Schneider Symmar 150 vs. Rodenstock Sironar-S 135 for B/W Landscapes : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am currently shooting with a Schneider Symmar 150mm f5.6 convertible lense and I am considering purchasing a Rodenstock Sironar-S 135mm. I shoot black & white landscapes and would like to get opinions on the type of image quality difference between these two lenses. The first question is, all things considered equal, will their be a quite noticeable difference in image sharpness / contrast / quality between the two lenses? I shoot most of my shots in low light at the end of the day with my camera very seldom aimed at the sun. The second question is, would the change in lense be worth the expense for the quality improvement?

-- Roger Haynes (, September 05, 2000


Roger: What kind of quality are you getting now? I have found the Schneider convertable to be good lenses when used at their prime focal length. I don't see where you would get a noticable improvement, but there will probably be someone who will take exception. Shooting in low light, which is softer, you will not get the contrast and apparent sharpness you will get in bright sun. However, for scenics, the slightly wider angle of the 135 may be of benefit. It depends upon what type of scenic you are shooting. I would keep the convertable, as it can make acceptable negatives at its converted length in a pinch, especially when filtered. Both the Schneider and Rodenstock are good lenses and both are the plasmat formula.


-- Doug Paramore (, September 06, 2000.

The Rodenstock Apo-Sironar S f/5.6 and Schneider Apo-Symmar 135 mm and 150 mm lenses are reputedly among the sharpest lenses available for landscape photography. You can look at published data provided by the lens manufacturers to verify this. Possibly a local dealer has someone on its staff who knows how to interpret and explain this data. I would guess that the 150 mm focal length lens may be more popular than the 135 mm lens. They are about equal in price. The 150 mm lens is equivalent to a 50 mm lens in the 35 mm format, while the 135 mm lens is equivalent to about a 45 mm lens in the smaller format. The Rodenstock 135 Apo-Sironar lens has more coverage than the Schneider 135 mm lens Apo-Symmar and allows about an additional 1 cm rise. I do not know how their coverage compares to that of their predecessors, the non-Apo series. The non-Apo Rodenstock and Schneider lenses mentioned by you are still available and usually sold and resold at lesser prices (several hundreds of dollars less). Check out images taken by Craig Wells at taken with a 135 mm lens. The 135 mm lens serves as a mild wide angle and sells in the USA for about $1200-1400 less and is more compact than the 110 XL wide angle HM-lens made by Schneider. Rodenstock's Apo-Sironar S 135 mm lens takes a 49 mm filter and weighs only 240 grams (about a 1/2 lb). Virtually all field cameras can use the 135 mm lens without changing from a normal to a wide angle bellows. Some cameras require a wide angle bellows for a 110-115 focal length lens. I do not know about the filter size for the Schneider 135 mm lens but I suspect it takes a 49 mm filter. Nikon's 135 lens takes a 52 mm filter. If you use step rings, it may not matter to you what size is the filter. I suspect that you would might see a difference in sharpness/contrast/ quality, because the 135 mm lens allows greater depth of field compared to the 150 mm lens and there are mathematical formulas for calculating lens resolution which seem to favor the 135 mm over the 150 mm lens, all other things being equal. However, I have not compared the 150 with the 135 mm lenses, and my opinion is really speculation. For 6 x 7 cm format, the 150 mm lens might better serve as a head and shoulder portrait lens, when your objectve is to have the background out of focus. I suggest that you contact a Rodenstock or Schneider product representative and see if

-- David Caldwell (, September 13, 2000.


" I have found the Schneider convertable to be good lenses when used at their prime focal length. I don't see where you would get a noticable improvement"

This is easy to say. But have YOU actually gone out to see if you can improve?

Or is it your feeling that you would not see a difference?

There is a big difference.

-- Bob Salomon (, September 13, 2000.

Hi Roger,

based on years of fooling around comparing lenses, I'd assert the only practical "$-on-the-counter" LPM or colour difference you'll see between good examples of these lenses, is under Lab style repeatability testing, not so much with mellow lit landscapes. Personally, I prefer Rodenstock lenses. And I prefer 135mm as a GP landscape length, there's an immediate difference in the look between 135mm and 150mm, a lot more than the 10% difference would seem to imply. The perspective change by itself maybe worth the money to you.

Borrow the one you don't have and do your own comparsion, but a word of Warning, Lens testing can be addictive ...

Kind regards.

-- Dennis Paterson (, November 20, 2000.

The 135mm Apo-Sironar S was my first 4X5 lens. It takes 49mm filters, and is very compact and light. Every photo I've shot with it exhibits high contrast and sharpness, even under adverse conditions.

-- lloyd chambers (, November 22, 2000.

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