photographing old large photos

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Dale Hainer, Nov 11, 2004.

  1. Dale Hainer

    Dale Hainer Guest

    I am using an SLR Pentax and would like to photograph old photos from
    hunting and fishing camps.

    What kind of lens am I looking to get? Macro?

    Dale Hainer, Nov 11, 2004
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  2. Generally Macro is best. Most true macros are very sharp and have a
    flat field. That is the whole picture will be in focus as long as the
    camera is aimed directly at it and the lens is focused on any part.

    Most lenses do not have flat fields. This means that if you focus on
    something flat like the picture and focus on the center; the edges will be
    out of focus. If the picture was shaped like the inside of a large ball so
    the sides all curved slightly towards the camera it would be all in focus.

    At normal distances (say a few feet or more) this is not a problem and
    not material, but close up it does become a problems so good macros are
    designed to correct for the problem.

    You will note that I did say a true macro. Well it is hard to say what
    a "true" macro is, but if the lens is not a zoom and if it is being sold as
    a macro and not something else with macro focusing, it should be a true

    Now after all that, you may be able to do a good job copying them with
    your regular lens and a close-up lens screwed on. Maybe not as nice as a
    good macro, but maybe good enough and at a lot less cost.

    Good Luck
    Joseph Meehan, Nov 11, 2004
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  3. Are your photographs behind glass?
    If so, you may have problems with the camera photographing its own
    reflection - whatever lens you use.
    Malcolm Stewart, Nov 11, 2004
  4. Dale Hainer

    Guest Guest

    In addition, you might want a low contrast filter. Contrast of the copy
    tends to increase vs. the original.

    Guest, Nov 11, 2004
  5. Dale Hainer

    Peter Irwin Guest

    I've had good results copying photographs with a 135mm lens
    with an extension tube. If these prints are large, then you
    will probably not need an extension tube. A lens of longer
    than normal focal length would be a good choice.

    There are a couple things which require special attention:

    You will need to set up the camera so it is exactly square
    with the picture being copied.

    You will need to set up lighting so that the picture is evenly
    illuminated and so that the glare reflected from the print
    surface is minimised. One thing that can help is to have a large
    black card with a hole cut for the lens to minimise reflections on
    the print.

    Are these pictures colour or black and white? What size are they?
    Is there a reason why they can't or shouldn't be scanned on a
    flatbed scanner? It takes careful work to do a better job with
    a camera than you can get fairly easily with a scanner.

    Peter Irwin, Nov 12, 2004
  6. Dale Hainer

    Jeremy Guest

    If you have a screw-mount Pentax, they made two excellent macro lenses, both
    of which regularly show up on eBay:

    SMC Macro Takumar 50mm f/4.0 is the more common of the two. High contrast,
    excellent flat field reproduction, optimized for close-up, rather than


    SMC Macro Takumar 100mm f/4.0. Not as many were made, as they were released
    only a short time before Pentax cameras abandoned the screwmount in favor of
    the K-mount. Has the advantage of magnification of image, so the lens
    does not have to be as close to the subject as would a 50mm--important
    because it makes it easier to light up the subject.

    Another poster mentioned scanning the photos and I tend to agree that it
    might be the better choice. You will have the advantage of editing the
    scanned images to tweak brightness, contrast color saturation, etc. If you
    use a macro lens and shoot on film, you will have to scan the film in order
    to get a digital file, which adds an additional generation to the digitized

    I have scanned tons of old family photos on a flatbed scanner and have
    improved their appearance with excellent results. Check out for lots of good information.
    Jeremy, Nov 12, 2004
  7. You need the ability to focus closely enough to fill the frame with
    the shot -- depending on how big the prints are, that may not be
    dificult. And since you're copying flat work, you need a lens with a
    flat field, and macro lenses are generally better at that than cheaper
    lenses. But with adequate light and optimum lens aperture, you may
    well find you have enough depth of field to handle it even without a
    perfect flat-field lens.

    So -- you *may* not need any new equipment to get adequate copy
    photos. You might find that working on other issues produces more
    benefit -- like a suitable developing cycle for the film. Most films
    are set up for photographing the real world, with well over 1000:1
    brightness range. Using them for copy work usually gives rather flat
    results, since you don't get that brightness range off a paper
    original. In B&W, you can compensate quite a bit by additional
    developing. In color it's harder, but there are color copy films that
    help some.

    One thing you have to decide is just how hard you're willing to work.
    Copy photography has no upper limit on how hard it can be, if you want
    to do *every conceivable* thing to get even the smallest marginal
    improvement in quality. But it conforms to the 80/20 rule roughly --
    the first 20% of the work gets you 80% of the possible quality, and
    the costs (in time and effort) go up drastically from there.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Nov 12, 2004
  8. The opposite, actually; films are formulated to tame the extreme
    contrast of the real world, and tend to produce flat results when used
    for copy work.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Nov 12, 2004
  9. Depends on the film and how it is processed, your general statement
    implies to those of us that do some copy work that you don't.

    Like I said it depends on the film type and how its processed.
    Drane Z. Drizzard, Nov 12, 2004
  10. Dale Hainer

    Peter Chant Guest

    Can I suggest a bit of heresy? If they will fit on a scanner scan them,
    then print via an on line service or take a cd to a local lab.
    Peter Chant, Nov 13, 2004
  11. Dale Hainer

    McLeod Guest

    Nope. I was copying pictures for years before digital technology and
    I can assure you the opposite is true. Copying photographs always
    means an increase in contrast. Special copy films were always made to
    be very low contrast.
    McLeod, Nov 13, 2004
  12. Well, sorry, but so was I! How can a photo print ever exhibit
    anything like the brightness range of a real-world scene?
    David Dyer-Bennet, Nov 13, 2004
  13. What differance does that make we are talking copies not real world
    3D duplicates. Paper -flat paper. Contrast.
    Gregory W Blank, Nov 13, 2004
  14. Yep that's the way it is at least for copies made directly to negatives and
    then printed on regular papers.

    Now;.... I have had pretty good results shooting plain old transparency film
    with the 4x5, filtering the copy stand light to approximately daylight balance
    then scaning and outputting the files.
    Gregory W Blank, Nov 13, 2004
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