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Mounting Lenses

Lesson 5 from: Introduction to Large Format Photography

Daniel Gregory

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Lesson Info

5. Mounting Lenses

Next Lesson: Metering

Lesson Info

Mounting Lenses

Okay so, we've decided to buy a lens. So in this case I've decided to buy a Schneider 120. And I get my lens... And what I wanna do is show you actually how to mount the lens, because it's one of those things that's not hard to do, but what's gonna show up for you at your house is gonna be the lens. And then you're gonna order a lens board. And then you're gonna need a tool called a spanner wrench. (mumbles) spanner wrench, Tina? Thanks. Spanner wrench is kind of a weird little tool, this is the generic cheap one, but it basically looks like a two-headed screwdriver and then there's some cross bars to help keep things parallel. One of the things when you order your lens, and you can get it from Ebay, KEH, B&H, your neighbor, craigslist, one of the things you're gonna wanna make sure it comes with is this little nut right here called a mounting flange. This thing is the bane of my existence, because I like to order camera lenses but I always forget about the mounting flange, and the...

n I gotta go buy a mounting flange separate. Because you can't get the lens to stay attached to the lens board without a mounting flange. So you're gonna get the mounting flange, and then you're gonna have the lens board. Now like I said, each one of these shutters is a different size, so you're gonna need to get a lens board that is the same size as your shutter. When that happens, it's just gonna gently fit into the hole, and you'll notice that this lens is actually a little bit off center. So if I hold it this way you can see it's not actually drilled directly in the center; some cameras want their lens boards in the center, for example this one, and other lenses are offset, and that's based on the camera. So each camera's gonna have what you need to have done, and for the most part there's about two different types of lens boards: Linhof and then Wista's the other kind of one. Most cameras will fit; they're not completely universal, but when you buy your camera it will tell you which one of the two or three types of lens boards that will hold. Once you get that mounted on there, the wing- the mounting flange is basically gonna go on there, and the key here is you just wanna be extremely careful not to strip the threads. And you're gonna get that down to where it's mostly tight, and then this, there's some little grooves- little slots that those fit in, and you're basically just gonna put the screw in there and you're just gonna tighten it down a little bit. If you crank on that too hard, you're never gonna get the lens back off. So you just want it tight enough that it's not gonna fall off and pull out or get loose going in and out of the bag. Once that's attached, you're then gonna take your rear element, and that's just gonna screw in really delicate threads, and you're just gonna screw that into the rear part of the shutter... and it'll screw in, and once that's tightened down, same thing: you don't wanna overtighten it, you wanna get it down to where it's just about hand tight. At that point, it's now mounted and it's ready to go onto the camera. When we're working the camera, you can see here I've got another lens board. The lens boards are all the exact same size. That's what allows you to put different lenses on different cameras. The thing I would recommend when you're going this is... if you buy a lens, buy the mounting board for it at the same time. Instead of taking the lenses off and on, off and on the mounting boards, just get yourself multiple mounting boards or lens boards. And with the lens boards you can then just stick the whole thing in your camera bag, and if you wanna change lenses in the field you're not in the position of dealing with very delicate optics, out and running the risk of them getting dirty or scratched or damaged. So just by keeping them all consistent, I think you'll be a lot happier with that solution. The other piece about lens boards that I get asked sometimes... This is a metal one, that ebony one's a metal one, but there's also wooden ones. Really doesn't matter what- the only purpose of the lens board is to hold the lens, and to make a light tight seal on the front of the camera. So whether it's wooden or metal, I don't see a big difference then. I'm sure there are some people out there on the internet who would beg to differ and spend a lot of time in a forum explaining why I'm wrong, and I just don't talk to them. So, whatever works for me, the aesthetic, this lens board was bought for this camera and the wood matched aesthetically, that's why I picked that one up, so that's what was important for me. So that's the important piece for mounting the lens. So that's the hardest part, once you get that done everything else is pretty easy.

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Large Format Gear Resources
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Ratings and Reviews


Daniel is an excellent teacher. His approach of teaching common mistakes and then explaining the proper way to do something is very helpful. The entire film series is excellent. I can't say I have a favorite over any of the others classes in the series. Each class covers great information. I learned photography back when digital didn't exist. Even after shooting film for so many years, I still learned some great tidbits from these classes. I highly recommend this series for anyone considering learning film or getting back into film.


Very detailed Large format Course. Learnt a lot. Great job Daniel. Would love see in the future an in depth course building on this but for studio portraits and camera movements for portraits in different situations explaining why. Happy i purchased this.

Art Majerus

Shooting medium format since the 70’s on Whidbey Isand. Recently bought a 4x5. This class helped me clarify all the little things needed to get going. Well presented. Thanks

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