What are the best 4x5 camera's to buy for portraits?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by moodlover, Sep 9, 2017.

  1. OP
    OP
    moodlover

    moodlover Member

    Messages:
    218
    Joined:
    May 19, 2015
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I realize it tilts the focal plane but again, without example photos I don't feel comfortable buying a random lens. The aero is the only one ive seen do what I want countless times
     
  2. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    20,445
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think every one here would be a lot more supportive if you had previously acquired and used a 4x5 camera, had gained some experience doing portraits with a moderately fast portrait lens, and were seeking advice about adding the very awkward and difficult to use Kodak Aero Ektar 178mm lens.
    If you start with that lens shooting portraits wide open, be prepared to go through lots of film, and to have lots and lots of discards!
     
  3. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

    Messages:
    4,752
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Speed Graphics don''t have usable front tilt.
     
  4. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

    Messages:
    4,752
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    They use lenses in leaf shutters. That's how.

    You want to use a lens in barrel on a Speed Graphic. This means using the camera's focal plane shutter. As has already been explained to you, the Speed Graphic focal plane shutter can't sync with electronic flash.
     
  5. Soeren

    Soeren Member

    Messages:
    2,635
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2004
    Location:
    Naestved, DK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It's very difficult to showcase lenses in regard to that look since no other do what James Wigger does. As mentioned the tilt and swing (also used in some of his shots) plays a big part in creating those oof areas and his whole process is responsible for the overall look not just the fast lens.
    Granted the large apperture help but if going for the play with sharpness falloff any LF lens can be used. Also consider the fact that lots of "normal" LF lenses are very cheap so you won't Loose much money trying such. Regarding the camera probably a monorail would be your best bet despite being less portabel. It will give you a rigid platform to hold heavy lenses while providing you the movements needed.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
  6. Soeren

    Soeren Member

    Messages:
    2,635
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2004
    Location:
    Naestved, DK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Except for dropping the bed and then raise/shift lens.
     
  7. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    22,347
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    paswonquitte
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Groups:
    not sure if they will accomodate a giant aero ektar
    but you could look into a super D ( newer ) or a series D...
    i am sure if you throw money at adam and his pals at sk grimes
    they can make any camera accomodate any lens :smile:
    ... if you are using small projection lenses, cinephors &c you could probably get the models
    that are not 4x5 ( they made a 3x4 ) and use roll film ( 120 ) you will need a roll film adapter
    if you are using 4x5 the 4x5 is the size you want, i don't think there are too many options for roll film adapters
    i think there are some maybe they are rare or i am clueless about which ones are which ..
    i just use black masking tape and tape a graphic23 roll film adapters to the back of my series D and never had trouble
    to be honest, i've shot portraits this way, still lives, macro work, faux tri-chromes .. no critical focus issues
    (the home made close up lens i made has extremely shallow DOF i've never calculated it, but the DOF is
    probably at least as shallow, if not shallower than the AE )
    i've never held an AE but it seems to be a giant lens i'd be leery of it on my camera's front standard..
    if it was me i'd just get some junk store brass lens, or a projection lens or a tessar and stick it on whatever camera
    i am using and not try to remake a solution someone else on the web has come up with. ive found
    there is a lot more than a camera and boutique lens to what a lot of people are doing, and often times PS is involved
    and they don't divulge that ...
    it might be worth finding somene local who has a LF camera who will let you shoot some paper negatives with it
    ( paper negatives are cheap, film is expensive ) and it will let you see what cameras are capable of
    with or without a speed lens ..
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
  8. Ed Sawyer

    Ed Sawyer Member

    Messages:
    31
    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2007
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I have 2 Aero Ektars, one is rangefinder-calibrated to a pacemaker speed, the other I use on an Arca Reflex (among other places). It's a tough lens to use, as mentioned. Getting a tight head-and-shoulders shot that is in focus at f/2.5 or even f4 is very hit-and-miss. The photos shown as examples previously in this thread are almost all not in focus, I'd say maybe 10% of them are, and event that's by the generous allowances of Fp100c that most of them are shot on. (if this was sheet film, almost 100% of them would be considered out of focus). There's also a fairly large amount of post-processing in those, so don't take them as out-of-camera examples, I'd say.

    Be wary of chasing "magic bullet" type lens/camera combos. I've been guilty of that in the past, and while it's true some equipment can impart a certain look, it's also true that none of the gear is really a panacea or answer in itself to getting a certain look.

    Unless you are skilled at DIY, expect to pay more like $2k+ for a well-sorted, calibrated, correct Pacemaker speed with AE and correct (jolo) lensboard. I have seen them go for $2500+ often. You can build one cheaper but will spend at least as much in time and effort as just buying a top-shelf one that is already sorted.

    The AE will not focus to infinity on any reflex 4x5 without significant modifications to the camera. The Aero Liberator cameras that focus to infinity have had extensive modifications internally (shortening the mirror, rebuilding mirror box), and also don't fully cover 4x5, they are 4x4.25 or so in image size, since they are built on a 3x4 body. (I've built my own version of one of those)

    The AE on an Arca Reflex will focus out to about 6-8' max distance, it will do a head-and-shoulders portrait but not anything more distant than that (but closer is easier.). The AE on a 4x5 Graflex RB Super D will barely focus out past 3-4 feet before hitting the mirror.

    you can use an AE with flash on a Speed / Arca reflex / other focal-plane-shutter camera, but only with "open flash" scenarios: e.g. a dark studio, open the FP shutter, trip the flash, close the shutter. Not that easy, but it is doable. It ends up being a sync speed of about 1/5 to 1/25 of a sec, depending on the camera.

    Don't get hung up on the f/2.5 aperture thing either - f/2.5 on 4x5 is like an 90mm f/1.2 lens on the RZ67, or like an 45mm f/0.5 lens on 35mm. So even f/5.6 on 4x5 is ridiculously shallow DOF.

    Good luck,
    -Ed
     
  9. Robclarke

    Robclarke Member

    Messages:
    27
    Joined:
    May 1, 2013
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I quite understand you wanting to seek out a fast lens for use on large format. It can be a very nice look for portraits. Indeed I have recently acquired a Schneider Xenotar 150mm 2.8 lens to use on my Linhof Technika. These come in shutter so are more convenient than the Aero Ektar but are more expensive.

    Don't worry too much about those who say it will be impossible to focus. In my first couple of test shots I found that I got acceptable focus wide open.
     
  10. hsandler

    hsandler Subscriber

    Messages:
    193
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2010
    Location:
    Ottawa, Cana
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The Pacemaker and later models of the Graphics do have front tilt. The method is to drop the bed, which tilts the lens forward and then recentre the lens using front rise, and adjust the tilt using a variable degree of back tilt. A more convenient way to get front forward tilt is to turn the front standard around (there is a youtube video on how to do this) and get front forward tilt directly. I have successfully been using this. Note, however, that common lenses like the 135mm Optar or Xenar, don't have enough image circle to use more than about half the available tilt.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
  11. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

    Messages:
    4,752
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    This works for a limited range of focal lengths at a limited range of focused distances.
     
  12. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

    Messages:
    1,358
    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    reversing the standard works to get typical front-tilt, but it also buggers up things so you can't easily use the Kalart rangefinder with it that way.
     
  13. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

    Messages:
    3,275
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Location:
    Phoeinx Ariz
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Another issue is that I think at least with my crown and speed neither have rotating backs, just a tripod socket for either vertical or horizontal orientation, in vertical orientation the front tilt, rise and shift is of limited value. Dan will know for sure but I have a memory of the superspeed having a rotating back, might have it mixed up with a Lindhoff. or the Bessler 4x5 C 6, made for the Air Froce in the 50s and maybe early 60s. Sometimes you really need a view or field camera with all the features that you really need.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Soeren

    Soeren Member

    Messages:
    2,635
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2004
    Location:
    Naestved, DK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Found this a bit funny now the graflex slr was mentioned. Couldn't find the name of the photographer.
    806ecc73aea14386b0ee04c822f6097e--vintage-kids-melbourne-australia.jpg
     
  16. hsandler

    hsandler Subscriber

    Messages:
    193
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2010
    Location:
    Ottawa, Cana
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ed, it's not a big deal. I found that you have to shift the front standard a few mm to the right (facing the lens) so that the reversed front standard clears the Kalart rangefinder cam when closing the camera up; otherwise no issues with the rangefinder in actual operation.
     
  17. If you had ever used one then you would not have said that. First of all the cameras were used for decades without people complaining about that. Why because the cameras were large enough to hold steady, well damped for the shutters [and mirror] and massive enough not to shake. Please stick to what you know.

    I have both cameras and used them for decade and never had any shake problems.
     
  18. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

    Messages:
    4,752
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Right you are.
     
  19. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

    Messages:
    1,358
    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The issue is you can't use the Kalart with the standard reversed. That's the big deal-killer on it for me. The Kalart is the best reason to choose the pacemaker speed for AE usage since it can be pretty easily calibrated to the AE.

     
  20. hsandler

    hsandler Subscriber

    Messages:
    193
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2010
    Location:
    Ottawa, Cana
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    But you can--I do. Everything is in the same place relative to the focal plane with the standard either way, when the standard is not being tilted. Perhaps what you mean is you can't expect to use the rangefinder to focus accurately when tilting, and that of course is correct. I'm just trying to get across that there is little downside to reversing the front standard.
     
  21. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

    Messages:
    1,358
    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'll have to look again. I seem to recall the piece that contacts the arm from the kalart doesn't connect right when the standard is reversed. Maybe there is a way to make it work and I just hand't seen it, but it's been a while since i looked at that. thanks!
     
  22. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

    Messages:
    3,275
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Location:
    Phoeinx Ariz
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Although OP seems to have set his sights on a Speed and the Kodak Areo, considering he wants to shoot portraits in terms of portability I would look into a Growland Pocketview. I have never owned a Pocketview, but have handled one or two, has decent movements, build quality seemed to be ok, has rotating back, can fit into a backpack or a very, very large pocket, bellows draw may not very long for macro or use with long lens. Then have an adaptor made to fit a leaf shutter to the Areo. Other down side, not many made.
     
  23. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    19,171
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    As mentioned by Ed Sawyer there is a downside to reversing the front standard with Pacemakers with side mounted range-finders the camera can't be closed as the part the side range-finder arm runs against fouls the front standard. It's OK if this part is removed. However you don't gain any real benefits at all reversing the standard as it restricts the ability to centre a lens when using slight front tilt, as there's no front fall, this is critical when using lenses with tight coverage (image circles).

    I have off course tried it and found it very impractical in practice and it restricted the range of movements that I typically use most often, Pacemakers have limited enough movements as they are I reverted to the original orientation. When I made a 6x7 field camera using Pacemaker spare parts (focus rails/track-bed from a Quarter plate SG, front standard from a 5x4) I offset the film back higher to allow some front fall, the standard is reversed but this allows lens centring.

    Off course when you drop the whole front bed on a Pacemaker the reverse tilt and rise allows the lens to be centred etc.

    Ian
     
  24. hsandler

    hsandler Subscriber

    Messages:
    193
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2010
    Location:
    Ottawa, Cana
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    To close the camera with a reversed front standard, you just need to use about 2mm of front shift so that the tilt knob clears the Kalart rangefinder cam eccentric screw.

    The lack of front fall to recentre the lens is real, and it's only now that Ian mentions it that I notice that the front tilt axis is not quite from the centre of the lens. I have run out of image circle when I've used the maximum amount of tilt using a Schneider Xenar 135mm. The problem with trying to use front tilt without the front standard reversed (via drop bed + front rise) is that, at least with the Graflex 135mm Optar, I found the front needed to be positioned right at the transition between the rear and front rails for focus at infinity, and it was not possible.
     
  25. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    19,171
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Actually it's the 135mm lenses that I found needed centring most, I've used a 135mm f4.5 Tessar, and now a 135mm f4,5 Xenar or a 135mm f5.6 Symmar (re-branded as Caltar). I don't have an issue with dropping the bed and re-centering, that may be a slight variation in true focal length of flange distance.

    Ian
     
  26. hsandler

    hsandler Subscriber

    Messages:
    193
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2010
    Location:
    Ottawa, Cana
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Interesting. So when I found that I could not focus with the drop bed method it was with a 135mm Optar on a speed graphic. I now use a 135mm f4.7 Xenar on a Crown. I never tried the drop bed method, and reversed the standard as soon as I bought the Crown. Your comment got me thinking that maybe the shorter depth of the Crown body will make a difference. So I have just put the standard back the normal way and lo and behold it can just make infinity focus with maximum tilt if it's all the way back on the forward tracks. Thanks!

    I don't own a 90mm lens (yet), but I assume that the reversed standard would be the only way to get any tilt with such a short lens? I'm sure the standard would not be on the forward tracks with such a short lens.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2017 at 12:49 PM