New field lens in the 110-135 range : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am going to buy a lens, to be used in the field (landscape & architectural photography), that should fill the gap between the Grandangon-N 75 mm. 4.5 and the Sironar-S 210 that I currently own.

Is the Super-Symmar XL 110 the must-have lens in the range 110-135 or there are some (bettere) althernatives?

Thanks in advance.

-- Diego Rigatti (, September 07, 2000



I own and love the 110XL. For me, it is an ideal focal length, and has exceptional sharpness and coverage. My only gripe with the lens is the shallow filter threads that make it impossible to use ordinary 67mm filters. I wish it were lighter, but I wish all of my gear were lighter!

That said, there are other viable alternatives. The Rodenstock 135 Apo-Sironar-S is spectacularly sharp. Since I have a 180 rather than a 210, I find the 135 a bit too long for my tastes. It is much lighter and cheaper than the 110XL.

The Fujinon 125mm CM is a very nice lens, as is the Schneider 120mm SymmarHM. I shot the latter for many years before replacing it with the 110XL. The 120HM is slightly lighter, but a bit longer. It is exceptionally sharp, but is more limited in coverage.

Ultimately, I found that were many times that the 120mm was a bit long, and the 75mm too wide for landscape work. With the 110mm, I rarely need anything wider. While the 110XL is sharp, so are the other lenses I have mentioned. Any visible difference in 4x5 images made with these lenses will be due to focus errors, DOF limitations or vibrations, not inherent lens quality. So focal length, coverage, cost and weight are the issues you need to consider.

If you haven't already been there, make sure you check out Kerry Thalman's comments at

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (, September 07, 2000.

I had been going through the same decision-making process recently as you are now. Unfortunately for me it was for a 5x7 - but the information I give applies to the 4x5 format as well. There are no 135mm lenses in current production that throw a sufficient image circle to allow full movements in 4x5. Schnieder made a Symmar HM and Rodenstock made a Sironar-W lens, both of which may be out of production, that had 80 degree in acceptance angles and may have been acceptable. In 125mm there is a Fujinon wideangle lens that works - I don't know if it's current production or not. The 110XL wins by default (at least for me). The filter issue appears to be a stupid oversight on their part (what good is a 67mm diameter if you can't use it?). It seems to allow them to recycle a center filter that was already in production, and nothing more. If you want a lens for architecture the 110XL is really the only choice (IMHO) in that range of focal lengths.

-- Wayne DeWitt (, September 07, 2000.


As Glenn mentioned, you might want to check out my, particulary the section I call "Future Classics" at:

The three lenses I recommend in the range you mentioned are: 110mm Super Symmar XL, 120mm Super Symmar HM and 135mm APO Sironar-S.

The image circles for these lenses are 288mm, 211mm and 208mm respectively. I have used all three for 4x5 landscape photography and found the coverage to be sufficient for my needs. However, since you mentioned architecture, you might need more coverage - so the 110mm SS XL is the logical choice. For me personally, I have a strong preference for lenses in the slightly wide to slightly long range. I do the majority of my work with 110, 150 and 210. Some may find that focal length spacing a little tight, but for me, I notice a significant difference between the three focal lengths.

The 110 SS XL is an outstanding lens, and should give you all the coverage you need. Plus, if you do later decide to get another lens between 110 and 210, the 150s have more coverage than the 135s. For example the 150mm APO Sironar-S has a 231mm image circle and the 150mm Super Symmar HM is at 254mm.

The Super Symmar HM line is no longer in production, replaced by the Super Symmar XL line. Still, the Super Symmar HM line is outstanding, just lacking the coverage of the Super Symmar XL line. If you can get by with the 80 degree coverage of the HM line, you might be able to find a good deal on a used SS HM which is truly an outstanding lens overshadowed only by the SS XL.

Otherwise, unless size and weight are critical (like for backpacking, where I'd recommend the 135mm APO Sironar-S), I'd go with the 110mm SS XL.

WRT to the filter issue on the 110 XL, yeah, it was sort of botched by Schneider (but not a sufficient enough reason to pass on this amazing optic). My experience has been that Tiffen filters will not fit on MY 110 XL, but B+W will (at least the two 67mm B+W filters I own). The solution I came up with is what I call a step-sideways ring (as opposed to a step-up ring). I removed the glass from an old 67mm Hoya UV filter I had and simply mount the metal ring to front of the 110 XL. It fits perfect and I leave it permanently attached to the lens. This accomplishes two things. First, it provides some additional space between the lens cap and glass when carrying it in my pack (I backpack and am concerned about the cap contacting the glass when bouncing around in my pack - I've had it happen with other lenses). Second, I can now use all standard 67mm filters without any problem. Well, I suppose there is the potential for vignetting if you stack multiple filters on top of this step-sideways ring and/or use extreme movements. I haven't found this to be a problem for my needs, but if I did, I'd simply remove the step-sideways ring for that particular shot.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, September 07, 2000.

One thing not mentioned is that the 110XL has rear cell filter threads of 52mm.

-- Wayne DeWitt (, September 07, 2000.

Thanks to readings here I purchased a 110 XL from Badger Graphics within the past month. It performs as well as stated by others here. 52mm filters fit the back thread well, and one can use calumet three inch gelatin filters with the calumet/kalt filter holder on the front. Hence the only extra wide 67mm filter you may need is a polarizer, if you need one. I guess you could use a 52mm polarizer on the rear but with difficulty. Having said all that I also own a 135mm Nikkor W lens. It covers a 5x7 format with some room to spare; so it has always been a good gentle WA 4x5 that requires no center filter. For my work it still is fine, but my architectural demands required a wider lens. So is you do not need to go as wide as the 110 you might check out the 135mm. Many people find that using WA lenses require somewhat less movement of the standards and more precise positioning of the camera. That is a matter you might consider as you pursue your purchasing. Bob

-- Bob Moulton (, September 07, 2000.

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