Ok, I've been wanting for a while to get into LF, and seems like the consensus is that the Super Graphic route is a good one to get your feet wet. So I'm ready to take the plunge.
However, I am absolutely clueless about LF lenses and stuff on the net is all over the map. So I was hoping some of the gurus here could help me out.
The type of shooting I want to do:
- wide angle work (20-50mm 35mm equiv)
- landscape foreground/background shots (tilt for focus)
- architecture w/perspective correction
- still life
- standard black and white & infrared
I'd like to start out with just one lens (something in the 80mm - 150mm range, and I'd prefer wider to normal [like a 35mm 35mm equiv]). I'd like to keep the lens from $200-$300. Looking to buy used.
If I were you, I would opt for either the 90 mm F8 Super Angulon (Schneider) or the 120 mm Apo Symar (Schneider) the last lens is going to be a little more difficult to find but both are excellent lenses in my experience. The 90 would get you about the equivalent of a 30 mm focal length in 35 and the 120 would put you in at about 40 mm equivalent on 35. Both lenses should be somewhere near your budget used. The 90 has more coverage then the 120 but both will cover 4X5 with movements. There are probably a number of lenses by other manufacturers in those focal lengths. I just happen to shoot Schneider glass exclusively except for a couple of 8X10 lenses. Good luck and have fun.
135mm is a good place to start if you want to be just a bit on the wide side. Many press cameras come with a lens, so see what you find first. The old Graflex 135mm Optar is a perfectly servicable classic lens. If you buy a camera without a lens, then you might look for an older Schneider Symmar or Symmar convertible, or if you want a lot of room for movements, look for a 135mm Wide-Field Ektar. All should be in your price range.
For a wider lens, the Schneider 90/6.8 Angulon is a good deal and probably has as much image circle as you can exploit on a 4x5" press camera.
A very cheap lens which is excellent is the 150 super symmar. Great little lens and sharp as a tack. For some reason people just skip this lens and IMO is a sleeper as far as price and performance.
in the price range stated (200-300) there is not much. Maybe a Schneider Angulon in the 90mm range. Unless he comes across the deal of a lifetime. That said, I have a Angulon that is sharp as a tack.
Make sure the graphic really is what you want. But assuming it is you'll likely get one with a lens that fits right in that 127-135mm range. The coverage won't be great but then the camera won't twist into a preztel either. Also if you really want to use those short lens make sure the camera you get can use them. I'll bet the speed models won't. Even if the camera does will you get any movements?
I started off with a 135mm Raptar (same as the Optar I believe). It does not have the following that other lenses have, but in good condition can do a decent job. Another one might be a 127mm Rodenstock Ysaron. They are both just a touch wide, which sounds like what you want. Don't overlook normal length lenses either. You can get a deal sometimes on a 152mm Ektar. In the price range you stated, you will pprobably have to look at used lenses, but some of them were very good. Just be careful about the condition of the lens and shutter. Some are in very good shape and others are just junk. Lenses in these lengthes are fairly common, so take your time and if you don't get ther first one, there will always be another (don't get sucked into a bidding war).
I got a lot of good miles out of a 127mm Ysaron, and was impressed by its coverage. I replaced it with a 135mm Symmar, which was smaller due to the non-selfcocking shutter, and which seems to have better off-axis behaviour than the Ysaron did. On the other hand, I haven't used it for close-ups, so I can't comment on how it performs at near 1:1 versus the Ysaron. The price should be pretty moderate used, as I paid around $200 for mine.
The Super is a great way to get into LF. Front movements are ample with 15deg+/- tilt, 15deg additional with drop bed, 1/2 inch of left and right shift, and more swing than you can use.
As for a lens in that price range you will have to go used. In the normal range you can get a 162mm Raptar for under $150, and it will provide enough coverage to use most of the movements on the Super. You may find a 135mm WF Ektar for that price but as others mentioned watch the quality. If you want to go wide a 90mm Angulon, or 90mm Raptar (90mm in 4x5 = about 28mm in 35mm) will cover at f22-32, but will only do minimal tilts, and almost no rise to speak of. My 90mm Raptar darkens corners with just 1/4 inch of rise, and after about 6 or 7deg of tilt the corners start to go.
For the prints that I have had made, (largest 20x24) the 162mm Raptar, and the 90mm Raptar do fine. YMMV