Second-best Wide Angle (35-45mm) MF Lens

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by andrew.roos, Dec 11, 2011.

  1. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Member

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    Hi, I'm new here. After some experience with 35mm analog photography many years ago, and a more recent dalliance with DSLRs, I've decided to return to analog, but with medium format. I'm predominanty a landscape / cityscape photographer, and prefer wide angles - almost all my "serious" photography, excluding portraiture, is done use focal lengths in the 15-35mm range (135 equivalent). It makes sense to me to choose a system based largely on the quality of the wide-angle lens/es.

    The most common use of these lenses, for me, will be tripod mounted, with mirror lock-up and remote or timed release, at apertures f/11 to f/22, and with focus anything from a few yards away to the hyperfocal distance. In terms of lens characteristics, I'm looking for edge-to edge sharpness and good contrast with not too much vignetting under these conditions (but wide open performance, although nice, is less critical). Colour correction is not important as I will be shooting B&W only, typically with some colour filtration. I've acquired an Opimus 5a enlarger, which goes to a max size of 6 x 6, so I'm looking for the second-best 30-45mm wide angle lens for the 645 or 6x6 formats.

    (Tilt would be excellent but the only one I'm aware of is the Schneider 55mm PCS lens for the Bronica E series which I don't think I could afford. I know of Mamiya's 50mm shift lens, but not sure that shift without tilt is of great interest to me as I don't do much architectural photography.)

    Why second-best? Well I've done a fair amount of research into the Hasselblad V / Mamiya 645 / Bronica E and PS systems and think it likely that the Zeiss/Hasselblad 40/4 CF T* FLE may be the best available, but I have limited funds and there's no way I can afford it (the pre-FLE Hassy 40/4 may be an option though). My budget is US$ 500-1000 for a camera, viewfinder, back etc and wide angle lens all in good (but not mint) condition. Other lenses can come later. Good condition is important because it will be very difficult to get an MF camera properly serviced in South Africa, and sending it back to the US/Europe for repair or replacement would be prohibitively expensive.

    Thanks for your help!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 11, 2011
  2. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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  3. Hikari

    Hikari Member

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    Why not get a medium-format view camera like one of the flatbed technical cameras Horseman made? Arca Swiss also made a monorail camera. If you go to a 4x5 view camera, you can use roll-film backs up to 6x12 and 6x17 with a special ground glass (and even 4x5). Then you will have all the movements you can use
     
  4. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Widest practical lens there is the 65mm. This is no substitute for the 40mm Distagon.
     
  5. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I love my 50mm for my RB67!

    Jeff
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Best sleeper wides out there for an SLR are the 40mm/4.0 and 50mm/2.8 Nikkors for the classic Bronica system (S/S2/S2a/C, EC/EC-TL). These cameras were designed around wide lenses with a falling mirror on the earlier cameras and a split mirror on the later cameras (but not on the more modern SQ or ETRS systems), so the lens could protrude into the mirror box, requiring less retrofocus correction than SLRs with a traditional mirror that flips up.
     
  7. Paul Green

    Paul Green Member

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    Bronica sq-a with 50mm? In the UK they can be had for under £300.
     
  8. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Well, judging by the reviews I've seen, I suspect that the very best MF wide is the mamiya 28mm f/4.5 :wink: But alas it's way outside most of our budgets.

    For really wide on a budget, you might take a look at the arsat 30mm f/4.5, if you can find one.

    My personal favourite wide SLR lens is the 65mm for the RB, which I typically use on a 6x8 back. I suspect that you could get that and an RB body within your budget. There is a decent 50mm as well, but in my opinion, the RB version isn't as good as the much more expensive RZ uld one. Opinions (and samples) vary.
     
  9. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Member

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    Thanks for all the excellent suggestions so far.

    @ic-racer - Good idea, I hadn't considered the Russian lenses. I'll take a closer look at them.
    @Hikari - Good suggestion, but not sure I'm quite ready for a view camera. I'm still getting used to the thought of roll film, let along sheet... Yes I know one can use a roll film back, but if I'm going to cart a 4x5 around, I may as well benefit from 4x5 negs!
    @Jeff - I have looked longingly at the RB/RZ. Still do. Just not sure the additional weight will be justified in a field camera if I only shoot 6x6.
    @David - Thanks, I didn't know that. Sounds great, will look into it.
    @Paul - Yes, that's how my current thinking is going, although perhaps with the 40 PS lens.
    @Keith - Thanks, I had a look at the review of the Arsat but the pronounced barrel distortion / fisheye rules it out for me. I'll be printing directly from film so won't be able to apply the computerised corrections they use in the review. RZ very appealing.

    Thanks for all the contributions and please keep the suggestions coming.

    Andrew
     
  10. TimmyMac

    TimmyMac Subscriber

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    Your up-to-$1000 budget is enough for an RZ with the 50mm ULD, an incredible lens, AND a used 6x7 enlarger. That's probably your best bet.

    I hear the Pentax 67 45mm lens is great too.
     
  11. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Member

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    Thanks - was just researching the 50 ULD as your post popped up! Great to have a first hand opinion of it. Actually I have a Beseler 67 sitting in the garage - it's not in great shape but might be a good restoration project....
     
  12. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I am very happy with the 45mm f/2.8 N lens for my Mamiya 645.
     
  13. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Another heads-up for the Pentax 67 and SMC 67 55mm f4 (28mm in 35mm terms). This combo isn't as bulky as the Mamiya, nor as unnecessarily pricey as a Hassy. The lens is far removed in optical performance from earlier Pentax primes (e.g. 45mm) with edge to edge sharpness wide open or f22. It can be obtained for around $400.
     
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  15. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Member

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    Thanks Matt and Gary.

    @Matt - This was one of the first options I considered. However some users have reported less than stellar edge performance on the Mamiya 45mm lens. Have you had problems with that?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2011
  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Andrew:

    I started originally with one of the older, 645 "C" 45mm lenses (the ones that take a 77mm filter). I was happy with it, but didn't like the size.

    I replaced that lens with a newer, 645 "N" 45mm lenses (the ones that take a 67mm filter). I have been very happy with it.

    I should warn you though that I rarely shoot flat-field subjects with wide angle lenses, so I rarely pay extremely close attention to the corners, unless there are obvious clear problems.
     
  17. Hikari

    Hikari Member

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    If you don't mind zone focusing, you may want to look at Fotoman. They have some interesting models including a 6x6 that can take 23mm to 65mm lenses--I would check image circle stats:

    www.fotoman.cc
     
  18. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I understand.

    Jeff
     
  19. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Member

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    Thanks Matt, I appreciate your help.

    (For me it's not so much about flat field subjects, but rather compositions were the centre of interest may be quite off-centre in the frame, but still needs to be sharp.)
     
  20. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Member

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    Thanks Hikari, I'll have a look although I think I would prefer an SLR.
     
  21. MartinB

    MartinB Member

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    Pentax SMC-A 645 45mm f2.8

    Given your budget and desire for a 6x45 or 6x6 negative, the Pentax 45mm for the P645 might fit the bill. I tried my 45mm on a P645 D to see how it compared against my other lenses for my P645 and was blown away when I pixel peeped it. This matched what I was seeing in my negatives. I have not done proper testing but the manual focus 45mm lens is very good. Current prices are reasonable, approximately $250 for the lens and about $400-500 for a body. I am very happy with the ruggedness and handling of my P645N.

    Probably outside your price range unless you get a good deal, and not as rugged as the P645 is a Mamiya 6 with a 50mm lens. That lens is outstandingly sharp.
     
  22. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Member

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    Thanks Martin. Yes I've been looking at the P645/P645N with the 45mm and it's on my shortlist of three. Thanks for the first-hand report. My only concern about the Pentax is the lack of mirror lockup (unless I get the NII). I believe that the mirror is well damped but as a landscape shooter am struggling to reconcile myself with not having MLU (yes, I've read and re-read the 645-MLU report on luminous-landscape.com!).

    I would love a Mamiya 6 but yes, unfortunately, it's too expensive.
     
  23. LarryP

    LarryP Member

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    andrew I was just looking a keh IF you could afford roughly $1300 you could pick up older pentax 645 with a 35 lens which is roughly equal to 24mm if I remember right. And the 35 is supposed to be pretty good. by the way I have the older no mlu p645 and never had a problem with mirror slap
     
  24. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Member

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    Thanks Larry. I've also been browsing KEH (a lot!). $ 1300 is too much for me (well... my wife) at the moment but the P645 with 45mm lens is much more affordable and I can add the 35 later. One of the benefits of te P645 is from what I read, the 35mm is better than the M645 35mm lens.
     
  25. MartinB

    MartinB Member

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    I shoot mainly landscapes with my P645N and don't miss having mirror lockup at all. Many low light shots taken 1/30s and slower and never an issue from vibration. I will look later if I can find examples from my negs. The Luminous Landscape article is consistent with what I have found using my camera.
     
  26. Ralph Javins

    Ralph Javins Member

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    Good morning, IC-Racer;

    When I last looked at the KievUSA website, it had not been updated since about 2008. My telephone calls to them usually end with a recording on their machine that is not answered. My e-mail messages to them also have produced no response. I did get one person on his cellular telephone in February of 2009 (I think) while the remaining staff were on a "working vacation" at a photography show in Florida. Something was mentioned about checking for me when they returned back to Connecticut, but there was no further contact. Things just have not been the same since the death of Saul Kaminski back in 2007. They were our best source for things for the Kiev Arsenal (Zavod Kyiv) medium format cameras here in the United States.

    I do agree that the Mir-26B 3.5/45mm lens is a pretty good lens. Trying to locate the better Mir-69B 3.5/45mm from 1989 will be a challenge; they did not make very many of them. Then the Kiev ARSAT 3.5/55mm PCS lens is even better yet if the quality of reproduction is important, and you can accept the slightly narrower angle of view. We can still get Kiev Arsenal lenses used, but the best sources for them now are in Europe.