Lens question

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I am new to large format photography and have purchased a Crown Graphic with an Optar 135 lens. I have a chance to buy a Rodenstock Geronar MC 210/6.8 Can anyone offer opinions about this lens? Thankyou ..... Jack

-- J.L. Frost (frost@mnsi.net), June 02, 2000


The Geronar is a good lens, the MC means it is multicoated, and 210 is a good choice for 4x5. It is a long normal for 4x5 and many photographers use it instead of the 150mm as a normal. It is a good focal length for 4x5. The 135mm is a slightly short normal lens and works well for 4x5, giving you a litle more coverage. Add a 90 mm wide angle nd you should be able to handle about any picture situation. Doug.

-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alanet.com), June 02, 2000.

In large format lenses you mostly get what you pay for. The Geronars are bottom of the rodenstock line, adequate but not brillant.

-- Pat Raymore (patrick.f.raymore@kp.org), June 02, 2000.

The 210 Geronar is a 3 / 3 construction (Cooke Triplet?), so I expect it will perform similar to a Tessar. This means decent performance to about 60% of the 230mm image circle, which is 138mm. I suspect it will go soft in the corners, and get worse with any movements.

A 135mm Nikkor-W, Symmar, Sironar, or other plasmat (non-Tessar) design will give you much better optical quality in the corners. I run a 135mm Nikkor on my Crown Graphic and it is a stellar performer. It is tiny, and folds up nicely inside the Crown when it is packed up.

If maximum coverage in a 135mm plasmat is your goal (and money no object) look into the Rodenstock Apo-Sironar-S, as it has the largest image circle of the 135mm plasmats, and sharp as hell to boot.

Keeping the 135mm focal length will save you the grief of re- calibrating your Kalart rangefinder (old style) or trying to dig up a scarce rangefinder cam for the new style (top) rangefinder.

-- Bruce Gavin (doc@compudox.com), June 02, 2000.

The 210 Geronars are a nice lens for a field camera. I have one that I use on a Graphic. The lens is very sharp. It has about the same image circle as my 150 Nikkor, in fact, so close I don't even know the difference. I tend to use the 150 more, but I force myself to take the 210 sometimes and I always come back really impressed. It does a nice job on medium format too. In fact, I bought the 210 as the first new lens for my Graphic. It certainly has a much larger image circle than that other post suggests. Again, it can be moved side by side with the 150 Nikkor, which I think they rate at 225mm of circle. Besides, a Graphic doesn't do that much anyway. Oh, and it folds within the camera, too, a major point.

-- E.L. (elperdido65@hotmail.com), June 03, 2000.

I can't really agree with previous posters' negative opinions on the Geronar lenses. The Geronars really deserve a much better reputation than they have. I bought the 150mm Geronar almost three years ago when I built a Bender 4x5 to get into LF. Since then I've upgraded to a Linhof but kept the lens because it works so well. It's no doubt that there are sharper 150s out there, but there's no better value in LF lenses than Geronars, as far as I'm concerned. Bruce speculates that the corners will go soft and that it'll get worse with movements. At least in my experience, this is not the case at all. I've got several prints in front of me made with my Geronar, each one with wonderful contrast and as sharp as sharp can be (granted, I never shoot it any wider open than f/11 or so). One print in particular of a riverbed with stones in the foreground 3 feet from the lens, sharp to infinity with about 8-10 degrees of tilt at f/45. I say go for it- you'll get a good lens for a minimal amount of cash. If you decide to upgrade a few years later (which even I, the devoted Geronar user, am about to do), so be it, but I seriously doubt that you'd be disappointed with the 210 Geronar.

Just a thought...

-- Dave Munson (orthoptera@juno.com), June 04, 2000.

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