Different lens for 5x4

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I've been kindly leant a 5x4 Gandolfi precision which has a 135mm Schneider Symmar with a sticky shutter. I've found the results OK for B+W, but lacking contrast and sharpness when using Velvia (compared to my Bronica SQA PS lenses). I'd like to buy a 2nd hand lens between 90 and 150mm inc which alleviates these problems. Am completely lost with APO-BLARBLAR type names and don't want to appear too stupid when talking to dealers! Money is certainly an object and so could not consider anything too exotic. Could you please advise me of lenses I should look out for? (and those that I should avoid!)

-- Baxter Bradford (baxter.bradford@ntlworld.com), March 12, 2001


A lack of contrast could be caused by things other than the lens: An indirect light leak in the camera, or fogging caused by loading the darkslides in less than perfect blackout. It could also be caused by an accumulation of dust in the camera bellows, use of excessive rise or shift, or by lack of lens shading under adverse lighting conditions. The large coverage circle of LF lenses makes internal camera reflections much more of a problem.
The lens you mention is almost certainly not multicoated, but this alone shouldn't make the contrast unacceptable. More likely it's suffering from minute surface scratches from cleaning, or maybe internal misting from old-age.

Anyway, assuming you've checked all these factors before deciding to buy a new lens; my personal vote would be for a 150mm Nikkor-W. I don't think it can be beaten for image contrast.
Beware buying second-hand; you may get another lens that's suffered from over-enthusiastic cleaning.

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), March 13, 2001.

As an afterthought to the above.
Take a small penlight with you when you go shopping for a lens. Open the lens fully, and shine the penlight up through it while looking down into the lens. Move the lens and penlight around slightly. Any surface scratches or internal dust or haze will show up glaringly. Turn the lens over and do the same from the back. Any lens that passes the 'penlight test' should have good contrast.
Most camera store lighting seems deliberately designed to make it difficult to see the condition of the goods!

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), March 13, 2001.

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