4x5 Lens Confusion

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by maxbloom, Feb 9, 2009.

  1. maxbloom

    maxbloom Member

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    Deja Vu.

    Really...what is the difference between 4x5 lenses at a given focal length? There are so many options and I'm already by nature rather indecisive.

    If anyone could give their input on the following things which might help me figure this all out, I'd appreciate it.

    All things being equal:
    1) Am I likely to notice a difference between the APO and non-APO version of a given lens?
    2) Am I likely to notice a difference between a MC and single or uncoated lens?
    3) Will I generally be disappointed by going with the cheapest option?
    4) Are there any lenses I should flatly try to stay away from?

    Thanks.
     
  2. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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  3. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    1)more likely with color than B&W.
    2)MC will have less flare & probably greater contrast when shooting into a light source.
    3)No, if you have two of the same item at different prices and condition is similar.
    4)Jim Galli likes swirly lenses. Others like soft. Depends. Sometimes you want a particular effect.
    4a)coverage is pretty important with LF. Possibly more so than absolute sharpness.
     
  4. Venchka

    Venchka Member

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    The age & condition & brand of the shutter is important also. Carol Miller at Flutot's Camera Repair can fix almost anything. Allow $50 plus round trip shipping as a minimum for her service.

    Image circle is important and not uniform for any given focal length. You would like to have a comfortable I.C. for movements. However, for any given focal length, different lenses have different image circles. You have to do your homework.
     
  5. Barry S

    Barry S Subscriber

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    That's a big sprawling question, but in general, I've found that the lens improvements over the last 50 years are mostly incremental. Sacrificing a small bit of quality can usually get you a big discount. So if you're looking at a Schneider Symmar (oldest version), Symmar-S, Apo-Symmar, or Apo-Symmar-L (newest version), I'd consider the Symmar-S to be at the sweet spot for price and performance. It's two generations old, but you might have a hard time seeing the difference under normal conditions.

    Most lenses from Schneider, Rodenstock, Nikon, and Fuji are uniformly excellent. If you started with something from 135mm to 210mm from any of the big names, you'd be in good shape to start. Then you can be shooting and doing research, figuring out what other lenses you might need.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 9, 2009
  6. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Spend some money on a lenshood.
     
  7. Venchka

    Venchka Member

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    Factor in the price of a lensboard for your camera too. Most lens boards will have holes for Copal shutters. Much easier to find than boards for off the wall size shutters.
     
  8. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    Not really. Some older APO lenses are Repro lenses, with narrower angle of view (e.g. APO-Tessar). These are NOT good for general photography. On newer lenses APO means "more expensive". For 99.99% of all jobs you won't see any difference at all.

    Between uncoated and coated, yes.
    Between single- and multicoated, only in very special circumstances like shooting with the sun in the frame. Even then there isn't always much difference. Schneider made single-coated Xenars right until the end of the Xenar; noone has ever complained of low contrast in these. I have a 210mm of very late production, and find it almost too contrasty.

    No. Sometimes you will be disappointed, but generally not.

    Anything damaged in any way. A lens with heavy "Schneideritis" is not damaged, one with separation is. A good shutter is important; don't buy dodgy ones until you have other lenses to use while one is being repaired. Or one with lots of dings and dents - that often means it's been (ab)used by a "professional". It's like buying a used car - you would stay away from taxis.