Looking for imput in this lens (Schneider 150/265 Convertible Symmar copal-1)

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I have just built my own large format camera and am looking to oufit it with lenses or lens as I can only afford one at the moment, unless I choose not to buy film as well, which would defeat the idea of owning two lenses. I will be doing some studio as well as architecture and landscape work. I was contemplating a 90 or 150-180 lens as my first two. I have been offered this lens for less than $400 and seems to be a good value. Any suggestions on this lens or other recomendations in the under $500 range.

-- Jordan Epstein (Jephotog@aol.com), January 27, 2000


Check out that Symmar very carefully before you part with your cash. I might be wrong, but I think Schneider stopped making convertibles in the early 1970s, and nearly all their lenses were supplied in Compur shutters. Sounds as if it might have been transplanted onto a replacement shutter, and if it hasn't been shimmed up properly, you might be getting a soft-focus lens instead. If it's not a multi-coated version, smell a rat, since it was practically unheard of for Symmars of that era to be sold in Copal shutters.

400 bucks seems a bit steep anyway.... haggle.

I hope I'm wrong on this one, because a good convertible Symmar would make a very nice basis for an outfit.

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), January 27, 2000.

Dunno. I've seen a fair number of 210mm convertibles in Copal 1's. In any case, check the lens carefully. I think there were two generations of convertibles - one was single coated while the other was multicoated. In any case, the converted performance is somewhat compromised. Using a strong monochromatic filter helps improve it. Is it possible to play with the lenses for a day or two before deciding? DJ

-- N Dhananjay (ndhanu@umich.edu), January 27, 2000.

Jordan: I agree the the price for the convertable is a bit high. I have a Schnieder 180 convertable that I paid $190 for at a photo swap meet. It is a good lens at the 180 length and will do in a pinch at the 305 lenght. The problem is that it becomes f12 when converted and that limits your ability to focus well in low light. One thing missing from your question was what you intend to use the lens for. If for field use, you might consider seperate focal lengths and start with the lower priced lenses. They won't be multicoated, but if you aren't going to spend all your time shooting into the sun, you can't tell much difference. Actually you could take the $400 asked for that lens and buy two lenses...a 150 and 210 or 250, which will probably serve you better. Also, if the shutter quits on the convertable, you will have two focal lengths out of commission. Also, how much bellows do you have? If used in the studio, your camera will need more bellows than if used for infinity work. That will determine your choice of focal lengths. I may have just confused you more. Doug.

-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alanet.com), January 27, 2000.

I used the Scheneider convertible 150/265 for quite a while as my normal lens. It was a "Linhof" Schneider, and came in a Copal 1 shutter, supplied with my second-hand Linhof Tech Super V. I believe it was single-coated. The results were very nice at 150, but I never really used it at 265, as it was not a great lens at that focal length. The price should be ca$250 for a nice-looking lens of this type, maybe $300. I would view this as a very respectable, mid- priced normal lens for 4 X 5, and forget about the "convertible" aspect, which does not offer a lot of practical benefit.

My $0.02, anyway!


-- Nathan Congdon (ncongdon@jhmi.edu), January 27, 2000.

Thanks for all the input. As usual though the answers just raise more questions on my part. To answer some of the questions asked me first. I would use this in a studio first for product shots and move with it outdoors once I had the camera figured out. I would look at a lens like this as primarily a 150 and use the other length only in a pinch till I can get a lens in that range. What are the advantages to coatings and multi-coatings? It was mentioned this is a decent lens but should be in the $200-300 range, are there other lenses in this price range I should look at? THan

-- Jordan Epstein (Jephotog@aol.com), January 27, 2000.

If I wanted a lens for product shots and could only get one lens, I would choose a 210 mm lens. That said, I enjoy using a 150 mm for landscape images. For this reason I have both lens. If you are on a budget, you may want to consider the Schneider Xenar lens in both 150 & 210 focal lengths. These are multi-coated lens and can be found used in the $250-$300 range. You can also find older Kodak Ektar & Commercial Ektar lens in these focal lengths. These can be very good performers at budget prices.

-- Ron Lawrence (leica@interpath.com), January 27, 2000.

Some of the answers to this question raised the issue of whether this lens might be multicoated. Schneider has some good information on the FAQ section of their web page: http://www.schneideroptics.com/faq/faqlarge.htm Summarizing, the first Schneider lens to be multicoated was a Symmar-S in 1977. I think they had stopped making convertibles before that date, but don't know for sure. It is also stated that a Schneider lens is multicoated if and only if it states "multicoating" on the lens.

-- Michael Briggs (MichaelBriggs@earthlink.net), January 27, 2000.

I might be wrong about this but I'm pretty sure that all of the convertible lenses were single coated and none multi-coated. The earliest Symmar-S lenses were not multicoated either and it doesn't make sense to me that Schneider would go to multicoating for the convertibles and then drop it for the "improved" Symmar-S lenses.

-- David Grandy (dgrandy@accesscable.net), January 28, 2000.

Jordan, I have heard (in the past) that the convertibles are not as sharp... but at work we have the 150mm Linhof and it is just fine. Granted the f12 is a bit much but it will suffice. I do agree that the $400 sounds a bit steep (I just picked up the Linhof 360mm A++ condition for $250. USD at my local camera store). Cheers, Scott

-- Scott Walton (scotlynn@shore.net), January 29, 2000.

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