150 mm or 210mm lens for starters

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Ijust begun with LF photography, and bought a Cambo for a good price. It comes with a schneider 150mm lens. Linhof Technika also engraved in de front. I think its an old lens. The price they ask for it is $250.00. My questions are: is 150 mm good as starting lens, or should I look for 210 mm lenses. Must the lens be coated or not.What about the lens mentioned above, is it ok considering the price they ask. Most of my work is B&W by the way, and from what I hear this is of some importance when choosing a lens.

Peter Koning The Netherlands

-- peter koning (pekoni@xs4all.nl), October 11, 2001


Both the 150 and the 210mm are considered 'normal' lenses for 5x4, and you'll get almost as many recommendations as there are 5x4 users (if not more!). Personally, I prefer wider angles, and a 150mm would be my choice if I was limited to just one lens, but many people prefer a 210mm for its better 'drawing'. A 210mm gives about the same angle of view as a 70mm lens on 35mm, if that helps. Lenses are also commonly available in 180mm focal length, if you want to go in-between.

As for the lens you've already got. Nobody can tell you whether it's any good, simply from a description, since condition is all-important with any lens.
Linhof don't make lenses, they simply supplied lenses to fit their cameras, mostly from Schneider.
The lens should have 'Symmar', or 'Xenar', or some other name on it, as well as Linhof's engraving. The Symmar is a top quality lens, the Xenar is not-so-good, but you'll really have to test the lens for yourself. A Xenar in good condition will be better than a Symmar that's been regularly cleaned to death with a dirty handkerchief.
An uncoated lens would usually indicate that it dated from pre-WWII or just after, and while that's not a bad thing in itself, it's unlikely that it'll be in the same condition that it left the factory, and any shutter it's mounted in will almost certainly be either unreliable, or a replacement. As I said before, condition is everything with a lens.

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), October 11, 2001.

Hi Peter

If the want 250$ for the lens only? If yes, the lens should be MC like multi coated or the price is to high! Here an adress for best prieces in EU:http://www.robertwhite.co.uk/ products.htm Have a good time!

-- Armin Seeholzer (armin.seeholzer@smile.ch), October 11, 2001.

The one I use the most is my 135mm at about 70% of the time, my 210mm about 20% and my 90mm about 10%. However, I feel I should be using the 90 more, I just don't like the quality of it.

-- wdnagel (wdnagel@home.com), October 11, 2001.

hi peter - this website might come in handy - it is the schneider website to determine the age of your lens http://www.schneideroptics.com/large/serial.htm there should be a serial number on the front of your lens, just look at the chart and to determine which decade your lens was made. i tend to use a 90mm and 150mm both about 40% of the time, and a 270 convertable about 10% ... i guess the thing to do is maybe rent a lens /shutter of the focal length you might want to buy and play with it to see if you like it ... good luck :) john

-- john nanian (jak@gis.net), October 11, 2001.

Peter, It all depends what you want to do. If you are wanting to shoot products, go with the 210. This was my first lens and I love it to this day. If you want to specialize in Architectural, a 90mm would be appropriate. It is better if you have a coated lens. The Xenar (if that is what I pressume it is) is a decent lens. I would say that the 150mm is a Copal 1 lens mount and you will need a lens board for your Cambo with this opening. You can get extra lens boards from Calumet.

-- Scott Walton (f64sw@hotmail.com), October 11, 2001.

Peter, The 150mm is an excellent all round lens and would suit a variety of subject matter if you only owned one lens. Look for a late/recent example. Regards Paul

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), October 11, 2001.

My opinion: I use a 180mm lens as a general lens, and if I want to narrow in on a subject, I use a 240mm lens. To me, the 210mm is too much of a compromise between the 180mm and the 240mm. It doesn't offer enough of the benefits of either of these lenses.

I see the 150mm as almost a special purpose lens. It's wider than the 180mm, which is useful. But, it doesn't give me the angle of coverage of my 121mm, which I use as a wide-angle.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), October 12, 2001.

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