Wide angle lenses – now with 4×5″

A while back I wrote a short article comparing wide angle lenses on various formats. This is a small update to include large format (4×5″), which I have recently bought into to overcome problems with super-wide lenses on 6×9 (or lack thereof)

This diagram shows various common film formats, ranging from 4×5″ (large format view cameras) down to APS-C (most digital SLRs).

Negative areas
Negative areas

Let’s have a look at my widest lenses on each format. Lens specifications only usually quote the diagonal field of view but if you know the dimensions of the film format, you can use some trigonometry to work out the horizontal and vertical angles too. When photographing churches, I’m most interested in the vertical angle of view so I don’t chop the spire off.

Lens Format Diagonal angle of view Horizontal angle of view Vertical angle of view
Horseman Super 90mm f/5.6 4×5 83° 70° 58°
Horseman Press 65mm f/5.6 101° 88° 75°
6×9 76° 66° 47°
Mamiya Sekor C 50mm f/4.5 6×7 84° 70° 58°
Canon FD 28mm f/2.8 35mm 75° 65° 46°
Canon FD 24mm f/2.8 84° 74° 53°
Canon FD 17mm f/4 104° 93° 70°

Before I had 4×5 available to me, the biggest format was 6×9, although with a lens of only 65mm this couldn’t go that wide. However, I’m delighted to find that the 90mm on 4×5 is wider than the 65mm on 6×9. This will probably be sufficient for most purposes but if not, the 65mm lens can still be used on 4×5 and on that format it goes into the realm of “ultra wide angle”, along with the 17mm lens on its respective 35mm SLR format.

I look forward to lugging the new beast around Somerset in search of pretty church towers 🙂

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