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  1. #1

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    360/620 F/5.6 Schneider Symmar Convertible

    I just retrieved from a friend in Spain my 360mm f/5.6 Symmar Convertible. I am very happy to have it back and look forwarding to using it in low lighting conditions where most of my other ULF lenses can be difficult to work with. The brightness thrown by a large f/5.6 lens is really something to behold.

    ULF users up to 12X20 should really consider this lens for speciality use where the large apreture is desirable. My version of this lens is in a large Compound and covers 12X20 with slightly more than inch of movemement (stopped down to f/45), about the same as a 355 G-Claron I previously owned. But because of the very wide aperture I rank the convertible symmar over the G-Claron for use on 12X20, unless of course compact design is the primary issue.

    The 360 convertible symmar was sold in other shutters, and some were sold as f/6.8 lenses, so I can not say for sure that all will cover same as my specimen. Mine, as I indicated, is in a #5 Compound, and marked TECHNIKA to indicate that it passed Linhoff quality control. Although fairly old (Serial # 6036498) the glass and coating are perfect, and the shutter right on target.

    I have seen this lens go for as little as $400, and for 12X20 it is a great bargain IMHO. Plus, you get the second focal length of 620mm, with marked apertures for both focal lengths.

    Sandy King

  2. #2
    Ole
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    Thanks Sandy,

    that helped me make up my mind: http://cgi.ebay.de/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?...5008&rd=1&rd=1

    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ole View Post
    Thanks Sandy,

    that helped me make up my mind: http://cgi.ebay.de/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?...5008&rd=1&rd=1

    Ole,

    That one appears to be in good shape and is newer than the one I have. This lens is one impressively large piece of glass.

    I believe there was a 480mm Symmar convertible. Wonder if it is also f/5.6? If so, it must be really huge!!

    Sandy

  4. #4
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    You mean you needed to be convinced to buy a lens, Ole? That must have been some hard persuasion. (I'm sure I'll have one myself, in good time).
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by sanking View Post
    I believe there was a 480mm Symmar convertible. Wonder if it is also f/5.6? If so, it must be really huge!!
    Nope. The 360mm was the longest of the convertible Symmars. The first 480mm in the Symmar line was the Symmar-S. It had a max. aperture of f8.4 in a Copal No.3 or f9.4 in a Compur No. 3. Given the combination of size, weight, coverage and max. aperture, I think I'll stick with the 450mm f9 Nikkor M.

    Kerry

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by sanking View Post
    IThe 360 convertible symmar was sold in other shutters, and some were sold as f/6.8 lenses, so I can not say for sure that all will cover same as my specimen.
    I have one of the "newer" samples in a Copal No. 3 shutter with the f6.8 max. aperture. It's actually engraved as a 355mm primary focal length (but retains the 620mm secondary focal length of the earlier samples). Here's a photo of it:



    I haven't used it on anything bigger than 7x17, so I can't say for sure if it covers as much as the f5.6 version. Intuitively, unless they changed something else mechanically, the smaller throat of the Copal No. 3 shutter should only affect the max. aperture, not the coverage. But, until I have a bigger camera and can check for sure, let's just say it covers 7x17 with plenty of room to spare.

    I've also seen one or two of these in Ilex shutters. I think it was a No. 5 Universal and retained the f5.6 max. aperture of the version in the Compound shutter that Sandy and Ole have.

    Quote Originally Posted by sanking View Post
    I have seen this lens go for as little as $400, and for 12X20 it is a great bargain IMHO. Plus, you get the second focal length of 620mm, with marked apertures for both focal lengths.
    I don't think I've ever seen on go for much more than $400. I paid $400 for mine in the Copal shutter. That's not much more than the going rate for a functional Copal No. 3 shutter. I've seen older ones in Compound shutters go for less than $300. And I agree with Sandy, if you don't mind the size/weight, this is one of the true bargains in a shutter mounted ULF lens.

    Speaking the weight, this lens is a beast. Mine, in the Copal No. 3 shutter is about 300 - 500g heavier than any of the newer 360mm plasmats I've seen. In fact, other than the insanely heavy (~14 lbs.) 480mm f4.5 Universal Heliar, it's the heaviest lens I own. I'd have to double check the exact weight, but I think it's somewhere in the 3½ lb. range. Still, it's all relative. What's an extra pound or so when you're talking ULF?

    Kerry

  7. #7

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    Kerry,

    So what you have there is a Symmar Convertible, not the Symmar S, but without the 620 aperture scale? Wonder if this was a later mounting from a barrel lens? Otherwise I don't understand why the second aperture scale would not have been included?

    BTW, I was interested in your comments about weight so I just compared the Convertible Symmar in Compound (1650.7 grams) to a modern Rodenstock 355 f/6.8 Sironar-N (1555.6 grams) in Copal 3. I think the story here is aperture size. If you want a 360 mm lens with a wide aperture it is going to to be heavy. But I am not back-packing 12X20 anyway, and the best views for this format are always within less than 50 feet from the car!!

    Sandy

  8. #8
    Ole
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    Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb View Post
    You mean you needed to be convinced to buy a lens, Ole? That must have been some hard persuasion. (I'm sure I'll have one myself, in good time).
    In this case I did. When I found the lens on ebay I could look at the table beside me where I had the Gandolfi Traditional 8x10" (££££) fitted out with a Symmar Convertible 300mm f:5.6 (€€)- and another lens board beside it with a G-Claron 355mm f:9 ($$), also in Compound shutter (£). That adds up to £££££€€$$, which is a lot of money in any currency. Considering that my car is on its last legs and that I'm about to resign from my job to go "consultant", spending even more €€€ on a lens I don't strictly need is not an immediately intelligent decision.

    BTW it's nowhere near the heaviest lens I own. That spot goes to the 500mm f:5.5 Schneider-Göttingen Aerotar, a lens that is so unusual that neither Schneider nor ISCO know anything at all about it.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  9. #9

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    Sandy,

    Maybe I wasn't clear in what I wrote. My lens, pictured above, is definitely a convertible Symmar. It has the dual aperture scales for 355mm and 620mm. The difference is the scales start at f6.8 and f16, rather than f5.6 and f12, due to the smaller throat of the Copal No. 3 shutter. The shutter is definitely original and I have Schneider catalogs and price lists from the early 1970s that list this lens in a Copal No. 3 shutter.

    BTW, I just noticed there is one in an Ilex No. 5 shutter currently listed on eBay. It has the f5.6 max. aperture. Based on the serial number (slightly less than mine), it appears to be a transitional model between the Compound and Copal shuttered versions.

    Concerning the weight. I recall mine is somewhere in the 1750g range (plus or minus - I'll check when I get a chance). I believe the two lenses are optically identical. So, the difference in weight would be due to the shutter. BTW, the eBay seller of the one in the Ilex No. 5 shutter lists the weight as 4.5 lbs. I guess that explains why they switched to the Copal No. 3 shutter. I have a list of weights for some other lenses in this focal length range, including a few modern plasmats (APO Symmar, Fujinon-W, Nikkor-W). These are actual weights, not specs. I'll look them up when I get a chance, but I seem to recall they were all in the 1400 - 1500 g range. But, as you say, in these formats you're likely not shooting far from the vehicle (although I will go more than 50 ft. when necessary), so and extra 300g on a lens doesn't matter much. For me, it's the weight of the holders that limits how many I'm willing to carry, which limits how far I get before turning around and heading back to my truck.

    Kerry

  10. #10

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    Kerry,

    Thanks for the clarification about the scales. I definitely misunderstood your earlier comments. I would certainly agree with you that the glass is almost certainly identical regardless of what shutter the lens is in, and its maximum aperture. I doubt very much that Scheider would have gone to the trouble to make another lens just for the small difference in actual aperture?

    BTW, the weights I gave for the Symmar Convertible and Sironar-N are also real time weights, just measured, with the lens caps removed.

    As for actual coverage, don't you think that the difference in diameter of the shutter opening itself might affect slightly the coverage angle? My understanding is that the Compound #5 has the widest opening, followed by the Ilex 5 just less, and the Copal 3 least of all the big shutters. BTW, I believe this lens was also available in a large Compur shutter.

    Sandy
    Last edited by sanking; 05-11-2007 at 03:58 PM. Click to view previous post history.

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