Symmar-S as convertable?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Ironage, Dec 20, 2009.

  1. Ironage

    Ironage Member

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    I have been wanting a 180mm Symmar because it works as a convertible lens. Today I thought about using my existing Symmar-S as a convertible by removing the front element. Will it work? I use the camera for contact prints only, so extreme sharpness is not necessary.
     
  2. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Sure. You'll have to estimate the aperture settings, but you can figure out something close enough.

    It'll work pretty well for you if you were making enlargements, too.
     
  3. paul ewins

    paul ewins Member

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    The Symmar-S was reworked to maximize sharpness with both cells in place, so performance with just the rear cell is likely to be worse than in the comparable convertible Symmar. However as you have nothing to lose (except a few sheets of film) go ahead and try as it may well be good enough for your purposes. As a starting point, I would simply double the f-stop when calculating exposure as that is fairly close to the difference with the convertible Symmar. It is worth noting that even though the focal length increases, generally the image circle does not. From memory the convertible Symmars were rated at 70 degrees normally and just 40 degrees when using the rear cell.
     
  4. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I tried this once with my 210 S, my experience was as Paul predicts; sharpness is not so good. Though, if you're only contact printing and shoot well stopped down, it might be ok for your purposes.
     
  5. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    With my 210 symmar, I quickly learned not to use it converted but suspect that in a contact print it could be adequate. But if the S version isn't as good, it's a guess.
     
  6. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Let us look what the industry replied (in 1993) on a letter of mine where I asked why they stopped advocating the convertibility of those lenses and asked about that possibility on their current ones (or so). I translated the letters for you:



    Rodenstock:

    … Rodenstock once also stated this chance of doubling the focal length. However it works only with symmetrical lenses and even then is coupled to a significant reduction in quality. This is the reason why today we do not longer consider this possibility, as the quality demands claimed to large format photography are no longer fulfilled. Thus we advise our customers to use the lenses only `complete´, in order to yield an optimum image quality and thus making the photograph fulfill the demands toward large format photograph. …




    Schneider:

    … With the transition of the Symmar-range to the Symmar-S we abondoned the optics feature of being convertible, because the construction of improved high-performance lenses did not permit this anymore.
    The optical performance of one of the modules of the Symmar was significantly worse, especially because of the occuring color fringes and diffraction phenomenon of the slower module which had a useful aperture of 22-33.
    With the revision of of the Symmar-range towards the Symmar-S an improvement of the central part was realized; with the Apo-Symmar [an improvement of] the outer part in addition to the central part.
    With the Super-Symmars HM the outer part was adjusted in a way that an angle of view of 80° was achieved. …
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Actually the early Sironar's were designed to split and the were definitely not remote symmetrical, far from it, I have one with the double scale but it's on loan to an Itlaian APUGer or I'd post some images. . But these early Sironar lenses suffered problems with seperation and were re-designed the new ones didn't split.

    The early Symmra's were very poor quality when split and I never met anyone who used them separated. The Angulons were marketed as Triple Convertibles too :D

    Ian
     
  8. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    I have a nice coated Symmar, (still a dagor formula but a triple convertible), and is fine for 4x5. OK, not to count pin needles from a quarter mile, but a very nice lens for portraits and handsome landscapes.

    I've used the plasmat Symmar in length from 135 to 360 and like them well.

    The 135 Symmar S that lives in the Crown Graphic is fine as a convertible.

    So, it isn't so much the lens, perhaps, as your taste. Or my taste. Try the lens and see what you get.

    If we shoot at f/22, diffraction eats up most of the differences anyhow.
     
  9. epatsellis

    epatsellis Member

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    Ian, I had forgotten that the original Angulons were marketed as convertible, I wonder if I have enough bellows to try my 210 Angulon converted?

    erie
     
  10. paul ewins

    paul ewins Member

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    I've got two of the original f6.8 "Doppel Anastigmat" Symmars in shutter and they only have the combined focal length and aperture marked. The Schneider catalogs of the time (pre WWII) do mention that they can be used converted but provide no other information so I guess Schneider weren't too keen on the practice. As far as I can tell the triple convertible version (still f6.8) arrived post-war and has been replaced by the new Plasmat (f5.6) Symmars between 1952 and 1956. What I don't know is whether the cells in the triple convertible Symmars were reworked to provide better focal lengths. I only have two of the triples, a 135/210/260 and a 180/285/355 and haven't been able to find any brochures so how extensive the range was is anybody's guess.
     
  11. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    (were) the cells in the triple convertible Symmars were reworked to provide better focal lengths

    Are you asking whether the plasmat Symmar cells better than dagor Symmar cells ?

    Sure. Rudolph's Plasmat arrived about 30 years after the Dagor, and he was able to improve the performance by using an airspace.

    The drawbacks of that airspace were flare and ghosting in some situations. Post war coating fixed that. There was another virtue of the Plasmat design, that they were easier to manufacture.

    Here is a listing of the Symmar range c. 1962 (from cameraeccentric.com)
    [​IMG]
     
  12. paul ewins

    paul ewins Member

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    No, what I meant was that I don't know whether the triple convertible Symmars were just the old Doppel Anastigmat Symmars with two extra aperture scales engraved on the shutter plate or whether the focal lengths of the individual cells had been changed to provide more useful focal lengths. The only information I have prior to the introduction of the Plasmat Symmars is the 1934 & 1939 catalogs on Seth's site and neither of them gives any clue as to the focal lengths of the individual cells. Likewise the cells themselves on the DA Symmars I own are not marked with the individual focal lengths, while the cells on the triple convertible Symmars are marked with the focal length. None of the (combined) lenses are the same focal length so I can't compare one against the other.
     
  13. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    In no particular order, Paul, here is some data.

    First, the link to Schneider serial numbers------ http://www.schneideroptics.com/info/age_of_lenses/

    I have a 1952 f/6.8 Symmar. If it is an f/6.8, it is a Dagor type. It is in a Synchro Compur P shutter, and has a triple aperture scale. It is coated. It is an F:135 / F:260 / F:210. Each cell is inscriber with its F and f.

    The pre-war 6.8s seem to be symmetrical Dagors. A single cell from a Dagor is 1.75x the F of the complete lens, with an aperture of f/13. That should make it easy to compare.

    Remember the Dagors and Protars used symmetry to fully correct the lens, and the usefulness as a single cell was a bonus, each cell being (effectively) a Rapid Rectilinear.







    If it is an f/5.6, it is a Plasmat type.
     
  14. Ironage

    Ironage Member

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    Merry Christmas folks! Well, I am inspired and have the day off. I am going to take the front element off my Symmar-S and give it a try to see what I get.
     
  15. Ironage

    Ironage Member

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    Results: Using FP-4 film I removed the front element and focused on a mesh fence about 15 feet in front of the camera. The exposure called for f22 with the full lens, so I doubled the exposure time and kept it at f22. The results were not bad, but were not as crisp and contrasty as the full lens. The rear element on the 180mm lens focused well at about 11", and I didn't really care for the focal length with my 5x7 camera, so I am not sure I will be using this combo. The resulting exposure looked good so it appears to need 2X the exposure.
     
  16. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    So, can we say then, that your experience is, "It will do in a pinch, but don't expect miracles."

    I found this because I've got a 150 Symmar-S and just picked up an old homebrew 8x10 that I'd like to have a bit longer lens for, but don't want to drop an arm and a leg into this until I decide I like it. Frankly I'm not even sure it will cover 8x10 yet, since I haven't had much time to play with it.



    MB
     
  17. Ironage

    Ironage Member

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    Yup, that about sums it up. But I only made one text exposure, and I think I would try another before passing judgement. I guess that the 11 inch focal length didn't thrill me either. I was hoping for something a bit longer. The old Symmars are longer focal length when used as a convertible.
     
  18. epatsellis

    epatsellis Member

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    by any chance did you use an 11 filter? My experience is that the yellow filter removes a lot of the softness when converted.
     
  19. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Sure, it will work on a symmetrical lens. Test to see what it does to the pix and if this is something you can use to good effect. Personally, I think the look of half a symmetrical lens is quite beautiful (though definitely not of a technically high quality).