Best low cost 135mm 4x5 lens

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Tim Dodd, Sep 19, 2011.

  1. Tim Dodd

    Tim Dodd Member

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    Hi all

    This is my first post.

    I am relatively new to LF (1 year of shooting to date)

    I'm looking for a 120-135mm lens, there seems to be quiet a lot going sub $300 on evilbay.

    What are the best low weight ones with adequate coverage on 4x5 and work well with color film?

    At the moment my kit consists of a 90mm f8 super Angulon (uncoated) and Fuji 150mm f6.3 (the tiny one)
    I take my rig hiking and shoot mainly landscapes. I'm finding the 90mm a bit to big and slow to use on my camera (Toyo 45cf) and 120-135mm looks like a good all round focal length.

    Tim.
     
  2. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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    One lens to consider is the 120mm f6.3 Osaka (or Congo) wide field. It's a small lens and relatively cheap. I use mine for 5x7 and it covers nicely with very small movements. I find quality is comparable to my other lenses. Having a 120 would be nice between the 90 and 150. But 135's are very common and also cheap. Fairly small. I'd just find them too close to the 150.
     
  3. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Keep an eye out for a Rodenstock 127/4.7 Ysarex in a Prontor SVS shutter from a Polaroid 110a or b, plenty of coverage for movements and flash sync. Excellent image sharpness and priced usually under $150
     
  4. Jesper

    Jesper Subscriber

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    Angulon 120/6.8 is a very nice one if you like them small and cheap.
     
  5. ruilourosa

    ruilourosa Member

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    Hello


    Any 120 or 135 post 1950 will do fine, choose a coated one for improved contrast, if you want a better one choose a plasmat tipe not a tessar or cooke triplet. In a word symmar, sironar or nikkor w or a fuji of the kind (5 or 6 elements).
     
  6. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Check the 135 Nikkor W...
     
  7. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    I have the Graflex Optar 135mm, came with my Crown Graphic. It's a very good lens & I think you can get one for under $100.
     
  8. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Nikkor W's are all purpose lenses. The SW's are wide angles. I have a SW 120 that I really like but it definitely is not light 12.7oz the 135W is 7.1oz if that 5oz really makes a difference.

    http://jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  9. PaulC

    PaulC Member

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    This was shot on a Rodenstock Xenar 135/4.7, single coated, from 1957. I'm sure it's not "the best" lens, but it is a Tessar-type, I think it is probably pretty standard for the Graphic, it's got its own look and it must be cheap. The shot was using a 23 roll-film back, so I can't comment on vignetting or edge quality at 4x5 as I haven't got results from that size yet.

    http://www.apug.org/gallery1/showimage.php?i=62671&catid=newimages

    [​IMG]
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    127 4.7 tominons too ... same deal off of a polaroid camera
    ... a few years ago lens cells were sold for 10$ -20$ / set ...
     
  11. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Also look for a 135mm f5.6 Caltar II-S this is a rebadged Symmar and has far better coverage than a Tessar type lens, they can be found at very reasonable prices.

    Better still become a subscriber and post a wanted advert here, you should find a lens easily that way :D

    Ian
     
  12. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    If you like the 90mm length, just not the weight of the super angulon, the 90mm angulon is tiny and cheap.

    The difference between 135mm and 150 is not that big. Like going from 50mm to 45mm on a 35mm camera.
     
  13. Tim Dodd

    Tim Dodd Member

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    135 Nikkor w has been on my short list, although a few people seem to disagree about its performance.

    Fujinon 125mm w could also be a winner, what is any body's experience with this one?
     
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  15. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Symmar's and Sironar's are much more common and always excellent.

    Ian
     
  16. PaulMD

    PaulMD Member

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    Fujinon-Ws are great. I picked up a 150mm f/5.6 from a member here, no complaints at all. Pretty standard plasmat type, it's going to be roughly the same as a Symmar or any -N type of lens. The earlier (inside lettering) -Ws have slightly more coverage but are single coated, the later -NW lenses are labelled "FUJINON-W" (on the outside) but are multicoated and have slightly less coverage. Yes, Fuji did a terrible job marketing these, and there seems to be a lot of cosmetic changes through the production runs.

    You could also look at a Super Angulon 120mm or a Fujinon-SW for extra movements, but they'll be slow or pretty big and heavy. Old ads say a 5in Dagor would be 125mm and would cover 5x7 at f/45.

    Once you get past the weird options, the whole question is fairly quixotic, the biggest difference between modern (non-SW) plasmats are going to be realistic coverage when stopped down, coatings, and weight. KEH has a Symmar-S 135 f/5.6 MC for $225 right now (covers 190mm), if I was itching to buy a 135mm that would do nicely. For $286, they have the Fujinon-W 135 f/5.6 (no idea which version, either 206 or 228mm coverage)
     
  17. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I'd second the Fuji W (multi-coated version). I've seen a couple of these come up for sale very reasonably at a fraction of the price of an Apo Sironar S. Modern outstanding optics with enough coverage for the majority of 4x5 applications except extreme architectural rise. Way sharper than a
    Symmar S.
     
  18. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    (Should have added) - The Fuji 125 is in somewhat more demand than the 135, so tends to fetch higher
    prices, but is also more common. I have the 52mm filter version, which is popular with landscape photographers due to its small size. Nearly the same coverage as the 135, and slightly more coverage than the equivalent Nikon lens. Very very sharp. The current version (CMW) requires a 67mm filter.
    Anything in this series in clean condition below $300 would be a steal.
     
  19. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    You mentioned "best" and "low cost" which are usually contradictory criteria.

    I assume that best includes modern, multicoated, copal shutter.

    And, you said 135 mm.

    So for that, I suggest the latest Caltar 135 which meets all the criteria. It is a Sironon lens, tack sharp, tiny, very light, and inexpensive. I sold one for ~$215 but I usually see them for ~$250.

    The only downside of the 135's is modest coverage relative to 150's.
     
  20. Tim Dodd

    Tim Dodd Member

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    Ok Iv'e bitten the bullet and picked up a Symmar-S 5.6/135mm for $156Au, its in really good condition and coming from an Australian seller, this saves me the $30-40 postage that would put any lens from Japan or the US into the $300 mark. :smile:

    I guess the consensus is nearly any coated 135mm lens will perform similar to its counterparts and in the end its up to the photographer to take good shot.

    Everybody's advice has been fantastic. Any tips from users of this lens that I should know?

    Through my research it appears that after f22 diffraction is the killer of sharpness not optics. I usually shoot f22 and occasionally f32 so i think I'm on the right track.

    Cheers, :D
     
  21. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Only tip is watch the corners, it's an excellent lens but doesn't have huge coverage. I've been very pleased with my Caltar (Symmar S) bought of this forim and have used it quite extensively for hand held 5x4 work in Turkey/Greece. Very sharp lens and just as good as my Sironar's and other Symmar (210mm), you'll enjoy using it. I shoot at f22 most of the tme. Seems a good price as well.

    Ian
     
  22. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    For 4x5 film f/32 should be fine and will allow you a little more coverage if needed. Diffraction shouldn't
    be a noticeable issue until f/45.
     
  23. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Sharpness doesn't necessarily make the photograph, you can have good detail without having jittery sharpness when using a large negative..Yiu will love this lens..Evan Clarke
     
  24. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I thought jittery sharpness was what I got working han-held :D a bit of shake.

    But yes what's impotatnt is this lens can deliver overall sharpness when you need it. and more subtle effects opened up :smile:

    Iand
     
  25. Pupfish

    Pupfish Member

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    By f/22, most all 135mm LF lenses will be on equal footing, usually delivering between 54 and 60 lp/mm across the frame. Even relatively inexpensive Tessars like Wollensak Raptars/Graflex Optars (hard single coating, <$75 USD) or the Schneider Xenars will be excellent performers-- provided the shutter is up to par and the movements required are modest.
     
  26. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    On the cheap...............

    I have three lenses that fall into the category you're looking for. First is a 135mm f5.6 Symmar-S which is on a Sears Tower 4X5 press camera I use often. The next is a 127mm f4.7 Kodak Ektar that is setting on a Calumet monorail 4x5. and the third is the Rodenstock Ysarex f4.7 on a Polaroid 110A I'm thinking about converting to 4X5. I think they are all very, very good lenses and if I were in a hurry to pick one up I'd go for the Kodak 127mm f4.7 Ektar since they are very easy to come by. I've checked antique malls and flea markets and can't tell you how many of those flip-top Polaroid cases I've opened looking for just the lenses we're talking about. The last 110A I got was at a antique mall for $10.00 so they are out there for the cheap. About ten years ago I did a little test of my own on the 135mm Symmar-S, a 135mm Optar, 135mm Xenar, 127mm Ektar and the 127mm Ysarex and here's what I found. The 135mm Symmar-S was the best "over-all" performer, the 135mm Optar was very good and as usable as most view lenses, the 127mm Ektar was very sharp and has just a certain "quality" that I can't explain, but I liked it and kept it, the Rodenstock-Ysarex 127mm was the real sleeper of the bunch. It was sharp as a tack and had the best over-all contrast of all the ones I tested, including the Symmar-S. Now, coverage will very on all these, but I find at f22 I have no problem with my type of photography. Of course I'm not running around NYC shooting tall buildings either. Mostly landscapes, scenes and people. If it were me I'd get a 127mm Ektar(if money is a little tight) and try it. Heck, for what they cost you won't be much out and you can always peddle it later. Nothing like a big negative to make one smile! JohnW[/I]