Schneider 150XL vs. Nikkor 150 SW (for 4x5 + 8x10) : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I would like to eventually get a lens to fill the gap between my 90 and 210 for shots including group and individual portraits. So, I am researching lenses in the 135-150mm range. I want to invest in an optic which will be useful for when I can move up to 8x10, so it must cast a very large image circle as well. I thought these two lenses looked like logical choices.

My questions are:

Which of these 2 lenses has better performance and versatility for 4x5 up through 8x10 shooting?

Also, Is there a new Fuji or Rodenstock equivalent in this focal length range I may have over looked?

Finally, does anyone have first hand experience mounting the Nikkor 150SW lens to a field camera sized lens board. Is it too broad?

Thanks in advance for all replies. Andre

-- Andre Noble (, March 31, 2002


I have both the Nikon 150 and 120mm SW lens. The 150mm is in a Copal 1 and the 120mm is in a Copal 0 so there is not a problem with the lensboard. As you indicated, the problem is with getting the massive rear element into the camera. On my Linhof Technikardan and Master, the 150SW will simply not fit. The 120mm will bearly fit if you take off the lens cap before insertion. So if you have a camera that has a square opening behind the lensboard, it is not a problem. The 150SW is a wonderful lens with over 400mm of coverage. It takes a 95mm filter and weights in at 2.3#. While I would recommend this lens for your specific application, I find that I simply do not use it for either 4x5 or 5x7 because of the size and the weight. For 8x10 it is one of my main lenses when I need a wide angle.

Might I suggest the 120mm SW from Nikon. It is significantly less expensive, weights 1.3#, takes a 77mm filter and will cover 8x10 albeit bearly. I use this lens for 4x5 and 5x7 all the time. In my experience I find that I use minimal movements because of the significant perspective and the close hyperfocal distance so it is really not a big deal.

I will sit back and see what others recommend.

-- Michael Kadillak (, March 31, 2002.


When you experience the size and weight of the Super-Symmar XL - particularly the rear section - your mind will be made up. When you see the hitherto unknown realised results from the optics you will wonder why you ever raised a doubt about it. Add to that the fact that small 62mm filters screw into a filter thread in the rear section and life's a breeze.

Walter Glover

-- Walter Glover (, March 31, 2002.

Michael and Walter, thank you for your input. Both of you gave something to think about! Andre

-- Andre Noble (, March 31, 2002.

If the intended use was solely 4x5, then the choice would be rather clear--the Nikkor SW 150 would lose by its weight, size and slower aperture for composing/focusing.

If use on 8x10 is a criteria, the choice opens up again. One consideration is the falloff in illumination from the optical center. Schneider publishes graphs of the illumination and they show the Super-Symmar XL series to behave like most lenses: the illumiation falls off as about cosine to the power of four. This means that at the edge of the 386 mm diameter circle of coverage, the illumination of only 14% of the on-axis value. Nikon doesn't seem to publish this information, at least in English, but based upon the design the illumination should falloff closer to the third power. The huge outer elements compared to the inner elements are a characteristic of a wide angle design that results in improved illumiation. Based on cos to the power of 3, the illumination from the Nikkor SW at 386 mm diameter would be 23% of the on-axis value. The actual value for the Nikkor-SW might not be quite this good, but it should be better than the Super-Symmar XL. If the primary intended use of a 150 mm lens is for 8x10, this might be a reason to choose the Nikkor-SW.

-- Michael Briggs (, April 01, 2002.

Michael B, thank you for that useful info as well. I have the Nikon brochure, the 150 f8 made for 8x10 looks really handsome. But I just measured the opening to my Toyo field camera ~87mm, The rear element (100mm) won't be going through it anytime soon. Nikon 150 f8 lens still worth considering for 8x10, though...

-- Andre Noble (, April 02, 2002.

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