300mm lenses for Field Cameras

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I have a field camera with 340mm bellows extension (410mm with tilts and extendable with a top hat panel) and would like to buy a compact 300mm lens, mainly for B&W work landscape and some closer work. I was thinking of a G Claron, but would welcome your advice

Thank you Robin

-- Robin Coutts (robin.rocket@virgin.net), September 01, 2001


As long as the image circle is large enough for your perceived needs almost any of the lenses currently available should work well. The Nikkor 300M is one that gets a lot of use. Lightweight & using 52mm filters helps. Fuji has a similar one as do some other makers. The fuji lens has the added advantage of having a 450mm companion lens that also uses 52mm filters & is small & light & mibht be able to be used on your camera with an extension lens board. This would give you lenses from the same maker if you decide to go this route.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), September 01, 2001.


The G-Claron 305mm 1:9 in Copal #1 shutter with speeds to 1/400th would certainly be a commendable choice with an image circle @ f22 of 381mm. Flange focal distance (bellows draw) at Infinity is 301.7mm, it weighs 460gms and uses 67mm filters.

But you might also investigate the Nikkor-M 300mm 1:9 with an image cirle of 325mm @ f22, great if your format is 4x5. For Infinity focus the Nikkor has a flange focal distance of 290mm. It is also in a Copal #1 shutter and takes 52mm filters. It weighs just 290gms!!

Having said all of that I use a 300mm 1:5.6mm Apo-Symmar which uses 105mm filters and weighs a ton. Perhaps i should heed my own advice.

Good luck ... WG

-- Walter Glover (walterg@netaus.net.au), September 01, 2001.

Robin, If you are looking for a new lens, consider the FUJI 300. It is nice and sharp, lightweight and is mounted on a #1 Copal shutter. Badger Graphics sells them.

-- DaveAnton (daveanton@home.com), September 01, 2001.

I've just bought the Nikon M 300/9 and so far I'm very impressed. Sharp, contrasty and wonderfully compact - smaller than most 150's The slightly shorter flange distance means I have no trouble using it on a Wista VX, even without the extension tubes.

-- stuart whatling (sw@dial.pipex.com), September 01, 2001.

Hi Robin

I would take the Apo Ronar if sharpness is something you like. Good luck.

-- Armin Seeholzer (armin.seeholzer@smile.ch), September 01, 2001.

If you are really thinking about some close work, you may need to back off of the focal length to afford you some bellow extension flexibility. Maybe a 200M Nikon? Small brother to the 300M. I have both and the 200M is even smaller and just as sharp. Just a thought.

-- Michael Kadillak (m.kadillak@home.com), September 01, 2001.

Robin, everyone owns the best lens, obviously. This tells us that there are many fine lenses around. I personally own a G-Claron 305 and it is a very good lens. But bigger and of an earlier conception than the Fujinon C 300/8.5 whom I own also and who is clearly superior for color work and also lighter and multicoated (the G-Claron are not). If you work only in B&W, any of the Nikkor M, G-Claron, Apo-Ronar or Fujinon C will do a great job. But if you are considering a new lens, I would recommend you look at a multicoated one like has been said, in case you switch to color work one day. The Nikkors and FujinonC's are optimized for distant subjects, but they remain perfectly sharp for "distant close-ups" (we are not speaking of macro there). The two others are repro lenses and optimized for close-ups. Although they will remain perfectly sharp at infinity when closed at f22, they will start to show some color fringing at high magnification. All the lenses mentioned can be bought at similar prices. But some dealers have better prices on japanese brands and others on german brands. So don't let the higher price of any of these lenses make you think they are of higher quality. With a 300, your bellows will not allow you to get close from your subject. It's not a good idea to use a 300 for close ups anyway (too much extension gives place to sway and vibrations) and a 110, 150 or 210mm would be better. Hope this helps!

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), September 01, 2001.

I went through this same decision a few months back. The Nikkor M is smaller than the G-Claron. I was not particularly concerned about the multicoating versus single-coating issue. The G-Claron has more coverage in the event you go to 8x10 format some day. For me it came down to 67mm filters being more common in my bag and the desire to keep it "in the family." I don't regret having purchased the G-Claron one but. Since this lens has been discontinued by Schneider, you can buy it from Badger for the same price as the Nikkor and less than the Fuji

-- Dave Schneider (dschneider@arjaynet.com), September 01, 2001.

I'm with Dave and Paul. The Fuji 300C (as in compact) is about as light as you can get and a great lens. Badger Graphics sells the 300C, and they show up on e-Bay regularly.

-- rich lingg (earregardless@yahoo.com), September 01, 2001.

Many thanks for the answers. I have now got a bigger choice and will let you know my choice


-- Robin Coutts (robin.rocket@virgin.net), September 02, 2001.

Good and varied advice above. Also check out Kerry Thalmann's site at http://largeformat.terrashare.com/ for a nice roundup up various LF lenses. Kerry contributes to this page frequently.

-- Donald Brewster (dpbrewster@prodigy.net), September 02, 2001.

Although the URL Don lists above is still functional (at this time), Terrashare announced back in May they were pulling the plug (supposedly in June). So, I am not udpating that site and it will eventually go away. I have moved my large format homepage to a permanent location under my thalmann.com domain at:


to get specifically to my comments about lightweight 300mm lenses, check out:





-- Kerry Thalmann (largeformat@thalmann.com), September 03, 2001.

In the end, I bought a G Claron 240mm. I was pushing it a bit trying to get a 300 mm lens on my camera, especially as I do a fair bit of closer work. Many thanks for the comments they were helpful and enabled me to ask some sensible questions before buying.


-- Robin Coutts (robin.rocket@virgin.net), September 05, 2001.

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