Lens Recommendations

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hi, This forum is great -- So much information. I am relatively new to large format, and really appreciate all of the advice.

I have a Calumet 45NX, which I usually use on the short (12") rail, and carry in a backpack. I have 3 lenses. APO Grandagon 75mm and 90mm f/4.5, and a Caltar II-E 210mm f/6.8. I find that I am often looking for two more lenses. Something in the gentle wide to normal catagory, and something longer than the 210mm. Most of my photography is landscape and architecture. I shoot mostly black and white, but the architecture is in both black and white and color.

Short lenses in consideration: 135mm Caltar II-N, 135mm APO Sironar-S, 125mm Fujinon W f/5.6 with EBC. Concerns: Will I regret the lack of movement with these lenses? If I go with the Fujinon, will I regret the fact that all of my other lenses are Rodenstock (for color rendering, image qualities, etc)? Also, I have read in this thread that the Fujinon lenses might have more flare problems than other brands. Do you agree? Do you have any other suggestions?

Affordable longer lenses suitable for carrying in a pack seem to be limited to the Nikon and Fujinon offerings. Any thoughts about a 300mm Geronar (if I can find one?) or other available lenses? (I can use a reversed recessed lensboard with 300mm or longer lenses, or switch to my longer rail.)

Note, I will probably be looking for something used, which means that I will probably not end up with a Sironar-S, because people never seem to give them up.

Thanks in advance.

-- Dave Karp (davekarp@ix.netcom.com), December 20, 2001


At the 305mm length I can recommend the G-Claron. It is absolutely crisp, more than enough coverage if you want to use it on an 8x10. It is larger than the Nikkor or Fujinon, but certainly not larger than the 90/4.5 Grandagon you are using. The 305/9 G-Claron can be purchased from Badger Graphics right now for $675 or so. A real deal in my opinion on a fantastic lens.

No recommendation at 135mm, I use the 150mm G-Claron.

-- Dave Schneider (dschneider@arjaynet.com), December 20, 2001.

If you want a medium wide angle like the 135 the why not get the Nikor 120 SW. This lense can ccover 8x10 and the go for about 700. used and you will have no limit to the movements on a 4x5 and the difference in 135 to 120 is not worth talking about. The lense is crisp and contrasty. It uses a copal 0 so the shutter goes to 1/500.

-- Ed (zeke@idirect.com), December 20, 2001.

135 : apo sironar S, good as the apo symmar with a larger image circle, i know this is hard to find in second hand, that's the reason why i bought a mint apo symmar in second hand, and if i find a sironar S, i will sell my schneider... 300 : apo ronars MC from rodenstock have to be consider, maybe the image circle is a little too small for your use, but this lens is light weight and very sharp at 22 at infinity, or you can get the 360 if you have enought bellow extension, try to find a multicoated or at list a single coated on a black copal, not many are ! a good alternative to the 135, is the very expensive super symmar 110 xl from schneider, it's suppose to be the sharpest lens available in LF ( image circle of 288mm at 22) in the 240 range, you can try the fuji A 240/9, large image circle and suppose to be very sharp. Sharp is not everything with lens : last week i've test a second hand lens, current model in perfect condition, it was a nikon SW 65/4, this lens was perfectly sharp, sharper than my super angulon MC 90, but i didn't buy it, because i find that i prefer the way my 90 deal with tone values (even in colour slide), that's a question of taste and specific sample. you should test lens before you buy, especially with second hand... by the way, what's is the version of your 75 (4.5/6.8)? is it good ?

-- dg (sacripant@online.fr), December 20, 2001.


I have no hesitation in recommending the Fuji lenses. I've been using the modern multicoated versions and they are sharp, contrasty and flare-free and every bit as good as their German counterparts.

I just recently bought the 135mm 5.6 CM-W and this is an excellent lens. I looked at the Fuji 125mm but it was too close to the SS110XL which I also have. The 135mm fits nicely between the 110XL and the Fuji 210mm. I have not had any problems with flare and the glare & light levels here in tropical north Queensland are always pretty high!

The 135mm seems to have very good edge/centre resolution with numbers in the high 60's and 70's at f11 & f16 and performs to diffraction limits at f22. I imagine the 125mm would be just as good.

For a longer lens my research suggests that the Fuji 300 C would be an excellent choice for your requirements.

Kind regards

Peter Brown

-- Peter L Brown (photo_illustration@bigpond.com), December 20, 2001.

Hi Dave, Interestingly enough I found myself at a good destination with the identical cambo and 12 inch rail/ bag bellows. Unfortunately I wanted to use my 305 G-Claron and had left my 21" rail at home as well as my pleated bellow. I reversed the front standard on the rail so that the lensboard was extended instead of the normal recess. With everything maxed out and the bag bellows really complaining, I got that shot with the 305. Dave is right on. The G-Clarons are very nice for general shooting. Mine has produced some pleasing shots. The 150 G-Claron is worth considering too, although there are so many other good choices that losing f5.6 for f9 may be a consideration. My current 135 is a Componon S that came to me via Ebay for $9.95. It's not that I can't afford any of the other "normal" choices. If any of them was sharper at f22 I'sd switch.

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@lnett.com), December 21, 2001.

Between my 75 and 200mm I finally found myself comfortable with 120 (Super Symmar) and 150mm. At the beginning I had only one 135mm but quickly felt the need for two lenses. If I ever had to choose only one I, for sure, would take the 120 which is by far my most used lens.Two lenses between a 75 and a 200 is not too much in my opinion (and I don't like the 90), but two lenses between 90 and 200 is a different story. If you want to keep the 90, then a 135 might be wise.

-- Jean-Marie Solichon (jardin-exotique@monte-carlo.mc), December 21, 2001.

Research the Nikkor 135mm lens. It will cover 5x7 with movements; thus on a 4x5 it provides outstanding reults, and you do not need a center filter. Sreiously, while the 120 mm lenses are fine, you may find that for much landscape work the 135mm lens will provide all you can use. Bob

-- Bob Moulton (bobmargaretm@home.com), December 21, 2001.

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions.

I considered a 115mm Grandagon-N, but it is as big as my 90, and I don't have that much more room to carry another giant. Also, that lens along with the Nikkor 120 and Schneider 120 Super Angulon are expensive. Too steep for me, even used. Ditto for the Schneider 110 XL. So that is why I am looking at the 125mm f/5.6 Fujinon W and the 135mm Rodenstocks.

Does anyone have an opinion on the 135mm vs. 125mm focal length? The 125mm Fujinon has a little more movement than a 135mm Sironar-N, and a little less than the Sironar-S. Will the wider 125mm focal length be enough for architecture and interiors? Unfortunately, any available Fujinons are not local, so I can't try before I buy. That is why I am trying to collect opinions before I buy. I really appreciate your assistance.

-- Dave Karp (davekarp@ix.netcom.com), December 22, 2001.

My buddy who shoots a 210 Sironar S raves about it. In 135 I'd believe it to be a good fit.

-- Wayne Crider (waynecrider@hotmail.com), December 24, 2001.

If you bought the 135 f5.6 Apo-Sironar S and the Apo-Ronar 240 f9 or 300 f9, you could fit both lenses with 49 mm filters. On your 12 inch short rail, you could shoot only at infinity with a 300 mm lens, as the bellows needs to be extended to focus at closer distances. Selecting a 240 mm lens as your longest lens would give you some room to focus at less than infinity. You might even prefer the 240 over 300 mm lens for taking head and shoulder portraits. Regard

-- Dean (djackson@333law.com), December 28, 2001.


I have a Rod. 135 S and like it very much. My lenses to either side are 90 mm and 210 mm, both Fuji for what it's worth. The 135 fits well in that spread, at least for my view of the landscape. I think the 125 mm might be bit too close to the 90 mm for my taste.

WRT a longer lens, I have a 355 gold dot daggor. I considered 300 mm lenses, but they seemed too close to the 210. Your camera with a short rail won't work with this lens, but you could use the Nikkor 360T. I used to have one, and found it sharp and contrasty. Tilts were a pain, as they are with any telephoto design. But that's a compromise you have to make when you have limited bellows draw.


-- Bruce M. Herman (bherman@gci.net), December 30, 2001.

"APO Grandagon 75mm and 90mm f/4.5"

Grandagon N perhaps.

The only Apo Grandagon lenses are the 35mm 4.5, 45mm 4.5 and the 55mm 4.5.

Rodestock has not and does not plane to make longer Apo Rodagon lenses.

-- Bob Salomon (bob@hpmarketingcorp.com), December 30, 2001.

Thanks Bob,

Of course you are correct. I was going from memory. They are Grandagon-N lenses that I bought from a friend of mine that used them for years on Sinar DB mounts for studio work and interiors. I had them mounted on Copal shutters. Great lenses. I am very happy with them.

With that correction, do you have any further comments that might help me with my lens selection?

-- Dave Karp (davekarp@ix.netcom.com), December 31, 2001.

"further comments that might help me with my lens selection?"

Not really. Only you can decide and the best way to make sure if you need the newer lens is to rent or borrow and shoot with it to see if it fits your needs.

This eliminates the shotgun approach of buying too many lenses and using only a few of them.

My rule of thumb is if I don't use it once a month - rent it. If I need it monthly - buy it.

-- Bob Salomon (bob@hpmarketingcorp.com), December 31, 2001.

Thanks to everyone who answers to my questions. I really appreciate the help. Having all of these leads to follow up on sure beats flying blind.

-- Dave Karp (davekarp@ix.netcom.com), January 05, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ