APO symmar 120 vs. Super symmar 120

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I'm considering the purchase of a 120 lense and I'm wondering if I should buy the Apo or the Super symmar. I currently have an old optar 135mm press lense. This old lense is pretty sharp, but it degenerates at the edges. I'm looking for something that's sharper then the Optar near the center of the image circle, and much sharper near the edge. I want to make enlargements up to say 30"x36" that are tack sharp all the way to the edge. Do I really need the super to achieve this, or is the Apo adaquate to the task? Another issue is coverage. My old optar is a little inadaquate for vertical compositions with rise. Is the Apo better than the Optar in terms of image circle diameter?

-- Jon Miller (jmill@cybertime.net), April 02, 2000


You should consider the 110 mm Super Symmar XL lens. Incredibly sharp, huge image circle. But perhaps this is what you meant?

-- Ellis Vener (evphoto@insync.net), April 02, 2000.

Jon, I recently changed from my too heavy Super-Angulon 121, so here is what I found. The Apo-Symmar 120 is a light, excellent, inexpensive lens but covers 4x5 with little possibilities for movements (19/16 mm). The Super-Symmar 120 High Modulation is much larger, more pricey and as said is now being replaced by the Super-Symmar 110 XL Aspheric. This lens (XL) has huge coverage(288 mm) and is excellent. Although the price has fallen recently, it is still an expensive lens (twice the price of the A-S 120 at some good sources, but can be up to three times). Sharpness is probably not much different with both the Apo and Super. The angle of view is noticeably larger on the 110 . If your applications did not require any movements, the first would be OK. But as you missed this possibility on your 135, the second is your choice and will fullfill your needs for a lifetime! Also 110 can be a better focal than 120 in my experience. It is close to a 33 mm is SF and 120 would be a 36 mm. If you look for a used 120 HM or if some store has them still in stock, this is a very good lens too, but with coverage of only 211 mm (The Apo has 179). The prices should be down now for this no longer made lens. Only buy it if it is much cheaper than the XL. All three have excellent sharpness. The issue is about coverage and price.

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@vtx.ch), April 02, 2000.

You might look at the 120 Angulon. The Angulon was Schneider's flagship wide field lens until it was supplanted by the Super Angulon. They are much smaller than the SA and have a smaller image circle. The 120 covers 4X5 with considerable opportunity for movement. I saw one advertised at Mid West Photo recently.

-- Steve Barth (wsbarth@networld.com), April 02, 2000.

Jon... I have owned all three lenses over the past decade. All are excellent. The Apo-Symmar is very sharp across the whole 4x5 area, but has little room for movement... bu I suspect the effective image circle at f/22 is slightly larger than Schneider's conservative number of 179mm. The Super-Symmar 120 was equally sharp with slightly more coverage... but at double the weight and cost, not enough more for me when backpacking. The Super-Symmar 120 is also the longest lens which made it bulkier to pack. I have recently acquired the 110XL where I feel the extra angle of view and extra coverage are worth the extra weight and cost. My only gripe with the 110 is the filter thread which leaves the front element somewhat vulnerable and requires a spacer ring with most filters. Schneider should have fitted the lens with a 72mm front mount with a few more mm of protrusion.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (gkroeger@trinity.edu), April 02, 2000.

I'll put my vote/recommendation in for the 110XL. If you prefer a 120 you might want to take a look at the Nikkor 120 SW. I used this lens for several years before switching to the 110XL and found it to be very sharp with a large image circle. The only drawback, if you can call it that, is that it is an f8 lens.

-- Mark Windom (mwphoto@nwlink.com), April 02, 2000.

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