4x5: Choosing a next lens to complement a 210mm

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I have a Wisner Tech Field 4x5 camera with 300mm and 210mm lenses. I'm looking to add a shorter lens.

When moving down from a 210mm, should I be looking at 150mm or 135mm to achieve a noticeable difference? I am limited by the camera itself to lenses longer than 100mm and would not comfortably be able to use one shorter than 120-135mm. Price IS a consideration this time as I can mostly manage with the 210mm and this is 'an optional extra' lens to my thinking.

The shots: mainly landscape, mainly single or few tall trees 100-250 yards away in a field with mountains/hills well behind. Flare situation? maybe 40% of the time. Film: Color: 75% B&W 25%. Some front tilt required frequently - there will often be smallish animals in the scene or nearby objects of interest to include.

I would be interested in opinions as to the length of lens I should consider next of 150/135 and even cheap possibliities (if any) in shutter.

Thanks for the input. Richard.

-- Richard Rankin (rpr@gannlaw.com), November 30, 2000


For landscapes I would suggest the 135mm, very sharp. For architecture the 90mm angelon? is super. Pat

-- pat krentz (patwandakrentz@aol.com), November 30, 2000.

I too would go with the 135mm . The 150mm is just too "normal", and the somewhat wide-angel effect of the 135mm will add a dynamic to the shots.

-- William Levitt (light-zone@operamail.com), November 30, 2000.


If price were NOT a problem, the obvious choice is the 110mm Schneider XL... otherwise, the Rodenstock Sironar-S 135 is nice. A nice used lens is the Fujinon 125.

-- Glenn Kroeger (gkroeger@trinity.edu), November 30, 2000.

Richard: I shoot in the South, where we don't have the great mountain vistas, so my favorite lens is the 90mm. I also have a 135mm that I use a lot. Probably I could use a 121mm and get rid of both the 90 and 135. The wider lenses, from 135 down to 90, let you get some super near-far relationships, especially by tilting the camera down and bringing the back verticle again. It makes nearby objects bigger, which gives nice perspective. I have a 150 also, but I use it mainly for closeups. However, I think I could live with the 150 as my only lens if I had to. My recommendation would to go wider, though.


-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alaweb.com), November 30, 2000.

I started out with a 210, then added a 90 Super Angulon and then an old Goertz Berlin Dagor 300. They all have their place. Now, years later, I just bought a Rodenstock APO Sironar-S 135, and I am in love. it worked very well this Fall in villages in South of France, with less distortion issues to worry about than the 90, and nice bright ground glass (f5.6 vs f8). And this is the sharpest lens I own. It is small, light, and beautiful. Borrow any 135 from somebody and try it, then buy this one. Badger Graphic has great prices on it.

-- John Sarsgard (sarsgard@yahoo.com), November 30, 2000.


I vote for 120 to 135. I have a Fuji 125 mm that I like, but it's just too bulky for field use. I'm considering the Rodenstock/Caltar 135. Image circle is 200 mm, so you can get some movement, and at $470 in the Caltar version it's a bargain.

I've got a Congo 210 and an Angulon (not super). These take 40.5 mm filters, and the Rodenstock does, too. This way I only have to have one set of filters for all 3 lenses. Keeps my life simpler, and reduces costs. These are particularly compact lenses, another plus for field use.

Good luck, Charlie

-- Charlie Strack (charlie_strack@sti.com), November 30, 2000.

Richard I would go for Rodenstock's 135 Apo-Sironar-N. Very sharp, light and compact, takes 40.5 screw-in filters , has an image circle of 200mm so allows a little movement on 4x5 and is not too expensive. A little gem. Regards,

-- Trevor Crone (tcrone@gm.dreamcast.com), November 30, 2000.

Why are you limited to a lens longer than 100 mm?

I use an older Toyo Field camera and use a 65 mm lens without recessed lens board, so I find it hard to belive that the Wisner wouldn't handle a 90. Even if you do have to buy a recessed lens board, a 90 should be fairly inexpensive and it will give you images that are much different from your 210.

-- David Grandy (dgrandy@accesscable.net), November 30, 2000.

You may be able to make up your mind by looking at images identical to those you describe, taken with a 135/5.6 lens, as shown at www.TranquilityImages.Com. Also, check www.badgergraphics.com for prices. I believe Badger Graphics has a sale of the Apo-Sironar-S 135/5.6 for $625 and the 150/5.6 for $660. The filter size for the Apo-Sironar-S 135/5.6 is 49 mm, the same size as that used an Apo-Ronar 300/f9 and Schneider M-Claron 210/f9. Step up adapter rings can be used if your 210 and 300 lenses are of the type that require 67 mm filters. The Apo-Sironar-S 135/5.6 has slightly more coverage and weight than the Schneider or Fuji lenses. Nikon's 135/5.6 lens requires a 52 size filter, which might be preferred by you if you have a 35 mm camera system with lots of 52 mm lens filters. The consensus of web comments is that that the 135/5.6 lenses in general are among the least expensive and most durable, compact, sharpest, and lightest lenses that you can own. When used in conjunction with a 120 mm roll film back, the 150/5.6 for head and shoulder portraits might possibly be preferred by you. My understanding is that the 150/5.6 is the normal lens for a 4 x 5, equivalent to 50 mm in the 35 mm format, and that the 135/5.6 is equivalent to a 45 mm focal length in the smaller format. You can probably find equivalency tables on the web. I suspect that more 150/5.6 lenses may be sold than 135/5.6 lenses overall, and preserve greater resale value, but I do not know. For landscape photography, I predict that the 135/5.6 would likely be used more often by you than the 150/5.6, because of the greater ability of the 135/5.6 to ensure that near and far are in focus. My understanding is that the Nikon, Fuji, Schneider and Rodenstock lenses may differ as to which lens is optimized at infinity, but I doubt that you will any difference when the lens apertures are closed down in the range of f/16 to f/32. I have never read any web comments saying that the unaided eye can detect any visible difference in 11 x 14 or 16 x 20 prints taken with any of these lenses. The product manufacturer representatives and their adcertisements claim significant improvement from the predecessor designs to the latest designs (e.g., Schneider-S to Schneider XL; Apo-Sironar-N to Apo-Sironar S), and there appears to be some support in web comments as to those claims. Considering that some of the best landscape photographers used ancient lenses with a pleasing softness, I would be skeptical of using MTF curves or sharpness as the sole criterion. You certainly would see far more sharpness and detail moving up from 4 x 5 to 8 x 10 than changing from o

-- David Caldwell (caldw@aol.com), December 01, 2000.

I meant G-Claron, not M-Claron. I also wanted to add that Nikkor and Fuji lenses always get favorable web comments, but to my knowledge, have not recently upgraded their lenses. I am unclear whether there is any material difference in multicoating or lens design that inherently provides one lens an advantage. Some web comments say that the Schneider 110/XL is a fantastically sharp lens, but others say the Apo-Sironar 135/5.6 lens has better MTF curves. Good luck and re

-- david (caldw@aol.com), December 01, 2000.

I also have a Wisner Tech Field 4x5 and routinely use a 90mm super angulon with no difficutly what so ever. I can use this lens with the regular bellows if not employing much in the way of movements, or with the bag bellows for lots of flexibility for movements. All you need to do is base tilt the front standard back and then axis tilt for focus. This camera could probably easily accommodate a 75mm lens.

-- Mark DeMulder (mdemulde@usgs.gov), December 01, 2000.


I have used a wisner 4x5 since 1988. My lenses resemble yours. I opted for a Nikkor 135 f5.6. A friend and teacher who recommended it over the 120 range lenses because of its size, sharpness and covering power. It easily covers a 5x7 with some movements. I use it easily with movements on the Wisner. Others' comments about the 110 Schneider are valid. That is a great lens. But if you do not need the coverage hat lens provides, you would do well with a 135, whether it be Rodenstock, Nikkor, or Schneider. Bob

-- Bob Moulton (bobmargaretm@home .com), December 01, 2000.

You've certainly received some excellent information and I won't repeat it but in making these kinds of decisions I find it helpful to mentally convert the focal lengths I'm considering to their 35 mm equivalents. Very roughly, a 210 mm lens in 4x5 is equivalent to a 70 mm in 35 mm format. A 150 mm lens in 4x5 is roughly equivalent to a 50 mm lens in 35 mm. If you were using a 35 mm system and already had a 70 mm lens and wanted something wider, would you be likely to select a 50 mm lens? Probably not, there just isn't that much difference between the two to justify the money for the second lens. So if you agree with this analysis, you probably should go for something wider than 150 mm.

-- Brian Ellis (bellis60@earthlink.net), December 04, 2000.

About focal length equivalents use the following formula - 35mm = 4x5/3.5 Ergo, 210 in 4x5 = 60 in 35, 135 = 39, 75 = 21.

By the way, the 210/5.6 Rodey, 135/5.6 Nikon, and 75/4.5 Nikon all work nicely with my Wista DX

-- Bob Curth (rcurth@aol.com), December 05, 2000.

I vote for 120 with your Wisner 4x5 TF. I have the Schneider Super Symar HM 120 5.6 which I got used and it is an amazing lens. It has great coverage and the combination give lots of available movements on my TF with the standard belows. It is very sharp and the 120 - 210 -300 progression works well. While it is no longer made you can see them used for a lot less then the new 110XL or the faster 90s (although it will be more (but it is sharper) then the Fuji 125 probably my second choice).

-- Guy Washburn (rgw@mediaone.net), December 05, 2000.

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