Schneider 58XL vs. Rodenstock Apo Grandagon 55? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

This question has not been asked in the archives, so here goes:

I am considering getting one of these two ultra wide lenses in next few months to augment the charming Nikkor 90 (which many times is not wide enough for the shot)for full 4x5 frame coverage.

Anyone have experience of their own choosing between these two, and if so, which one did you get, the Schneider or the Rodenstock, and what was your reasoning?

Word is, optically the Rodenstock is excellent. Any other tid-bits?

-- Andre Noble (, January 01, 2002


Andre, As you know from a previous posting I too am looking for a wide angle, so I've been doing plenty of research!! The 55 Rodenstock seems to be VERY good, only problem I've come across is a posting where the flimsy rodenstock lens caps have rubbed on the rear element and marked the glass!! A replacement cap would solve this!! It also appears that a centre filter is essential too (extra cost). FRom all reports the 55 vs the 58XL seems to be an even match!! This narrows the choice down between both lenses to something as simple as brand loyalty!! Just some thoughts!! Regards Paul

-- paul owen (, January 01, 2002.

"only problem I've come across is a posting where the flimsy rodenstock lens caps have rubbed on the rear element and marked the glass!!"

That is the only time we heard of it also and we are the distributor.

The person who psted that comment, I believe, had purchased a used lens and this comment may have no bearing on a new one. To date no one who has bought a new lens in the past 12 years has reported this to us.

-- Bob Salomon (, January 01, 2002.

Yeh, but it's still worrying all the same!! I only mentioned this "problem" as it's the only negative point I've come across for this lens!! Lighten up Bob!!

-- paul owen (, January 01, 2002.

For the record let me state that the three wonderful Rodenstock lenses (90mm f4.5 Grandagon, 135mm f5.6 Sironar-S, 210mm Sironar-S) that I bought new last year came with flimsy, thin, and inadequate lens caps stamped with the word Rodenstock on them.

From this forum I learned of the existence of machined delrin lens caps made by S.K. Grimes, and I have now replaced all my lens caps with these very substantive improvements. These lenses deserve to be better protected and now Rodenstock's 'oversight' has been corrected.

The issue of flimsy lens caps has surfaced before on this forum, as has the elegant solution provided by S.K. Grimes.

-- Mark Nowaczynski (, January 01, 2002.

For full details see:

These are the Linhofs of lens caps.

-- Mark Nowaczynski (, January 01, 2002.

I don't think that Bob said anything out of line. He was only stating that in the past 12 years there was only one comnplaint, and that complaint may not have been based upon a manufacturer's supplied lens cap.

I think that Paul needs not to be so defensive.


-- Jim Johnston (, January 01, 2002.

No Paul.

You relax. " but it's still worrying all the same!!"

It simply has not, is not and will not be an issue.

If you truly want to end all worries buy a set of custom Novoflex metal caps. but you would be the first to do so.

-- Bob Salomon (, January 01, 2002.


There is one plain and simple answer to your question. Ask each distriutor to suggest a stocking dealer near you who has a demo lens of the type you are condisering buying. Really no different that asking for a test drive when you go to buy a new car. If they won't allow you to test the lens you are considering buying, run from that place as fast as you can. But don't rely on someone telling you something might be good when you are buying a new lens. Test the one you want to buy and make sure that if it is no good you can take it back. I am sure that the Rodenstock people and the Schneider people want to know when they have a lemon out there and I am sure they would be willing to take it back if it proves to be so. Right Bob?


-- Kevin Kolosky (, January 01, 2002.

All lenses supplied by us are warrantied to perform to their specifications. If not thet are reaired or replaced per warranty.

However very few retailers will make new lenses used by renting their new stock. So the specific lens a dealer rents isn't always a new boxed unit. It is a lens in their rental stock.

Virtually all dealers dealing in pro equipment rent so there is no problem finding one. Just there may not be one near where he lives.

-- Bob Salomon (, January 01, 2002.


Photomark in Phoenix has (had) a 55mm Apo-Grandagon in their rental fleet.

I rented it twice, then bought one based on excellent results.


-- Glenn Kroeger (, January 01, 2002.

I have likewise rented Photomark's 55mm Grandagon and found it to be a superb lens ... haven't yet purchased one, though, as the money always seems to find another outlet besides photography.

-- Jeffrey Goggin (, January 01, 2002.

Andre, I cannot speak from experience with regards to the 58XL from Schnieder but I have been using Rodenstock's 55 Apo Grandagon for sometime. Initially on 6x9cm and more recently on 5x4. Unfortunately it provides little room for lens shift on this format but its such a sharp lens right to the edge even on 5x4.

This is purely subjective but I find that a lot of my images taken with this lens seem to have an almost fluidness about them, a kind of 3D feel. Imotive I know but it's something I cannot fully explain.

Good luck with your choice.

-- Trevor Crone (, January 01, 2002.

Hi Andre

I would take the Rodenstock because of 3mm more wideangel and change the lense caps with others, because I`m the man with the damaged lens from the bad caps and the Rodenstock team maked me a new lenscaoting or a new glass on the back element in warranty but the cost of the shippment and the 3 weeks without lens was my problem! But they think now about there lens caps!

Hope they think in the right way!

-- Armin Seeholzer (, January 01, 2002.

Thank you all for the input. My intuition was telling me to consider the Rodenstock Grangagon 55mm, and based on your threads I'll take that hunch and go with it, (albeit possibly considering custom made lens caps from Grimes as a required accessory). I hope its not TOO wide for my TOYO Field 45AII, which is supposed to have the Schneider 58XL as the widest limit of usable lenses.

Aside: I'm too impulsive to test rental lenses as was suggested, but I know some of you aren't so thank you for the fruits of your labor. When time comes, hopefully in next year, I'll order the 55mm from RW, and keep it if it meets performance expectations. I'm looking forward to it.

-- Andre Noble (, January 01, 2002.

"If you truly want to end all worries buy a set of custom Novoflex metal caps. but you would be the first to do so."

If this is true Bob I'd like to meet the Dunderhead at Novoflex who insists on marketing lenscaps that no one has ever purchased!

-- Wayne DeWitt (, January 01, 2002.

Andre be advised that if you buy from Robert White you will not receive the wonderful Lifetime Warranty on the Rodenstock lens that is only available from Rodenstock's Autorized Distributor in the U.S.A., yadda yadda yadda... oh nevermind.

-- Wayne DeWitt (, January 01, 2002.

"marketing lenscaps that no one has ever purchased"

Sorry Wayne.

they are made from aluminum,on a custom order basis, for very long Canon and Nikon lenses .

Since I forgot you were here I should have added, never ordered one for large format lenses.

But if you wish they can. Rather expensive though for a non- existant problem.

-- Bob Salomon (, January 01, 2002.

Bob, a rare NOT non existent problem, surely??

-- paul owen (, January 01, 2002.

"a rare NOT non existent problem"

No. Non-existant.

In 12 years distributing Rodenstock 1000's of new lenses. Not one lens reported to us with this problem.


The person with this problem had purchased a lens that was NOT new.

-- Bob Salomon (, January 01, 2002.

In marketing, perception is reality, yes Bob. You have heard from others now read my comment. The dammed Rodenstock caps are flimsy, cheaply made. My cap for a 60mm ID fitting weighs exactly 4.70 grams. Adding another 2.5 grams of plastic would make the cap's convex surface much more sturdy. The extra cost of another 3 grams of plastic at about $2.00 per pound for the resin would add to 1.3 cents additional material cost per cap. Even at the generous mark ups of this industry, that would probably translate to 8 cents more per cap/lens. OK, Bob, tell Rodenstock marketers to make a decent cap, and add the 8 cents to the selling price of each lens and stop making a reputable optical manufacturer look cheap and greedy. You can help the manufacturer better by listening to customers instead of whitewashing their mistakes. For your info, a Schneider 58mm ID lens cap weighs 7.06 grams and is much sturdier. You do not have to rely on Novoflex specially ordered caps, get Schneiders.

-- Julio Fernandez (, January 01, 2002.

The stiff corner of a field camera lens board and the front element of an adjacentlens are not a good combination when a flimsy lens cap is in place. The Nikon LF lens caps are adequate for their protection. The Japanese engineers pay attention to little, but vital details like that.

-- Andre Noble (, January 01, 2002.

:You can help the manufacturer better by listening to customers instead of whitewashing their mistakes.:

Listen to whom if no one compalins to us?

We always pass on comments from dealers and users where there are problems.

So far, 12 years, no connsumer, no dealer, has had a complaint about the caps or had a problem caused by the caps.

Now because the factory has agreed to make good on one consumer's complaint that a USED lens had a problem they should change everything?

Again, 12 years. 1000's of lenses. Noone has reported a problem.

-- Bob Salomon (, January 02, 2002.

Happy dreaming Bob for the new year!

I had a damage of a back element and Kerry had also some troubles with his front element as I remember and many of the Rodenstock buyers get other lens caps when the lens is new or they put always a filter on the lens but for Bob there is not any problem with the caps!!! But Steve Grimes is happy he can sell some caps and I use a Nikon cap on my Rodenstock 55 mm Apo Grandagon. Anyway a good and healthy and happy New Year to all of you!

-- Armin Seeholzer (, January 02, 2002.

"I had a damage of a back element and Kerry had also some troubles with his front element"

Then it is strange neither of you contacted us directly.

-- Bob Salomon (, January 02, 2002.

Hi Bob

I`m from Switzerland Bob and I directly was taking the troubles to Rodenstock because I want an improvement of the caps for the near future. And I`m sure it will improve, beause I believe it is a good old german quality company and they listen to the customers! But just to remember you Bob from a statement you made earlier: After seeing your post we checked with our service center.

Since 1989 they have seen exactly 1 (one) case of a marred coating on a current series of lenses due to a contact between the lens cap and the front or rear element.

Repeat 1.

This is not what you would call an epidemic or a problem.

If you have a new lens damaged by the lens cap you should immediatly contact the distributor who is resposible for warranty service in Switzerland and have him fix the problem.

had it been a new lens covered by our Lifetime Warranty on Rodenstock we would have replaced the lens. providing the problem was caused by the Rodenstock cap being the culprit.

This would not apply if the problem was caused by pressure in your case pushing the cap in.

As for Kaiser caps. They are made in sizes from 15mm to 120mm. From 15mm to 58mm they are sized in 1mm increments. From 60 to 62mm they are in 1 mm incremats (there is no 59mm) From there on they are sized 64, 65, 70, 72, 75, 77, 80, 85, 90, 100 and 120mm.

So if a cap is too tight in many cases are very slightly larger diameter cap is available.

-- Bob Salomon (, October 15, 2001.

So Bob it was not 0 it was 1 dad you had just to remember your brain! But I know all good salesman are always forgott the problems they just want sales! But its OK Bob its your job!

-- Armin Seeholzer (, January 02, 2002.

Hi Andre

Just to give you the exactly dates of the lenses so you can make a test with your camera if it could work. I take the dates from the brochures from Schneider and Rodenstock:1.for the 58mm Schneider at infinity focus distance 69.3mm for 55mm APO Rodenstock at infinity focus distance 67.6mm. So you can see if it is possible to focus your camera to 67.6mm then it works with the wonderfull APO! Good luck!

-- Armin Seeholzer (, January 02, 2002.

"So Bob it was not 0 it was 1 dad you had just to remember your brain! But I know all good salesman are always forgott the problems they just want sales! But its OK Bob its your job! "

The one, and only, time this question arose was with your used lens Armin.

No one else has reported tis.

-- Bob Salomon (, January 02, 2002.

"I hope its not TOO wide for my TOYO Field 45AII, which is supposed to have the Schneider 58XL as the widest limit of usable lenses." Andre, I have been using the 55mm Grandagon on my Toyo 45AII for 18 months and it is quite usable. I believe that Toyo states that the 45AII can take lenses as short as 47mm, which looks true to me. Be prepared to drop the bed, back tilt and rise the front standard, this takes less than 20 seconds. An other detail : whith dropped bed the revolving back does not rotate properly anymore. In order to rotate the back 90 you have either to tilt it back rearward or to force it into position which scratches the paint of the bed (and is what I do 80% of the time). By the way I second all the good opinions about this lens.

-- Jean-Marie Solichon (, January 02, 2002.

Armin and jean-Marie, thanks for the tip on TOYO/Rodenstock 55mm compatibility.

-- Andre Noble (, January 02, 2002.


"My cap for a 60mm ID fitting weighs exactly 4.70 grams"

The one we just weighed, 60mm I.D. Rodenstock cap, weighs 5.6699046 g.

In fact we weighed 3 of them. 1 with the older logo and 2 from new items in stock with the newer logo on the cap. All weighed the same on an electronic postage scale.

-- Bob Salomon (, January 02, 2002.

To get back on topic:

If someone has used both the R 55 and the S 58, can you comment on the brightness of the f4.5 vs. f5.6 on the ground-glass?

-- Michael Chmilar (, January 02, 2002.

What's up with all these people having gram scales????

-- Wayne DeWitt (, January 02, 2002.

You guys are kidding, right. I have a scuff mark on the front element of one of my Rodenstocks and could never figure out how it got there! Now it makes sense.

Why has Rodenstock not mentioned this or warned the consumer that an expensive piece of glass could be damaged by a lens cap that is less than stellar.

Frank H.

-- Frank Hansen (, January 02, 2002.

Bob: Your Rodenstock lens cap weighs "5.6699046 g." in a postal scale. WOW! Your scale weighs to SEVEN DECIMAL places such as used in few analytical labs for supercritical applications, ....for the mail room? really? If instead the seven decimals result from converting ounces to grams, it is bad technical practice to write all that the calculator can calculate, because it is misleading. OK you beat me, my Swiss Mettler laboratory scale weighs only to 2 decimal places. Be that as it may, this only proves that there is yet a third type of Rodenstock cap or that they are not made to consistent standards. The discrepancy can be settled easily by me sending you my Rodenstock cap. You can weigh it and feel it, provided that if I am right, you will give me a good and solid Rodenstock cap. I do not know how you can do that, they don't really exist, do they? . Bob, from a long experience in quality matters I can tell you it is bad business to judge product quality according to complaints received or not received. A good number of users do not complain, they just change manufacturers. Others do not understand the cause of the failure or do not know who to complain to, others yet don;t want to bother; probably the same that do not return rebate stickers for real money! Manufacturers that do CARE about Quality make the best product they can that the market can tolerate. Another 8 cents to the selling price of a lens would not make Rodenstock lenses uncompetitive. Makes you wonder, if a manufacturer is willing to risk damage to the customer's lens for the sake of 1.3 cents, (factory cost), how far will it go when tempted by 25 cents pocketable money that the customer may be less likely to notice that an up front lens cap? Bob, this can not a be a complaint to you personally because I am in Canada, but I have no doubt that if I went to the Canadian distributor I'd get pretty much the same answer as you have provided. Just curious, have you told Rodenstock about the complaints you are having about the caps? PS: I just weighed a NO NAME cap, 60mm. It weighed 8.34 grams. It is much much more solid than Rodenstock's and will remain on the Rodenstock lens from now on.

-- Julio Fernandez (, January 03, 2002.

"Bob, this can not a be a complaint to you personally because I am in Canada, but I have no doubt that if I went to the Canadian distributor"

Feel free, ask for Mike at Kinderman. 905 940-9292

-- Bob Salomon (, January 03, 2002.

In the game of 'let's pile on Bob Solomon', I will put in my few cents worth. Just in case there might someday be some problem with Rodenstock lenses and Linhof Cameras that no one has yet found or heard of or even imagined, I will volunteer to take two or three of every lens & camera they make & use them & report back to the list & to Bob so he will be aware of what might or might not happen.

So, just send them to me & I will get right to work photographing with them... and in the meantime you guys call Steve Grimes & get new caps made up to have a good supply just in case I need one. As for Nikon, I use metal screw caps on my LF Nikkors. My biggest problem is with losing caps, not screwing up lenses.

-- Dan Smith (, January 03, 2002.

We tested the 58mm xl against the 55mm grandagon. The test was on a tall gray bldg with black glass windows inset with the lower sill fluted or grooved so it appeared like shark teeth. The image was deliberately vignetted so one corner would be in the center of the image and the diagonal would be black(vignetted). The exposures were shot at f16. Here are the results:

From center the image was a slight bit flatter(more even) with the Schneider for the first inch outward when read with the densitometer. (no center filters were used), but from there on the Schneider fell of f radically until it came to its penumbra which was 3/8" wide. The Rodenstock was far more even with less fall-off after the 1st inch and its penumbra was only 3/16". The Rodenstock seems to be somewhat better although if you need movement a center filter would still probably be best for either. In terms of sharpness when viewed with an 8x loupe the 'sharks teeth' of the window sills were markedly better rendered by the Rodenstock than the Schneider. So you decide...

By the way I always recommend the 82mm filter size with an 85mm kaiser cap and leave the brass Heliopan ring on all the lenses where needed with this cap. The 82mm filter will cover more than 98% of all lenses with the exception of the polarizer and therefore saves you bulk and money while protecting your lenses as well. Rod

-- Rod Klukas (, May 07, 2002.

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