About LF Lens?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by photomc, Aug 29, 2004.

  1. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Been using a Crown Graphic and hope to pick up a nice field 4x5 in the next year. Question is about the lens - Artars, Dagors, Red Dot, Gold Dot - it becomes a little overwhelming when planning to put together a working system.

    Do not plan on buying new, used market just makes more sense to me. Lens that I am thinking off would be wide (90mm) normal (135-150mm) and long (300+). The reason I have decided to go with these focal lengths, I shoot a 55,80 and 210 with my MF (645) and find them a good set to work with .

    What are some reasonable lens to watch for in this group? I know Nikon and Fuji can be good, but there seem to be differences even with them. It is really quite confusing, but I have time to sort this out and hope someone will have something to offer . Went to the large format page and it did not help that much (or I did not go to the right place)

    Thanks for your input.
     
  2. Ted Harris

    Ted Harris Subscriber

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    Mike, you listed a whole bunch of classic lenses. IMO if you re moving forward you should look first at used modern multicoated lenses, and there are plenty of them available for reasonable prices. Lenses from any of the 'big 4 (Nikon, Fuji, Rodenstock and Schneider) are hard to tell apart. I think your choices are fine in terms of focal length with the exception that if you are going to go for 300mm at the long end make sure you buy a camera that has sufficient bellows draw to handle same.

    My personal choices in these focal lengths in terms of both performance and price and availability on the used market would be:

    90mm -- Caltar IIN/Rodenstock Grandagon 90mm fa6.8 and you will pay way less for one marked Caltar even though it is the same lens.

    135/15 Schneider Symmar S MC or Apo Symmar or Rodenstock Sironar MC/Apo Sironar/Caltar IIN. The Symmar S MC will be a lot cheaper if you can find one but not much difference in performance.

    300 You will pay a lot less for the Nikkor 300 M and it is an excellent performer.

    Also think about 240 for your long lens.
     
  3. steve simmons

    steve simmons Inactive

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    Here is some reading I wuold recommend before selecting equipent


    any/all of the several free articles on our web site

    www.viewcamera.com

    go to the Free Articles section


    Using the View Camera - book I wrote to help people get started

    or

    User's Guide to the View Camera by Jim Stone


    stay away from Stroebel's book. It is not as user friendly


    We also have some CDs with back articles on lenses available as well


    I suggest staying with lenses made since the mid 1960s Stay away from the Angulons - Supr Angulon is fine but the older version is not very good.


    steve simmons
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    For 4x5" the 90/8.0 Super-Angulon is a good value, even in the single coated version, and so are the older Symmar convertibles in the middle range, though if you can afford a later version, they will be sharper and contrastier. At 300mm, the Nikkor M is a good recommendation, G-Claron is popular, and the Fujinon-C is also quite reasonable for 4x5".

    I like the classic lenses (Dagor, Heliar, Artar, Verito, etc.) for negs I'm planning to contact print, but for 4x5", I'd agree with Steve Simmons that lenses from the mid-1960s or so hold up better to enlargement.
     
  5. DrPhil

    DrPhil Member

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    Having owned two 90mm lenses, I would suggest that you look for something faster. 90mm and f/8 is really hard to focus in the early morning before sunrise. Schneider has a 80mm Symmar XL with a max aperature of 4.5 Yes, it costs more; however, it really is worth the $$. Plus, it weighs half the weight of the 90mm f/8 lenses!!

    I will second the suggestion to pass on the angulons. I had a 90mm 6.8 and really didn't like it.

    The Nikon 300mm M is likely my favorite lens in the world. WOW!

    I have a fujinon 450mm C that is also awesome.

    My current favorite wide angle is a 135mm Sironar N. Kicks ass and is small and tiny to boot.
     
  6. DrPhil

    DrPhil Member

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    From APUG terms of use:

    4. Advertise or offer to sell any goods or services for any commercial purpose unless you have our written consent to do so.

    Hmmmmm.
     
  7. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The drawback of Super Angulons is that they're big and heavy. The advantage of Angulons is that they're small and light, as well as reasonably bright compared to the f:8 SA's. There are also f:5.6 SA, but then they get very expensive!

    I have both Angulons and Super-'s, 90 and 120mm. They have different uses, and I'm keeping both sets. The Angulon lenses were made over a very long time, and the quality is very different from the best to the worst. My 90 is about middling good, but the 120mm is exellent! The main drawback is the small coverage - there's nothing extra with the 90mm on 4x5" or the 120mm on 5x7".

    Most modern(ish) 150mm's are good to very good. I have several, from a 1934 Heliar 150mm/4.5 to a 60's APO-Lanthar 150/4.5. Some Symmar lenses are very good, and they also have more coverage than Xenar and similar (Tessar-type) lenses.

    If you really want a 300mm + lens, you might consider a tele lens. I'm very happy with my 360mm/5.5 Tele-Xenar.

    BTW, I have a Symmar 150mm/5.6 convertible for sale :wink:
     
  8. scootermm

    scootermm Subscriber

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    I can attest to this first hand.
    I got steves book and found it immeasurably informative and helpful. Very well written talks about specific lens/camera models/manufacturers.
    highly worth the purchase.

    photomc
    I went from 35mm->medium format-> Large format. I found myself to be a wide angle shooter in 35mm and mf. I used my 20mm and 28mm in 35mm almost exclusively and loved them. the interesting thing is Ive found that I use my 135mm in 4x5 almost exclusively.
    Ive found its more than wide enough for what I shoot and not too wide to still allow some focal centering.
    I think Ive learned the most by just using one lens at first. making myself see and compose with it and nothing else. even if I had piles of money to buy lens after lens (which would be nice) I think I would still only use mainly one lens at first just because it helps me learn to see in the format and focal length Im using.
    just my 0.02
     
  9. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Mike,

    The long lens that you decide upon will depend in large part on the camera that you end up buying. I have a 305 mm Repro-Claron. This is a lens that is not widely mentioned but I have found it sharp as a tack. Not all 4X5 cameras have the bellows extension to allow the use of a lens of this length especially in very near focus situations. My Zone VI affords a bellows extension of 18 inches.

    I also use the F8 90mm Super Angulon. It is multicoated and I bought it new in the mid 80's. I have not found it to be a lens that I use a lot. Not because it is dark but because it includes so darn much in the scene. Mounted in Copal 0 it isn't overly heavy or large.

    I also use a 120 mm Apo Symmar. Preferring that focal length to the 150 mm. Again this is a lens that you don't find mentioned much. Sharp as the dickens and will cover 4X5 with modest movements. Mounted in Copal 0 again.

    I also use a 210 Symmar (mounted Copal 1). This is probably my most used lens followed very closely by the 120 mm that I mentioned earlier.

    I do have the 450 Nikkor M but I use it on 8X10 exclusively since it is mounted on a Deardorff board and it would be a pain to mount on the smaller Zone VI boards as it is Copal 3.

    There should be a good supply of used modern multicoated lenses available. I would opt to go that direction myself. Good luck.
     
  10. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Good advice from Donald Miller.

    I have a Shen-Hao 4x5 field camera with bellows draw from 55mm to 360mm. My standard lens kit: 55mm/4.5 Rodenstock Apo Grandagon, 110mm/5.6 Schneider Super Symmar XL Aspheric, 150mm/5.6 Rodenstock Apo Sironar.

    Other lenses I occasionally use with this camera include: 65mm/8 Schneider Super Angulon, 90mm/8 SW Nikkor, 180mm/9 Fujinon A, 210mm/9 Schneider G-Claron and my barrel mount 240/9 and 305mm/9 Apo-Nikkors.
     
  11. photomc

    photomc Member

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    WOW! Expected lots of opinions, you guys deliver. Being a little slow to react on major purchases I find I'm most comfortable working through the these things with some reasonable plan. The input here is SUPER.

    What you guys have given in advice is invaluable, and covers areas I was not aware of, like Donald's comment about bellows extension - had not thought about that. Also, not sure if a long lens is really needed for the type of photography I do - mostly landscapes and buildings. I do like to do a macro landscape, ie parts of the building which I thought might be easier to do with a long lens, however a 210 might fit the bill just fine.

    Scootermm, I understand your point about one lens, and that is pretty much what I plan on doing for the near term with the Crown Graphic - it has a 135 Optar. Not a bad lens, and seems to fit the Crown (with it's limited movements).

    Tom, appreciate the info about the Shen-Hao as is it on the list of cameras I plan to look at - along with a Tachihara and Zone VI, again all used...just can't see paying for a new one.

    Well now to lay everything out and run the compares..will have more questions in the future - lens and camera. Plan to build a compare list to help with features, if anyone has any ideas let me know.

    Plus maybe I should see what Jim C will have with his new cameras....hmmmmmm!!!

    Thanks Guys!
     
  12. steve simmons

    steve simmons Inactive

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    Don't worry about brand names at this point. Decide on what featurs you want and then find a body that has them. It's features and bellows that should determine which brand and model you get.


    steve simmons
     
  13. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Thanks Steve, appreciate your input. You are correct at this stage it's more important to determine the features, then match them to brand/model.
     
  14. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    The LF lens selection IS overwhelming; the resources from View Camera are probably as comprehensive as it gets. I got enough info from the LF website to get me going, but would still like to know more.

    Don't be afraid of the Classic Oldies. I dare anyone to guess what lens was used to take a picture. I've never seen anyone criticized because they used 7.85 SnapDragoon when a 7.96 Super SnapDragoon would have been a better choice. I have two Commercial Ektars made in 1948, a Wollensak Raptar, A 9.5" Goertz Dagor, and a 90mm Angulon. Everyone of them takes a decent picture if I do my part. None of them were made later than 1960 and who knows how many owners they have had. And I'll be a goatroper if anyone can tell which one I used on any specific picture.

    I'll add one thing to Simmons' advice; Figure out your needs and buy what you can afford.