What is the difference with lenses, ie: copal 1, APO etc...

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I am attempting to get into LF photography, I picked up a new Calumet 45N camera. I am looking for a lens and would like to do mainly landscapes, but not entirely. From what I have read it seems something around a 210mm to Nikkor 300mm F5.6 would be a good lens range. Unfortunately I will only be able to pick up one lens at this time. Does anyone have any recommendations for this. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Also would like to keep the cost down to under 4 or 5 hundred. Thanks again.

-- David Dukeman (ddukeman@earthlink.net), April 19, 2001


David: You are going to get lots of different answers to the "just one lens" question. A 210mm isn't a bad first lens, you will probably find it a bit long at times for the one lens you have with you in the field. For one lens, I'd suggest a 150 or a 135, both of which are plentiful used on Ebay. There are older Schneider convertible lenses, such as a 150/265, which can function at both focal lengths. (Take off the front element to make the 150 a 265.) Many criticize the performance of the longer focal length on these lenses, but the ones I have had perform well. A 150 convertible can run $150-$200 on Ebay, sometimes less. Used with both cells (front and back) it makes a very decent 150 mm lens even if you don't try to use it for the longer length. Watch out for ones that are significantly fogged inside (can be cleaned but runs about $80). If your question was suggesting that a 300mm might be your one lens I highly recommend against that, it is too long and too often not what you'll need, depending on what you want to photograph. Useful for some things and certainly handy to have but not the one lens to have all the time. If you're planning on getting some shorter lenses reasonably soon, a 210 is an OK start and many people find the combination of a 210 and a 120 or 110 are a good one-two punch. The Nikon 210 is a fine lens, so are the Rodenstocks and the Schneiders and the Fuji's. All have their fans. People on this site seem to like what they have. Good luck and stick with it.

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

Typical recommendations include a "normal" lens of 150mm, a wide-angle lens of 90mm, and a longer lens of 300mm. For modern lenses, Schneider, Rodenstock, Nikon, and Fuji are standard. Some LF photographers put together a somewhat different kit depending on their needs. This might include a 75mm lens (wide angle), 120 or 180mm (normal) and 240mm (long). Alot depends on the kind of work you plan on doing and what kind of work you have done in the past. Look at your 35mm/medium format work and this may give you a good starting point for selecting LF lenses.

My own kit for 4x5 is made up of a 90mm Schneider Super Angulon, a 150mm Calumet Caltar, a 210mm Fuji W, and a 300mm Schneider Convertible Symmar. If I did it over again, I would skip the 150mm lens! I hope this helps.


-- Dave Willison (dwillisart@aol.com), April 19, 2001.

Thank you both for your help, I do have one other question. A friend of mine just emailed me and recommended the 210 F5.6 SYMMAR-S SINAR MC, DB MOUNT. Is this a descent lens? I know that lens quality is extremly important.

-- David Dukeman (ddukeman@earthlink.net), April 19, 2001.

David: The Symar-S lenses came after the Symars but before the current APO Symars. They are generally GREAT lenses and are multicoated. (Schneider lenses which are multicoated say so on the side, by the way.) The 210 Symar-S is a particularly fine lens, so is the APO Symar 210 but it costs more. I have both the APO Symar 210 and one of the older original convertible Symar 210's and within the bounds of normal prints (for me 11X14, an occasional 16X20, always black and white) the difference is not dramatically better for the current model lens. The Nikon 210's have been showing up lately in near-new condition on Ebay for $525-$540, and they are very nice too.

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

You'll probably do fine with a 150 or a 210. I'd not go shorter or longer. I have done mostly landscape and "rock and trees" nature work for over 20 years. I lived VERY happily for a number of years with only a 210 Fujinon. There are few real, measurable differences between any of the modern LF lens brands, Schneider, Nikon, Fuji, Rodenstock. Variations in your ability to focus, film flatness also play a role in "lens quality." Ask yourself what type of work you want to do, get a lens, learn it well and only then branch out to other lenses. Having too many lenses just complicates your life when you are trying to learn LF photography.

Good luck.

-- Eric Brody (ebrody@earthlink.net), April 19, 2001.

Your camera can not use any lens in DB mount.

First they have no shutter and secondly they only work on the Sinar shutter.

-- Bob Salomon (bobsalomon@mindspring.com), April 19, 2001.

Hi David

If you plan to buy very soon the second lens then I would take a 210 mm lens and as the second a 110mm or 120mm. If you think you has to work for a while only with one I would take then a 135mm or a 150mm lens and of course you need as Bob mentioned one with i shutter like Copal, Prontor or Compur. Good luck!

-- Armin Seeholzer (armin.seeholzer@smile.ch), April 20, 2001.

My favorite landscape lens is the 180mm, and I have a Symmar-S that works splendidly. For me, the 210mm is too much of a compromise between being too short or too long. So, I have both the 180mm and the 240mm. But, the 180mm is best. Do not get hung up on whether a Symmar-S is multi- or single-coated. The multi-coating on these lenses primarily provides UV and IR filtering, it doesn't make a distinguishable difference in flare. The Calumet equivalent (same lens) to a Symmar-S is the Caltar S-II, and is less expensive.

My next choice for landscape after the 180mm would be a 120mm. Personal preference, I like a moderate wide-angle lens a lot, not to mention the movements you can achieve with this lens. I might mention that you can pick up Super Angulon 121mm lenses on EBay for very reasonable prices. I have one of these, and I get excellent results.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), April 22, 2001.

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