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Comparing 35mm and 4x5 Lenses

Comparing Focal Lengths

There is a lot of contradictory information about comparing the focal length of a lens between different formats. It depends upon what aspect you are comparing. The one that comes most quickly to mind is angle of coverage, but that is pretty useless from a working photographers point of view. I usually convert to a fixed aspect ratio. The 8x10 print seems quite universal, so that is what I use. Then you have to figure what the size of the actual negative area you use making an 8x10 print. With 4x5 sheet film that would be 96x120 millimeters, and with 35mm film it would be 24x30 millimeters. Simple arithmetic shows you that the difference is 4:1. Therefore you can determine the comparable focal lengths by simply multiplying the focal length of your 35mm lens by 4, or dividing the focal length of your 4x5 lens by 4. For some common focal lengths in each format that gives the following:

4x5 Aspect Ratio (nominal focal lengths)
35mm     4x5  -and-   4x5   35mm
15  = 60   65  = 16
18  = 75   75  = 18
21  = 85   90  = 22
24  = 100   100  = 24
28  = 110   127  = 31
35  = 135   135  = 35
50  = 200   200  = 50
70  = 280   250  = 60
85  = 340   300  = 75
90  = 360   360  = 90
100  = 400   400  = 100
135  = 540   500  = 125
150  = 600   600  = 150

If you insist upon comparing to a 4x6 image you need to base the 35mm on 24x36mm and the 4x5 on 82x122mm. 122/36=3.4, so 3.4 is your multiplier.