Budget LF lenses?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by ConnorR, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. ConnorR

    ConnorR Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I'm the owner of a Sinar F with a 135/5.6. I'm looking to expand my lens collection into a 90 and 210. However, I'm on a very tight budget being a college student. From what I've seen, 210's are generally cheaper than 90's, so I figured I'd start there.

    I've been looking at these for potential options:

    http://www.keh.com/camera/Large-Format-Fixed-Focal-Length-Lenses/1/sku-LF06009012544F?r=FE

    http://www.keh.com/camera/Large-Format-Fixed-Focal-Length-Lenses/1/sku-LF06000063687F?r=FE

    http://www.keh.com/camera/Large-Format-Fixed-Focal-Length-Lenses/1/sku-LF06009000850F?r=FE

    I'm gnoring the filter ring damage... I can figure something out to save $60.

    Any opinions, suggestions, etc? I'd like to stay under $200, preferably well under.
     
  2. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    A 210 is definitely a good starting point for 4x5, and probably a better choice than a 90, depending on what you want to do with the camera.
    I would pick the Symar, but optically, they are likely all good choices, assuming the shutters function, and the glass is ok otherwise.

    There is a Caltar (AKA Symar) in the classifieds here with a malfunctining shutter which is even cheaper.

    You can certainly get by without the ability to use screw-in filters, but damaged filter rings can be a PITA.
     
  3. MDR

    MDR Member

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    Since all lenses have a filter ring damage I'd personaly choose the Fuji, all Fuji lenses I've ever used be they enlarging or LF-lenses were better than their Schneider counterpart. The new Hasselblad lenses are also made by Fuji. The Fuji lens seems to be the newer version thus all three lenses have multicoating. If your 135mm lens is a Schneider/Rodenstock I'd choose the Schneider/Rodenstock because they produce the same look. The Schneider and the Rodenstock should be about equal in quality and performance. Fuji lenses are extremely under appreciated imho.

    Dominik
     
  4. ConnorR

    ConnorR Member

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    I supposed it may be worth the extra $50 or $60 to go for a lens w/o filter ring damage. Hmm. That's a tough call.
     
  5. Dan Quan

    Dan Quan Subscriber

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    maybe, the option i've chosen is to rear mount my filters, which are all wratten gels. i sprayed flat black on the 90% side of an old gray card and use that as a french flag (gobo). although my filter rings are good i've never used them. these options may work for you as well.

    edit: but i do have a nikon pola i sometimes tape to the front.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 21, 2011
  6. Dan Quan

    Dan Quan Subscriber

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    On the other hand, the filter ring damage may or may not be indicative of other problems or damage. Regardless, its always prudent to inspect and test ALL equipment before using on an important project. For example, try using the legal section of the newspaper to check for focus and make sure everything is square and have the shutter speeds verified.

    I recently purchased a copal 1 in ex+ condition and all the top speeds are off somewhat but the 400 speed is actually 250. Don't just rely on a company's reputation, cover your own arse.
     
  7. LJH

    LJH Member

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    Have a look for a late model (label on the outside of the barrel) Fuji 210mm. You can get these for under $200 if you keep an eye out (I got a mint one for $180 on eBay). The older ones (inside the barrel lettering) are much more expensive, as they cover 8x10.

    Another possible option in a 180mm (although it's possibly a bit close to the 135mm). These seem to be a red-haired stepchild in the lens world (i.e. nobody really want them at the moment). Fuji models (excluding the "A" model) are also dirt cheap.

    Finally, you can get Fuji 250mm lenses for a reasonable price if you want a longer lens. The f6.3 is the cheaper model; the f6.7 more expensive (as it covers some ULF).
     
  8. John Austin

    John Austin Member

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    Wait for a while and look around,

    Filter ring damage to me implies that the relatively weak screw mounting either side of the shutter may have been put out of square - There are lots of good lenses out there that are undamaged - I have a 210mm Symmar S I could sell - I much prefer my 1950s/1960s lens set for 5x4" as multicoated lenses are too "bitey" for Australian hammer light

    Also, before you spend money, consider what you want the lens for, ask what your main subjects are and the light in your area, these things can affect your lens set choice
     
  9. ConnorR

    ConnorR Member

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    Thanks for the input everyone.

    The more I think about it, the more I am straying away from filter damage. Dropping a lens is never a good thing, even if there is no visible damage.

    The lens will be mostly for portraits, with landscapes thrown in. Sharpness is important. I'm not part of the soft lenses for portraits crowd. If I could get a sharp, clean lens I'd be happy. If it's sharp near-wide open (F/8 or so) that would be ideal. Yes, I shoot my LF lenses wide open in portraits. Don't all yell at me at once. :smile:
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    since you are interested in ( clinically ) sharp get the newest coated lens you can afford
    and get it cla's ... bent filter rings sometimes mean the lens was DROPPED .. so keep that in mind
    keh doesn't calibrate the lenses before they sell them, so what looks like 125 or 250 --- won't be ..
    their grading system is more about what the lens looks like ...
    no matter what lens you buy, figure in getting it cla's by whoever works on your lenses ( so add in extra $$ )
     
  11. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    Why would anyone yell at you?
    If you like the result, and your sitters like the result, nothing else matters.

    There is the chance that someone will say that the MTF of the zillimar f 4.5 lens is much better than that of the fomar f 3.141 but the bokah of the fomar is better when it's stopped down to f/22.3, even though the zillimar has 3 millimeters more coverage. But you really can't compare either of them to the catmars made between 1951 and 1953, those were really magic, and had a fantastic presence with great but subdued highlights and the best shadow detail. EXEPT if you compare any of them to the 1932 bockmar 215.6 mm.
    :D
    :munch:
     
  12. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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  13. Dan Quan

    Dan Quan Subscriber

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    [​IMG]
     
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  15. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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    Don't forget to put a WTB in the APUG classified ads. And the large format forum ads if you belong and have served your time period. A nice cheap 210 is the Rodenstock Geronar f6.8 or the similar Caltar version. Modern copal shutter and multicoated. Should be able to get one for around $175 in mint shape.
     
  16. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    The picture of KEH's Symmar-S may show odd reflections around the edge of the optics or perhaps element seperation. That probably should be resolved before buying it. I still use an inexpensive Caltar-S with edge seperations at small apertures with no problem, but such a condition may well worsen.

    Over many years my most used lens on a 4x5 has been the Kodak Ektar f/7.7. 203mm. It might not do as well for those wide open portraits, though.
     
  17. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I've got two lenses with bent filter rings. I got them cheap because of that, and they work fine. ymmv of course.

    I've got a 203mm optar with works great and is small (like fold up in the press camera sized). Also have a nikkor 210/5.6 which is like the plasmats you've suggested. Lots of options for not much money; none of them are rare or inherently bad. I've also got a 210/4.5 (fujinar) tessar, which is nice for portraits and anything else but brighter than the optar, and I've got a 210mm triplet (meyer trioplan, no shutter)), which is nice for portraits and subjectively nice for landscapes and it's not super crisp wide open. Then I've got the reinhold wollaston 190mm meniscus (no shutter) which wouldn't interest the sharp focus people. So there are lots of options besides the plasmats for lenses in this range.
     
  18. snederhiser

    snederhiser Member

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    Hello Connor;
    Which Sinar do you have? Many of these used a barrel lens and the shutter attached to the rear of the lens and board. I have seen many of these go for cheap on the _bay site. Not a mainstream item so the price reduction. Good luck, Steven.
     
  19. wy2l

    wy2l Member

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    Please reconsider purchasing damaged goods. It has been my experience that it is better to scrape together the extra dollars and buy the better quality.
     
  20. ConnorR

    ConnorR Member

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    I certainly understand the difference in opinions as far as optical quality goes. I am not concerned with the small details that set lenses apart, as well as their prices. It will be a long time before I start to have duplicates of lenses because one is better suited to portraits of males and the other females. All I need is a lens that is sharp (and that wasn't meant to be interpreted as clinically sharp, so my apologies there) and functional but also cheap. If someone finds the bokeh slightly less appealing than another lens, good! Sell it to me as a result.

    It's a Sinar F, Steven.

    I am definitely moving away from buying lenses with filter damage. I think you are right there.

    I created a WTB thread on LFF and will here too. I've already received a few offers.
     
  21. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    one note: I like the Sironars over the Symmars because the Sironars use a smaller filter ring: 67mm and that is the same as my 90mm f8 super angulon. Also they are smaller and lighter because of it. (note the convertible symmar has a much smaller barrel)

    Regarding the filter rings: They use pretty thick metal for the barrels and filter rings of these lenses. They are very hard to bend back to circular. That said, they seem easy to dent. However, I've shot with some pretty f**ked up lenses and had really good results. One of my best shots (and sharpest btw) was taken with a 90mm super angulon with a cracked rear element.

    So I guess I would recommend against a lens with a dented front filter ring. KEH did not mention which ring was dented. Maybe if you ask they will tell you. Good 210mm lenses are plentiful. For 4x5, any of the plasmats are your best bet. (Symmar, Sironar, Sinaron, caltar ii-s or ii-n, fujinon, nikkor)
     
  22. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    +1 for this lens. It is certainly affordable and nice and sharp, maybe too sharp if you want that soft wide-open look. It lacks filter threads, though. (most of my lenses are without... the problem with bargain finds)
     
  23. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Me too.
     
  24. Dan Quan

    Dan Quan Subscriber

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    KEH is a reputable source that stands behind their stuff, I would consider buying a lens from them even with filter ring damage. Just check it out and make sure it functions according to your needs. You could return it if necessary.
     
  25. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    Think long-term. Buy a good lens and keep it. 210mm plasmats (Symmar, Sironar, etc.) are plentiful and fairly cheap. Buy one with a good filter ring, you'll be happier in the long run. (Try re-selling a lens with a bent filter ring . . .) I bought my 210 Symmar-S in about 1980 and continue to use it almost every time I take my 4x5 out for some fresh air. It's a standard portrait lens as well.

    Peter Gomena
     
  26. Pupfish

    Pupfish Member

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    210mm was the coin of the realm for college-level still life and commercial studios, so there are a ton of them circulating, many in pristine shape. Mint or near-mint examples of the (Plasmat design) 210mm APO Sironar-N's/Caltar IINs are going for under $200 these days, which seems like a rather trifling amount considering these were once north of a grand new. Since you have a Sinar you ought to be able to fully exploit the tremendous 301mm image circle for 4x5. FWIW, I'd pay as much attention to the description of the shutter's condition as I would to the glass.