My 5 Favorite Large Format Lenses For Fall Color Landscape Photography
In this article, I share my 5 most used and favorite large format lenses for fall color landscapes.
I plan to start using color slide film for more of my personal photography projects and possibly for my professional work as well. Historically, I have only used slide film during the fall color season each year, but my plan is to expand my photography beyond that moving forward.
I have been working so hard to build my photography business over the last several years, I have really missed just being a photographer.
The fall colors represent an opportunity for me to enjoy being a large format landscape photographer and I couldn't be more excited. I have no business-related pressures, or an agenda to try and market and sell the new photographs. It's just me, nature, and my large format camera loaded with some color film.
I find color slide film large format photography to be incredibly easy, relaxing, and who can argue with those beautiful chromes laying on a light table. I develop my large format slide film (120, 4x5, and 8x10) in my Jobo processor. It is super easy to develop and as long as you have a Jobo or something similar to manage the chemical temperature. The results are always perfect.
There is something very rewarding and special about being able to look at your photographs without needing anything but light. I have 4 boxes of 8x10 Velvia 50 in the freezer that I am saving for my trip to Glacier National Park.
On my trip to Glacier, I plan to visit a few select places around Yellowstone and the Teton's and I will most likely try and stop at Rocky Mountain National Park, which is one of my favorite places on the planet. It's big, epic, and nature at its finest, just like Glacier and Yellowstone. Each location has its own special character.
I most frequently use Fuji Provia 100F for my 4x5 and 8x10 color slide film because it is the perfect balance in my mind. It provides very rich and natural colors, effectively no reciprocity failure, and it's about as forgiving as it gets for slide film. As long as you protect the highlights and don't underexpose, you will get amazing results.
I also like color negative film because I can make RA-4 enlargements in the darkroom or choose to scan it as well. I like Portra 160 (rated at EI 100) for more subtle scenes or Ektar 100 (rated at EI 80) when the dynamic range is too much for slide film and I want that extra punch. If you scan C-41 color negative film, it is a little more difficult, but the dynamic range and tolerance for exposure error are unmatched. I find it almost impossible to blow out the highlights in Portra 160 even without using a graduated ND filter on the sky.
You may want to get my Color Film Quick Reference Guide, where I share all of the important details about the most popular color films, both E-6 and C-41. I have had several photographers tell me that it has saved them hundreds of dollars in film costs. You get immediate access to the PDF printable guide.
Each lens in this article has a special place in my creative vision and many times, I am not sure which lens I want until I am standing in the spot where I want to create the photograph.
From my 72mm XL wide-angle to my 450mm long lens, I have just about every scenario covered with these 5 lenses. I do own other lenses, but these are the ones that I have settled on for my classic large format photography landscapes.
My Top 5 Favorite Large Format Landscape Photography Lenses
72mm Schneider F5.6 Super-Angulon XL
My 72mm Schneider F5.6 Super Angulon lens is set in a Copal 0 shutter with an image circle of 229mm and a front filter size of 95mm. This is the widest lens that I use for my large format landscapes for both 4x5 and even 8x10. It is crazy wide on 8x10. I effectively unlimited movements with this lens on my Linhof Technikardan 4x5 camera and I absolutely love its contrast, sharpness, and resolution. When I use this lens on my 8x10, I have to get super close to my subject and most likely do a little cropping because of the occasional vignetting that occurs.
90mm Schneider F5.6 Super Angulon XL MC
My 90mm Schneider F5.6 Super Angulon XL MC lens is set in a Copal 0 shutter and has an image circle of 259mm with a front filter size of 95mm. I have the opportunity for more movements with this lens over the 72mm version. I also enjoy unlimited movements with this lens on my 4x5 camera as well. If I don't want a more extreme wide-angle perspective, then this is my go-to lens for a regular wide-angle on the 4x5. I use this when I want a very wide lens on my 8x10 and this lens is a solid performer on both formats.
150mm Schneider F5.6 Super Symmar XL
My 150mm Schneider F5.6 Super Symmar XL lens is set in a Copal 1 shutter and has a massive image circle of 386mm with a front filter size of 95mm. I also regularly use this as an extreme wide-angle on my 8x10 camera too. This lens is a legendary landscape and architectural lens for good reason. If you want ridiculous sharp, contrasty, and more resolution than you know what to do with, then this is the lens for you. It took me about 10 years to find a used copy of this lens that I could afford. It was worth the wait.
300mm Fujinon-C F8.5
The 300mm Fuji-C F8.5 compact lens is set in a Copal 0 shutter and has a massive image circle of 390mm with a very small front filter size of only 52mm. I consider this to be my normal long lens for my 4x5 and standard lens on my 8x10. I purchased this lens along with the 450mm version brand new back in 2010 and it turns out to be one of the best purchases I have ever made for my large format landscape photography for both 4x5 and 8x10. The Fujinon Compact series is a dream come true for large format hikers and landscape photographers because of its small size, reduced weight, and optical performance. I can use this lens on my 8x10 camera which has a 5x7, and 4x10 set of reducing backs, making it a very versatile lens. It is very small, compact, and lightweight making it an ideal choice for me in the mountains.
450mm - Fujinon-C F12.5
The 450mm Fuji-C F12.5 lens is set in a Copal 1 shutter and has the biggest image circle of all my lenses at a whopping 486mm, along with a very small front filter size of only 52mm, just like the 300mm version. This lens has ample coverage for 11x14 and even bigger. I used this lens as my standard lens on my 11x14 before I sold that camera. Now I use this lens as my "extra long" lens when I need the extra reach and compression in the mountains with my 4x5 and it serves as my regular long lens on my 8x10.
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