Fujinon Lenses: How good are they?

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I am new to large format photography and plan to buy a lens or two used. I have observed that Rodenstock, Schneider and Nikon seem to be the most widely available lenses in this country. I have heard from a few sources, however, that Fujinon lenses are every bit as good as the big three, but simply have not enjoyed widespread distribution in the U.S.

I'd appreciate input on the quality of Fujinon large format lenses, as I have an opportunity to buy a used one in excellent shape at what appears to be a relatively low price. I am particularly interested in either the 125/5.6 or the 135/5.6.

Thanks in advance for your responses.

-- Irving Greines (Papyg@aol.com), December 21, 1998


While I haven't had the two you are considering, I have owned the 125 F8 and still own the 250 F6.3. Both are very sharp with excellent contrast. If you look throughout the Fuji line, you'll find some pretty good lenses in all formats.


-- Mike Long (mlafly@aol.com), December 21, 1998.

I have a slightly older (late seventies, early eigthies) version of the 150mm f/5.6 and am happy with it for both color and B&W work. it will cover 6x17 with some movement.

Badger Graphics (1.800.558.5350, ask for Jeff) and The F-Stops Here (1.805.898.8800 or http://www.fstop.com or thefstop@IX.netcom.com) have new Fujinon on a semi-regular basis.

-- Ellis (evphoto@insync.net), December 21, 1998.

Fujinon lenses are less common because there is no official distributorship within the USA.

Fuji makes large format lenses that is as good as any. Their lenses have visual and physical characteristics that are distinctly Fujinon. Only you can assess if these lenses are right for you. Many of the visual characteristics are subtle enough that a beginner may not notice. After using a great number of lenses from different manufacturers you will begin to detect these characteristics, some of which you will learn to hate, and some you will learn to love.

Fuji prides itself on its air spaced designs. Although this usually gives more degrees of freedom and higher degrees of optical correction, it also lead to more flare and decreased contrast.

Fuji makes many lenses that are relatively small and compact for the coverage and focal length. Check out the 240 AS, or the 450CS, or the as you are about to purchase, the 125mm F5.6 NWS. Let us take the 125 NWS as an example, since you are considering its purchase. It is a all air space design, a highly modified plasmat, and covers a angle of 76 degrees. Most similar designs have two cemented surfaces and covers only 70~72 degrees. The only other lenses that covers more, and is near its weight and size is the Schnieder 120mm f5.6 HM. The HM covers 80 degrees but cost twice as much and weights twice as much and is almost twice as large. I have both lenses and in routine use they give about the same over all picture quality (the HM is decidedly better at smaller apertures beyond f22-32. Why?) but they do give difference pictures. We are talking subtle differences here. In fact the differences are so small that the lens I use depends on how far I go from the car. I like the images from the HM best, it is hard sharp/high contrast at infinity. In favor of the NWS, the image quality remains remarkable stable even at relatively close-up distances and the pictures it delivers have remarkable even illumination.

As for other lenses in this range, too big and heavy, although the 110 XL is of reasonable weight if you can afford it.

Please always remember, that there can be significant lens to lens variations. There is always the bad apple.

In conclusion, I would not hesitate to get a Fujinon lens, but keep in mind, that to a soft drink lover there is a significant difference between coke and pepsie.


-- Pat Raymore (PATRICK.F.RAYMORE@KP.ORG), December 21, 1998.

I've been using a Fujinon 210mm f/5.6 for over ten years and it is NOT the limiting factor in my photography. I suspect for those who do photographs rather than MTF curves, there's no real difference except in extreme situations between any of the major lens makers. I also have Nikkors, 90mm f/8 and 150mm f/5.6. Except for perspective differences, I can find no superiority to any of them. If you'll use it and enjoy it and make images with it, go for it.

-- Eric Brody (ebrody@earthlink.net), December 21, 1998.

I would agree with a point that Pat made - the Fuji lenses are a bit more prone to flare. I've seen this in my 90 mm f5.6 and my 210 mm f5.6. If you do not do compositions that include the sun, you won't have a problem.

By the way, Fuji has some lenses you can't get from other manufacturers, such as a 600 mm telephoto for 4x5, and a 90 mm f5.6 that has a minimum aperature of f64.


-- Bruce M. Herman (bherman@arctic.net), December 24, 1998.

I'm addicted to Schneider because of their contrast and sharpness, do not like Rodenstock (too soft in sharpnes and contrast) and do not know Nikon LF-lenses. I once used a Fujinon 210 in studio-studies and was amazed by the results, which probably means that they are better than Rodenstock in my opinion and that differences with Schneider are hard to detect. If I could get a cheap one, I would go for it. Success

-- Lot Wouda (lotw@wxs.nl), December 25, 1998.

I use the Fuji 400 mm telephoto lens and it's excellent. I've read in magazines and on the net that Fuji in general is the equal of the other three makers. As someone else mentioned, Fuji pulled its US distributorship some years ago so the lenses, while available (from The F Stops Here and Midwest Photo Exchange and probably other places), aren't as accessable as the other brands. It took about a month to get mine (from The F Stops Here) and I think that's about normal.

-- Brian Ellis (beellis@gte.net), December 30, 1998.

Years ago I used to rent a Funinon 75mm to shoot interiors which I thought was a particularly sweet lens. When I finally got around to buying one,,they were no longer being distributed in the US; so I bought a 'matched set' of Nikor S and SW's. I've never regretted the purchase. I love the warmth of the Japanese glass (compared to German). My Nikor 75 is (I think) even a bit sharper at it's best apertures..16 and 22 than the Fujinon. I've found that having all my LF lenses to be of the same manufacture helps ensure a consistency in all of my images..regardless of which lens I use. This is particularly valuable when a "set" of images, such as a location set or interior..shot with different focal lengths needs to have as close to the same 'look' as possible to please a difficult client.

-- Charles Matter (cmatter@riag.com), January 04, 1999.

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