Apo Ronar 240/9 or Fuji A 240/9 for 4x5 inch?

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I'm fairly new to large format (4x5 inch)an have an option to buy an used 240mm for landscape photography. Fuji 240/9 MC serial number 521xxx about 550$ Apo Ronar 240/9 MC serial number 10 8xx xxx about 500$

Did someone test the Rodenstock Apo ronar 240/9 and the Fuji 240/A ? I found a lot of informations in the LF forum about the 240/9 Fuji but it looks that the apo ronar has not the same success (image cercle of 212mm ?, it's the only reason ?)

Thanks and regards from France

-- Raphael Zeiher (rzeiher@hotmail.com), March 06, 2001


Raphael: Both are fine lenses, and I use the Apo-Ronar on 6x9cm, but for 4x5, I would opt for the larger coverage of the Fujinon.

-- Glenn Kroeger (gkroeger@trinity.edu), March 06, 2001.

I've have a Fuji 210 W and two of thier medium format rangefinder cameras (6x7 and 6x9). I've always been pleased with Fuji optics and their reputation seems excellent from just about every post I've ever read! I assume that the 240 (like the 210) covers 5x7 and 8x10. This might be an advantage if you ever decide to play around with a larger format. I don't know much about Rodenstock lenses. I think the Ronar is a process lens similar to Schneider's G-claron. Process lenses are normally designed for shooting at close distances, but the G-Claron (355) has a wide following among those doing landscape work with big cameras (11x14 etc.) Other process lenses like the Goerz Red Dot Artar enjoy a similar reputation, but I have not read alot about the Ronar being used in the same way.


-- Dave Willison (dwillisart@aol.com), March 06, 2001.

Raphael, both of these lenses are process lenses with optimal correction at 1:1. That being said, both perform very well at all distances at working apertures. From the numbers provided, both are from a decade or so, Fujinon perhaps less. You can count on the best multicoating and top performances. My opinion: go with the larger image circle Fujinon. I newly own that lens and it's a tiny but great performer with Copal #0 (Ronar Copal#1). As for the results, the two films I made are not yet back from the lab...! but as suggested by the many praiseful comments, you can count on the best quality. Make sure you do a little search on Kerry Thalmann's informative Large format photography home page. Worth the tour.

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), March 06, 2001.

I believe the Fuji is corrected for 1:5.

-- Sal Santamaura (bc_hill@qwestineternet.net), March 06, 2001.

A six digit Rodenstock serial number starting with 521xxx is a very old version from about 1933 The 10,xxx.xxx version is from the late 80's

-- Bob Salomon (bobsalomon@mindspring.com), March 06, 2001.

A 521xxx serial number Fuji A 240/9 is only a couple of years old. My 522xxx was purchased new in 1999.

-- Richard Ross (ross@hrl.com), March 07, 2001.

Thanks all, I appreciate everyones input!

Bob, the Rodenstock has a 10,xxx.xxx serial number. On Kerry Thalmann's informative Large format homepage I found information about the 240/9 Fuji with 521xxx serial number. Both of these lenses are process lenses, but it looks that the apo ronar has not the same success! Did someone own or test both lens? Mr.Perez and Mr.Thalmann didn't test apo ronar (only Glaron, Nikon M and Fuji A).

I have to decide end of this week with lens I will buy...

-- Raphael Zeiher (rzeiher@hotmail.com), March 07, 2001.

Why would you want the ronar ? The Fuji is smaller, has a considerably larger image circle, and is considered by many on this forum to be optically excellent. There isn't enough variability in the quality of modern LF lenses for the ronar to outperform significantly the Fuji, which has more interesting specs.

-- Q.-Tuan Luong (qtl@ai.sri.com), March 07, 2001.

What do you mean by success?

Over 90% of all vertical process cameras were equipped with the Apo Ronar or it's sister the Apo Ronar CL.

Far more of these were made and sold then the Fuji lens.

As I indicated earlier one lens you are looking at is almost 60 years old. That in itself should give you an idea of it's success. Large lens companies do not keep producing lenses that have no market.

Having said that Apo Ronars are now out of production and stocks are limited to available factory supplies. This is because the Process Camera market no longer exists and the large format lens market is far too small to justify additional production.

-- Bob Salomon (bobsalomon@mindspring.com), March 07, 2001.

"As I indicated earlier one lens you are looking at is almost 60 years old" Bob, the Rodenstock has N10,824,961.

Q.-Tuan Luong , I only look for field experience with this two lenses

"What do you mean by success? Over 90% of all vertical process cameras were equipped with the Apo Ronar or it's sister the Apo Ronar CL"

Ok Bob, my primary focus isn't repro but landscape (I know that the Fuji also is a process lens with optimal correction at 1:1.

LF photographer I found on the Net, Kerry Thalmann, Robert Jones use the 240/9 Fuji, I did'nt find landscape photographer on the web who use the 240/9 Apo Ronar, it's why I 'm looking for field experience...

-- Raphael Zeiher (rzeiher@hotmail.com), March 07, 2001.

Bob wrote:

"A six digit Rodenstock serial number starting with 521xxx is a very old version from about 1933 The 10,xxx.xxx version is from the late 80's"


"As I indicated earlier one lens you are looking at is almost 60 years old. "

Bob, you need to go back and read the original question. The 521xxx serial number was for the 240mm Fujinon A. This lens is definitely NOT 60 years old, or anything close to it. Fuji did not begin making large format lenses until the mid-1970s. I have a 240mm Fujinon A that was purchased new in March, 1998 with a serial number of 522492. So, the 521xxx serial number the original poster asked about probably dates the 240 A to sometime in the 1990s (or perhaps late-1980s at the earliest).

As to the original poster's question. Yes, I use the 240 A and love it. It is a great lens for close-ups, but also wonderful for general purpose landscapes - when stopped down to about f16 - f22. The fact that it's in a Copal #0 shutter and has huge coverage are added bonuses. That said, the APO Ronar is also a great lens, and even though it's in a Copal #1 shutter, it is almost as small and light as the 240mm Fujinon A (about an ounce heavier, which is pretty much the weight difference between a Copal #0 and a Copal #1).

One difference between these two lenses, and it probably won't make a bit of difference in actual use, is that the size of the usable image circle of the Ronar (being an Artar type) will remain fairly constant from wide open to fully stopped down. So, the 212mm figure will be pretty accurate over the entire range of f-stops. Fuji does not spec their lens coverage wide open (the 336mm figure is at f22), but I can tell you from experience, it the coverage is considerably less wide open for distant subjects that it is at f22. To get the full 336mm of coverage, you need to stop down to f22. For example, my 180mm f9 Fujinon A is definitely softer in the corners than the center at f9 on 4x5 for distant subjects. A couple reasons I said this is probably not an issue in actual use: The fact the the coverage of the 240mm Fujinon A at f22 is so large (for 4x5), I have never noticed soft corners on 4x5 with this lens even wide open (another way of saying, it's probably more than 212mm of usable image circle even wide open). Most field photographers normally shoot at about f22 anyway, in which case you get the full 336mm image circle, which should be way more than enough for 4x5 (or even 5x7) landscape use. At f16 and f22, the performance of 240mm Fujinon is pretty much at the theoretical diffraction limits (in other words, you can't get any better). The ONLY reason I bring this up is that some people might consider using the 240mm A as a wide angle on 8x10. It can be used for that application, but you need to stop down to at least f22 (not an issue for most 8x10 shooters), and even then you won't have a lot left over for movements. Still, a lens that weighs about 8 1/2 oz. comes in a Copal #0 shutter and covers 8x10 is pretty remarkable.

As Bob mentioned, the APO Ronars are now discontinued and only available from existing stock. The situation is similar for the 240mm Fujinon A (probably for the same reasons Bob stated). It was officially discontinued in August, 1998. There were some lenses still available from existing inventory, and I also believe Fuji has done a couple small volume production runs since as demand dictates. Last I checked, you could still get a new 240mm Fujinon A, but that won't last forever, and you may have to wait in a queue to get one. Jeff Taugner at Badger Graphics has good contacts at Fuji and could probably give you an update in price and avialability.

I have the 240mm Fujinon A and think its a great lens, but I would also not hesitate to recommend the APO Ronar (assuming age, condition and coatings were comparable - both of these lenses are available in both single coated and multicoated variants, so when comparing price, make sure it's apples:apples WRT to the coatings). Although it never hurts to have a little more coverage than you think you might need, the 212mm image circle of the APO Ronar would still be OK for most landscape situations (I also use a 200mm Nikkor M for backpacking with an image circle of 210mm).

As far as landscape photographers who use the APO Ronar, I only personally know of two: Glenn Kroeger, who already posted in this thread, and Howard Slavitt, who also shoots 6x9.

Good luck, you should be happy with the performance of either lens.


-- Kerry Thalmann (largeformat@thalmann.com), March 08, 2001.

Thanks all for the field info. Like other landscape photographer I will chose the Fuji 240/9 (it seems to be the "standard lens" in the "light" LF world.

-- Raphael Zeiher (rzeiher@hotmail.com), March 09, 2001.

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