115/120mm question

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My little 135 Sironar-N sometimes comes up a bit short on coverage so I'm thinking of replacing it with a lens sort of in that range but with significantly more coverage, particularly the Rodenstock 115 f6.8 Grandagon or Schneider 120 f8 Super-Angulon. I know the SA is discontinued but they're out there on the used market.

Usage will be on 4x5 only. Lighthouses are awfully tall and sometimes there just isn't enough room to back up and not use so much front rise.

Opinions or alternatives anyone? Thanks.

-- John Hicks (jbh@magicnet.net), May 27, 2001


Simple answer. Purchase the recent Schneider 110XL. Outstanding sharpness and excellent coverage. Order from Badger Graphics in Wisconsin. Super service, great price.

-- David Kaufman (73501.3677@compuserve.com), May 27, 2001.


Why not the 110mm Super Symmar XL? It is physically smaller, substantially lighter, takes smaller, less expensive filters, is 1/2 - 1 full stop brighter, and has coverage to rival the two lenses you mentioned. So, what about price? At $1195 from Badger Graphic, it's also less expensive than the 115mm Grandagon-N (well, only $5 less, from Badger). Oh yeah, and it's one INCREDIBLY sharp lens. I've been using this lens for over three years, and it still amazes me. I used to own a 115mm Grandagon-N, and it's a very GOOD lens, but not in the same league performance wise as the 110mm Super Symmar XL. The 115mm Grandgon-N is also VERY big and VERY heavy (might not matter to you, but it does to me - especially when you start to factor in things like the cost of filters).

For comparison, here's the specs on all three lenses:

115mm f6.8 Grandgon-N Image Circle - 291mm Weight - 740g Filter Size - 82mm

120mm f8 Super Angulon Image Circle - 288mm Weight - 700g Filter Size 82mm

110mm f5.6 Super Symmar XL Image Circle - 288mm Weight - 425g Filter Size - 67mm


-- Kerry Thalmann (largeformat@thalmann.com), May 27, 2001.

Before buying any XL lens check if it fits your camera, many field cameras have a front standard hole too narrow to allow a 90XL or a 120Xl, can be nasty, I think that new series would address this problem, no problems on a monorail of course!

-- Andrea Milano (milandro@multiweb.nl), May 27, 2001.

If budget's a factor, consider the 121mm f8 Super Angulon. It's the single-coated version of the modern S.A. I have one of the more recent one of these, black with a Copal shutter, and I've always been pleased with the results.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), May 27, 2001.


The 110XL (there is no 120XL) is a Super Symmar, not a Super Angulon (like the 90mm you mentioned). In addition to the other advantages I mentioned in my previous post, the Super Symmar XL series also have extremely tiny rear elements. Guess I should have included those specs as well.

115mm f6.8 Grandgon-N Rear Element Diameter - 70mm

120mm f8 Super Angulon Rear Element Diameter - 75mm

110mm f5.6 Super Symmar XL Rear Element Diameter - 54mm

The 110mm Super Symmar XL rear element is also threaded for 52mm filters (just be sure your filters are clean and focus with them in place).


-- Kerry Thalmann (largeformat@thalmann.com), May 27, 2001.

Thanks very much guys; I don't know why I was so brain-dead I didn't really consider the 110XL.

Size and weight aren't all that important since I don't hike with this gear and at any rate it'd probably be a good replacement for both the 135 and the 90 Grandagon, plus the smaller rear cell may avoid the need for a bag bellows, not that that's of tremendous concern. I think I was just fixated on staying near 135mm and avoiding too much of the wide-angle effect.

-- John Hicks (jbh@magicnet.net), May 27, 2001.


The 110XL is superb, but if you don't want to go that wide, or expensive, you could look for a used SuperSymmar HM 120. Prior to the introduction of the 110XL, this was Schneiders premier compact lens in this focal length range. It is a tad longer than the 110XL, but actually somewhat lighter, and used should be about 1/2 the price of the 110XL.


-- Glenn C. Kroeger (gkroeger@trinity.edu), May 27, 2001.


I agree with Glenn that the 120mm Super Symmar HM is a GREAT lens, and all but forgotten now that the 110mm Super Symmar XL has taken its place. However, the image circle is only 211mm. While that's generally plenty for 4x5 landscape shooting, given your goals to shoot lighthouses at fairly close range - and the fact that you are running out of room with your 135mm Sironar-N, you might not be buying all that much (in terms of coverage) with the 120mm Super Symmar HM.

On the other hand, to all you 4x5 landscape shooters, who have dreamed of Super Symmar performance, but can't afford the 110mm Super Symmar XL - keep your eyes open for good deals on the 120mm Super Symmar HM. At one point, new one were selling for over $1300 and you couldn't touch a used one for less than about $950. With the advent of the global marketplace, it's now a piece of cake to get GREAT deals on new Schneider lenses (from Robert White and Badger Graphics). That combined with the discontinuation (and replacement with the 110mm SS XL) of the 120mm Super Symmar HM, has driven down prices on the used market. In terms of cost vs. performance, I think a used (but in good shape) 120mm Super Symmar HM has to be one of the best deals going these days.


-- Kerry Thalmann (largeformat@thalmann.com), May 27, 2001.

How about the Nikkor 120 SW f/8 SW with an image circle of 312 at f/22 and sold at B & H for US$1069.95.

-- Bert Liza (bertliza@edsamail.com.ph), June 01, 2001.

If you buy a lens with 82 mm filter you will end up paying a lot more for filters (especially a center gradient filter) than if you stuck with lenses requiring 67 mm filters. There are quite a quite number of other lenses using 67 m

-- David (caldw@aol.com), June 01, 2001.

> Nikkor 120 SW

I've thought about it but it's awfully big.

At this point my decision is to not decide. Or to put it differently, go along a while and see if more coverage is really a need or just a strong want.

-- John Hicks (jbh@magicnet.net), June 01, 2001.

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