Tag Archives: Lenses

Shallow depth of field on 5×4

Today I was looking for a lens to put on my MPP 5×4 to shoot a still life in the studio, and I picked out a 150mm f2.8 lens which originally came from a photocopier. The reason I know it’s origins is because about 15 years ago, a slightly eccentric neighbour was breaking up an old photocopier outside my house, so I asked him if he would give me a lens if he found one inside. I got it and I’ve had it sitting in a box of odd lenses and unusual bits of glass since then. Putting it on the camera, I really liked the shallow focus and beautiful soft background, but with a fixed aperture of 2.8, I had to find some way to control the exposure. I decided that some very slow X-Ray film and a diffuser over my tungsten light would give me a manageable exposure which I could time in seconds. I cut some strips of X-Ray film and put them in a dark slide, then did a couple of test shots, one at the exposure I expected and one with more exposure. The second one gave me the kind of negative I was after, so I cut a piece of film to the full 5×4 size and exposed it. I took it into the darkroom and processed it in a tray of paper developer for a minute and a half, gave it a quick stop and fix, then washed it. The negative looked much softer in the background than it looked on the focusing screen (this is something I’ve noticed a lot) and I thought it would make a nice print. Then I remembered that somewhere in my studio I had a 150mm f2.8 projector lens which gave really nice out of focus softness, probably better than this one I’d just shot, so I thought I’d expose a second shot through it and compare them.

I had a faint idea that I’d read somewhere that two lenses with the same focal length and aperture should produce the same depth of field, so I was interested to see if it was so. After shooting and processing the second sheet of film through the projector lens, I could see immediately that they were quite different. The projector lens had a much shallower focus and was far softer in the out of focus areas, so I must have misremembered the thing about comparable focal lengths.
Anyway, I present the two images here for comparison.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 18.42.54 Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 18.42.17

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 18.42.02  Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 18.41.45

2 Comments

  1. Keith

Posted 21/11/2014 at 7:22 am

This makes me want to get my old MPP Mk VIII out of the box and take some still-life.
I only have a 150mm Xenar lens though.

  1. Thomas Binsfeld

Posted 27/11/2014 at 5:38 pm

Could you give some advice how to attach the lens to the camera and e.g. which lens to which camera?
Kind regards,
Thomas

A nice discovery

I was looking through a box of old lenses and collected junk earlier this year, with an idea to sell off some bits on Ebay. I had sold some unused brass lenses, enlarging lenses and old cameras, and was about to list a little lens I had found languishing in the bottom of the box. I had acquired it so long ago, that I couldn’t recall where from. When I did a little research to pad out my description it made me reconsider my decision. So before I listed it, I tried it on my 10×8 camera. -Wow! it almost covered the whole negative area, and the corner vignetting was rather interesting. I won’t be selling it now, and I am looking forward to doing more with this lens. It is a Taylor Hobson Cooke Series VIIb 108mm Wide angle Anastigmat. The information online states that it is meant for a 7×5 camera, but I like seeing what it will do at full stretch.

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Adapted camera

First posted 26 July 2009

For many, many years I have played around with putting odd lenses on cameras and making my own cameras out of whatever has been available. An interesting lens which I have used for many years is the Kodak Aero Ektar 127 mm f2.5

I first acquired this lens back in 1981 when I bought an old wooden reflex camera locally. The lens was really beautiful for portraits and the camera took quarter plate glass in the dark slides, so some jiggering around had to be done to load them with film. Often the dark slides would scratch the film and ruin a shot, so I removed the back and built a crude 5×4 holder.

From that point onwards I was able to get a more consistent result and shot many portraits on Polaroid type 55  (See the portrait section of my website at; http://www.andrewsanderson.com ), until the shutter finally gave up about ten years later. The camera laid unused on a shelf for many years and I thought about looking for another wooden reflex camera, but instead I had a bit of a brainwave;

I removed the mirror, screen and shutter mechanism from the broken camera and cut the back of the camera down. I then attached a Pentax 6×7 body. See picture;

Thornton pentax camera

I could now shoot hand held on roll film and get the same result, although the angle of view was reduced dramatically.

Here is a shot from the first film I took on it;

staring horse

The small image here doesn’t do the lens justice, it is really sharp on the eyelash of the horse and falls away quite quickly into softness. The ‘bokeh’ (a word I hate) is better with this lens than any other I have ever used.

I put this camera together in June of 2008 and used it for a few months until the 10×8 Walker Titan I had commissioned was delivered. Once I had that, sharp images took precedence, so the ‘Thornton Pentax’ was left unused.

Having said that, the camera got another outing this weekend after the paper negative images I mentioned at first. I went out to do some landscapes using this camera loaded with Ilford SFX. and an orange filter.