90 & 210 used lenses for huge enlargements?

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I am interested in purchasing 90mm & 210mm lenses for my 4x5. I want to print solid 30x40's. Film choice and technique aside, which used lenses can I purchase without mortgaging my home? I also would like the ability to use flash for other purposes. I am baffled by the selection of older vs newer lenses.

-- Jon Paul (jonspaul@jps.net), November 02, 1999


Your choice of lense also depends on what type of photography you intend to do. There is a large difference in size and weight (and cost) between a 90mm f/8 and f/5.6, for example.

A large difference between older and newer lenses is the quality of the lense coating, which is important on a wide angle such as a 90mm. Newer designs have also increased the effective image circle, compared to older lenses.

I mainly use my 4x5 in the field (or rather, halfway up a mountain), and I purchased a Fujinon SW 90mm f/8 new in Tokyo. Enlargements to 11x17 from Astia and Velvia have been of excellent quality from this lense. I can't afford 30x40, unfortunately.

-- (finneganswake@altavista.net), November 02, 1999.

There are many 90mm lenses on the used market, especially Angulons and Super Angulons, and they are reasonably priced. Get a copy of Shutterbug and go thru the adds. Same for 210mm lenses. A nice Kodak Ektar in this range would be good, as well as an assortment of newer lenses. One good thing about large format lenses, is that its hard to get a poor performer (old shutters asside). Check out this site for information on old and new lenses: http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/testing.html

-- Ron Shaw (shaw9@llnl.gov), November 02, 1999.

My 90mm f/4.5 Rodenstock Grandagon (actually badged as a Caltar II) and my 210mm f/5.6 Nikkor-W have produced images which blow up extremely well to that size. Hanging over my bed is a 7 foot long Type R print from a Velvia original. The subject is the Guadalupe River at Gruene's Crosing, Texas. It was shot with the 90mm (stopped down to f/22) on a 6x17 V-Pan And it is immaculately sharp and has a real presence.

I am not a Schneider fan but everything I've read and everyone I have talked to says the 110mm f/5.6 XL Super Symmar is the sharpest LF lens they have ever used. Supposedly excellent for closeup and landscape work and it has a huge image circle. But at nearly two grand, it isn't cheap.

-- Ellis Vener (evphoto@insync.net), November 02, 1999.

Jon, I would like to describe some of my experience as one who has been at LF for less than a year. These are my impressions based on the limited experiences I've had. Perhapssome of the experts here will correct me and we'll both learn.

I believe an inexpensive press camera lens in the $100 or so range will give you what you're looking for. There are many to choose from and some basic research (I've found the link above a good one) on your part will be neccessary. I've had nice 16X20 enlargements from this style of lens that I think would enlarge to your required size OK. These are generally single coated four element lenses that cast an image on your film to just cover the 4X5 size when you focus at infinity.

The first problem you'll notice with these lenses is that they won't allow you to use movements to help you keep everything in focus in certain situations. So there will be times with the less expense lenses that you won't be able to get that nice large photo. Again, you will have too learn more about this with reading and experience. There is a price jump to get more coverage, but you can still get a good lens with ample coverage in the $200-$400 range. Then again, you have to decide if the kind of photos you want really require the wider coverage. WF Ektars and older Super Angulons are examples I'm familiar with.

Then, if you are even more critical, or want more versatility, you will want to look at multi-coated several element lenses. The older Super Angulons, but you're looking at another price jump and will probably be looking at $500+ prices. The advantage you will get with this extra expense will be less flare and better color correction and color contrast. Flare will be most noticable when you're shooting toward the sun and will wash out colors or even cause sun "spots" on the photo. You can get around this somewhat with a lens hood (many are quite expensive) or by shading the lens with a hat or something. Even in other brightly lit situations, flare will reduce your color contrast. Though I'm just starting to use one of these more expensive lenses they are said to give better color correction or redition as well. Comparing my older LF lenses to my 35mm Nikon primes I can see the advanges of these lenses with color redition. Though the 4 element tessar styles really aren't that bad in many situations.

So I guess in the end, you get what you pay for. An enexpensive older lens my be totally adequite in many instances. As you add to the price, you receive increased versitility to cover a variety of lighting and focus situations. You will have to balance you pocket book and your needs accordingly.

Hope this isn't too remedial and will help.

-- Roger Rouch (rrouch@msn.com), November 02, 1999.

I got a used 210 and 90 Nikor from the shutterbug. Great equipment for resonable prices.

-- tim kimbler (timothy kimbler@vidsvc.vdt.cgan@fltpa), November 03, 1999.

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