Nikkor M-series 200mm : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I need to buy a 210mm lens for my 4x5 Toyo Field AX. I will use it to shoot landscapes. Most important of all I want a SHARP lens. I have read a lot of nice things about the Schneider Symmar APO f/5.6 210mm. What worries me about this lens is its weight. That is why I am considering the Nikkor M 210mm but I have two concerns: 1- The image circle of the Nikkor M 200 is 210mm: will that allow sufficient tilt and swing for landscape shooting? 2- The lens is an f/8. Will this make focusing more difficult, eventually up to the point where I may end up with not perfectly focused pictures thus loosing all the advantages of having a sharp lens Thank you for your input.

-- Andrea Ghetti (, August 24, 1998


F8 isnt difficult to focus. Try stopping down the lens you have now, and see how the focusing is. You will probably find it to be ok. 210 mm circle is very usable on 4x5. Also, keep in mind that this is at infinity focus. In almost every shot, you will be focused closer than infinity, and your circle of coverage gets larger.

-- Ron Shaw (, August 24, 1998.

A 200-210mm lens is, in my mind, a prime lens. If you are going to buy 1 lens that is to be used for 1/2 or more of your images, and I think you will use this focal length a lot on 4x5, I would go with the faster, also more expensive and heavier, alternative.

My thinking is simple, you are going to use it the most, make it the most user friendy. Treat yourself to one very good, fast lens when you start out, one that has more than ample coverage available and a bright image to compose and focus with. It will be easier and more fun to use, save the f8's and f9's for the less used lenses, the wide angles and long lenses where you will have a real savings in weight, cost, and size. The 5.6 210mm, at least the Super Symmar, isn't that heavy or large and it is very sharp, I know, I have one. Just one persons opinion, :-).

-- Marv Thompson (, August 24, 1998.

A regular 210 mm Symmar S F 5.6 would be a good buy on the used market and less than the new "APO" designation. Believe me, you can't have the image too bright - it makes focusing much easier with dark subjects and will be appreciated even more as you get older! The Nilkkor 200 M does not have much image circle at infinity, i.e., not much movement capability; as you get closer, this is not a problem. If you graduate from field cameras to view cameras, you will want the larger image circles to take full advantage of the greater movement capability of that type of camera.

Another good choice is the Nikkor 210 W 5.6 or the Rodenstock 210 Sironar N . All have plenty of coverage at infinity and tons more as you focus closer. All are very sharp. There will be a lot of these floating around the used market as people come and go from large format.

-- Bob Boettcher (, August 24, 1998.

If this is your first lens or the only lens that you will be packing then the Sch. 210mm f5.6 would be fine. But if you intent to carry multiple lenses and/or have to hike significant distances then the Nik. 200mm f8 would be the choice. I have both lenses. The Nikon is a bit more contrasty and the Sch. Appears to be cleaner to the edges of coverage. I do not believe that you will find the smaller coverage of the Nikon a problem in normal landscape photography. The weight of multiple lenses add up fast and within a mile I begin to feel like a pack horse if I have to carry F5.6 lenses. Over the years I have come to prefer smaller (hence slower) lenses especially if of the longer focal length. Some of the reasons for this has little to do with weight. Simple things like, being able to close my Wista SP up with the lens still attached, or the fact it takes a particular filter size, have become important to me. The bright, easy to focus image of the Schneider 210mm f5.6 makes it a pleasure to use but I reserve the F5.6 lenses to low light or when working close to the car.

-- Pat Raymore (PATRICK.F.RAYMORE@KP.ORG), August 25, 1998.

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