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-A Lens With a View: Part 12-
by Robert A F van de Voort

This and the following articles will introduce the view camera to the reader who is completely unaware of the possibilites, the surprises and ease of use of the big black box, my favourite working tool.

Finally, I have managed to get outdoors to complete this article. It was hard to find the time between assignments and some pressing personal matters.

At long last a dry day presented itself with a couple of spare hours. A dash to our famous Long Bay, a maritime reserve on the North Shores of Auckland, was going to be my playground to show some different techniques. As described in one of my previous articles, I took along this gear:

• Editor's Brian field camera
• Lowepro back pack
• 360 mm lens
• 90 mm lens
• The Sinar Zoom back
• Gossen light meter
• Air cable release
• A roll of 120 film for convenience

As this camera is quite a bit different compared to the Sinar, whose movements auto lock, I noticed that when my film came back from the lab, some minute shifts had occurred with either focussing or framing...

I think the culprit was either the heavy 360 lens, or my inability to tighten the screws on the front standard that held the lens in place. So I admit that the quality is not the best, but it has to do in this case. I have now learned it is better to take your own camera out or practice first with the camera and then do it.

The above photo shows the 360 lens in action. I placed the branch in the foreground of the frame out of focus, focussed on the space between infinity and frame, using the aperture setting of F 16 to get the frame and trees in the back sharp. I failed miserably when I saw the negative, the lens had sagged, and shifted from its focussed position, yuk, sorry, I am only human :-)

My idea was to illustrate the hyperfocal distance principle that once was easily shown on the aperture ring of 35 mm cameras. It works like this; I'll explain it for 35mm cameras here:

A word of caution, modern auto focus zoom lenses have no depth of field scale on their lenses. This sample works best for those lenses that have a depth of field scale on the lens barrel.

You focus on the furthest point away - the trees on the horizon. On the lens barrel, you see the infinity mark opposite say F16 ( my selected aperture on the field camera ). Now focus on the frame, your distance scale may say now 3 meters instead of infinity. The aperture number shown opposite the 3 meter mark on the lens is now quite different. If you would now turn the lens focussing ring until the 3 meters and and infinity mark fall within the boundaries set of the F16 depth of field, you would get the frame and the trees in the back sharp. This focussed distance now is the "Hyperfocal distance"! If you just had focussed on the infinity mark and used F16 the depth of field (area of sharpness) would in most cases extend 1/3 towards you (the frame hopefully?) and 2/3 behind the trees (over the hill and out of sight and on infinity anyway where everything is always sharp). This way you throw away valuable depth of field behind the hills instead of using it to come closer to you (the frame). My Sinar has a cute little knob that does indicate for me where the hyperfocal distance lies. In this case I guessed with my head under the black cloth and I admit, failed to get it right and tight. Blame on the lack of a fresnel screens that make the image brighter or sunstroke… But I hope that this shows the principle a bit. I include the image above from the book "Photography Seventh Edition" ISBN 0130282715, by Barbra London and John Upton, Kobre and Brill to illustrate this.

My next step was the 90 lens, same position and viewpoint, no change. This illustrates that the perspective does not change with the lens used (see framed area). I only got more in view. The same aperture was used, F 16; shutterspeed 1/125 (sunny F16 rule, no bellows extension required as we were shooting on infinity). It is just all a bit sharper.

Ok my friends, next month the remainder of my meanderings… and I must say the attention you get on a beach with your head under the black cloth is wonderful.

If you want to socialize more and make friends, go out there with your camera, it is healthy, creative and inspiring, far more fun than the digicam maneuvers.

Yours with a view,

Article copyright Robert A F van de Voort 2001, can be reproduced unabridged with reference to author.

Lens With a View Series:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7&8 9 10 11 12

Hey guys, any questions or comments? It is so hard to explain a view camera on paper and such joy to experience in real life that words sometimes are failing me to explain it nicely. All the responses received have been positive, thank you all for your feedback! Readers are invited to view some of my escapades into photography on or send Email to me at with your questions.Robert van de Voort

Robert van de Voort is a professional photographer and writer, with his headquarters located on the North Island of New Zealand. Robert's professional photographic career spans the course of over 20 years, with work in stock, advertising, studio, digital photography and much more! You can learn more about Robert and see examples of his stunning work by visiting his website at

The staff at would like to thank Robert for his generous article contributions!

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