75mmBiogon vs. 75mm Grandigon -N

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Has anyone out there made a comparrison between these two lenses. I realize the Biogon is not multi coated. Been dying to find out the performance level of the Biogon comparred to the modern day Grandigon-N. No theory please, just real hands on experience. Thanks in advance for your input.

-- Richard Boulware (boulware-den@att.net), April 08, 2002


Coverage for one.

The 75 Biogon covers 165mm while a 4.5 75mm Grandagon N covers 195mm.

Weight is another.

Why not just go to Denver Pro Photo. They have people familiar with both. Also Mile High and Mike's could be helpful as would S&S Optika in Englewood.

-- Bob Salomon (bob@hpmarketingcorp.com), April 08, 2002.

Bob Soloman: With all due respect...Sir. I have already purchased new 75 and 90mm Grandagon - N's upon your reccomendation and those of others.....as your warranty cards will reflect. I am delighed with the lenses. They are superb and are Marflex camed and calibrated. They are superb optical tools. My post was out of curiosity, having always wondered what a real 'user' thought of the Biogon...in comparison to the newer 4.5 Grandigon - N. As far as the Denver photo shops you mentioned...Denver Pro Photo is excellent...the others are just camera salesmen and are clueless. I've been a successful, award winning, professional for forty years, and I know a salesman from professional shooter. Just looking for some hands on experience and opinion. No offense intended. Richard Boulware ( National photographer of the year, Director, Photography Department, Colorado Institute of Art, eight gold medals (ADCD, DAF) Don Christiansen Memorial Award, and a bunch of other stuff in advertising and PJ.)

-- Richard Boulware (boulware-den@att.net), April 08, 2002.

What does that have to do with coverage?

There are several people at those stores who can help you if you give them the opportunity.

-- Bob Salomon (bob@hpmarketingcorp.com), April 08, 2002.

Richard give it up. Bob's not even on the same planet that we are.

-- Wayne DeWitt (wdewitt@snip.net), April 12, 2002.

Bob - For once will you just read the question. He's asking about real-world performance, not specs.. Things like: resolution, contrast, flare level, ghosting, field curvature/distortion, image plane flatness, etc... Weight and coverage he can get anywhere.

-- Wayne DeWitt (wdewitt@snip.net), April 12, 2002.

The Biogon will come in 2nd in a performance contest. It's only benefit is that the CF isn;t needed due to its' design (but that is a specification again isn't it)

-- Bob Salomon (bob@hpmarketingcorp.com), April 12, 2002.

No - if it has less falloff of illumination towards the edge of the field that's performance (guess the weight serves some purpose after all).

-- Wayne DeWitt (wdewitt@snip.net), April 12, 2002.

"guess the weight serves some purpose after all"

Not to mention a 95mm filter size vs a 67mm filter size.

-- Bob Salomon (bob@hpmarketingcorp.com), April 12, 2002.

"Not to mention a 95mm filter size vs a 67mm filter size."

Of course, to be TRULY apples:apples you have to also include the center filter on the Rodentock side of the equation. So make that 95mm filter size vs. 86mm filter size. The Gandagon still wins on this count, but not by as large of a margin. And oh yeah, don't forget the 1 1/2 - 2 stops (don't have the specs in front of me) loss due to the center filter.

BTW, I'm just playing devil's advocate here. For my money, I'd still take the smaller, lighter, larger coverage, multicoated 75mm f4.5 Gandagon-N (or 75mm f4.5 Nikkor SW) over the Biogon. But that's just based on my personal needs and preferences. Others may very well refer the classic Biogon.


-- Kerry Thalmann (largeformat@thalmann.com), April 12, 2002.

Kerry - Wouldn't you really rather have the 80XL? Or are we committed to 75mm here? And then there's always the 72XL.

Bob - Granted that the Biogon will have less falloff, but it also has less coverage. On balance, when the Grandagon's field of view is similarly restricted, the difference in falloff probably isn't all that great.

-- Wayne DeWitt (wdewitt@snip.net), April 12, 2002.


I was specifically limiting my choices to the 75mm lenses under comparison here. My first experience with the 80mm SS XL was less than impressive (well documented elsewhere on this forum). It certainly looks good on paper (smaller, lighter, larger image circle than any of the current 75s), and I may give it another go in the future. It's big brother, the 110mm SS XL is one of my all time favorite lenses.

WRT to the 72mm SA XL. It's really too big (specifically the already large filter size, combined with an even larger center filter) for my taste. It offers more coverage than I really need for my 4x5 landscape work. So, it doesn't really buy me anything other than bigger, more expensive filters. I'm sure it's an excellent lens, and others swear by it, just not my cup 'o tea.

Since we've opened this up to other lenses in this focal length range, I'll add a couple comments on some others I've used. First, I'm not a huge user of lenses wider than 90mm. That's not to say I don't use them. I usually have a 75mm in my kit, but it is my shortest and usually least used lens. Of the ones I've tried, my favorite, so far, was the 75mm f4.5 Nikkor SW. It was a good compromise of size, weight, coverage, price, max. aperture, etc. for my needs. I sold it when I ordered my 80mm SS XL (a decision I would later regret). It was my widest lens for many years and served me well. I used it with a Heliopan center filter and was pleased with the combo.

Currently, I'm back to using a 75mm f6.8 Grandagon-N. This lens is a compromise in several ways. The f6.8 max. aperture makes focusing and composing more difficult than a lens with an f4.5 max. aperture. Also, coverage, at 187mm, is pretty tight (I greatly preferred the 200mm IC of the 75mm Nikkor SW). That said, it does have some advantages, too. After the 80mm SS XL, this is the smallest, lightest 4x5 lens in this focal length range. It is also the least expensive. The 58mm front filter size, means it takes a smaller, less expensive center filter. I am currently using this lens with a Rodenstock center filter that is threaded on the front for standard 77mm filters (which I happen to have on hand from my days of shooting 5x7 with a 150mm Super Symmar HM). This is actually my second go 'round with this lens. My very first 75mm was also an f6.8 Grandagon-N. After using that one for a couple years, I upgraded to the 75mm Nikkor SW. At that time, I did not have a center filter for the 75mm Grandagon-N and was occasionally frustrated by the lack of coverage. The Nikkor was a definite improvement (especially with the addition of the Heliopna center filter). I thought that once I had a "better" 75mm that I'd use it more. I didn't really - just doesn't suit my shooting style all that well. So, when I found myself back in the market for a 75mm about a year ago, I found it hard to justify one of the more expensive lenses (given that this is my least used focal length). So, I picked up a very good deal on a 75mm Grandagon-N and a Rodenstock Center filter (total price less than 1/2 what one of the more expensive 75s along would cost). It's certianly not the "best" lens in it's class, but for now, it meets my needs just fine. Once I'm confident that Schnedier has a handle on the issues surrounding the 80mm SS XL, I may give it another try. For now, I'm getting by with the little f6.8 Grandagon-N.

Given that lenses in this focal length range don't really suit my shooting style in many situations, I'm certainly not "the authority" on this subject. Others, who rely more heavily on wide and ultrawide lenses, will no doubt have differing opinions - especially those whose shooting style and subject matter require more extensive movements. In any case, I'm just sharing what I've tried and what works (and doesn't work) for me personally. YMMV!


-- Kerry Thalmann (largeformat@thalmann.com), April 13, 2002.

What price legend? What price myth? The Biogons are shrouded in mythology and legend. I'm continually amazed at the prices these marques garner on Ebay and other places. I'm guilty of having a little "collecter" in me mixed up I hope with a lot more "user". So when somebody pays $2600 for one of these what portion of that fee is for pedigree. What portion of that price is just for the pure pleasure of owning something magnificent? The ROLEX of lenses. Is it really $2250 "better" in what it can do than the little 6.8 Caltars that go begging for $350 on Ebay? Can't think of many lenses that can out resolve the $350 Caltar. But then it doesn't impress anybody so all it's good for is taking pictures.

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@lnett.com), April 13, 2002.

Add the Apo Lanthars and the Planars to that list! Along with that funny little Goerz lens with the propeller thingy!

-- Wayne DeWitt (wdewitt@snip.net), April 14, 2002.


That "pedigree" is selling for a lot less lately. I follow E-bay regualarly (I'm not bragging about that either!!!). There have been so many 75mm Biogons on line lately that one can be obtained for under $1,500 easily in exc. + or better condition. That is cheap compared to a few months ago. If you want one, this may be a good time to get one.

I own both the 75 Grandagon 4.5 and 75 Biogon. I agree that for practical use the Grandagon is a better choice. Lets face it...the majority of LF users are going to want perspective control. The Biogon on allows for minimal movement. If the Biogon only had more coverage I'd consider it near perfect. The Biogon performs outstanding at ALL aperatures; even illumination, very sharp and contrasty (despite lack of multi coating), great up close, and lower distortion than the Grandagon. It is also a classic, a beauty, and a Linhof/Zeiss legend which all appeal to the collector. But w/o coverage the Grandagon wins hands down. I am a big LF Zeiss fan but common sense must prevail...if I had to choose one the Grandagon would win because I'd turn to the 38mm Biogon on my Hassey for hand held use (it should be noted that the performance charactoristics of the 38mm Biogon versus 75 Biogon are very similar...only 5X larger film on the 4 X 5..WHOW). If you love hand held photography and don't mind the added weight, the Biogon would be the best choice because of the performance at wide aperatures, which also applies to the 135mm Planar and 250mm Sonnar.

J. P. Mose

-- J. P. Mose (j.p.mose@lmco.com), April 14, 2002.

Kerry - I find your remarks on the 80mm XL a little confusing. The results on Perez's lens test board shows the XL to pretty much whomp the other lenses as far as resolution is concerned, especially at the edges of the field (contrast will undoubtedly follow). Since Schneider has admitted that the lens should not be used at full aperture (f4.5!) what are you expecting them to fix? BTW that 150 Symmar HM that you sold me that scored so dismally in Perez's table has the highest aerial resolution of any of the lenses that I own. JGTS (Just Goes To Show) all testing should be taken with a grain of salt. Now I've got to find out if they have 5x7 Gigabit film.

-- Wayne DeWitt (wdewitt@snip.net), April 14, 2002.


For the complete story regarding my 80mm SS XL experiences, see:


In a nut shell, the first lens I tested was SO bad wide open that it was impossible to focus accurately in the field. The test results you site only go as wide as f11 and don't reflect how truly bad this lens was wide open. For the test (indoors under controlled conditions with good lighting), I was able to adjust focus at the shooting aperture. By the end of my first day using this particular lens in the field, I was trying to focus at f8, and even then I felt like I was guessing at the point of best focus. Not exactly what I would expect from a lens that cost $1300. So, I returned it for a refund and was told by Schneider that the lens never should have left the factory - evidently they agreed with my assessment on that particular sample.

As far as: "whomp the other lenses as far as resolution is concerned, especially at the edges of the field" Compare it to the 90mm f8 Nikkor SW and my 110mm SS XL at all tested apertures and I think it's the one getting "whomped". These two lenses offer the kind of performance (even wide open) that I would expect from a lens in the $1300 price range (and the Nikkor was less than 1/2 that when I bought it).

As I have stated over and over, the second sample I tested was MUCH better and appeared plenty sharp on the ground glass to focus wide open. Obviously there was something wrong with the first sample I received, but based on the reports by others, it was not an isolated incident. If I would have received the second sample (which belongs to a friend and came from the same production batch as the one I returned) initially, I would have kept it and been singing the praises of this lens (and wondering why others were reporting that it was soft wide open). The difference between the two samples I tested was like night and day - clearly visible on the ground glass with the naked eye. IF I had not read reports of similar issues with other samples, I'd probably have ordered another by now. I probably will eventually anyway, but for now I'll wait for the dust to settle and hopefully increase my odds of getting a "keeper".

That said, after my experience with my friend's sample, I am perfectly willing to believe the reports of others who have nothing but praise for this lens. Given the sample-to-sample variation I saw between the two lenses I used, it is certainly possible that there a a whole lot of really great 80mm SS XLs out there being put to good use by their happy owners.


-- Kerry Thalmann (largeformat@thalmann.com), April 14, 2002.

Sounds as if "Industrial Disease" struck the Quality Control Department at Schneider on that one. Fortunately since I'm sticking with 5x7 I didn't dive in when the 80 hit the market. And like you my experiece with the 110 shows that they can make a good lens. Your description of the lens in question fits a 108mm Wollensak that I own. Just goes to show that the more ambitious the design, and the better that things look on paper, the harder they are to produce. They lowered their standards too far in order to get product out the door.

-- Wayne DeWitt (wdewitt@snip.net), April 15, 2002.

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