Advice on Lower Priced Wide Angle Lens : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'm in the process of building my lens selections for my Super Graphic. I've purused most of the articles on this board, but would still be thankful for a little friendly advise. I currently have an Ektar 203 and 127. The 127 does OK, but won't allow for much in the way of movements and I will probably replace it with my choice. Sometime ago, I'd thought to get a wide angle to give similar results to my Nikon 24mm on my smaller format and I do mostly landscape type photos. Having used the 127, I almost think I would prefer not so extreme of a wide angle, especially givent the fact that I will be working back in the box of the Super with anything much wider than a 90. I've almost settled for the Ektar WF 100. For a couple (or few) hundred more I suppose I could get into a Super Angulon or maybe even a Fujinon SW 120. Not having any experience with the more modern lenses, I don't know if it's quite worth the money. It would probably delay my purchase in to the winter. (I know these "what XYZ should I get" questions can get a little tedious, but thoughts would still be helpful. I'm still rather new to LF.) Thanks.

-- Roger Rouch (, August 14, 1999


Wide angles is where the differences between modern and older lenses are very apparent. The other pages on this site have useful info about various lenses (Kerry Thalman's suggestions based on new/performance/cost is probably what you're looking for). For what it's worth, here's my picks for the cheaper but adequate choices. The older chrome Super Angulon (an f/8 should be around 400-500 on the used market). Goerz 4 3/8" WA is also pretty nice (might be too close to your 127 though - I know there is a Goerz 3 5/8" or thereabouts but the 4 3/8" seems more highly regarded). I haven't used the WF Ektar but I've heard it praised quite a bit. DJ

-- N Dhananjay (, August 14, 1999.

I'm a fan of some of the Wollensak lenses for their low cost and high contrast. For 4x5 I have a 127mm Raptar in a Rapax shutter that is surprisingly sharp and allows a fairly high degree of movement... and the lens is tiny (about the size of a nickel). I just recently got my wife a Caltar II-N 135mm, which would render the Wollensak redundant, but I just can't bring myself to sell such a wonderful piece of glass. Oh, I guess I should mention that the Raptar is single-coated and stops down from f/4.5 (I think) to f/32. They generally go for around $150-200 retail.

-- Chad Jarvis (, August 15, 1999.

The f/8 Super Angulons are great lenses, much cheaper than the newer f/5.6 or XL versions, an excellent deal on the used market. They won't cover as much as the newer versions but your Graphic isn't going to give you much freedom of movement anyway. Many people dump them for no other reason than that they are no longer the "latest and greatest" on the market. The WF Ektars are fine too, but of an older vintage. Generally speaking, newer lenses have more contrast than the older ones, which may or may not be a liability to you. If you're shooting commercial color work, by all means get a newer vintage lens; however, if you're shooting "fine-art" black and white, the older lenses might actually give you more pleasing images. I have an old 10" WF Ektar for my 8x10 and I love it, polishing marks and all. Also, be aware that older lenses may not be mounted in shutters that go much over 1/50 second. My 10" WF Ektar is in a shutter with a top effective speed of 1/30! Make sure you check out the old Ektars throughly: don't just hold them up to the light and look through them, but bring a flashlight with you and shine it through the lens. A few small bubbles in the glass are to be expected, but polishing marks will definitely soften the image contrast.

-- Peter Hughes (, August 15, 1999.

I have a Super Angulon 90 f/8 that I am having the shutter overhauled currently. I needed it bad so I bought me another. WHen I get it back I would make you a good deal if you are interested or may trade on something. Let me know. Ken Dunn

-- Ken Dunn (, August 15, 1999.

When you compare with 35mm, multiply (basically, not an exact conversion) 3 times to get a 4x5 equivalent. 24mm in 35 is about a 72 or 75 in the larger format. Way wide for what you say you will be shooting with. Try a used Calumet 90 f/6.8 or f/8 or so. Good lenses & depending on which you get you will be shooting with a Rodenstock or Schneider lens. They work well and are reasonably priced. The Caltar II lenses are good and not too expensive. They work very well. Try & get one where you have a 10 day or so return privilige so you can shoot it & see if it meets your expectations. Too many go the wide angle route & discover they 'see' differently in 4x5 compared to 35mm and the two don't really compute too well. So, the new WA in 4x5 sits on the shelf, unused while you go back to a closer to normal or an easier to use focal lenth.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@, August 15, 1999.

Thanks for all the information all have given so far. There are several options I was not aware of that I'll have to consider. Dan, I'm finding you're right about having a new eye using 4X5 that tends towards a less of a wide angle lens. I haven't quite figured how to express this in words (or the perfect wide angle), but maybe has to do with getting as much texture as possible? What it seems like most suggest is to stay away from the older lenses for wide angle (yes, I do mostly color work, but am not yet "commercial"). The Ektar WF 100 has many sung praises in the reviews. It would be interesting to get the opinion of someone who has used or compared one, though I'm beginning to be swayed away from it.

-- roger rouch (, August 15, 1999.

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