Which One Lens for Landscapes?

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Of all your lenes, which lens has been responsible for more of your most successful landscape images?


If you were going on a long hike and wanted to minimize weight by bringing only one lens along, which one lens would you bring?


If your initial budget allowed you to purchase a complete view camera outfit with only one lens for landscapes, which lens would you select as being the most versatile?

Please specify the format used / to be used in your answer.

-- Charles Mangano (cmangano@heart.umaryland.edu), July 25, 2000


In the 6cm x 9 cm format, I'd take the 75 mm f6.8 Grandagon, equivalent to about a 110mm in 4 x 5.

-- Howard Slavitt (info@naturelandscape.com), July 25, 2000.

Without a doubt the 110mm XL on 4x5

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), July 25, 2000.

270mm G-claron for 8x10.

-- William Marderness (wmarderness@hotmail.com), July 25, 2000.

For 4x5 ;

First choice - a 90mm f/8 (e.g. Fuji or Nikkor)

Second choice - a 300mm (e.g. Nikkor M f/9, Fuji C f/8.5)

These account for about 90% of my photographs.

-- fw (finneganswake@altavista.net), July 25, 2000.

For 4X5: Schneider 110XL

-- Mark Windom (mwphoto@nwlink.com), July 25, 2000.

110 XL in 5x7

-- Q.-Tuan Luong (luong@ai.sri.com), July 25, 2000.

For 4x5 -- f:4.7/135mm Xenar.

-- Bill Mitchell (bmitch@home.com), July 25, 2000.


For 8x10, 240mm APO Sironar S.


-- Carl Weese (cweese@earthlink.net), July 25, 2000.

Tough choice. Over the years, my most used focal length has been the 210mm, but ever since I got my 110mm Super Symmar XL it's been one of my all time favorite lenses. Given that, if I had to choose just ONE lens, I'd probably compromise and take something between these two. For me, that would be the 150mm APO Sironar-S. It's small, very sharp, less expensive than the 110 XL or a 210 APO Symmar or APO Sironar-S, and has good coverage for 4x5 landscape use. If you prefer something a little wider, the APO Sironar-S also comes in the 135mm focal length.

So for me, one lens = 150mm APO Sironar-S

two lenses = 110mm Super Symmar XL and 210mm APO Symmar (or APO Sironar-S).

BTW, I cover these lenses (and several more) in much greater detail on my Future Classics page at:


In answer to your second question, it would still probably be the 150mm APO Sironar-S. Although if you were serious about counting every ounce, the little 150mm f6.3 Fujinon W is absoutely tiny and weighs nearly 40% less than the 150mm APO Sironar-S (but in lenses this light that only amounts to a little over 3 oz. lighter - 140g vs. 230g). If I knew my destination called for a longer lens, I'd take the 240mm f9 Fujinon A. This is a wonderfully compact lens with big coverage that is great for both close-ups and distant landscapes. On a six day backpacking trip to Grand Gulch last October, I took three lenses (90mm f6.3 Congo, 150mm f6.3 Fujinon W and 240mm f9 Fujinon A). On that particular trip, the 240 A was by far my most used lens So it would be the ONE lens I'd take to that location. Still for general purpose use the 150mm would probably be a better choice (for me).

I also have a Lightweight Lenses section on my large format site at:


For your third question, I haven't gotten around to writing my section on Budget Lenses yet, but if I could only afford one lens, I'd probably go for a used, but multicoated 135mm or 150mm from one of the big 4 manufacturers. These are the cheapest new lenses on the market, and they are also plentiful on the used market, so the prices are usually quite reasonable. One of the prior generation, but still modern multicoated lenses (Symmar-S, Sironar-N or Fujinon W) should be available for a very reasonable price if you're patient. A friend of mine just picked up a 135mm f5.6 Fujinon W in very clean condition for $250 at a local camera shop. This is a reasonably modern (between 10 and 20 years old) multicoated lens in a good Copal shutter for two and a half bills - not bad. You may have to dig a while to duplicate this bargain, but you should have no trouble finding something of similar age and performance in the $300 - $350 range.

All these answers assume 4x5 format.


-- Kerry Thalmann (photos@thalmann.com), July 25, 2000.

The Wisner Convertable Plasmat lens set for 8X10. Al least that's where I'm going. If anyone has a negitive[no pun intended]opinion of this lens set, I would appreciate hearing it.

-- Jason Kefover (jkefover@york.tec.sc.us), July 25, 2000.

150 Schneider Symmar S for 4X5. When I backpack, I end up making as many still life close-up images as I do landscape images. I find the 150 Symmar S to be a very versatile lens.

-- Ron Lawrence (leica@interpath.com), July 25, 2000.

Charles deja vu is the feeling you get when you ask the same question before. Please check lens category under the "one lens" question. A lot of people pick the Schneider 110XL, Rodenstock Sironar-S 150mm or a 210mm lens(no standout in this focal length). I bought the Rodenstock myself. This German lens is smaller than a normal 35mm lens. You should stick to the above mention range if you don't want to worry about bag bellows or monorail extension. A 150mm is a wider view than I thought and 210mm is long almost a 90mm in 35mm. You have to decide do want a wide view a la Joey Meyerowitz (240mm in 8x10, like a 35mm in 35) or the detail like Christopher Burkett(600mm in 8x10, like a 90mm in 35)? I wanted two lenses at first a 240mm and 90mm. I realize that was two much money so I got a lens in between. I hope with 4x5 I can move my feet more.

-- David Payumo (dpayumo@home.com), July 25, 2000.

10" Wide Field Ektar for 8x10". Not lightweight by any means, but I don't carry that many lenses, and I'd rather find somewhere else to save weight than lenses.

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), July 25, 2000.

Gosh I'd give anything for that 110XL. I shoot most everything with a 150mm and crop a little. Next is a 90f8. Sharp as a tack but limited bellows movement for really close/far images. 110XL would really work nice. My choice. James

-- james (james_mickelson@hotmail.com), July 25, 2000.

110XL. Without a second thought. Fabulous piece of glass.

-- Manuel (photmanue@aol.com), July 25, 2000.

So, I'll throw in my choice as about the only remaining focal length. My first choice was, and would still be, a 180mm. It's angle of coverage is narrow enough to focus in on one particular segment of an image without getting too close. In certain circumstances, it's also wide enough to capture a fair amount of breadth. All personal opinion.

In landscape photography, I consider a wide angle to be a special purpose lens. Again, a matter of personal taste. My second choice would be a moderate wide-angle, like a 120mm or 121mm SA.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), July 26, 2000.

If you're going backpacking with the rig, consider a 150mm G Claron or a 203mm Ektar. These are two tiny lenses that will please you immensely. I just received my 150mm G Claron and I am still pretty amazed that they still make LF lenses this puny.

-- K H Tan (kahheng@pacific.net.sg), July 26, 2000.

Charles for 6x9 the 55 Apo-Grandagon for 4x5 the 110XL Super Symmar. Regards,

-- Trevor Crone (tcrone@gm.dreamcast.com), July 26, 2000.

Apo-Germinar W8/240 for 8x10. Quite heavy but great cover. S.A 121 f;8 for 8x10 (HOBO). My new baby...


-- guillaume zuili (gzuili@cybercable.fr), July 26, 2000.

I'll throw my vote in for the schneider 110 XL. Amazing piece of glass. Sharp, very versatile, somwhat compact. It gets used for at least 90% of my landscape shots. Keeps my other 3 schneiders collecting dust.

-- Tom Mangan (tmango@attglobal.net), July 26, 2000.

It depends a lot on what you mean by "landscape." To me, the term doesn't necessarily mean a wide, panoramic sort of image. I like to get in fairly close most of the time and for me my 210 Schneider APO Symmar is used for probably 80% of all my "landscapes." Next most used (maybe 10%)is the 300 Nikkor M, then the 90 mm F 5.6 Super Angulon (maybe twice a year)and the 150 mm G Claron if I'm doing a real close up.

-- Brian Ellis (bellis@tampabay.rr.com), July 27, 2000.

Different people have different visions, and so will choose very different lens focal lengths. In the US at the moment, a wide-angle view is popular (as you can see from the responses above). A few generations ago, a "normal" view was more popular, and some people (like myself) prefer a tele-perspective (250-300mm in 4x5; 180-200mm in 2x3).

-- John Lehman (al7jj@yahoo.com), July 27, 2000.


My two cent opinion for a single lens in 4x5 is the 150mm APO Sironar- S. Excellent image circle and razor sharp optics in an extremely small package. I particularly like the fact that I can fold up my Wista 45SP with the lens attached -- quite handy!

-- Matt Long (long@ycsi.net), July 27, 2000.

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