Shooting mushrooms with the Schneider Tele-Arton 270mm f/5.5 By Dirk Dom

Shooting mushrooms with the Schneider Tele-Arton 270mm f/5.5

By Dirk Dom

I bought this lens for my Linhof Technikardan 23 to be able to shoot close ups. This is a big lens, and the optical system is a tele, so that bellows extension on the camera is a good deal less than 270mm at infinity. It’s also an older lens, the shutter times go 1 sec, ½, 1/5, 1/10, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/200 and there it stops. I paid $200 for the lens.


Diaphragm is thirteen leaves, which makes it pretty much round all the time, the lens stops down to f/32. It’s a big lens, weighs more than a kilo.


With the Technikardan I shoot 6×9 rollfilm. The 270mm is equivalent to 115mm on full frame.


Today I tried it out, on mushrooms.

I shot my beloved Kodak Tmax 400, pushed to 800, no filter.

Two things were new in my outfit:

To be able to get very low, I had put the ball head of my big tripod on a wooden board, so I could shoot from about 23 centimeters (nine inches) high. Normally, to get that low with long shutter times, you’d use a beanbag, but with the Linhof I have to exchange the ground glass for the film holder and I need to keep the camera absolutely immobile.

The second new thing I tried was the Gitzo GT 1543 T 6 layer carbon travel tripod. This tripod, which had cost me $400 used, I had taken in the Redwood forest in the vicinity of san Francisco, proved incredibly sturdy for its two pounds and a half and I decided to try it with the Tele- Arton at full extension of the camera.

My ball head-board and the Gitzo tripod worked beautifully, and the lens is like a dream come true. You haven’t seen bokeh until you try medium and large format.

But no doubt you’re waiting for the photographs. In three hours I shot sixteen images, six mushrooms. I bracketed a bit because the light was difficult and I shot in rapidly changing light under trees. Here are the good ones:

image020 image021 image022 image023 image024

The nice thing about film is that even very high contrasts don’t burn out. It’s all smooth and creamy. The mushrooms in the hollow of the tree were real dark and I had difficulty focusing. (It was a 8 sec exposure at f/5.5) You have to know my name “Dom” means “stupid” in Dutch. Well, I earned my name this time. I got the marvelous idea to put something contrasty and shiny at the mushrooms. So what did I do? I took the stainless steel dark slide out of the film holder and put it there. Putting it back, I discovered the naked film. Woops! Shot ruined. Next time I’ll take my car key or bring a small torch haha!. Shooting a technical camera is full of such things. There are no safeguards, everything that happens is your own fault.

Scanned on an Epson V750 flatbed at 2,400 PPI, Silverfast software, which works great.




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    • Dirk has processed the film and published the results here… so it lends itself to reason that he has not eaten the mushrooms. Unless I am very mistaken, some of the ones photographed are poisonous…

      PS @ Dirk

      (1): Nice shots!
      (2): I read from your comment that you are Dutch, and I infer you live in NL. Where did you buy your camera and lenses?

      • Hi!

        I didn’t eat the mushrooms.

        I’m Belgian, I live in Antwerp.

        I bought the Linhof camera in Sweden, lenses in Germany, Holland and Australia. my angle viewfinder I found in China. Second film holder in Canada. Travel tripod in Belgium.

        All used, on the Ebay and a local site, total cost about $5,000. I couldn’t afford the Linhof new.



  1. I’m totally appreciating your post, Dirk. In the past months, I have been enjoying analog black and white film myself (developing it in my kitchen), and I am having a blast! My favourite film is Ilford Delta 3200 Professional, developed with Ilford Microphen.

    I hope you don’t mind some constructive criticism. I can see compression artefacts in your pictures posted here. They shouldn’t be present, of course. I’m myself using a (used) Epson V550 scanning at 2400dpi (tif), then I clean the scan in Photoshop Elements, and finally I export to jpeg in Lightroom. My scans are artefact free, and show the charm of real, analog grain, while the V550 is far inferior compared to your V750 scanner. I guess, somewhere in the digital highway, your files got compressed a bit too much?

    Kind regards from Belgium!

    • Hi!

      my shots are artefact free (30 x 45 cm TIF’s at 300DPI), but I paste them into Outlook Express, to send them, and I have no control over the compression it does. I don’t know how else to send them to Steve Huff.

      I scan to TIF at 2,400 PPI, which is enough to do an enlargement of about two feet longest side.



  2. These are lovely. It’s always good to see FILM here, and even better when it’s large format or view camera.

  3. Hi Dirk,
    I love the #1 and #5!
    It is a special idea, to start with mushrooms with this sort of camera, but the results are great and worth trying.

    If it would not be so much effort with large format analog, I would like to use it again too. I still have all the darkroom gear for it. Now I am waiting for the NEW55 instant film to be available:

    Till then I use the Sony NEX camera on a Rhinocam adapter on my Sinar 4×5″.
    I described it here at Steve Huff:×5-sinar-by-dierk-topp/
    This may be interesting for you too.


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