View Full Version : What high-quality 90mm lens for Intrepid 4x5 and Chamonix 45H-1?

1-Jul-2017, 05:11
Dear all,

I recently ordered a Intrepid 4x5 2nd Gen camera.

Now Im looking for 90mm lens fitting this camera, but later on also to a more refined model like the Chamonix 45H-1.

As best optical quality is a prerequisite, it seems that the Schneider Super-Angulon f5.6 is a viable option. Would you suggest to go for the standard or the XL variant? Are both usable with the Intrepid and the Chamonix?

Any other ideas for excellent lenses in this focal range? Many thanks in advance.

1-Jul-2017, 06:28
Sure, the Schneider 90mm Super-Angulon f5.6 is an excellent option. It came in a single-coated and a multi-coated version. But Rodenstock, Nikon, Fuji -- and probably others -- made very similar lenses. The Fujinon came in at least two versions -- all were multi-coated, have the same image circle and filter thread as the Schneider. The last verion of the Fujinon had a 8/6 optical design as compared to the Schneider's 8/4. All of them will produce the same great results on either camera, but there will be differences in features (shutter, weight, size, cost, etc.) that might be important to consider.

The XL version adds 20mm to the image circle, but for most 4x5 users that is an expensive, superfluous gain -- about 3/8" of movement in any direction -- with no impact on quality.

1-Jul-2017, 07:51
Hello tom,
Welcome to the forum.
Have used two(2) 90mm lenses.
One is an older version of Sinaron W, AKA Grandagon N 90/4.5, the other is also sinar lens but much recent and has f/6.8 aperture.
In every way(except size and weight), Sinaron W 90/4.5 is better than the other one(f/6.8). I can confidently and correctly, recommend this lens over other lenses if the only consideration is image quality.
But, considering Interpid camera, I do not think any of the two will do justice with Interpid.
My opinion, is to look for smaller/lighter 90mm lens, to justify the weight and physical tolerability of the Interpid, and of course to comply with the purpose of using this very light weight camera.
Welcome to the forum.

1-Jul-2017, 09:18
I'm using a Nikon 90mm f4.5 on my Chamonix 045n, and really like it.

Kent in SD

Alan Gales
1-Jul-2017, 09:32
I'll parrot the above answers and tell you that any of the late model lenses will be plenty sharp and contrasty. I'd worry more about condition and price.

You also need to decide if you want a faster lens like an f/4.5 or a slower lens like an f/8. A faster lens makes it easier to focus in low light like in a forest or at night. A slower lens is smaller and lighter weight so it is easier to backpack with.

Welcome to the forum!

David Karp
1-Jul-2017, 09:40
For 90mm lenses there are a few options. The Super Angulon XL will have the largest image circle. It is a big lens that takes large filters. Nobody else that I am aware of made an equivalent.

The next group is like the Super Angulon you mentioned with the f/5.6 maximum. All of the major manufacturers made something like this. Rodenstock's and Nikon's lenses will have f/4.5 max apertures. Schneider and Fuji are f/5.6 maximum. They all have roughly the same image circle. I too once owned the Grandagon-N. It was an outstanding lens.

Moving on, there are 90s with a smaller maximum aperture, smaller size, and lighter weight. Most of these have a similar image circle that is smaller than that of the group listed above. There is one exception to that. Rodenstock's version has an f/6.8 maximum aperture. There is also a version of the Super Angulon with the same max aperture. The others (including some Super Angulons) are f/8. The Nikon version is unique in that it has an image circle as large as the second group above. For many of us, this lens is the best compromise. Smaller, lighter weight, generous image circle, but f/8 maximum aperture. If you are hiking, this might be the one for you. I have one of these. Before that, I had a 90mm f/8 Fujinon. The only reason I sold it was to get the larger image circle of the Nikon.

There is yet another group. This one includes old Schneider Angulons (not Super Angulon), Wollensak Raptars, and Graflex Optars (the latter made by Wollensak and identical to the Raptar). These are small, with tight image circles. Don't expect much usable movement. I have a Raptar that I was going to use on a Travelwide large format point and shoot. It is absolutely tiny. I never really got around to using my Travelwide, so I might give this a whirl on one of my 4x5s.

I really like my Nikon. As mentioned above, it seemed to me to be the best compromise of many factors in a 90mm.

1-Jul-2017, 10:22
Another lighter possibility is the Ilex-Caltar 90/8. Like the Nikon version, it has a larger image circle, and you can get one for $100. I personally would not pair a 90/5.6 or 4.5 with the Intrepid. Sure, they are good lenses, but they weigh almost as much as the camera, and I doubt the Intrepid will move enough to take advantage of the larger image circle, so why?

Peter De Smidt
1-Jul-2017, 10:39
Grandagon f/6.8 is a good lens, brighter than f/8 lenses and smaller than f5.6 ones.

1-Jul-2017, 12:33
Wow! Many thanks to all here for the quick and informative answers. :D

I see the point that a more lightweight alternative might fit better to the Intrepid camera than a f4.5 or f5.6 lens. As I have not received the camera yet, I have to rely on available reviews which indicate for quite a dark ground glass. Wouldnt you think that one of f6.8 or f8 lenses are to dark for reliable focusing? A f8 lens plus a bright ground glass from a third party supplier is potentially also more expensive than directly going for a brighter lens...

1-Jul-2017, 13:11
The thing that I'm surprised about it that you didn't get suggestions (at least not yet) about alternative focal lengths, such as a 105mm, for example.

As to screen brightness, this is another personal decision. I've used my Fujinon A 180mm f9 lens at 2X magnification in dark forest situations without brightness problems. Some people would find it too dark. But if you have "darker" lenses, getting "faster" ones is only one option. Getting a good loupe helps with focusing (I use a Wista 7X), and getting an extra-bright screen is another way (I use a Beattie Intenscreen). Others may have other ideas, but you might not find what you have/get to be a problem/obstacle.

1-Jul-2017, 13:37
Well, he did say 90mm! My favorite 4x5 wide angle happens to be the 108mm Raptar. . . . but he didn't ask for that. :-)

1-Jul-2017, 14:04
Well, I won't bring up my favorite alternative either -- the current plate of spaghetti being quite enough to digest!

Alan Gales
1-Jul-2017, 14:09
Well, I won't bring up my favorite alternative either -- the current plate of spaghetti being quite enough to digest!

Yeah, no reason to throw some meatballs in it or smother it in Parmesan Cheese. Maybe a glass of wine and garlic bread too! ;)

Leszek Vogt
1-Jul-2017, 15:27
I've been eyeing various options and 90mm Grandagon N F4.5 would be my choice. True, it's heavy so you have to decide which lighter version (perhaps ?) you might want. As soon as I saw your Q, my thoughts aligned with Peter. It would be something between F8-9 and lower stops....and while it's a formidable glass.....you can eventually decide whether it does what you desire and if not, replace with something that makes more sense to you.

OK, here is a little example....I wanted 360mm in the worst way. After some usage and looking at other options, I might be looking at 400mm or even longer. Anyway, who knows and hands-on experience does weird things to people, you may want to go to 80/75mm or even higher than 90mm ?


1-Jul-2017, 16:20
I had a Fujinon NSW 90mm f8 for a few years. It was a beautiful lens to use, and with great results, but it was large and heavy. The Fujinon SWD 90mm f5.6 was even bigger, heavier and expensive -- I can't imagine lugging that puppy up a mountain. So I sold the 90mm f8 for something smaller and lighter. It was not a 90mm, but eventually, it all worked out for me.

1-Jul-2017, 16:29
If you had filled out your profile, we would know where you are, and then maybe some local would volunteer to show you what he has. One doesn't really get an appreciation for how huge and heavy and inconvenient some of these lenses are until one has them in hand!

Drew Bedo
2-Jul-2017, 14:37
Isn't the XL lens a bit bulkier and heavier than the others?

2-Jul-2017, 16:15
I'd seriously consider getting a 75mm over a 90mm WA lens. Much a matter of personal taste and preference. Had both for years but then after realizing that I pretty much opted to use the 75mm over the 90mm all of the time, sold the 90mm and have never looked back.
just my 2 cents...

2-Jul-2017, 16:55
Use your camera for a while (say, six months) before you start adding lenses.

Dan Fromm
2-Jul-2017, 17:15
OP, the best way to answer your question is to buy several examples of each of the wide angle lenses that might meet your requirements and test all of them. Several examples to be reasonably sure that variability in production won't lead you to choose a lens that's less than the very very best.

I doubt that many of us have done this exercise with lenses that meet the requirements you now think you have. If any of us have -- more power to their arms -- none of them will have your standards so what they have to say won't help you. You'd best test for yourself.

When you're done with the exercise, you can sell the rejects. Don't sell them as rejects, that will lower the prices they'll fetch.

2-Jul-2017, 17:55
I doubt that many of us have done this exercise with lenses that meet the requirements you now think you have. If any of us have -- more power to their arms -- none of them will have your standards so what they have to say won't help you. You'd best test for yourself.

I agree completely. I've always tested my lenses as soon as I get them. But you have to have something to compare it to, so having more than one lens gives you a starting point -- even if they aren't of the same focal length. I've only sold one of my lenses because it just didn't "hold up" to my other lenses' quality test results. It might have just been a "bad apple", or that lens just might not be as well designed/put together, etc. But the replacement met my needs. All it cost me was some time, and perhaps a little money.

The only other lens I have sold was not because of results/abilities. I sold it because of size/weight issues. So there are a lot of ways to "test" a lens, a lot of reasons to make a switch to a differernt lens, and these will vary for each of us.

3-Jul-2017, 03:48
By the way: be aware that the f5.6 90mm SA XL is not a good fit when you have to use it on a linhof board: the rear element is too big for the hole.
When Schneider noticed the problem they changed the design of this lens so that it is possible to unscrew the metal protective flange at the back of the rear element: the element may then be inserted in the hole and the lens used as normal. However one has to be very careful to avoid scratching the glass of the rear element when the protective flange is removed. All new 90mm XL Super Angulon lenses have a removable rear flange, but if buying a second-hand lens, ensure that it is has this feature.

3-Jul-2017, 05:43
I'd recommend the Nikkor SW 90mm f8. Multicoated, smaller size, very sharp. Comes in a modern Copal shutter. The only reason I'd go with the f4.5 version of the same lens would be if you expect to do a lot of shooting in low light situations.

6-Jul-2017, 09:04
Does the Linhof Schneider 90mm Angulon f6.8 require a bag bellows? I'm using a Sinar F.

8-Jul-2017, 00:44
Another consideration is that some of the faster lenses (Rodenstock 90/4.5, I believe, and some versions of Schneider 90/5.6) come in #1 shutters rather than the usual #0. This could be a problem if you intend to use a small (e.g. Technika-style) recessed lens board.
I've got a 90/5.6 SA factory mounted in an all black Compur 1. Coverage, optical construction etc. are supposed to be the same as the ones in #0 shutters so I'm not sure why this variation was offered, but they're out there.

27-Aug-2017, 12:57
Many thanks for all these great answers and suggestions. As Im also shootong landscapes in low-light conditions a faster lens will be more favorable, despite the higher weight. The Grandagon-N 90 4.5 seems like a good choice. Would you think I can use this lens with a non-recessed lens on an Intrepid camera? Here in Germany is right now a good opportunity with Prontor Professional 1S shutter:


Drew Wiley
29-Aug-2017, 18:13
I have a Nikon 90/4.5. It's a great lens, but awfully bulky and heavy for a lightwt wood folder, esp if you add a center filter. I use it on my Sinar monorails, but not on my Ebony folder, which is one of the most rigid in the wood category. I'd recommend the f/8 Nikor instead.