Is 240mm Apo Ronar a good starter lens? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I have the chance to buy a complete system with a 240mm Rodenstock Apo Ronar lens in a Compur 1 shutter. Is this a good (although long) starter lens for learning LF? I'll be doing mainly outdoor/landscape shots.


-- Curtis Nelson (, May 22, 2002


Curtis, If I may answer your ? by asking you a ?. Think in 35mm terms, a 240/3. For outdoor/landscapes where the foreground is an element of the composition I might choose a 90 5.6. Test this thought with a 28 or 80 on a 35 camera. Kindly. John Grunke

-- John Forrest Grunke (, May 22, 2002.

In my modest opinion, the focal lenght of the lens is correct. I started so happy with a 210mm and afterwards I bought the 110mm.

The difference between the 210 and the 240 is like a 63mm and a 72mm in the 35mm format (larger side of the format). I like both focals. This difference isn't big, and now I would prefer the longest.

I can't tell about the quality of the lens/shutter, I never use them; but I think that an Apo-Ronar is a guarantee in closer shots... my favourites.

Good luck,

-- jose angel (, May 22, 2002.

Are you talking about 4x5 or what?

I use 250mm most of the time on 66 for landscapes street archtecture etc, and it is not a very long lens for 54. It would be a good lens to start with, and not a bad length if it was your only lens.

-- Dick Roadnight (, May 22, 2002.

If you are talking 8x10 then a 240mmlens is a fine starter lens. You will need to check the image circel of the Apo Ronar however to see how much movement it gies you as it was originally designed as a process lens where coverage was not an issue. HOWEVER, I suspect you are talking 4x5 and that is another story.

IMHO 240 mm is not a good starting point for landscape photography. You are much better off starting somewhere in teh 90 mm to 150 mm range.

Once you have somethingin that range then a 240 mm is a reasonable choice for a second lens. When I am travelling as light as I possibly can I carry either a 90mm or a 110 mm and a 240. The specific lenses are either a 90 mm Grandagon f6.3 or a 110 Super Symmar XL at the wide end and a 240 Fujinon A at the long end. I also own a 240 mm Symmar-S MC but lugging that beast in a #3 shutter just isn't worth it for longer treks.

Of course, you need to think in terms of what sort of landscape work you want to do and if a 240 fits your imge of the world then go for it ... yo umay want to make a cardboard cutout of the 240 image area and the same for say a 90 and see which you prefer.

Good luck

-- Ted Harris (, May 22, 2002.

Curtis: A good question and one that many starting photographer has wondered about. I think the best, surest easiest and cheapest approach to this issue is to spend some time studying landscapes from other very good photographers whose work you like. Do it thoughtfully and methodically and when you have reached a decision about what interests you best, look at the photographer's data on the lenses they used to capture those images. David Muench's "Colorado Plateau" is a gold mine of information in addition to being work of very high quality. Another is Paul Schilliger at, a wonderful landscape artist whose site is worth spending time on. Yet a third is Jack Dykinga. One of his latest books offers technical data on the images. Finally, the Aporonar. This is a lens whose performance is superb at ALL distances, even down to 1:1. Its image circle at 240mm is barely enough for 4X5 and its opening is on the small side so it will not be as bright as you could otherwise wish for. The small image circle will hinder your experimentation with camera movements, which are a fundamental advantage of view cameras. The Aporonar comes into its own at 300mm though. I'd sugest a lens with a shorter focal length and a larger image circle. Some photographers stay away from the normal focal lenghts for pictorial reasons and rather go for the longer or the shorter. S. Muench would probably tell you that he would rather have a 75mm lens on 4X5, looking at the frequent usage he makes of that lens. It is all about images, and the tools are only the means to attain them. You decide what pleases you, then get the appropriate tool. Be patient and look and look and look so more! Best wishes

-- Julio Fernandez (, May 23, 2002.

I would not consider it an ideal first lens but it would certainly work, so if the price is right, you could buy the complete system and use this lens for awhile.

The reasons I don't think it ideal is that focal length is a bit long for it to be a normal lens, the max aperture is a bit slow so focusing will be a bit harder, and the coverage is a bit small. None of these factors are big problems.

The normal focal length for 4x5 (I assume that is the format of the camera you are considering) is considered to be 150 mm to 210 mm. The film size would say 150 mm; many like 210 mm because of the increased movements that the longer focal length allows. I like 180 mm.

The f9 aperture will give a dimmer image for composing and focusing than the f5.6 apertures more typical in this focal range. However, f9 is useable.

The Apo-Ronar series was originally intended for process cameras. Process cameras don't need movements and so can use narrow-field lenses. Rodenstock rated the 240 mm Apo-Ronar as covering an image circle of 212 mm at f22 and focused on infinity. This will allow modest movements such as front rise/shift of 35 or 39 mm for 4x5 film. This is fully adequate and in fact very similar to what a modestly wide-field 150 mm lens would cover, e.g., the 150 mm Sironar-N is rated to cover 214 mm. The coverage is small compared to that of a 180 mm or 210 mm lens.

While the lens was designed for 1:1, i.e., making life size images, both Rodenstock and users report that it does very well for imaging distant objects.

The lens would work but might not be ideal. It partly depends on your tastes. If you handed this lens to Edward Weston and told him it was the tool he had to work with, I am sure that great art would have resulted.

-- Michael Briggs (, May 24, 2002.

Just another thougt: from years, the "normal" set of lenses have been (for the 4x5 format) 90, 150 and 210, or better a moderate wide angle lens (90-110mm),'"normal" (150-180mm) and a moderate long lens (210-240mm)... More extreme lenses have been over 65 and 300 or more. The first lens usually bought was the 150mm (I'm generalyzing). Others don't like or never use this "normal" focal lenght (like me).

I'm sure that if you like this format you will feel the necessity of more than one lens, if you start with a short lens you will need (in a short time, in my case) a longer one, and viceversa.

Depending of the price of this "complete system" and your budget, it would be a good chance or not. If the price is good, you can work perfectly with this lens and save money to buy a complementary lens in a near future. If not, I second the opinions of the previous posters that could be a better choice to look for another design of lens, with a bigger max. aperture, focal lenght at your taste...

Hope this helps,

-- jose angel (, May 24, 2002.

Thanks for all the replies. They have been very helpful and appreciated.

-- Curtis Nelson (, May 24, 2002.

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