wide angle lenses

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This is a somewhat perplexing problem. I have checked the specs for both the SA72XL and the SS80XL and they seem very similar. I currently shoot architecture with an older SA75. I also have used the SA90XL and for me doesn't have the coverage angle of the 75, obviously. I have also used the SA58XL and find it too wide, with distortion at the edges. I just got back some 4X5 trannies and some, not all, had some softness at the edges. The question is two fold. Is it the lens or could it be the film in the holder or something else which caused the softness and if I was to replace the 75 which of these would be best?

-- joe kras (joekras@yahoo.com), March 30, 2002


Schneider rates the SA58XL is just barely covering 4x5 at f22. On the exposures with softness, what aperture did you use? Did you use any movements? Are all four corners equally soft?

The SS80XL is rated by Schneider have an image circle of 212 mm, which will allow shifts/rises of 34 and 39 mm on 4x5. The SA72XL is rates to cover 226 mm, which will allow shifts/rises of 42 and 48 mm on 4x5. For architecture, I think the additional coverage of the SA72XL is highly useful. The SA72XL is substantially larger and heavier than the SS80XL, so someone doing hiking to do landscapes is likely to reach the opposite conclusion and prefer the SS80XL. The lenses are different and which is best depends on your goals.

Another difference is the falloff of the illumination. The falloff for the Super-Angulon XL series (like the Super Angulon series and similar wide angles from other manufacturers) goes approximately as cos theta to the power of 3. The Super-Symmar XL series has illumination falloff like "normal" lenses, approximately as cos theta to the power of 4. What this means is that the SA72XL has less (better) light falloff in the corners than the SS80XL.

Yet another considertion, if you want to use glass filters, is the size of filters required. The SAXL72 takes large filters, and if you want to use a filter in front of the center filter, very large filters.

-- Michael Briggs (MichaelBriggs@EarthLink.net), March 30, 2002.


Rather foolishly I sold my 72mm and 90mm SAXLs to purchase an 80mm SSXL. I couldn't fit the 90mm XL on my Linhof and thought that the 80mm could wear the hats of both the 72mm and 90mm. On further investigating the 80mm SSXL I found that its performance was questioned by a number of users I respect and believe. I ended up with a 90mm 1:4.5 Rodenstock which is great, but there was still the snag that when I first got my 72mm it became my 'standard' wide-angle for 4x5. The 90mm seldom got a run.

So, last week I took delivery of my new 72mm SAXL and I'm back in love. It is a sensation lens in terms of both performance and view. As I say, it is my standard on 4x5 and on 6x9 or 6x12 it provides great spacial rendition. There's buckets of movement and yes, the filters are big, but so what? You get what you pay for.

In conclusion, I should point out that I use these lenses daily in interior and exterior photography for architects, interior designers, landscapers and (for a strange twist at the end) motor cycle customisers.

The focus issues that you address are alien to my experiences with the lenses you mention and so I suggest that it might be a matter of film plane position, alignment or flatness. Sounds like stringent testing may be the order of the day.

Happy days,

Walter Glover

-- Walter Glover (walterg@netaus.net.au), March 30, 2002.


I own and use a 72XL, but have no experience with the other lens' mentioned. The only other wide lens' I've used are a SA 65mm and a 90mm Nikkor W.

While I don't shoot "technical" architectural photos, I love shooting old structures; old barns, homes, mines bldgs, etc., both inside and out. The 72XL is an incredible lens! I have yet to run out of movement using this lens and it is extremely sharp all the way out to the corners. Yes, it's a large lens, taking 95mm filter, or 105mm once the CF is installed, but when I need a wide lens this is the one I take. I suggest you check around and see if you can rent the lens' you're interested in and then make a decision.


-- Pete Caluori (pcaluori@hotmail.com), March 30, 2002.

How old is your SA75? I chose the SA75 f/5.6 over the SA72XL about two years ago and have been very happy with the decision. As far as resolution goes, the SA75 has the edge (according to Schneider Optics), though the difference is marginal. The SA75 is sharp with excellent color rendition. The only real advantage of the 72XL is its image circle, which makes it more suitable for the 6x17 panoramic format (e.g., Linhof Technorama 617S) or the 5x7 format.

The SS80XL is very compact and light compared to either the SA75 or SA72XL, and when it was released I was very excited about it. However, as mentioned above, there are still some unanswered questions as to its overall performance. The jury is still out . . . . In the meantime, I'll hang on to my SA75.

-- E Rothman (erothman@hotmail.com), April 04, 2002.

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