Classic Lens for 7x17 : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I have decided after 12 years of LF photography to pursue the 7x17 format. In my opinion the largest obstacle seems to be the lens selection. From the limited research that I have done a classic lens looks like the solution. I am not aware of the choices and features of some of the older lenses. I do use a Kodak 10" and 14" Commercial Ektars and they do a fantastic job. I do not know for sure what the image circle of the 14" Ektar is but if it did cover the 7x17 that would be a good choice for a general lens. I think that to start out with I would like a lens somewhere around the 14" length. Can anyone help out with some suggestions? The price range I am looking into is the $1,000-$1,500.

-- Bruce E. Rathbun (, March 21, 2002


Oh Men Bruce with a $1000 to $1500 limit the sky is the limit for you! Look check out my thread about a Modern lens for a 12x20 and all them lenses apply to you. I settled on the Nikon 450 M simply because it has the same filter size as all my other lenses, it covers 12x20 and it came out cheap on E bay. but at 467 mm diagonal you have plenty of choices, the Fujinons 350 and 450 would work, the Schnieders G claron 300 and 355 would work, heck men I think your problem is not going to be finding a lens but which lens of the many available. BTW I think also the Apo Ronars will work for you, but dont take my word for it.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, March 21, 2002.

Check out -- The site includes quite complete data on lenses for ultra large format. -JB

-- jeff buckels (, March 21, 2002.

Also check out this table of new and classic lens specs:

-- David Goldfarb (, March 21, 2002.

I made a small error on the first post. The amount that I would like to spend is $500 to $1,000. This might make a small difference. I did have a question for Jorge. Does that Nikon 450 have an image circle of 467mm? If that is the case that would be a good choice.

-- Bruce E. Rathbun (, March 21, 2002.

Bruce the 450 Nikon has an image circle of 440 at f/22, BUT! you will not be using the lens this open, at f/64 to f/90 the image circle goes to 600....way more than what you need!

BTW the fujinon 450 has an image circle of 486 at f/22 but only closes to f/64 as opposed to the Nikon that goes all the way down to f/128

remember these are all contact prints, so difraction plays a small role when printing and opposed to when you are enlarging.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, March 21, 2002.

Another question for Jorge. The Nikon is sounding better and better all the time. When the Nikon is wide open for focus does the image cover all of the ground glass for focusing? I have used several lenses that when stopped down cover the film. These lenses would not cover the ground glass to focus while wide open. This could have just been a cheaper lens. I am not sure. I do wish to have coverage when I focus. Does this make sense or did I just hit a fluke a few times?

-- Bruce E. Rathbun (, March 21, 2002.

Actually you got it Bruce, the lens will not cover the entire frame when focusing wide open, but think about it in your case you are only missing 20 mm....heck this is nothing! (well maybe a little but more since you have 440 mm at f-22, at f9 maybe you have 420)imagine you frame your shot and you focus on the middle of the image.....on the sides you will miss 1 cm for each side ...heck I wish it was that easy for me...:-)) OTH if you get the Fuji 450C you will have the entire image circle when you focus since it has 486 right from the start.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, March 21, 2002.

The Fujinon 450 C does stop down to f 128, but the f-stops are not marked past f 64. One could get the additional markings engraved on the scale.

-- William Marderness (, March 22, 2002.

While the Nikkor 450 is an excellent lens, for some tastes (like mine) it is far too long for 7x17 format. My general lens for the 717 is a 305mm G-Claron. At f/32 and below it has more coverage than my Korona camera has rise so is much more than adequate. Sharpness and contrast are all you could want. Once in a while when I want more "reach" I use a 16.5" (~420mm) Dagor than usually lives on my 1220.

-- Carl Weese (, March 22, 2002.

Well there you go Bruce, what did I tell you? I think your problem is too many choices! Ok so you cannot get a better opinion than Carl's OTH like he said you would have to be the judge as to what is the best focal lenght for you. William just posted that the Fuji lens does stop to 128, I wonder if I want to go through the hassle of having the stops engraved, but then this lens has a greater coverage so it might be good for you. Ok, good luck and let us know what you get.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, March 22, 2002.


You have received a lot of good input above.

You mentioned that you wanted something in the 14" range... and the best answer would be a 355 G-Claron. It can easily be had for under $1000... covers 12x20 so more then enough for 7x17.

Other lenses that will cover 7x17 in my experiences are, f9 Computars (in 210, 240 and 270), 12" Dagor, 450M Nikkor, 24" and longer Artars (if you have bellows draw). By spec the 210 Super Symmar XL will cover (500mm IC), but this is a BIG lens - be aware and make sure the front of your camera is strong enough ;)


-- Steve Nieslony (, March 26, 2002.

I have to agree with Carl on the 305mm G Claron as possibly the best 'first' lens for 7x17. There are two reasons for this:

1. The lens is much smaller and lighter than the 355 G Claron, since it comes in a #1 shutter as opposed to the #3 for the 355.

2. It is much cheaper than the 355 is, which will buy you more film.

As Carl stated, it has gobs of room for movement as it is stopped down. However, one caviat about all of these lenses used for the ULF cameras is that you are using coverage that the manufacturer of the lens never really intended you to use.

So, the corners will go soft, unless you stop down substantially, and are careful to ensure that you have the lens focused properly for the corners. You may find that some lenses have enough field curvature at the edge of coverage that you will have to 'defocus' the center a bit and then stop down to ensure sufficient sharpness everywhere.

When I say stop down, I don't mean to f22. I mean to 32, 45, or more. Don't concern yourself with diffraction as many people do with 'small' large format, because you will be making contact prints, or enlarging at most about 2x.

There is one Copal #1 360mm lens out there that will cover 7x17 easily. It is the old Fujinon 360mm 'A' that was discontinued many years ago. It can be found multicoated, unlike the G Clarons, but it is quite rare.

I purchased one a few years ago as my first dedicated 7x17 lens, but I have since shifted to the 305mm because it fits better between a 210mm Computar and 450mm Fujinon.

You can get the G Clarons from Robert White for better prices than I have seen people asking for used ones in the US, so I suggest you check out their prices.


-- Michael Mutmansky (, March 28, 2002.

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