play with. I hope this is helpful. You may need further clarification, and if so, don’t hesitate to ask! There remain issues of lens mounts, lighting the subject when so close to the camera, depth of field, and so on, but your basic concern about magnification and bellows draw is a simple math problem and is covered above. Sources: View Camera Technique, by Leslie Stroebel. Hastings Houise, Publishers, New York, (1967)--(second edition, 1972). The Professional Photo Source Book, by B&H, self published in New York, (1998) This is really an elaborate product catalog, very helpful. Kodak Professional Photoguide, by Professional and Finishing Markets Division. Eastman Kodak Company (1977) Search strategy: I relied on my own experience and personal library, then searched the bookmarks on my computer. --lmnop-ga```
 tinroof-ga rated this answer: `the comments were well thought out and beautifully commnicated.`