The 35mm wide angle: how close is close enough

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by mike_gammill, Dec 14, 2014.

  1. In earlier threads I mentioned the Exakta Auto Quinaron, which boasted a close focus of only 4 inches. I have several 35's but none focus that close. I wonder, though, if focusing so close might have some drawbacks. Many lenses are not their best at such close range (except macro lenses of course). I ran a roll of Tri-X through my Olympus OM-1 with 35mm f2.8 Zuiko attached. While an 11 inch close focus is a far cry from 4 inches, I found that I was able to do surprisingly well. I used Tri-X processed in HC110 dilution B and scanned at 2400 dpi with Epson V600.
  2. Just took a walk around the Mississippi State campus to make a few test shots. Some of the things I photographed may have appeared in previous images.
    Walking around the corner I saw my wife taking a photo of the "bricks" with her phone.
  3. Our oldest son purchases one of the bricks so our family members are listed on the brick. The next image is a much closer view of the family brick that I had previously photographed with a Rokkor 35-70 f3.5 (not the close focus one). While not close enough to just get the one brick. much closer than the zoom featured in an earlier post.
  4. Another close-up, but at home. A light frost made an interesting view from inside the car so I tried this one at minimum focus.
  5. One more with frost.
  6. Interesting experiment, Mike; the frosty images are very sharp, with fascinating textures. When it comes to "getting close", I'm often confronted by this challenge when it comes to small flowers, where one has the choice of using some sort of "tele-macro zoom" to increase the size of the subject, or getting in close to increase the size. I often resort to the latter course, as the DOF provided by the longer lenses is inadequate, so I fit an extension ring (remember those things?) to a 35mm or 28mm lens, and get down and dirty. Muddy knees come with the territory... Anyway, the DOF inherent in the shorter focal lengths often gets me the image I want. I attach a sample taken with the 30mm Meyer-Optik Gorlitz "Lydith"f/3.5, with a 10mm extension ring attached. I was able to get within about 125mm (5 inches) of the flowers, which are about 40mm (1.5 inches) in diameter. The image is pretty much un-cropped, and the DOF at f/11 just got me home.
  7. Nice shot, Rick. The apparent DOF from wide angle lenses can be exploited to good advantage in many situations. Some lenses, though, especially if the extension is too much, may lose some edge sharpness, which would be most noticeable with flat objects. Wide angle lenses, though, often can work very well with reversing rings. I haven't used a reversing ring in a while, but may make a few images with one in the near future.
  8. But do remember that the apparent DoF of wide angle lenses is not real. DoF is larger because you get more into view, i.e. have a lower magnification. Approach a flower with 100 mm 50 mm and 28 mm lenses, and when it fills the frame the same using these lenses, DoF will be the same too. The difference between the three images is in the working distance and the angle of view (background).<br><br>The 35 mm focal length is one of my most used and favourite focal lengths on 35 mm format. Paired with a 100 mm you have a very versatile set. The Zuiko lenses of both focal lengths are very nice. Great lenses to use on an OM, but also on those new fangled digital thingies that appear to be on the rise.
  9. That's why it's called apparent Q.G. Bottom line, of
    course, choose the focal length that gives the desired
    effect. I think many years back one of the photo
    magazines did an article on that subject. I don't have
    the Zuiko 100 (which I hear is a good lens) but maybe
    soon. For now my most used 2 lens outfit pairs the 35
    with either my Sigma 135 f3.5 mini tele or Tamron 90
    mm f2.5.
  10. Mike, before Kodachrome went away I did a lot of closeup photography. For many subjects a 35 mm lens' working distance is much too short. My most used macro lens for out-and-about and aquarium photography was a 105. I have 55, 105 and 200 macro lenses, also longer process lenses that are superb closeup but much less convenient to use than a "my camera mount" lens with auto diaphragm.
    I've tried shooting well above 1:1 out-and-about with my 25/3.5 Luminar held in front of a Nikon with a Minolta Compact bellows and a string of adapters. Not practical, even with flash illumination.
    I've seen people try to shoot close up with 28 mm and 35 mm lenses engraved "Macro." Out-and-about, with ambient light and at magnifications no higher than 1:4. In my opinion a waste of film and time.
  11. To add to Dan's response another disadvantage of going close with wide angle lenses is the camera and lens may block some of the light to subject. However, having close focus ability can still be useful. I'm okay with the 11" or so close focus of my Zuiko and Minolta 35's. Sigma offered 28 and 24 mm wide angles with 1:4 or maybe 1:4.5 close focus, but when I want that much magnification I reach for either a 50, 90, or 100 macro.
  12. When I want to get closer than 1:10 the first question I ask is always, 'what is the desired field size', and at what 'working distance'. Those were the same questions I always asked customers in the camera shop when they came to me wanting to take "some close up pictures". Usually they had already purchased a 35mm SLR and had the 50mm normal lens on it. That and how much do you want to spend and what other lenses do you have. The answers informed as to whether they would only need a set of plus diopter lenses, (Back then typically +1,+2,+3) or an extension tube set, usually an third party 9-16-25mm set, or a 50mm or 100mm macro lens. For myself I've seldom needed more than the common as dirt 50~55mm macro that all camera makers had some version of in their line up.
  13. If you want a 35 which will get pretty close then look at the 35/3.5 Noflexar. I wrote about it years ago in CameraShopper. You need to pull the front section forward. There are click stops you can feel and hear. The Noflexar is not an auto diaphragm lens so you need to be set up on a tripod or other support and preferably not be shooting a moving subject. Using a general purpose 35 close up can be OK in a pinch for a subject like flowers but is not really suitable for flat copy type work. The 28mm lenses with a macro setting just have slightly longer helicoids but should not be relied on for critical work. Olympus first made short bellows macro lenses (20 and 38?) which were in RMS mount and needed an adapter to fit the OM system. Other versions of these lenses were later released with auto diaphragms. If you don't mind shooting many frames to get a few good ones you can shoot hand held with these on minimal extension. Your working distance will be very short and flash will help to stop both camera and subject motion. Some camera manufacturers made auto rings which allowed a lens to be reversed and yet maintain semi-automatic diaphragm operation. Canon has the Macro Auto Ring and Konica also has an Auto Ring. These are used with double cable releases. After each exposure the ring has to be manually re-cocked. The later Konica set-up has an electronic contact to trigger the shutter rather than a mechanical one. I have used the Konica Auto ring with an FT-1 body and a 28/3.5 Hexanon (f/16 minimum aperture version) reversed and on an extension tube. This was all on a home made bracket with two small flash units. The FT-1 does not have TTL flash metering so some testing had to be done to work out the exposures. The FT-1 also has a Nikon E screen rather than the original Konica screen. I was shooting ants on the ground. Many years ago Nikon advertised a macro set-up using a reversed 24/2.8. If you are careful, reversed wide angles can get used for good results. I have the whole Minolta Auto Bellows III system. This includes the 12.5/2 and 25/2.5 bellows lenses, which are in RMS mount. They are both quite good when used for their intended magnification ranges but they do not allow automatic or even semi-automatic diaphragm control. Using the 12.5 on a bellows is tedious at best.
  14. What kind of issues do you see at such close range?
  15. The first problem is curvature of field. Even when the lens is closed down the center and edges are not in focus at the same time. The next problem is distortion, usually barrel distortion. After that you have the fact that short working distance makes lighting the subject difficult. Skittish subjects like insects may not sit still when you get too close. Some will move. Others may sting you. These are comments about using general purpose 35mm wide angles front forward and at close distances. The reason using a 12.5 on a bellows is difficult is that the plane of focus is very shallow and the slightest movement of the subject or the camera will throw the focus off.
  16. I love the 35mm focal length. The Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 AI is one of my alltime favorite lenses. To me, a 50 was always "too close", and often I ask myself "why do they call this a normal lens"? I think the 35 is not too wide, not too close. Just right!
  17. Another issue at (really) close range is loss of sharpness due to diffraction.<br>Working close, there is very little depth of field, and perhaps the natural response to that is to stop the lens down. The result of doing so however is that you still do not have much more depth of field, and that image quality goes down the drain very rapidly.<br>The better response to the shallow depth of field is not to try to get a bit more, but instead make best use of the little there is, decide where the plane of focus has to be (and for this LF cameras with movements are a great help, were it not that they are quite soemthing else in terms of ease of use) and resist the temptation to stop down.<br><br>But that is about (near) macro. I find the 35 mm focal length very nice because it lets you get close, as it puts you there where things are happening if you want to get rid of the pointless extra background visible in too many wide angle photos, instead of putting you back out of it so you can get enough of the scene in view using your 50 mm lens. So because it brings you close to, say, a group of people doing something, letting the viewer join in instead of view them from outside. But not close as in close-up.
  18. I really like 35mm focal length on 35mm field. Nice work.
    My favorite 35mm lens is still my PC-Nikkor 35mm f/2.8. However without tubes or such, it only focuses to 0.3 m.
    Here it is with my newer toy.
  19. There are two versions of the 35/2.8 AI Nikkor. The first version is a six element design which is the same, optically, as the earlier 'K' model. It is excellent. The second version has five elements and is the same, optically, as the AIS. It's not a bad lens but it isn't as good as the six element design. I have had the 'K' and a late AI for some time but earlier this year found an early AI for use with the Nikons which will not work with pre-AI lenses. I also have a 35/2.8 PC Nikkor but have not tried it for close-up use. Mine is the second to last version. For regular use it's quite good. Canon made a very short extension tube/ring in FL mount. I think it's 5mm long. I have used it a few times when trying to get closer with lenses like the 28/3.5 FL.
  20. One of my most used lenses (on digital and film cameras which may just be a tad too young for this forum) is a Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 (AiS), which performs really well up close. Not a macrolens by any stretch of imagination, but used with a wide aperture (where it is a rather temperamental performer) and the wide-ish look... well, I like it. Cannot really imagine being without a 35mm.
  21. Ι personally have come to the conclusion that wide-angles produce much more interesting images when used for close-ups, so close-focusing ability is definitely an asset. 4 inches sounds too close though.
  22. My first AI lens, and for some years only one, is the 35/2.0, which focuses to 0.3m.
    Some time ago, I notice something strange on the view screen for a video camera. After not so long, I figured that the autofocus had found the dust on the skylight filter. It might have been a little out of focus, but it was close.
  23. For me, 3 feet (1 meter) is plenty close for a W.A. lens.
  24. I also love the Nikkor 35mm PC lens. One of my sharpest three lenses: SMC Pentax f:1.4/50mm, and Leica Dual-Range Summicron are the other two.
    I hope to be able to use them on a Sony A7 II in the new year, but the cost of adapters is almost as staggering as the camera.

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