Using Large Format Lenses on DSLR camera

11/09/2016 - 13:13
Using Large Format Lenses on DSLR camera

Before a begin, try to answer the question, and actually, what is it all about? After all, now many lenses for the standard 36mm format, the quality is much better. I agree lenses designed for this format have better sharpness, size, weight, and ergonomics. Using large format lenses on digital cameras interesting primarily out of curiosity. If we consider the history of the production of lenses, We can note that a variety of optical designs were created in the late XIX - early XX century; this era is considered the dawn of photographic art.

This was the era of great discoveries and experiments. Then the film was a basic standard large format: 18x24cm, 13x18cm, 9x12cm. And in terms of the quality of the lens, I figured such a thing as an image circle. It was believed the larger circle of light has a lens, the better it is as a high resolution can be obtained using a large format, as the quality of photographs was not so perfect. Professionals used in their work format 18x24cm, and all that less was considered a lot of amateurs.

Since the mid-1930s gaining increasing popularity, new format film - 35mm. The new lenses are calculated in this format, have better resolution, and are corrected on several disadvantages of the first generation of lenses. But in the artistic quality of shooting photos and artistic value is not determined by the sharpness and well-corrected aberrations from the picture. The quality of the artistic image is evaluated subjectively, the concept of "like" or "dislike." Here and there is interest in old lenses, which have some disadvantages from a technical perspective of the lens.

The first lenses were created taking into account the aesthetic tastes of people of that era - the era of artists. Now, looking at the works of the era, admire nobleness pictures, often lacking in modern lenses, where they are often a similar character and do not possess any individuality. Therefore, in the modern era, a host of fans wanting to get some individual picture.

I know of photographers who are looking for lenses with flare, ghosts, etc. Art does not have any standards, and means of expression are limitless. But as the technology of film photography is gradually replaced by the digital sensor, there is a desire to use these lenses on digital cameras. Consider some of the features of their use.   

Large Format lens on DSLR camera

Jos. Schneider & Co Kreuznach Xenar 105 mm f/ 4.5 on Nikon SLR camera


Especially the Using of Large Format Lenses on Digital Cameras


Lenses designed for the large format have a lower resolution. Because they are designed for a large film format, needless magnification for print, or even print with the ratio of 1:1. For example, the resolution of 36 lines/mm has reproduction lenses considered in a large format super sharp. At the same time, the lenses have a small size resolution is not less than 50 lines/mm. If you like per-pixel sharpness, these lenses are not for you. Due to the small area of the frame, they will seem soft focus on the digital sensor.  



These lenses usually do not have a focusing mechanism. Since they were placed on the camera, where this function is performed, bellows. Therefore, to use them in modern cameras, you need to adapt to their focusing mechanism - focusing helicoid, bellows, etc. The rotation of the front element can focus some lenses. I have met such a construction on the lenses Trioplan f/ 4,5 10,5cm and Kodar f/ 6,3 10,5cm.  


Flange Focal Distance

These lenses are usually long flange distances. So that they can be mounted without problems on any camera retaining infinity. The problem is solved by increasing the posterior segment due to extension rings or bellows.  



If the lens is released before the 1940s, it has no coating and thus has poor resistance to a backlit and sidelight, manifested in low contrast images. It is recommended to use the lens hood. the bigger, the better. But even with the hood has to increase the contrast in the graphical editor.  


The Color Rendition

Early lenses were calculated for black and white photography and can not reproduce colors well. Some lenses, despite age, convey color is very well, and some - poor.


Quality at All

These lenses will not necessarily be a picture that deserves interest. It may be that it does not appreciate. Be ready for it because we can see all the beauty only in the format that is designed. The digital sensor will only work its small central part. Already in the 30s of the XX century in lens producing, there is a certain standardization. Found some good designs for optical systems, which were well corrected from aberrations. And many firms producing lenses under the patent to any particular design: Triplet, Tessar, Planar. But if you want to find an object with some custom retro design, you should look for a lens calculated for large format.

Also, read How to Mount Large Format Lenses on DSLR Camera.

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