300mm f/9 choices?

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I am in the market for a 300mm f/9 lens. I have perused the archived threads and read varying reports on the three modern 300mm f/9 lenses, the Nikkor M, the Fujinon C, and the Rodenstock Apo-Ronar. In fact, I contributed to those threads on at least one occasion.

I have, over the past 20 years, owned a Nikkor and Fujinon, but never at the same time. I have recently shot with a rented Apo-Ronar.

I am curious about the coverage issue. Clearly the Fujinon lists the largest coverage, and the Apo-Ronar a very conservative coverage, but there are recurring reports that both the Nikkor and Fujinon fall off considerable in image quality toward the edges of their image circles.

Does anybody have any first-hand recent experience in comparing the coverage of these lenses... particularly somebody who shoots 5x7 or 8x10 and actually worries about the edges of the image circles? I would like to be able to use indirect rise on shots, and want to know if the Nikkor or Fujinon really give me more high-quality usable image circle than the Apo-Ronar.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (gkroeger@trinity.edu), May 01, 2002


You forgot about the Schneider 305/9 G-Claron lens. This is a plasmat type lens with a very large image circle of 381mm. From all accounts this is a conservative specification. Yes it is single coated but I have never found this to be a problem. I have both the 305mm and the 240mm lenses and in the past I had the 270mm lens and they are all incredibly sharp, contrasty and just overall have been my favorite lenses to use. The Fuji lens has an image circle of 336mm, the Nikkor is 325mm and the Apo-Ronar's is 264mm for comparison.

-- Jeffrey Scott (jscott@datavoice.net), May 02, 2002.

The Apo-Ronars are just 'standard' process lenses with a coverage angle limited to around 45 degrees.
As Jeffrey said; Schneider's G-Clarons have a much wider coverage of up to about 70 degrees.
Rodenstock's Apo-Gerogon is a wide coverage process lens too, but the widest angle of any process lens I've come across is Konica's Hexanon GRII series. (But boy, is that 300mm a HUGE lens for its aperture)

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), May 02, 2002.

I have and regularly use both the 300mm f9 Nikkor-M and the 305mm f9 G- Claron which I bought because the Nikkor 300 is unsuitable for use with my 8x10 - the edge definition is very soft. I do not recommend the Nikkor for 8x10 use. I keep the Nikkor because of its smaller size and weight for use with my 4x5 system. Think that the Fujinon-C 300 has a stated image circle of 380mm. The Claron's image cicle is larger than that, over 400mm. I appreciated having that large coverage on the 8x10, otherwise I might opt for the Fujinon since it is smaller, just about the size of the Nikkor.

-- John Burnley (oreamnos1@fnol.net), May 02, 2002.

My experience has been exactly the opposite of John's. I use the Nikon 300 M lens with my 8x10 Deardorff regularly and have never noticed any fall off in the corners or edges. Of course I always stop down to at least F22, usually F32 or 45, and only make contact prints from 8x10 negatives. Possibly this explains the difference, or maybe I just got lucky although the 300M is often recommended by other people when someone asks about a small, light normal lens for 8x10. I like the Nikon because of its very small size and weight. With respect to G Clarons, I don't have the 305 but I do have the 150 and 210. Both are excellent lenses. You can't go by the published numbers for G Claron coverage because with that type of design the coverage consistently increases as you stop down so that the coverage at F64, for example, is much greater than the published numbers (which are at F22) (and no, diffraction doesn't ruin the photograph at F64, at least not with contact prints).

-- Brian Ellis (bellis60@earthlink.net), May 02, 2002.

I'm also a big fan of the 305 G-Claron and in fact it's the usual lens for my 11X14. It's overall sharpness is on a par with the likes of 150 Symmar's but over a HUGE area. Perez and Thalmann reported 67 lppmm with one in one of their tests. If you're the kind of guy who'll lay awake worrying about single vs. multi coating, I'd say the Fujinon is the only other logical choice. My Fuji 240 f9 has in fact one-upped my 240 G-Claron in all but the times like architecture where I really need the big coverage. Plus it has the weight advantage.

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@lnett.com), May 02, 2002.

The Fujinon C 300mm is sharp, sharp, sharp on 4x5. It is just as sharp on 8x10 with no movements. With movements, however, resolution at the edge deteriorates. This is just an observation. Anyone want to test this?

-- E Rothman (erothman@hotmail.com), May 02, 2002.

I own and use a Nikkor 300M and have always been surprised at how good it is.

Before I bought it - to be used as a portrait lens on 4x5 - I just assumed that it would be to 8x10 what the Xenar is to 4x5. And that would be an inexpensive lens that will cover the format but give you very little movements. Wel I have to tell you that my bellows gets in the way before I lose coverage when I use this lens on my B&J 8x10.

It's small, extremely sharp and contrasty. It also takes (like any good Nikkor lens) 52mm filters, so I can use any that I have for my 35 mm Nikon system.

-- David Grandy (dgrandy@grandyphoto.com), May 02, 2002.

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