Modern 135mm Lenses Much Better at Wide Apertures? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I just picked up a late Crown Graphic Special that came with a 1968-vintage coated Schneider Xenar 135mm/f4.7 in a Copal 0 shutter. The lens appears sharp, especially good at smaller apertures, although with perhaps less contrast than more modern lenses I am used to. I don't have any other lenses in the normal range to compare with, so I would appreciate opinions about whether modern lenses would be noticeably better, particularly at wider apertures - f8 for example. I'm thinking about a 135mm Rodenstock Apo-Sironar N as a possible replacement.

I bought this camera to experiment with handheld 4x5 use, and there will be times when I might like to use f5.6 or f8 instead of f16 or f22. Most of the lens reviews of both classic and modern lenses, such as those by Chris Perez and Kerry Thalman, first review apertures at f11, so I can't compare lenses there at wider apertures. Thanks for your help. This particular camera

-- Greg Lawhon (, December 10, 2000


Sounds like you need Kerry's 135 f/3.5 Zeiss Planar. Just get a second mortgage and go for it.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (, December 10, 2000.

But Glenn, I'd feel terrible stealing that magnificent Planar from you (I'm surprised not to see your name down there on the list of bidders yet)!

Kerry's lens looks gorgeous, and I've enjoyed reading about it, but I'm sure I could be happy with a humble Rodenstock or Nikkor for my purposes!

-- Greg Lawhon (, December 10, 2000.

Hi Greg, I've a Sironar N, 150mm; it's on a Speed Graflex. I've shot it hand held with aperture wide open, and I've been pleased with the results. But I can't provide any comparison data with your lens. All I can say is, I appears to me the lens shoots at f5.6 - f11 range OK. Best, David Clark

-- david clark (, December 10, 2000.

Greg: The older Xenar is a Tessar formula lens and usually has excellent contrast. I have a 150 Xenar that has really good contrast and sharpness. I note that you feel your Xenar does not have good contrast. Have you given it a good cleaning? I would try that first if you haven't. A bit of film on the elements can really cut contrast. As for sharpness, the Xenar usually sharpens up well one or two stops down, as do most LF lenses. It is useable wide open. The 135mm is slightly wide on 4x5, and you are near the edge of the image circle, so you may notice a little loss of sharpness at the very edges, which most of the time is not a problem.


-- Doug Paramore (, December 11, 2000.

Can`t say anything about the Xenar, but there is certainly no reason to be afraid of the 135mm Apo-Sironar N. Hand held shooting is likely to give rise to more sharpness issues than this lens ever will.

-- Steve Clark (, December 12, 2000.

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