Feedback on Schneider SA XL 90/5.6 : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Later on this summer I'll finally be buying a new 90mm lens (no more borrowing for me) for my 4x5. Basically, my main application will be architecture and interiors (hence a need for a rather large circle). At this point, considering all of the currently available versions of 90mm lenses, I've pretty much settled on the the Super Angulon XL 90mm f/5.6 despite its somewhat higher cost and rather large filter size. Before I go ahead and drop that amount of money on the lens, however, I've got a question or two. First off, would any users of this lens like to make any comments, either general or specific to arcitecture? Second, how necessary is the center filter for this lens? Third, the two best prices for this lens seem to be from Robert White and Badger Graphic, Robert White being about $100 less. Given the price difference, would it just make more sense to buy from Badger Graphic? Finally, before I rule out all other options, are there any other lenses I should be considering? Thanks in advance.

-- David Munson (, July 02, 2001


DAve I think you can do better by considering either the 90mm f/4.5 Grandagon or the 90mm f/4.5 Nikkor SW. I've been shooting architecture for nearly fifteen years with the Grandagon and only once have I run out of room and that was with a skycraper where not only did I have a lot of indirect tilt (tilting the monorail as well as full upward shift on the front standard and also tilting the back to the vertical position) but also some pretty acute rear swing to get the perspective rendering I wanted. I was using an Arca Swiss F camera. I also regularly use this lens with my 6x17cm V-Pan and have plenty of room for vertical shift with that format.

When shooting with the V-Pan and the 90mm I always use a center weighted filter. For interiors I haven't seen a need for the CWF when I am shooting 4x5, and occasionally I'll use it for exteriors or landscapes, but only when there is either a lot of sky in the image or I am using a lot of vertical shift.

I chose the Heliopan over the Rodenstock center weighted filter for economic reasons since I could see no difference in performance.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, July 02, 2001.

I just returned from a workshop with Norman McGrath, the photographer who wrote "Photographing Buildings Inside and Out," and he commented that the 90mm XL has an enormous amount of coverage, more than he needs. He hasn't yet purchased one, nor did it sound like it was in his plans.

I have a 90mm f5.6 SA, used it for 90% of the shots I took in the workshop, and I never came close to requiring more coverage than this lens was capable of providing.

With location photography, convenience is a worthwhile consideration.

-- neil poulsen (, July 03, 2001.


I would second your choice of the f5.6 Schneider 90mm SA. The f8 that I use has never been quite bright enough. I'm curious, however, about your choice of new versus used lenses. It seems to me that you might be able to save quite a bit if you opt for a used lens. There are plenty of used SA's on the market and the difference would allow you to purchase a center filter (if needed) or other accessories (lensboard, filters, etc).


-- Dave Willison (, July 03, 2001.

Good food for thought. I will certainly look again at the choices out there. As for new versus used, I'm not entirely sure why I had ruled out buying a used lens. There's not a single big-ticket item I've purchased in the last 4 years that I haven't bought used, so I'm not sure why this would be any different. Thanks for the input.

-- David Munson (, July 03, 2001.

David I have a won't look back or be dissapointed. As for centre filters on BW with 5x4 you can probably live without it, but with all the shift available to you, on trannies you may, only may want to consider it. It depends on the sort of work you do..I can here architectural and interior photographers out there drawing breath sharply here. If you go for a centre filter buy the Schneider one...neutral in colour and don't you think it strange that Schneider make several different filters for their range of lenses but Rodenstock only make two...and Nikon don't bother? Beware of the increased filter size though...a good reason for deciding if you really need it. In terms of price...what sort of lens panel do you need.. you might get one thrown in if you shop around.

-- Matt Sampson (, July 03, 2001.

With respect to Badger vs. Robert White, my one experience with Robert White was excellent. No good communications, no import problems, and the item arrived very quickly, actually much sooner than I expected. Does the $100 difference you mention take into accout the shipping, insurance, etc. costs with Robert White? When I bought a 210 G Claron from Robert White I was charged $60 as I recall for these things. Your lens is much larger and heavier so the shipping charge may be greater. Of course you'll incur some shipping with Badger too but nothing like $60 or more. So if you're looking so far only at the lens cost, you might look at the other costs as well and then compare the two. If the end difference was small, personally I think I'd give the business to Badger (I didn't know about their very competitive prices when I bought my G Claron.

-- Brian Ellis (, July 03, 2001.

I use the 90/5.6 XL. Although most of my shooting is landscape (hence overkill in the image circle), I occasionally shoot architecture shots that require large amounts of rise (more than 3" w/ a 90mm). I've yet to hit the edge of the image circle. I use the Schneider IVa center filter for all daytime shots (I usually don't use it at night to save the 2 stops+reciprocity comp.). As most of my filters are 95mm B+W, I often stack them (the 95mm first, then the center filter, which is 95mm to 110mm). There's only a hint of vignetting from the stacked 95mm/IVa filters when using extreme rise. In terms of sharpness, I'd rank it a close third after my 150XL and 210 AS. Although the 90XL isn't a heavy lens (compared to the 150XL), it's very large, with the rear element protruding back around 2". As I use technika boards, I have to unscrew the aluminum ring on the rear element (that holds the lens cap on) to fit it into the board. I just leave that piece off when the lens is in use.

-- James Chow (, July 04, 2001.

In addition to the lenses already mentioned, there's the Fuji SWD 90/5.6, of which I have found one used for a good price. How would this compare to the others?

-- David Munson (, July 06, 2001.

Just some followup here. I did end up going with the Super Angulon XL. While the front element is *huge*, it's a gorgeous piece of glass, sharp as all heck, and I've even used it some on my 8x10 (now that's a wide view). I've been very pleased with it all around and think I made the right decision. Thanks to everyone for your help.

-- David Munson (, August 14, 2001.

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