Kowa Graphic 360mm F9 - anyone happy with theirs?

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Is anyone here shooting regularly with one?

I have one in barrel that's been unused since I bought it some months ago. I had planned to put into a shutter for the longest time. I am just wondering if it's truly worth the $300 for a Copal 3S to do so.

Is this lens as sharp as a G-Claron for 4x5? (It shares the same design as I understand it)

Regards Tan

-- K H Tan (kahheng@pacific.net.sg), March 19, 2002


If you are going to have it installed into a shutter by Mr. Grimes it would probably be cheaper to buy a new 355 G-Claron from Robert White than to buy a new #3 shutter and pay for the installation.

-- Wayne DeWitt (wdewitt@snip.net), March 19, 2002.


As you probably know, these lenses were designed as copy lenses, so they _should_ perform their best in close-up situations. However, I have used several of these lenses at infinity without any real problems, other than haveing to deal with some field curvature. You have to stop down to have the edge of the image and the center of the image focused at infinity.

This really only applies if you are using a large camera. If you throw the 360mm on a 4x5, you won't see the curvature, I don't think.

I purchased a 360 Kowa last year and also found a #3S (not a #3) shutter on Ebay shortly after. However, I have not used the lens much because I had to move last year. (I will soon be finished with the new darkroom in the basement!)

It will screw directly into a #3S shutter, so there will be no machining required to fit it; all that is required is the calibration of the aperture. Note that some of the lenses might come with a spacer for the rear element. An article in VC about 10 years ago indicated that this spacer will make the lens very sharp for 1:1 work, with a flat field. But, if you wish to use the lens at infinity, you may find that using the lens without the spacer will produce better images. I believe removing the spacer will flatten the field curvature out a bit, at the expense of a bit of sharpness throughout the lens field.

If you plan to use it for 4x5, then I don't think you want to remove the spacer, because you are using so little of the lens's field that the issue of curvature should not be a problem.

If you can find a used #3S shutter, I think you will have a lens that is quite excellent, and substantially cheaper than a 355 G Claron. However, the Kowa won't cover a 12x20 negative at infinity, whereas the G Claron will, for what's it's worth.

I suggest you make a cardboard lensboard for the lens, and try it on your 4x5. I suspect you will find it very sharp and every bit the equal of the G Claron under normal use. Make sure you use some kind of hood with the lens, because you will be using only a small portion of the image circle it will throw. Otherwise, you will get bellows fogging from the substantial amount of light that goes into the camera without hitting the film surface directly.


-- Michael Mutmansky (mjmlighting@adelphia.net), March 19, 2002.

Hi Wayne/Mike,

Well, I am thinking of buying the used #3s from Steve Grimes without any engraving work - I'll be making a simple aperture scale since I don't figure I will use this lens enough to justify spending that much money on the additional work. I am using this to shoot architectural details on buildings. I tend to use my wider lenses more than long lenses.


Thanks for the insights! It's great to hear from someone who owns this lens.

Regards Tan

-- K H Tan (kahheng@pacific.net.sg), March 19, 2002.


I've used a 360mm Kowa Graphic, which came in the Copal 3S shutter, for a number of years. It is very sharp, based on the 4x5 landscape photographs that I have taken with the lens. The tests that I first ran on the lens showed that it was sharpest at f11, and gradually softened as it was stopped down to f16 and f22. Its not quite as sharp as my 240mm Sironar N, my sharpest lens, but it gets close.

Charles Schuetze

-- Charles Schuetze (schuetze@pobox.alaska.net), March 19, 2002.

Hi Charles

Thanks for the info.

I guess it's like my 240mm G-Claron. It's not as sharp as my Fujinon 210mm at f22, but still pretty good. It seems to be a characteristic of most of these repro 6/4 designs. The huge image circle and compactness makes up for that though.

-- K H Tan (kahheng@pacific.net.sg), March 19, 2002.

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