New 80mm Super Symmar XL on the Way! : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I just got off the phone with a source I consider reliable who informed me that at Photokina next month, Schneider will announce a new 80mm Super Symmar XL. I don't have the specs yet, but the image circle will be in the 220 - 225mm range, and based on the size of the 110mm XL, it should be quite tiny. I am also told that this lens will not be available until sometime after the first of the year.

If you've ever read the sections on ligtweight lenses, or Future Classics on my large format homepage, you'll know this is the lens I've been hoping for ever since I first got mt 110 XL (Ok, actually, I thought it would be an 85mm, but I'm quite happy and perfectly content that it will be an 80mm instead). Given the expected tiny size, good coverage, and no doubt outstanding performance (based on my experience with the 110 XL), this should be a GREAT wide angle for us 4x5 landscape shooters. There is no other competition in the 75mm - 90mm range in a modern multicoated lens that is anywhere near as small as this baby is bound to be. Plus, Super Symmar XL performance. Should be a big seller.


P.S. The limited information I have on this lens came second hand from someone who has contacts at Schneider in Germany. I got email from Schneider USA this morning concerning this matter that neither confirmed nor denied there would be an announcement at Photokina. So, we'll probably just have to wait until next month for the details (in other words, don't pester Schneider USA - either they don't know, or more likely, they're not telling).

-- Kerry Thalmann (, August 03, 2000


A Super-Angulon killer seems on the way.

-- Paul Schilliger (, August 03, 2000.

P.S. to the above. With my 4x5 centric view of the world, it didn't dawn on me until after I typed in the above that this lens would also be a GREAT "normal" lens for roll film view camera shooters (and those using digital backs as well). After all, all the current view camera lenses shorter than 100mm are wide angle designs. With everything from 47mm XL - 90mm covering 4x5, most of these lenses are bigger than need be for roll film shooters. The 80mm Super Symmar would be a wonderful lens for all roll film formats from 645 - 617.

So, there you have it. Outstanding wide angle for 4x5 landscape types and great "normal" for roll film and digital shooters. The market potential is huge. It only makes me wonder why Schneider waited so long to treat us to a baby SS XL. Obviously, they spent a lot of time and resources on the design of the big daddy 210 SS XL (which is an amazing design and a manufacturing marvel, but bound to sell in much lower volumes). Oh well, better late than never.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, August 03, 2000.

Hi Paul,

Since the longer f8 Super Angulons (120mm, 165mm, 210mm) have all been discontinued in favor of their Super Symmar XL counterparts (110mm, 150mm, 210mm), it would seem logical the new 80mm SS XL would displace the 90mm f8 Super Angulon (which has been around since 1955). I doubt, however, it will have any immediate impact on the newer, larger coverage Super Angulon XL line. With the 80mm focal length, it is positioned between the 72mm and 90mm SA XL offerings. Those lenses, are physically larger and have larger coverage. So, now we have a choice: 80mm SS Xl for those of use who want a smaller, lighter lens to toting around; and 72mm or 90mm SA XL for those who need more coverage and aren't as concerned about size and weight.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, August 03, 2000.

Speaking of Super Symmar vs Super-Angulon, is the difference in image quality obvious to anybody ? I certainly like the fact that the 110 is two times lighter and smaller than a 120, one full f-stop brighter, and actually covers a bit more. However, out of curiosity, once I took the same transparency with the 110 and the 120. Admittedly, the field of view was slighly different, and it was shot at nearly f22.5 and examined only with a schneider 4x lupe. At the risk of discrediting myself :-) I remember that the differences (if any) were very subtle. The contrast seemed a tad higher and the corners a tad sharper, but I couldn't be sure this wasn't a psychological effect resulting from spending $1700.

-- Q.-Tuan Luong (, August 03, 2000.


WRT sharpness SS XL vs. SA, I haven't used the 120mm f8 SA, so I have no direct comparison. Of course, I love the 110 SS XL for all the reasons you mentioned, and compared to other conventional (Biogon derived) wide angle designs, I did find the performance of the SS XL superior, but as you noted, primarily in the corners (talking normal working apertures in the f16 - f32 range). To me, the superior sharpness of the 110 XL just seems to go on forever (speaking as a 4x5 shooter) with none to very little fall-off from center to corner.

Will the 80mm SS XL live up to the lofty reputation of the 110 SS XL? Only time will tell, but I'd be willing to bet it's at least as good as the 90mm f8 SA, and most likely better (especially in the corners). At the very least, it will be a stop faster and much smaller/lighter. That alone is enough to sell me one. Great performance is just an added bonus (and a nice one at that).


-- Kerry Thalmann (, August 03, 2000.

Thanks Kerry for the info. If this lens has the image circle anywhere near what you mention. Then this could be the lens to put my 75/4.5 Grandagon into retirement, for I often need a little extra coverage when using this lens in 4x5 with shifts.

-- Trevor Crone (, August 03, 2000.

I've started saving!!

-- paul owen (, August 03, 2000.

Where are the Japanese?

-- Pat Raymore (, August 03, 2000.

re: Where are the Japanese?

When was the last new lens design out of Fuji or Nikon? I haven't been around the LF scene all that long, but it appears Schneider is *MUCH* more active than Rodenstock or anyone else with regard to new lens designs for LF. Maybe the LF market isn't big enough to support more than 1 or 2 players in new lenses.

-- Larry Huppert (, August 03, 2000.

Hi Larry,

At first glance, it does indeed appear that Schneider has been more active in coming out with new designs in recent years. Still, the method they have been using recently has been to spoon feed us one particular lens at a time rather than announce a whole new line all at once (as was generally the case in the past). BTW, I'm all for this method. As users, we benefit by getting each new design as soon as possible rather then waiting for a whole family of lenses to be designed and go into production.

Still, in all fairness to the other manufactures, both the Rodenstock APO Sironar-S and Fujinon CM-W standard series are more recent than the APO Symmar series. Also, Rodenstock's APO Grandagon line is newer than Schneider's Super Angulon XL line. So, Fuji and Rodenstock (especially) haven't exactly been sitting on their hands.

Just keep in mind that large format product cycles are MUCH longer than 35mm and even medium lenses. Many (actually, most) of today's "current" product offerings have been in production for at least 15 - 20 years, and several (G Claron, APO Ronar) much longer. Heck, the 90mm f8 Super Angulon has been in production for at least 45 years. And the Super Symmar HM line still feels "new" to me, but has been around about 15 years (the serial number table at the Schneider web site dates my 120mm SS HM to about 1986). Of course some of these lenses have been tweaked over the years as new glass types and better cotaings became available, but the basic designs did not change.

WRT to Nikon specifically, they do indeed seem to be trailing the pack significantly in new LF product intoductions. Which is sadly ironic since they are the new kid on the block in the LF lens game, and their designs, at the time they were introduced, were some of the most innovative in the industry. Not sure exactly when the LF Nikkors debuted, but the oldest reference I have is a pamphlet titled " El Nikkor Enlarging Lenses & Nikkor Large Format Lenses" dated 12/78. Based on the limited Nikkor LF lens literature I have, the most recent LF Nikkor lens introductions occured sometime between 1982 and 1986. As far as I can tell, the pamphlet titled "Nikkor Lenses for Large Format Cameras" dated 1986 contains all of their current offerings. Several new models (all T-ED series longer than 360mm, 105mm W - replaced 100mm W, 360 W, 200 M, the AM Series) were introduced between 1982 and 1986, but after that flury of introductions, I cannot find any evidence of any new LF Nikkor lens announcements. As far as I can tell, all of Nikons LF lens design efforts were introduced over that very brief eight year period from 1978 - 1986. Looks like last in may end up being first out. Too bad, many of the LF Nikkors are great lenses, and with Nikon's resources, it's too bad they haven't put more effort into their LF lens designs. Their products are still excellent, and they still have some very unique offerings (the T-ED series with interchangeable rear elements, for example), but unless they put some effort forth, they will fall further and further behind Schneider and Rodenstock (and even Fujinon it appears).

So, I'm thrilled as can be that Schneider continues to innovate with Rodenstock nipping at their heels. Although Fuji doesn't have an official North American importer, their lenses are easy enough to get, and they seem to have a decent presence in their domestic market (and they also use some of their LF designs for their GX617 system). Given what a niche market LF is compared to 35mm, APS, digital and medium format, I think we are truly blessed to have as many options as we do. Still, I'd hate to see one or more of the current "big four" leave the LF marketplace.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, August 04, 2000.


Thank you for the historical perspective. I hope your right, and that we will continue to see innovation and development from more than one manufacturer.

-- Larry Huppert (, August 04, 2000.

Hi Kerry, The lens is going to have an f stop of 4.5 . Jeff

-- Jeff (, August 04, 2000.

I've got a few more details on the soon to be announced 80mm f4.5 Super Symmar XL. The image circle will be 212mm and the US list price will be $2916. Before you fall out of your seat, that's the list price, the actual selling price will no doubt be considerably less. For comparison, the 110mm Super Symmar XL has a list price of $3166. So, expect the 80mm SS XL to sell for a little less than the 110 (makes sense).

Still no info on the size and weight. Also, I want to reiterate that no delivery schedule has yet been established for this product. Even if it is announced next month at Photokina, as anticipated, it could still be a while before they reach the dealers shelves.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, August 04, 2000.

" but it appears Schneider is *MUCH* more active than Rodenstock or anyone else with regard to new lens designs for LF"

Well since Photokina 98 Rodenstock introduced 10 new Apo digital Sironar lenses with 4 more on the way + some Apo grandagons for a total of 17 new lenses in 2 years.

So the above may not be quite true.

Someone else mentioned the life of some LF lenses. The record is probably held by Rodenstock as their Imagons are over 100 year old designs with no real changes other then the filters included with the lenses and the shutters.

-- Bob Salomon (, August 04, 2000.

If you are looking at numbers, Don't forget the other Schneider new lenses. 210XL, 480 Tele, Their line of digital lenses, Plus the secret XL (besides the 80mm) that will be announced in September. Both companies are working just as hard to bring out new product. Rodenstock just does'nt have a series like the XL.

-- Jeff (, August 04, 2000.

Hi Bob,

Since few, if any lenses currently designed for digital applications have enough coverage to be used for sheet film, I overlooked the Rodenstock digital lenses. Of course if you want to include those, then you also need to include the Schneider APO Digitars (don't know the current count, but most recent data I have lists 10 models).

The portion of Larry's post you quoted specifically mentioned lenses for large format photography. I suppose it all depends on one's definition of "large format", but since many of the digital lenses don't even have enough coverage for the standard roll film sizes, they don't fit MY definition of large format. Still, they are used on view cameras with digital backs, so they may fit someone else's definition of large format. The fact that the manufacturers themselves list their digital lenses in a separate category from their large format lenses says more than any definition or opinion I may have.

In any case, both Schneider and Rodenstock continue to churn out new designs for those of us shooting 4x5 and larger. In that category, Schneider has introduced more new designs than any other manufacturer in recent years. I already spilled the beans on the new 80mm Schneider Super Symmar XL that will be announced at Photokina. Any chance Rodenstock will be announcing any new lenses that will be of interest to us 4x5 and larger shooters?


-- Kerry Thalmann (, August 04, 2000.


I also do not count the "Digital" lenses from either manufacturer in my view of new lenses for LF. Because of the subject matter I shoot, I tend to pay attention to wide angle lenses with excellent coverage. With no disrespect to Rodenstock (because they make GREAT lenses), it has been my perception that Schneider has been much more active in pursuing the wide angle LF market niche. I'm not aware of any competitive products to the Super Angulon XL (47mm, 72mm, 90mm) or Super Symmar XL (110mm, 150mm) when using criteria such as coverage, weight or size (depending on the offering). It is apparent that Rodenstock has chosen to put their R&D expenditures in a different part of the LF/view camera market.

From an architecture shooters perspective, the soon-to-be-announced 80mm feels a bit odd. Probably much more compact than the 72 or 90XLs, but also less coverage than either offering. If you already have a 72/75, the difference between these and an 80mm isn't enough to justify another lens. I could see it as a travel lens which would be used instead of packing a 72/75 and a 90. Probably a good compromise where packing weight and size are important.

-- Larry Huppert (, August 04, 2000.

Hi Larry,

To be fair to Rodenstock, the APO Grandagons are fairly recent wide angle designs, But personally, since neither the 35mm or 45mm cover 4x5, they are of little interest to me.

WRT to the 80mm vs. 72mm. If you look how the 80mm fits into the SS XL line, it makes sense. The old f8 Fuper Angulon series that went 90mm, 120mm, 165mm has been replaced by the 80mm, 110mm and 150mm SS XLs. Since the 110 and 150 XLs were ~10% shorter than the f8 SAs they replaced, it makes sense that the new 80 SS Xl will be ~10% shorter than the 90mm f8 SA. With the tiny size and lesser coverage than the 72mm and 90mm SA XLs, it's obviously targeted at different users with different needs. So those who want more coverage (you architecture guys) have the 72mm and 90mm SA XLs and those who value compact size and lightweight (us landscape guys) will have the 80mm SS XL. It's nice to have choices.

Until now, those who value small size and light weight haven't had any choices in modern wide angles. The 90mm f8 SA design is over 45 years old and not really all that small (compared to my other lenses from 135mm - 450mm). Given the recent trend towards even bigger wide angles with more coverage, I'm thrilled by this latest development. This new 80mm SS XL will let me replace both my 75mm f4.5 Nikkor SW and my 90mm f8 Nikkor SW. It will have more coverage than the 75mm and less than the 90mm (but still plenty for my needs), plus it will be smaller and lighter than both of the lenses it will replace. Count me in!


-- Kerry Thalmann (, August 05, 2000.

Is it fair to say that the Super Angulons put Schneider ahead of the pack? Look at what was available at the time: WA Dagors, the Angulons, WF Ektars, etc. While Schneider seems to be weak with their longer lenses, they tend to take the lead with their wide-angles.

-- neil poulsen (, August 05, 2000.

Kerry hit the nail on the head with that last post, I think. I see the value of the 80mm XL as as lens that removes two lenses from my bag while on the trail.

This lens doesn not replace the 72mm XL in any way, since they do meet different markets, but it might end up replacing the non f8 SA and possibly the f5.6 SA also at the 75mm focal length, simply because the smaller lens is the offering Schneider has for the landscape market. Not that it will 'replace' it, but the sales of these two will probably fall significantly.

Jeff from Badger mentioned another Super Symmar lens coming out in September... Where is the hole in the line now? Are they thinking shorter (65mm?), or maybe a lens between 150 and 210 (this, I hope), or a slower, much smaller version of the 210 (this would also be very good)?

Just when I thought I had all my lenses figured out, they throw a couple of new lenses out there that have me thinking again... I was just about to replace my 90mm (and possibly the 125mm) with the 110 XL, but now I think that the best course of action is to wait and swap out the two biggest lenses, the 75mm and 90mm for the 80mm.


-- Michael Mutmansky (, August 05, 2000.

re: "Jeff from Badger mentioned another Super Symmar lens coming out in September..."

Jeff's note only mentioned another "XL". Schneider has two lines with an XL designation - Super Angulon and Super Symmar. Who knows which of these lines the other "XL" lens will be in. There are ways of guessing though. If you look at the Rodenstock APO Grandagon line, they have some lenses in focal lengths which Schneider doesn't have.

-- Larry Huppert (, August 05, 2000.

Well seen, Larry! Or you might simply ask Jeff. Jeff, what is this other XL coming soon?

-- Paul Schilliger (, August 05, 2000.


In terms of COMMERCIAL SUCCESS, the Super Angulon, which has been in production for over 45 years and been offered in focal lengths from 47mm - 210mm, is without parallel in modern large format wide angle designs. However, as far as revolutionary designs, you are forgetting the Zeiss Biogon which pre-dates the Super Angulon. The large format Biogons were offered in fewer focal lengths (75mm for 4x5 and 53mm for roll film) and sold in lesser quantities than the Super Angulons. Still, given the continued respect and sky high resale value of the large format Biogons, you'd have to say it was a pretty innovative design for it's time. To Schneider's credit, they saw the commercial potential of these types of modern wide angle designs and lead the way in bringing a broad product line to the market. Of course, the Biogons have also been, and continue to be, very successful in the medium format and 35mm markets.

Finally to be technically correct, the Biogon was not the first of the modern wide angles. My copy of Kingslake is in storage, but I believe that distinction goes to the Wild Aviogon (which obviously never achieved the commercial success or name recognition of the Biogon or Super Angulon). Also, off the top of my head, I believe both the Aviogon and the Biogon were designed by the same person (Bertele?), with the Biogon being an improved, less costly to manufacture derivative of the Aviogon. This last statement may not be 100% accurate, so anyone with a copy of Kingslake handy feel free to jump in and correct me.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, August 05, 2000.

Paul, Yes there is another XL lens to be announced at Photokina in September. It will be a Super-Angulon design. I have sworn not to tell anymore info. at this time. Sorry! Jeff.

-- Jeff (, August 05, 2000.

Thanks, Jeff. I understand! Guesses are between a 35-38 mm for rollfilms, or a 120 XL or165 XL mm for 8x10. But more likely on the shorter end. What do you think Larry?

-- Paul Schilliger (, August 05, 2000.


I really don't know. Your guess might be accurate though because this is an area where Rodenstock has a one-up on Schneider in the wide angle department. I'm not sure anything wider than 47mm w/ 4x5 coverage makes a lot of sense for architectural shooting. Even 47 and 58 are way too wide for most situations IMHO. It would make sense for roll film shooters though. I guess we will find out in September.

-- Larry Huppert (, August 05, 2000.

38mm XL Super-Angulon. Might be ready for Photokina. Jeff

-- Jeff (, August 05, 2000.

Wow! Certainly a great lens for 6x7 cameras. Jeff, I hope we did not push you into troubles?

-- Paul Schilliger (, August 05, 2000.

Like most assumptions these are not quite right.

I have a copy of the latest Schneider factory drawing SR 4580-0002 on this lens from 5/2/00 on the Super Symmar 4.5/80mm XL aspheric

It is rated as a 90x120mm format lens on this drawing with an image circle of 211mm @f22. It takes 67mm filters, is in 0 shutter, has 6 elements in 5 groups, weighs 274g (10oz1), is 51.3mm long and the rear element is 43mm in diameter.

Not quite replacing Grandagons or Super Angulon 90mm lenses.

-- Bob Salomon (, August 09, 2000.


Thanks for the additional info.

For my needs (4x5 landscape), a 211mm image circle is plenty. The only lens shorter with more coverage is the 72mm Super Angulon XL at 226mm, and it's physically huge.

For me personally, the 80mm SS XL will be replacing both my 75mm f4.5 Nikkor SW (435g, 67mm filters, 200mm IC) and my 90mm f8 Nikkor SW (355g, 67mm filters, 235mm IC). The 80mm focal length is a nice fit with the 110mm Super Symmar XL I already own. So, I replace two lenses with a combined weight of 790g (27.8 oz.) with one smaller lens weighing 274g (9.6 oz.). Sounds good to me.

WRT what it will replace in Schneider's product line-up, only Schneider can say for sure. As I mentioned previously, the current Super Symmar XLs have all replaced their f8 Super Angulon counterparts. They currently have two other 90mm lenses already in their catalog, both faster (f5.6 and with more coverage - 235 for the plain f5.6 SA and 259mm for the SA XL), and now the new 80mm SS XL. Perhaps the 90mm f8 SA (390g, 67mm, 216mm) will eventually be discontinued, or perhaps they will keep it around as a low cost entry level wide angle. It matters not to me.

In any case, for me personally, the decision to purchase this new lens is a no brainer. There is nothing else on the market shorter than 135mm that is this light AND has this much coverage. It is, by two ounces, the lightest lens under 100mm and at f4.5, one of the fastest. It has more coverage (by 5 - 10%) than all of the current 75mm lenses, and weighs less (by 19 - 38%). Yeah, the coverage is 2% less than the 90mm f6.8 Grandagon-N and the 90mm f8 Super Angulon, but it's 1 - 1 2/3 stops faster and 30 - 60% lighter. In fact, the 90mm f8 Nikkor with a 235mm image circle and a weight of 355g is the only thing close to offering such a combination of lightweight (30% heavier) and good coverage (11% more). And weren't we just lamenting that Nikon hasn't come out with any new LF designs in quite some time? Truth is, when introduced, the Nikkor SW series was way ahead of its time in terms of big coverage and small size. In these terms, the Nikkor SW series still has only been exceeded by the Schneider Super Symmar XL line of aspheric lenses.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, August 09, 2000.

Fascinating info. . .I wonder if anyone has info on a new 28mm lens a friend of mine mentioned?

-- sam alexander (, August 11, 2000.

Just a brief update on the anticipated availability for the new Schneider 80mm f4.5 Super Symmar XL. I was informed this morning that the lens will begin shipping from the factory in Germany the week after Photokina. Of course it will take a little while to actually get through the channels and show up on the dealers' shelves here in the US. Still, the very first ones should be avilable sometime in October, much earlier than I originally anticipated. I've had one on order since the day of my original post on the subject. I'll let everyone know when it arrives.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, September 05, 2000.

Hi, Kerry

Have you been told a price yet? (Just out of curiosity for I don't think it will be easy to trade my S-A now!)

-- Paul Schilliger (, September 05, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ