"best" 127mm

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by jjstafford, Jul 18, 2005.

  1. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    Interesting! An associate has asked for a drop-dead simple 4x5 to handhold. Well, I have four Printex cameras, two with rangefinders, and they are best used with a 127mm lens, but my 127mm lenses just suck at wider apertures.

    Is there a good 127mm lens?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 18, 2005
  2. MikeS

    MikeS Member

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    You say your 127mm lenses suck wide open. I guess the next question is: What 127mm lenses do you have?

    -Mike
     
  3. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i have/use a 127 tominon in a prontar (polaroid) press shutter.
    works very well - large or small apertures.
     
  4. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    Theres nothing wrong with the ubitquitous 127mm f/4.7 Ektar of Jimmy Olson and Sped Graphic fame :smile: The 127 Ysaron is pretty slick too, but I bet the Ektar would do better wide open (just a guess, considering the Ektar was made for "F/8 and be there" while the Ysaron was used in a Polaroid copy camera) Come to think of it a 127 f4.5 Optar/Wollensak should fill the bill too.
     
  5. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    Most any old coated Kodak 127 f4.7 will resolve 80lppm in the middle at f8 but any of the old press tessars is going to suck out in the edges on a 4X5. Get a Caltar IIn 135 f5.6 if there's budget for it.
     
  6. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    The three most commonly available 127mm LF lenses are probably the Wollensak Raptar, the Kodak Ektar and the Rodenstock Yasaron. The Graflex Optar is almost always a rebadged Raptar - although somtimes, a Yasaron can be found too. Each of these lenses was pressed into service on Speed/Crown Graphics only reluctantly. That they seem to have lived up to this role is a testament to their chivalry and courage as none of them really covers 4x5 very well - especially at infinity. Actually, I suspect that the fact the the lenses didn't, strictly speaking, cover 4x5 was overlooked due to practical considerations related to the nature of press photography in the 1940's and 50's coupled with the fact that most lenses of the tessar design have a much larger circle of illumination than their circle of good definition.

    As jimgalli said, a modern, coated 135mm plasmat is far superior. They're not really significantly bigger or heavier and need not cost a lot more either. The Tessar formula lenses do have a characteristic look though.

    Hmmm, I think I just decided to sell that lovely old Xenar that came on my Crown Graphic....
     
  7. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    Hey Guys, the reason why I mentioned grand-pa Ektar & pals is because this is for a handheld camera which, unless you're blessed with an extra pair of hands, kind of prevents using swings and/or tilts, so the size of the image circle probably isn't an issue. I agree with Jim Galli though, if its feasible just about any good "real" 4x5 lens will give you the option of moving up to a more sophisticated camera (which WILL happen, once you get hooked!) FWIW I think Peter Gowlands 4x5 handheld aerial camera is designed around a Nikkor 120. For a drop dead simple camera fix focused for infinity with a flip up sportsfinder thats about as simple a handheld as it gets.
     
  8. MikeK

    MikeK Member

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    I have a Wollensak 127mm f4.5 Raptar. It performs very well indeed. Here is an example http://home.pacbell.net/mkirwan/pine_street.htm

    Pretty good definition across the whole image. There is some mottling in the sky, not a problem with the lens but due to the fact I developed the negative in a Patterson developing tank.
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    And if a 135 Caltar II-N isn't in the budget, consider a 135 Symmar convertible.
     
  10. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    Silly me - Raptars, Wollensaks - IMHO not very good.
     
  11. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    Camera won't work with 135.
     
  12. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Oh, well.
     
  13. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Will it work with a 125mm? Fuji sells one and it doesn't seem to be that expensive used.
     
  14. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    None of my lenses suck. Or blow. Or levitate, gyrate, rumba or funky chicken. In fact they don't do much of anything except hang out there on the lensboard. The 127 Ektar gives me pretty good service at f/8 which certainly isn't "wide open" on a 4.7 lens. If your associate must shoot wide open I suggest getting one and painting out all the numbers for apertures larger than "8" before letting him/her have at it. My 2-cents!
     
  15. Jim_in_Kyiv

    Jim_in_Kyiv Member

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    Dangerous question - define 'suck'. What is it in particular about them that you don't like? Is it a sharpness fall-off issue? I lurked around here before I started posting, and learned here about those lenses and Bokeh, so none of them were designed to be really sharp near the edges.
    Is it a contrast issue instead? What would you like to see different?
     
  16. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    Look, I am not disrespecting the lens. I said mine suck, and they do. Maybe yours are better. There are variations among lenses, you know, some because age/condition. Mine don't deserve to be on a 4x5. It's a waste of film. Soft as heck, plenty of flare, poor cross-frame rez/falloff. If I want soft, I know where I can get better soft. If I want bokeh, I know where to find better bokeh. It is not in the 127 Wollensaks I have.
     
  17. JG Motamedi

    JG Motamedi Member

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    if you can deal with an uncoated lens, the 5" f/4 Ross WA Xpres is (or can be) amazing.
     
  18. Jim_in_Kyiv

    Jim_in_Kyiv Member

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    Ah, good. Details. Thanks!
     
  19. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    And it can also be terrible. I have one, ex-MoD, that's very flary and soft at all apertures. A bust, but for only $10 I can't complain much.