Need 75, 210 and 300 lenses. Suggenstions? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am just getting into large format, and I have determined a few focal lengths that will satidfy me, based on what I commonly used in 35mm format.

As far as current offerings go, what are some good suggestions in the 75, 210 and 300 range? Yes, price is a factor, but so is coverage area. As far as speed goes, I will need to defer that answer to you, as I anticipate most use doing lanscapes at dawn or sunset. Not sure if that will sway your answers or not.

I'm not too concerned with weight or size. What about the used market? That would be perfect, if that is an option.

Thanks in advance.

-- Andy Biggs (, April 15, 2001


Andy, for 210mm, I would surely get the Fuji 210A, incredible sharpness and tiny, but f9, a bit tough in sunset, but doable, I have plenty of movements on my 8x10 with it, so no coverage problems. At the 75, I would say the Grandagons win....and 300mm, no one wins..

-- Bill Glickman (, April 16, 2001.

75 f4.5 Rodenstock Grandagon - good coverage and the speed makes focusing about as easy as it's going to get with such a lens.

210 f5.6 Rodenstock Apo-Sironar-S - a very, very good lens, easily visibly better than the older Sironar-N, Symmar-S or any other 210 I've used.

305 f9 G-Claron - reasonable size and performance, a good alternative is the 305 M-Nikkor.

The used market is a good source but beware ebay; modern LF lenses often sell used on ebay for close to or more than brand-new prices.

-- John Hicks (, April 16, 2001.

I assume that you want lens recommendations for 4x5.

The 300 mm focal length is the easiest. In lenses currently made, for reasonable cost, size and weight with excellent coverage, either the Fuji-C or the Nikkor-M.

For 210 mm their are a wealth of offerings using the plasmat design and maximum aperture of f5.6. As this is the lens you will probably use the most, I would suggest getting an f5.6 model rather than a less common smaller aperture model. You won't go wrong with any offering of the big four (or one labeled as Caltar).

For 75 mm, because of cost, you will probably want one of the slower designs, typically about f8, such as Nikkor-SW, Schneider Super-Angulon and Rodenstock Grandagon. I suggest that you consider a 90 mm instead. The spacing between 75 and 210 is quite large and the 75 mm is appreciably harder to use than 90 mm. Don't take correspondences between 35 mm and 4x5 focal lengths too rigidly--the aspect ratio is different, and quite likely you will find that lenses don't "feel" like the correspondences suggest.

You might consider starting with one lens, than deciding what you need most. If you start with one lens, I would suggest either 180 mm or 210 mm. The other typical "normal" focal length, 150 mm, has less coverage. You will find many 210 mm lenses to choose from in the stock of the better used equipment dealers.

-- Michael Briggs (, April 16, 2001.


If it is for 4x5 then I would take a 75mm f4.5 Nikon or the Schneider Super Angulon f5.6 72mm. At 210mm Rodenstock Sironar S f5.6. At 300mm APO Ronar f9!Don`t buy to old ones! Good luck!

-- Armin Seeholzer (, April 16, 2001.

Make sure your 4x5 camera can accomodate the 75mm and 300mm lenses. Check the manufacturer's specs or measure the maximun/minimum bellows extension. Many field cameras will accept a 75mm lens but will limit the camera's movements. If you go with a 75mm lens you may also need a recessed lensboard. If this is a problem, you may want to look at a 90mm lens like Schneider's Super Angulon. Be sure to check out the used market, particularly if you are going to purchase all three lenses at the same time. When looking at used lenses think about the possibility of using barrel lenses and do some research on what to look for in a used lens. Hope this is useful.


-- Dave Willison (, April 16, 2001.


Dave just made an excellent point: "Make sure your 4x5 camera can accomodate the 75mm and 300mm lenses". If your camera can do that, I would get Rodenstock Grandagon-N 75/4.5, Rodenstock Apo-Sironar-S 180/5.6, and Schneider G-Claron 305/9 (when you are ready to move to 8x10, you have a normal lens). They all take 67 mm filters. These lenses can be found on the used market. Jeff at Badger Graphics offers very good prices for new and used lenses. Cheers,

-- Geoffrey Chen (DB45TEK@AOL.COM), April 16, 2001.

Nikon, Rodenstock, Fuji & Schneider all make superlative lenses. Currently Caltar II lenses are made by Rodenstock so consider those as well. When considering wide angle lenses a faster aperture lens makes life easy for you in two ways: a brighter viewing screen and also the image circles produced by the faster lenses are considerably larger giving you more versatility. at the 300mm focal length, as long as you aren't looking at a telephoto design, you'll have a more than ample image circle, even with lens like the Nikon 300mm f/9 M-Nikkor.

The used market is an excellent alternative to buying new but go to a reputable dealer. In the USA, I have had good dealings with Lens & Repro, Photo Habitat, Fotocare, and Ken Hansen photographic (all in New York City); Photo-Mark in Phoenix (ask for Rod Klukas); The F-Stops Here (which has just moved from Santa Barbara to Michigan); and Quality Camera in Atlanta.

-- Ellis Vener (, April 16, 2001.

Andy, with regards to the focal lengths you mention I only have experience with the 75mm and like others have already recommended I would certainly go the extra mile and purchase the 75/f4.5 Grandagon-N. Its as sharp as a tack, has good coverage, 195mm image circle which allows fair movement on 4x5 if your camera is up to it. Takes 67mm filters and weighs in at about 440g. It certainly is my most used wide angle lens. Good luck,

-- Trevor Crone (, April 16, 2001.

Andy, Every input here is helpful and accurate. I would just add that when I started in 4X5, my first lense (came with the outfit) was a Caltar 210mm S II. I've tried a lot of other stuff in the meantime and never found anything close to being sharper. The S II series were Schneider Symmars mid '80's. The first lense I bought for myself like you, and for the same reasons was a 75mm Caltar f6.8. I've used it very little, even though it is sharper than a lot of 35mm camera lenses. Much later, in fact just last fall, I bought a 90mm 4.5 Grandagon from a seller on Ebay. THAT was the lens I originally wanted, even though I had done the math and come up with 75mm. The 90 is a pleasure. Because the format is more square than 35mm 2:3 with a 75 you just end up with an awful lot of sagebrush (I live in Nevada) in the foreground. Ideally, try to rent or borrow both before you commit a bunch of $. You could well find out I'm totally wrong and 75 was just what you wanted. Good luck and good light in your venture. J

-- Jim Galli (, April 16, 2001.

In response to Bill's post above---

Bill, don't send the poor guy on a snipe hunt! I assume you made a mental error, because Fujinon did not make a 210A lens. They made a 180A, 240A, 300A, 360A, and I think a hangful of 450A lenses, but no 210A. At least, not in the modern, multicoated A series. I don't believe they made it in the older single coated line, either. Kerry will chime in to correct me, if I'm wrong, I'm sure.

I do agree, however, that the A series of lenses is a very good way to get a focal length in a sharp, multicoated lens, without the large size of many of the 'normal' lines. I use the 180A on 4x5 a good bit, and also have a 360A which will cover my 7x17.


-- Michael Mutmansky (, April 16, 2001.

Mike, my error, The fuji A I was referring to is 240mm, not 210mm. Sorry guys...

-- Bill Glickman (, April 17, 2001.


Nope, no 210mm Fujinon A (but, there was a 210mm Fujinon L that was a single coated Tessar 4/3 type). Also, no 450mm Fujinon A, but there was a 600mm Fujinon and even a 1200mm (no kidding) Fujinon A. Just off the top of my head, I believe these two longer ones were only available single coated. I'd have to double check my literature from the late 1970s and early 1980s to be sure. The 600mm and 120mm focal lengths actually pre-date the 300mm amd 360mm A lenses. My oldest brochures list 180 A, 240 A, 600 A and 1200 A - the 300 A and 360 A were added later.

Back to the original poster's question. Since you said price is a factor, I'd recommend used, but modern, multicoated lenses. Your spacing seems a little odd to me, but that's obviously a matter of personal preference, so I'll leave it at that. In 75mm, I'd recommend the f4.5 Nikkor SW. It has the largest image circle in this focal length (200mm) and is tied for the fastest (with the Grandagon-N). It is available reasonably priced on the used market (see them fairly often on eBay for less than $700). The 72mm Super Angulon XL has more coverage, but is a huge lens that is substantially more expensive and takes huge expensive filters. Personally, I have always found a center filter necessary for any lens (for 4x5) I've ever used shorter than 90mm. The big center filter for the 72 XL will also be big bucks. I used a Heliopan center filter with my 75mm Nikkow SW and was always pleased with the results.

In a 210, any modern, multicoated f5.6 plasmat will offer outstanding performance. If you're on a limited budget, I'd recommend and EBC multicoated 210mm Fujinon W or a multicoated 210mm Symmar-S. These are previous generation lenses, but they are still modern computer designed optics that offer outstanding performance - and they can be found for about $450 in near mint condition - if you're patient and shop around. Coverage, for 4x5 landscapes, should not be an issue.

In 300mm, I second the suggestion for the 300mm Nikkor M. Great lens that has all the coverage you'll need for 4x5 landscapes. Much more affordable, new or used, than any of the huge 300mm f5.6 plasmats.

Check out both:

for more info.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, April 17, 2001.

What about the used market? Check E-BAY. It's true that some used lenses sell as much as new lenses but there's a lot of bargain available. If you want the most for your money you cannot dismiss e-bay. Some buys I made last most are good examples, all in like new condition: Schneider Symmar-S MC 210/5.6 ($300), Schneider Symmar-S MC 150/5.6 ($260), Schneider Super-Angulon MC 65/5.6 ($350). All of these lenses usually sell for $100+ more than what I paid. The key is to look for auction that ends during the slow periods (very late at night, very early in the morning, or during week- end or holidays). Never hurry on an auction, know your limit and only bid in the last couple minutes before closing.

If weight is not a problem, look for f/5.6 lenses. They are a lot easier to focus with. The Symmar-S MC 210 is very sharp. I think Schneider had a Super-Angulon MC 75/5.6 but again make sure you camera is able to handle such short focal. If you use a field camera if would also be helpful to have a drop bed feature (front and rear back tilt and front rise) to avoid having the front part of the bed cut the bottom part of your image.

-- Georges Pelpel (, April 18, 2001.

Thanks so much for all of your answers. I have decided to find a 4x5 camera that will (hopefully) accommodate both a wide range of focal lengths and decent weight for backpacking. I have on order a new Canham DLC 4x5. I cannot wait.

So, looking at the bellows max of 23 inches, I doubt I will be needing all of that room for my longer focal length needs. Heck, a 450mm can be accommodated with an onslaught of movements on this baby.

Anyway, thanks again for all of your suggestions. Seems like many people are giving some advice that I will take to heart. Specifically, starting off with one lens, and then determining what I am really missing (although I might start off with 2. Don't tell anyone).

Here are the 2 I will start off with:

Rodenstock Apo Sironar S 210mm f/5.6 Rodenstock Grandagon N 75mm f/4.5

Any solid objections? They seem to fit the needs and pocketbook.

-- Andy Biggs (, April 22, 2001.

The 210mm F5.6 Sironar S is a pretty heay lens for backpacking (I know because I have one). It also uses a 72mm filters that will be at odds with your 75mm F5.6 Grandagon (67mm).

-- Pat Raymore (, April 23, 2001.


How about performance vs weight?

A 210 S in Copal shutter wighs 17.3 oz A 210 N in Copal shutter weighs 15.5 oz

A 210 Geronar in Copal weighs 8.7 oz

But there is a vast difference in performance for 8.6 oz

A 240 Apo Ronar in Copal weighs 9.2 oz

Again a big difference in performance for 8.1 oz.

Yes a better lens is bigger and heavier but not all that heavier.

-- Bob Salomon (, April 23, 2001.

Geeze Bob, lighten up (pun intended). All Pat said was: "The 210mm F5.6 Sironar S is a pretty heavy lens for backpacking". He also said he owns one, but like me he probably has something lighter specifically for BACKPACKING. In my case, its a 200mm Nikkor M that weighs 6.3 oz. Yeah, that's only 11 oz., but multiply that factor times three or four lenses and the weight starts to add up. Plus, wit hthe NIkkor, I can carry smaller, lighter 52mm filters. I have a 210mm APO Symmar I use for most of my work where I don't mind the weight and the extra coverage occasionally comes in handy (like when shooting 5x7). But, for backpacking with the 4x5, give me the smaller, lighter Nikkor any day. The performance is excellent, and I can live with the 210mm image circle when I need to go light for backpacking. If some find that coverage inadaquate for their needs, there's always the 240mm Fujinon A at 8.6 oz. with a 336mm image circle. Like the little Nikkor M, the 240mm Fujinon A is in a Copal #0 shutter and takes 52mm filters.

Yeah, the big 210s (APO Sironoar-S, APO Symmar, etc.) are great, but specifically for backpacking, like Pat said, they tend to be a little on the heavy side.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, April 23, 2001.

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