Which Lens for 5x7

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A friend offered a nice wood 5x7 camera without a lens for a reasonable price. My application is B&W contact prints of landscapes and perhaps 6 story buildings. I prefer to purchase a modern wide angle 120mm - 150mm to the normal 210mm. What lens make/focal length and field angle should I consider for a budget of $350 or under? Mint used condition is acceptable.

-- Richard Jepsen (rjepsen@mmcable.com), February 18, 2001



If you are limiting yourself to $350 I would think that a schneider symmar s 210 might be the way to go. I don't know if you would get a used multicoated one for that price or not, but if you were to accept cleam glass but perhaps cosmetically challenged you might get one for that price. Rodenstock and Nikon also make the modern 210mm lenses and you might find one of them used as well. Look for a f 5.6 model with a copal shutter. good luck. kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (kjkolosky@kjkolosky.com), February 18, 2001.

Most standard 150mm lenses will not cover 5x7 or if they do it will be with a minmum of movements. Consider instead the largely unheralded 180mm. I've used boththe Nikon W-Nikkor and the Calumet Caltar II (i.e. Rodenstock Sironar S) with excellent results on both a 6x17cm camera and my 4x5 cameras. The image circle is quite a bit larger than the 150mm and the 180mm lenses are smaller than the 210mm lenses. Because they are not so popular the prices are generally slightly lower than 210mm lenses.

-- Ellis Vener (evphoto@insync.net), February 19, 2001.

I have a 180mm Symmar-S that I like, but for 4x5. You might consider the Caltar S-II 210mm, which is a Symmar-S with Calumet's label. You would get the longer lens at a more reasonable price.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), February 19, 2001.

Richard: If you are going to make just contact prints, just about any lens with sufficient coverage will do fine. If you are going to be shooting six storey buildings at realtively close distances, you will need a wide angle, which will probably cost more. Still, I think you can reach your goal with $350, but you may have to back off the "mint" requirement a bit. A few scratches on the front element doesn't hurt anything, but scratches on the rear element will.


-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alaweb.com), February 19, 2001.

I picked up a Schneider 180/315 convertible lens on Ebay. It was inexpensive and the sharpness is excellent even in large prints. If I had to have one lens for 5X7 this would be it on a budget. It has enough coverage for significant movement. Most 150's won't quite reach the corners, but they get close.

-- Kevin Crisp (KRCrisp@aol.com), February 19, 2001.

As I recall, Brooklyn Camera has a Caltar S-II 210mm for sale for under $400, and they've had it for a long time. They claim it has a small blemish in the coating.

This might be a good lens for your purposes. It's the same as a Symmar-S, it would have decent coverage, etc. It's quite likely that the blemish would not affect the final image.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), February 19, 2001.


If I read you correctly you're looking for a wide lens. In your price range you might look for a 135 Kodak Wide Field Ektar. This will cover 5x7 but not much movement. A longer option would be a Wollensak extreme wide angle. It comes in 159mm and a shorter version. I don't remember the focal length. You should also look at the lens comparison chart on this site. It will give you some options. A last possibility is to look for a schneider 121 Super Angulon. You won't find a mint one for your price range but less than mint would surely be adequate.

-- Kevin (kkemner@tatesnyderkimsey.com), February 19, 2001.

I just checked Midwest Photo Exchange. They have a 121 S.A. in synchro compur for $429. They rate it an 8+ which means the glass is perfect but the body shows wear. (their rating system. This is a lot of lens at a reasonable price. My 2 cents worth.

-- Kevin (kkemner@tatesnyderkimsey.com), February 19, 2001.

I'd do the 121 Schneider also if you can live with a wide view. Covers 8x10 so it would have plenty of movement to do rise for a tall building, even in vertical. It would be quite wide so you wouldn't have to back off from the building which can be good in the city, but maybe not so good if you have all the room in the world. I generally use the longest lens that I can when I am positioned right and back as far as I can. A 121 for 5x7 is a little wider than a 90mm would be for 4x5. A 135 is closer in 5x7 to a 90 in 4x5.

-- Rob Tucher (rtphotodoc@hotmail.com), February 20, 2001.

I just got a sales circular from Calumet and a NEW 210/6.8 Caltar will cost you about $350 currently.

Shorter than 210 and things can get pricey fast. Classic wide-field lenses might be cheap enough, though: perhaps an Angulon?

-- John O'Connell (boywonderiloveyou@hotmail.com), February 20, 2001.

Thanks for all your answers. I bought the camera, a Grundlach. It has front rise, rear tilt & swing and rear bed extention. As I recall front tilt normally brings foreground and background in focus for landscape. Since this movement is not available, and contact printed 5x7s may call for closeups shots is the best choice a 121 - 170mm? I figure this helps with DOF.

-- Richard Jepsen (rjepsen@mmcable.com), February 24, 2001.

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