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lilmsmaggie
14-Jan-2010, 14:44
I'm getting close to purchasing my first LF (4 x 5) camera. My interests will be architectural and landscape. I suppose you could say I fall within "buy the best glass you can afford" camp.

Even though I have no LF experience from which to draw, my experience with astronomical instruments tend to lead me towards Schneider's reputation for quality glass. I realize that this is one of those areas that falls within "personal tastes," but I'd be interested comments and experiences from those that have used both Schneider and Rodenstocks lenses.

For my first lens, I'll be choosing the 150mm focal length.

So now the decision becomes which 150mm lens:


Rodenstock APO-Sironar-S 150mm/5.6


Schneider APO-Symmar-L 150mm/5.6

Dan Fromm
14-Jan-2010, 14:55
As the man who was offered the choice of being put to death by two very different and unpleasant ways said, they are both very bad. There are no rational grounds for choice. The best you can do is buy six or so of each, test all, and return all but the one that pleases you most.

Eric Brody
14-Jan-2010, 14:57
I'm sure someone will pipe in here with reasons for one or the other but I'd argue that neither you nor anyone else will see any differences in the final prints. I'd go with the least expensive or, if used, best condition for the price. The 150 is a good choice for a first lens, though I started with a 210, whatever works for you. The only thing I'd counsel against is rushing to get more lenses before you've had a chance to learn LF and learn your first lens. I had only the 210 for a couple of years as my only glass and I think I learned a lot.

Good luck.

Eric

Steve Hamley
14-Jan-2010, 15:24
I'd probably do the one I could get the best deal on. I use the Rodenstock Apo-Sironar S in the 135mm, 180mm, and 240mm (8x10) focal lengths, but at the time I bought them, the Schneider Apo Symmar was a 72 degree lens and the Rodenstocks were 75 degrees (the current Apo Symmar-L is a 75 degree lens). Now in the 135mm focal length the image circle between the Apo-Sironar S and the N was only 8mm, but the Apo-Sironar S also had a wider range of optimization than the Apo-Sironar N. to 1:3 for the S and 1:5 for the N. The Apo-Sironar S also uses ED glass and holds sharpness away from center a bit better than the N.

I don't think Schneider's data shows what the "L" series is optimized for or if the glass is low dispersion (ED) although I assume it would be. The "L" series was reformulated to use lead-free glass. You might want to investigate the optimization question if you intend to shoot nature details.

And Bob Salomon might respond, I suspect he knows the answers!

Cheers, Steve

percepts
14-Jan-2010, 15:25
I'm getting close to purchasing my first LF (4 x 5) camera. My interests will be architectural and landscape. I suppose you could say I fall within "buy the best glass you can afford" camp.

Even though I have no LF experience from which to draw, my experience with astronomical instruments tend to lead me towards Schneider's reputation for quality glass. I realize that this is one of those areas that falls within "personal tastes," but I'd be interested comments and experiences from those that have used both Schneider and Rodenstocks lenses.

For my first lens, I'll be choosing the 150mm focal length.

So now the decision becomes which 150mm lens:


Rodenstock APO-Sironar-S 150mm/5.6


Schneider APO-Symmar-L 150mm/5.6

So why do you think a 150mm lens is the right choice? Why do you think those two particular lenses are the ones to go for at that focal length.?
The thing is with LF that lens choice is far more difficult because it really does depend on where and what you are going to be photographing. For example for architectural interiors a 150 may be far too long. It may be far too long for a lot of exteriors too, depending on where you can position yourself. It may be long enough for landscape, it may not be or it may be too short. Being a 5.6 it will be quite a big lens for the focal length. It's weight comes into play when thinking of backpacking. Does it have shifts for your intended purpose of architectural if you want to keep verticals vertical?

You really won't know the answers to all these questions until you have used your camera for a while and found out how it all works for you through experience rather than being told. So if you are thinking of buying new you might be better advised to buy used and get a cheap 150 lens and go play with it for a while until you really know what you need rather than what you want.

Steve Hamley
14-Jan-2010, 15:36
Ya gotta start somewhere and 150mm is as good as any and suits most people. The OP also didn't mention whether they were going to buy new, used, or trade other gear for them, shoot exteriors or interiors, so I think what someone pays for their gear is their own business. That said, the best bang for the buck is a used current or second generation lens from a reputable dealer.

Cheers, Steve

eric black
14-Jan-2010, 15:36
I agree with the focal length that you are selecting as your first- as for the lenses- either- both are very good lenses and both are from very good companies. I would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two so pick the one you can get the best deal on.

Lachlan 717
14-Jan-2010, 15:40
Don't dismiss the Fujinon and Nikkors at this FL. Some awesome glass...

lilmsmaggie
14-Jan-2010, 15:44
So why do you think a 150mm lens is the right choice? Why do you think those two particular lenses are the ones to go for at that focal length.?


1. Because I need to learn cameras movements.

2. Because the other Schneider 150mm is twice the price.

3. Because, I'm thinking the next lens purchase will probably be a 90mm.

I'm looking to get a Chamonix as my first camera. Landscapes and architectural exteriors. I don't want to get in too far over my head.

Other than that, like the guy Steve says: Ya gotta start somewhere :)

lilmsmaggie
14-Jan-2010, 15:45
Don't dismiss the Fujinon and Nikkors at this FL. Some awesome glass...

Good point!

ic-racer
14-Jan-2010, 15:48
Don't dismiss the Fujinon and Nikkors at this FL. Some awesome glass...

Shhhh....lets keep it a secret:D

percepts
14-Jan-2010, 16:15
1. Because I need to learn cameras movements.

2. Because the other Schneider 150mm is twice the price.

3. Because, I'm thinking the next lens purchase will probably be a 90mm.

I'm looking to get a Chamonix as my first camera. Landscapes and architectural exteriors. I don't want to get in too far over my head.

Other than that, like the guy Steve says: Ya gotta start somewhere :)

Well yes but if you want to do architectural you may do better starting with a 90 which is also good if you like wide angle landscapes whereas a 150 may be a little long for some architectural. I'm just thinking aloud here and not saying you must do this. Just giving you something to think about.

Jack Dahlgren
14-Jan-2010, 17:21
I'd get something wider for architecture.
Either of those two brands are going to be fine.

Lachlan 717
14-Jan-2010, 17:33
I'd get something wider for architecture.
Either of those two brands are going to be fine.

If you can spring for it, the 110mm SSXL from Schneider would be, in my opinion, a great option for Landscapes and Architecture.

Not too wide, super sharp and massive image circle.

lilmsmaggie
14-Jan-2010, 18:06
I appreciate everyone's point of view, especially in the area of architectural photography. But would starting with a lens with a wider angle of view help in the learning process or complicate the learning process? Seems like an odd question I know but, with a wider angle of view comes changes in perspective does it not?

Also, having dabbled in B&W night photography with 35mm, I'm reminded of Andrew Sanderson's advice of staying with one lens for 2-3 years or longer, in order to become famiilar with that lens, thus the decison to go with 150mm. I would think that the opportunities for landscapes would be just as plentiful and more conducive to contemplative composition. But hey, this is a newbie talking remember.

D. Bryant
14-Jan-2010, 18:47
I appreciate everyone's point of view, especially in the area of architectural photography. But would starting with a lens with a wider angle of view help in the learning process or complicate the learning process? Seems like an odd question I know but, with a wider angle of view comes changes in perspective does it not?

Also, having dabbled in B&W night photography with 35mm, I'm reminded of Andrew Sanderson's advice of staying with one lens for 2-3 years or longer, in order to become famiilar with that lens, thus the decison to go with 150mm. I would think that the opportunities for landscapes would be just as plentiful and more conducive to contemplative composition. But hey, this is a newbie talking remember.

Don't forget about Caltars as well. And IMO for the first lens, a 150mm is a good choice for a 1 lens kit. For the second lens you can think about something wider (or longer), but the truth is the 150 will do a lot for you.

D. Bryant
14-Jan-2010, 18:53
I appreciate everyone's point of view, especially in the area of architectural photography. But would starting with a lens with a wider angle of view help in the learning process or complicate the learning process? Seems like an odd question I know but, with a wider angle of view comes changes in perspective does it not?

Also, having dabbled in B&W night photography with 35mm, I'm reminded of Andrew Sanderson's advice of staying with one lens for 2-3 years or longer, in order to become famiilar with that lens, thus the decison to go with 150mm. I would think that the opportunities for landscapes would be just as plentiful and more conducive to contemplative composition. But hey, this is a newbie talking remember.

Since you are located in Cali - out west, a 150 mm will work very well for landscapes.

Don Bryant

percepts
14-Jan-2010, 18:54
the thing is that 150 is considered "normal" for no other reason than it is close to the diagonal of the film as is 50mm in 135 format. But the 5x4 ratio makes you see differently and the longer focal length brings things a lot closer than using a 50mm lens on 135. You have to find the focal length that is normal for you and not assume that 150 is normal. Personally I started with a 210 and would find 150 too short for normal. It depends what you photograph and how you frame. i.e. whether you like to get inclose or stand back and take it all in.

The schneider 110 XL is a stunning lens but pricey. Very sharp and is the widest lens I use. I have a 72 but it hasn't seen the light of day for a long time. I just don't see subjects that wide.
If you are going to do mostly landscape to start then the 110, 150 or 210 are all good. But if you want to mix up landscape and architecture from the start then 72,90 or 110 would be better IMO.

Your best bet would be to find someone who can either lend you a camera with two or three lenses for a couple of days or go out with someone who has one and see which of their lenses you prefer for the subjects at hand. Or rent one for a couple of days. Then you would have a much better idea of what to start with.

If there is someone on the forum in your area I'm sure they would take you out for a day just to see what its all about.

John NYC
14-Jan-2010, 19:07
The good people on this forum talked me out of buying new for lenses. You can get a used APO Symmar (pre-L) 150mm for about $500 in very, very good condition. If you don't like it later (you probably will though) you can sell it an lose little to nothing.

lilmsmaggie
14-Jan-2010, 19:25
It depends what you photograph and how you frame. i.e. whether you like to get inclose or stand back and take it all in.

Well if it helps, I just finished a beginning B&W photography class. Of the lenses I had avaiable to me (50, 85, 28, & 50-135 zoom), I found myself using the 85mm more, and the 28mm most often. In fact, I found myself wishing I had a 24mm.

I was shooting mostly building exteriors with the 28mm. A coworker co-owns a restored WWII Spearman Naval trainer, and I just couldn't quite get the type of shot I was looking for with the 28mm, or the 85mm. Maybe I was trying too hard. But then again, I could only get access to the plane during lunch breaks, so I always felt rushed.

Tim Meisburger
14-Jan-2010, 20:40
Sounds like you needed the 24mm. I don't know why, but when I shot 35mm I absolutely hated my 28mm, and loved intensely my OM 24mm. 85mm is an interesting medium portrait length that I would equate to about 210mm in 4x5. I don't shoot much architecture, but when I do I find my cheap Graflex 127mm more useful than my 90mm (the 210 and the 127 are my favorite lenses).

percepts
14-Jan-2010, 20:43
Sounds like you needed the 24mm. I don't know why, but when I shot 35mm I absolutely hated my 28mm, and loved intensely my OM 24mm. 85mm is an interesting medium portrait length that I would equate to about 210mm in 4x5. I don't shoot much architecture, but when I do I find my cheap Graflex 127mm more useful than my 90mm (the 210 and the 127 are my favorite lenses).

on 35mm 85 is my favourite lens closely followed by 135. I rarely use wide lenses but that may be about to change..

Eric Brody
14-Jan-2010, 20:54
Don't let people confuse you. Buying a 110XL is like buying a D3x as your first digital camera, or a Ferrari as your first car, unquestionably high quality, but clearly overkill. Likewise, starting with a 90 makes no sense for a new to 4x5 photographer. Start with the basics, then you'll be grounded and will know where to go, wider, longer, it does not matter if you know the basics. Start as you plan with a 150, a 180, or as I did with a 210, learn it, learn the format, shoot as much film as you can afford to in time and money. It will pay off.

Eric

Lachlan 717
14-Jan-2010, 21:40
Don't let people confuse you. Buying a 110XL is like buying a D3x as your first digital camera, or a Ferrari as your first car, unquestionably high quality, but clearly overkill. Likewise, starting with a 90 makes no sense for a new to 4x5 photographer. Start with the basics, then you'll be grounded and will know where to go, wider, longer, it does not matter if you know the basics. Start as you plan with a 150, a 180, or as I did with a 210, learn it, learn the format, shoot as much film as you can afford to in time and money. It will pay off.

Eric

Not really sure how a couple of pieces of glass can be likened to a Ferrari, but I'll give it a go:

An automatic transmittion Ferrari can be driven as easily as any other car with an auto trans. Right pedal=go, left pedal=stop. Steer away from objects. It is not like driving an Auto Union from the 1930s where the go and stop pedal are reversed and you have to deal with a non-syncro gearbox/clutch combo.

Likewise, a D3x with an FX lens is just an expensive point'n'shoot when set to Auto.

A 110mm or 90mm lens is just a lens. There is no dark science to using them. Nor is there any white magic with a 150mm or 210mm. I believe it is just as easy to get a shot with a 110mm as a 150mm, and just as hard to shoot a Masterpiece with either (as it is with driving a Ferrari to the shops versus racing it around the Nürburgring).

Learning the basics of using a view camera should be the focus here. Don't scare someone off finding their vision.

Tim Meisburger
14-Jan-2010, 21:51
I don't think he was suggesting a 110 was too good a lens, or better in some way that other focal lengths; just that they are very expensive compared to a 150.

Lachlan 717
14-Jan-2010, 22:53
I don't think he was suggesting a 110 was too good a lens, or better in some way that other focal lengths; just that they are very expensive compared to a 150.

"...clearly overkill..." would suggest "too good" to me.

"Start with the basics" clearly implies a 110mm is different and, by definition, non-basic. It is just a few pieces of glass; again, no dark science to it.

I can't see anything about the price of the lenses in the post, so doubt that's what the post was about (given the reference to quality, not price, I would go so far as to say that it was quality overkill, not financial overkill, that the Ferrari et al comments were related to). Anyway, the 2 lenses that the OP listed for consideration are hardly cheap lenses to begin with!!

neil poulsen
14-Jan-2010, 23:05
. . . I'm reminded of Andrew Sanderson's advice of staying with one lens for 2-3 years or longer, in order to become famiilar with that lens, . .

I gotta comment on this one.

In my humble opinion, this is baloney. Good grief, one lens for two or three years? :eek: That really narrows your options. I'll explain.

Among others, there are two important components to composition: camera position and framing. First, you select the camera position that gives you the best perspective. After deciding on camera position, then frame the image so as to have the strongest composition. Camera position and framing are a very powerful combination.

In the darkroom, framing is accomplished by using the easel's blades. In the field, framing is accomplished by selecting the best focal length. That is, select the longest focal length that includes everything you want in the photograph. Selecting anything wider reduces the usable size of the negative and thereby limits you on obtaining the advantage of large format film. (Use as much of the film sheet as possible.) The more lenses you have, the better you can frame the image. (There is a point of diminishing returns though, in the number of lenses you have.)

Of course, most of us probably began with a single lens. A 150mm is a good start. (It depends on how you see.) Then, expand out. The number of lenses you carry is a trade-off between weight and versatility.

And for gosh sake, buy used. As long as the lens hasn't been abused, the shutter sounds good, and it's a multi-coated Schneider, Rodenstock, Nikon or Fuji, it's probably a good lens. I've decided to purchase Schneider Symmar-S lenses. Very high quality at reasonable prices. (Avoid the silver speckles inside the lens that can plague Schneider lenses, though.)

GPS
15-Jan-2010, 02:33
I gotta comment on this one.
...
Camera position and framing are a very powerful combination.
...
In the darkroom, framing is accomplished by using the easel's blades. In the field, framing is accomplished by selecting the best focal length. )

The framing is accomplished not only by the focal length but also by the film format in use. No focal length alone can change a square film format into a panoramic format.
Roger Hicks, speaking about composition, said somewhere something like - "it's all about the focal length and the film format" Not entirely precise either as the inner components in the picture itself are equally important for a composition.

ki6mf
15-Jan-2010, 05:49
If Architecture is the primary concern I think the 150 or 135 is a good first choice. Followed closely by the 90mm or some slightly wider. I found that you sometimes are forced to get closer to the subject, like when shooting a building from the street and the street is not very wide, and the wide angle takes on more importance.

Eric Brody
15-Jan-2010, 07:48
I think some folks are taking some of this too seriously or personally. We are all biased by our own experience, and tend do recall good experience preferentially to bad. Lachlan, I meant nothing personal by my comment that the 110XL is "overkill," just that it is an expensive lens to choose as one's first.

Neil, I had only one lens (210) for a couple of years and am not the only one who feels that it is a good learning experience. Unless one has a zoom, or an unreasonable plethora of lenses, composition and framing always require compromise and or moving the camera. Too many lenses are just confusing, like too many camera systems. See? I'm not sure it qualifies as "baloney," good grief, so there! Hah! :~) :)

Let the poster get a decent "normal" lens, I agree that used is a good idea, and get on with photography. And maybe so should we. Of course it's raining here in the great Pacific Northwest so we have less opportunity to go out and shoot in the landscape. :~) ;)

Eric

percepts
15-Jan-2010, 07:58
Too many lenses are just confusing, like too many camera systems. See? I'm not sure it qualifies as "baloney," good grief, so there! Hah! :~) :)
Eric

Maybe you are just easily confused. Doesn't mean everyone else is. Is that confusing for you?

CarstenW
15-Jan-2010, 08:06
Is answering a light-hearted post with a personal attack really appropriate here?

Robert Hughes
15-Jan-2010, 08:12
Must be the water - between personal attacks and the dichroic fog from changing pH, I don't know what to do ...

Sal Santamaura
15-Jan-2010, 08:29
Is answering a light-hearted post with a personal attack really appropriate here?Not appropriate, but sadly, with some posters, it's common. :(

Eric Brody
15-Jan-2010, 09:01
No offense meant to anyone. I do hope that on this forum we comment on photography, not personality. Disagreement is fine. Neil is a local friend and I wanted to tweak him a bit. He can take it, so can I. Anyway, the Bach b minor mass is the greatest piece of music ever written, not that pathetic Mozart c minor. So there! That proves it.

Ken Lee
15-Jan-2010, 09:03
For architectural photography, lenses can never have enough coverage, and cameras can never have enough movements. * With shorter and wider lenses, a bag bellows can sometimes be a necessity. Make sure your camera can take one.

So be careful not to limit yourself inadvertently.

Among lenses of the same length, some are designed to give much greater coverage than average. You should look for those. They often have 'wide' or 'super' or 'W' in their names. Forum members can steer you to tables which show coverage of lenses. Someone here might even have one for sale.

Inexpensive used monorail cameras support adjustments and movements limited only by the bellows and/or the lens, but many wooden field cameras - while portable and beautiful to look at - do not.

One need not purchase new lenses, or new cameras. Over the years, most lenses have improved only marginally - often in ways of greater benefit to the manufacturer, than noticeable by users.

* Reminiscent of Carl Weese (http://www.carlweese.com/)'s observation that just as one can never be "too rich, or too thin", one can never have enough film holders.

Jack Dahlgren
15-Jan-2010, 09:13
One need not purchase new lenses, or new cameras. Over the years, lenses have improved only marginally - often in ways of greater benefit to the manufacturer than noticeable by users.


This is much more true in the large format world. People using other formats seem fixated on the newest lens because manufacturers there are continuing to improve things like coatings, focusing motors, vibration reduction and zoom lens design. Most modern (<50 years old) LF lenses are already coated with something and the last three items don't apply.

Ken Lee
15-Jan-2010, 09:20
Roger Hicks, speaking about composition, said somewhere something like - "it's all about the focal length and the film format" Not entirely precise either as the inner components in the picture itself are equally important for a composition.

- Most Excellent -

If I've learned anything on this forum, it's that nothing is all about anything :)

Sal Santamaura
15-Jan-2010, 09:35
No offense meant to anyone...No offense taken. I believe Carsten's question referred to post #31, not your post 30.

Robert Hughes
15-Jan-2010, 09:37
...nothing is all about anything :)
If you can live with an approximation, it's about 5/8 of anything... :)

percepts
15-Jan-2010, 09:41
If I've learned anything on this forum, it's that nothing is all about anything :)

"Every man gets a narrower and narrower field of knowledge in which he must be an expert in order to compete with other people. The specialist knows more and more about less and less and finally knows everything about nothing."
- Konrad Lorenz

drew.saunders
15-Jan-2010, 09:56
To the OP: It's entirely possible that you may really hate the 150mm focal length in 4x5, in which case you'd be best served with a reasonably priced used lens that you can sell later. Alternately, it's entirely possible that you fall in love with the 150mm focal length, in which case you'd be best served with a reasonably priced used lens that you can trade in for a better one later once you're more familiar with LF and know more about the different lenses. In short, get a used 150 and decide later if you want more lenses.

Keh.com has several 150's for $300 and under. Even though I really like both of my Fujinon lenses, the two Fuji's they have today are both "Bargain" quality, which is usually just fine, but since Keh doesn't seem to test their LF shutters, if you don't have a shutter tester (to see how inaccurate the shutters are), you might be better off with the $300 Caltar or Nikkor.

I'm glad that I took a LF class back in college where the only lens I had was a 150, which is why when I bought my own LF, I started with a 120 and then got a 200. I always found 150 to be either too wide or not wide enough, and was never quite right for me, but you might really like it.

Drew

paulr
15-Jan-2010, 10:04
This will probably be a repeat of what's been said here, so I'll try to be quick. As far as focal length, your best guide is the lenses you use most in other formats. Look at the horizontal angle of view ... that probably tells you most. Though maybe in architecture, the vertical angle of view is as important. Not sure.

Personally, I find 150 to be kind of neither-here, neither-there. I prefer longer or wider. On the other hand, you may see things completely differently than me. Also, i find that whatever lens you give me, once I start walking around with it, starts to strongly influence the way i see. So in that sense all focal lengths are good, and will teach you things.

I wouldn't sweat the brand. I say this hypocritically ... i spent years sweating these details. After hours on the phone with optical technicians, and ten times as many hours going blind over MTF charts, I chose Schneider. In the following years, after looking at friends' negs and prints made with Rodenstock and Nikon lenses, i can promise you that I'd do no better than a coin toss in guessing which brand of lens made which image. All these companies make great lenses. Factors like focus, vibration, wind, and depth of field will tend to obliterate any of the the subtle optical differences that actually exist.

Ari
15-Jan-2010, 10:06
To sum up:
Tomayto, Tomahto.

Ken Lee
15-Jan-2010, 10:13
If you can live with an approximation, it's about 5/8 of anything... :)

Bingo ! ;)

Ken Lee
15-Jan-2010, 10:16
"Every man gets a narrower and narrower field of knowledge in which he must be an expert in order to compete with other people. The specialist knows more and more about less and less and finally knows everything about nothing."
- Konrad Lorenz

Brilliant !

rdenney
15-Jan-2010, 11:45
To the OP: It's entirely possible that you may really hate the 150mm focal length in 4x5, in which case you'd be best served with a reasonably priced used lens that you can sell later.

Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! This response wins the good sense award.

If you are starting with a Chamonix, then you are clearly concerned about value for the money. I think there are ways to buy quality so close to the two lenses you mention for far less than the price of a new one that it just makes no sense to spend the money unless you have very specific and mature requirements that can only be fulfilled by buying new glass.

Example: I recently bought a 210/5.6 Sinaron in a Copal shutter, already mounted in a board useful to me, and paid about $200 for it. The Sinaron is Sinar's house brand, and applies to a Rodenstock APO-Sironar-N. It probably dates from the late 90's and is multicoated with the latest Copal shutter.

There are also Caltar-branded Rodenstock lenses that usually get less money.

You won't be able to tell the difference between a Schneider and a Rodenstock lens. Both are first-quality plasmat designs. At this focal length, they are not too heavy.

The point about buying a used one is that it gives you a way to assess what you will actually do with the camera, and that will lead to much more specific and well-articulated requirements to fulfill with your additional purchases. When I started with large format, my first lens was an 8-1/2" (215mm) Ilex Paragon--a good lens of tessar design that usually sells for low prices. I have many other large-format lenses now, but I still have that Paragon--it's definitely good enough to be worth keeping especially with an f/4.5 maximum aperture. If I sold it, though, I would get what I paid for it (even in today's market) and thus it's like renting a lens for free with a 100% security deposit. The depreciation on new lenses is significant in today's market.

If you were to draw a curve relating current price to image quality, it would be nearly flat once the price reached the $200-300 range, for lenses in the 150-210 range. The newest XL Schneiders offer a larger image circle, but you need to know you'll need that before it's worth spending that kind of money. Unless, of course, you have enough money available that these price differences just aren't relevant to you.

Rick "not that much a fan of the 'normal' focal length and who would start with either a 210 or a 135" Denney

lilmsmaggie
15-Jan-2010, 13:50
If you are starting with a Chamonix, then you are clearly concerned about value for the money. I think there are ways to buy quality so close to the two lenses you mention for far less than the price of a new one that it just makes no sense to spend the money unless you have very specific and mature requirements that can only be fulfilled by buying new glass.

It has been suggested that I also consider an Ebony RW45 :D

Would choosing the Ebony over the Chamonix influence lens choice? Or is the above directed at overall value rather than camera'lens combination?

CarstenW
15-Jan-2010, 13:53
No offense taken. I believe Carsten's question referred to post #31, not your post 30.

Yes, that's right. In fact, post #30 was the one I referred to as "light-hearted". I found it quite easy to see the tongue-filled cheek in that one, but if there was any tongue-in-cheek in #31, I missed it.

Lachlan 717
15-Jan-2010, 15:26
Would choosing the Ebony over the Chamonix influence lens choice?

Yep. Significantly. You will have a massive pain in the area around your hip pocket.

There is an old saying in Real Estate that you should "...buy the cheapest car that you can afford and the most expensive house you can afford".

In LF terms, this goes something like "...buy the cheapest camera you can afford and the most expensive lenses you can afford".

Buying an expensive camera will not show up in you shots like decent glass will.

Stick to a Chamomix or Shen Hao (pref 2nd hand) and put the savings into glass.

One other area to consider is the accessory side. Don't forget to budget for a loupe, decent meter, dark cloth, film holders, tripod etc (assuming you don't have these yet).

Drew Wiley
15-Jan-2010, 15:59
If you can afford the Ebony it's an excellent choice. It's very lightweight yet rigid,
and realistically acommodates lenses from about 80mm to 360mm. Best of the wooden
cameras in my opinion, and the RW45 is easier to operate than the more expensive
Ebonys. I've never even owned a 150 lens, and very glad I didn't start with one. I shot
almost everything for ten years with a 210, which typically offers a lot more movement
than any 150. Then I acquired longer or shorter focal lengths from there, before moving mostly to 8x10. I did this on advice from my older brother. He was schooled in
photography at Brooks institute, where everyone was expected to use a 210 and 90,
which was the simplest combination to cover most every commercial application,
including portraiture and architecture. But I fell in love with the perspective of the
210, though now I consider 240 as my "normal" lens for 4x5. But everyone is different
in how they see things, and until you experiment, you won't know for yourself! However, both 210 and 150 lenses are abundant and affordable used. Any of the major
brand ones will probably be excellent unless you are making huge enlargements.

rdenney
15-Jan-2010, 16:00
It has been suggested that I also consider an Ebony RW45 :D

Would choosing the Ebony over the Chamonix influence lens choice? Or is the above directed at overall value rather than camera'lens combination?

No. I would make the same advice no matter what. My recent migration from a Calumet 45NX (budget view camera) to a high-end-brand Sinar did not in any way make me think my old lenses weren't up to it.

Here is a continuum of lenses one in your situation might consider:

1. Cheapest: 6" or 150mm tessar-type lens in an old-fashioned shutter (an Ilex shutter being on the boundary between old-fashioned and modern). One might pay $100-150 for such a lens in usable condition, new enough to be coated and with a reasonably functional shutter.

2. Next upgrade: 150mm early(ish) plasmat such as a Schneider Symmar Convertible. Dating from the 50's, it will be in a Compur shutter and it will be single-coated. It won't necessarily be any more expensive than the above (those old tessars are still quite well-regarded), but one might pay up to around $200 for such a lens if the shutter runs well enough to not need to be sent off for cleaning, lubrication and adjustment. These represent a significant improvement in coverage over the tessar design, and performance at wide apertures (unless you want the tessar look, which lots of people do).

3. Next upgrade: 6-9" fully modern plasmat such as a Nikkor-W, Fujinon, Schneider Symmar-S, or Rodenstock Sironar. May be new enough for multicoating, may not be. Probably in a Copal shutter, but maybe not. If running well with perfect glass, it might fetch $200-300, less with any visible flaws. "Schneideritis" is such a visible flaw--the interior paint bubbling slightly to produce visible white spots. Maybe there's a spot on the coating where a lens cap rubbed the glass. These will have absolutely zero effect on image quality. Buying Caltar-branded versions of these will likely lower the price without lowering the quality. The multicoating will allow a reduction in veiling flare, though that will be visible only in some scenes, and the lenses will perform better at wide apertures than the early Symmars and tessars. For those who want modern performance on a budget, this is the place to start, and from here on optical performance improvements are extremely subtle or theoretical only.

4. Then, there are recent plasmats with upgrades mostly to coatings, and maybe the start of some use of special glasses and computer-optimized designs. Examples include the aforementioned APO-Sironar-N (under whatever brand), APO-Symmar-S. Prices range up to maybe $400 for one in flawless condition (though I've bought in this category for much less with a few visible flaws). These will nearly always have a Copal shutter of the latest configuration. Buying Caltar-branded versions of these will likely lower the price without lowering the quality.

5. Finally, there are the latest models usually bought new or slightly used. Slightly used, prices may extend up to $600 or so, and new they may be two or three times that (I don't check prices at that end of the pool, so this is hand-waving).

You will not be able to distinguish between lenses in the last three categories in real-world use, in my opinion. And the lenses in the last three categories will run well and will not require fiddling with old stuff and so on. The way your fingers will relate to those lenses will be identical in all three of those categories, because they will nearly all use the modern Copal shutter. Depending on the deal you find and how carefully you might search, only the last category will insist that you spend more than about $300.

I've limited this to plasmats, but there are similar parallels for wide-angle designs though with higher prices. When you move up to longer lenses, you have to choose between telephoto designs, older tessar and newer plasmat normal designs intended for larger formats, and process lenses. Lenses usable for 8x10 cameras usually get a higher price just because of that. Often, older lenses or process lenses are the only affordable options.

And none of this even hints at other important issues, such as weight if you plan to hike with the camera.

Given that you do not yet know your requirements fully, it seems to me that you are best served by obtaining a high-end lens of older manufacture so that you are buying it at its fully depreciated price. You will not compromise anything of value as a photographer of even demanding standards, but if what you learn using that lens leads you to a different or more refined set of requirements, you'll be able to sell that lens and get just what you need with nearly zero risk.

But if money is no object and you don't mind selling a lens a year from now for half of what you paid for it (or never using it despite having paid a lot), then blessings upon your house.

Think of this, though: for the price of a new Schneider XL something-or-other in my Category 5 above, I have been able to purchase Schneider Super Angulons in 47/5.6 (3), 65/5.6 (3), 90/5.6 (4), 121/8 (3), a Schneider Symmar 180/5.6 (2), a Rodenstock APO-Sironar-N (Sinar-branded) 210/5.6 (4)--categories in parentheses. A couple of those I bought back when prices were higher for used lenses, too.

Rick "you get to choose" Denney

Henry Ambrose
15-Jan-2010, 16:21
I'd buy a 150 and not look back - just go shoot a bunch. If you're shooting buildings and have the room without extraneous stuff you have to get inside of, the 150 will be GREAT. Its like a 50 on a 35mm camera or an 80 on a Hasselblad - very natural looking. No, the exact conversions don't measure up but the general feel is similar. You will want something wider later. Worry about that later.

I found when I owned a 150 Schneider that at the edge of its useful illumination it wasn't super sharp like it was in the middle where it was scary, scary sharp. I have a Rodenstock 150 W now and it is stunning in every regard and has plenty of coverage. This lens is discontinued, but if you can find one of these, buy it. Otherwise, I'd suggest buying the Rodenstock 150 S which is renowned for its performance.

Buying a 90 later on sounds like a good plan too. I see no particular reason to wait 2-3 years if you get out and shoot a lot you could add a lens sooner without getting confused. Sometimes having less is a good thing. Learning where to stand and how things look from that place is very valuable in that you will rarely feel confused by some perceived "need" for another lens.

If you're shooting for money you will have to please the person who hired you. Since you're not, I say please yourself - don't get caught in a trap of "I have to do the the professional way, with lots of special glass and lots of lights". That's just bs.

rdenney
15-Jan-2010, 16:33
In LF terms, this goes something like "...buy the cheapest camera you can afford and the most expensive lenses you can afford".

The wisdom of this is legendary, but I find myself disagreeing.

As with any apparatus, the most effective design is the one that fulfills all the requirements, irrespective of price. A camera with locks and movements that are non-intuitive, finger-crushing, awkward, and weak will lead to frustration, and that frustration will leak into the photography. Or so it seems to me.

If a $300 used Sironar-N fulfills all the same requirements as a brand new Sironar-S or Symmar-L at nearly $1100 (Badger prices), then I see no advantage to spending the extra money. If the controls on the Ebony are intuitive, easy, and solidly reliable compared to the Chamonix, or if it accommodates a more desirable range of lenses and accessories, then it would be a more effective choice. (Note: I do not know the truth of this given that I prefer monorail cameras to field cameras, and the Chamonix gets good enough reviews so that the differences might be pretty subtle for a beginner.) Thus, I don't feel like I've ventured onto too thin a theoretical branch to concoct a scenario where a cheaper lens and a more expensive camera would be the more effective choice.

(Related sidebar: I have a number of quite excellent lenses for the Pentacon Six format, and a number of cameras at a range of prices that are all quirky at best. Many never experience the lenses because they refuse to deal with the cameras. Yes, apples and oranges.)

Also, the 150mm lenses available new are less expensive than I remembered at less than $1100, so at this focal length maybe it's not as big a deal, unless the OP is looking at the very expensive Super Symmar XL. With shorter lenses and with 300mm and longer lenses, the prices for new lenses grow significantly.

I agree with saving money for needed accessories. One not on your list is a Maxwell screen, which to me is a must for anyone using very short or slow lenses, and merely really nice to have in the 150-210mm range. Good loupes are not cheap, but they surely are easy on the eyes. Most LFers will want the spot meter for sure. These can easily cost as much as the affordable lens choices I'm advocating.

Rick "thinking that investing in easy and intuitive operation is money well spent" Denney

Don Dudenbostel
15-Jan-2010, 18:38
I'm sure someone will pipe in here with reasons for one or the other but I'd argue that neither you nor anyone else will see any differences in the final prints. I'd go with the least expensive or, if used, best condition for the price.
Good luck.

Eric

I will take this a little farther. You will not see any difference in either of these and the standard Symmar-S, Nikkor W or Fujinon W or any of the modern lenses of comparable design unless you're making extremely large enlargements. You will not see the difference in even a 16x20 or 20x24. If you're doing close work and printing 30x40 you might find one slightly better than another. I've done very critical color and B&W commercial work for forty plus years for some of the most critical customers and shot with old and new and to this day can not tell what negs or transparencies were shot with which lens. Even the old convertible Symmar was excellent. I studied with a master photographer in 1972 and I'm a master commercial photographer as well and we used Ilex convertible 215mm lenses and I also equipped a commercial studio for a major ad agency with the same lens. It gets little press but produced images critical enough for our clients like Phillips Electronics, Magnavox, Sylvania and many major food clients. It doesn't take a $1200 lens to make a stunning image.Save yourself some money and buy a Nikkor, Symmar S or Fujinon.

Steve Hamley
15-Jan-2010, 19:12
I'd choose the Ebony RW45 because I prefer the conventional controls. I also disagree with Lachlan's philosophy of getting the cheapest camera. Not because I advocate spending money without reason, but because the camera has to be comfortable for you to use, especially under the darkcloth.

Tech specs being equal to your needs, you should get the camera that's most "transparent" in use; the one that is most comfortable to use and allows you to concentrate on making the image, not operating the camera. Regardless of the cost within reason of course. And that could well be different cameras for different people, but for me it's one with conventional controls.

BTW, the RW45 will handle lenses down to 55mm (personal experience) on a recessed board, and a friend used to shoot a 58mm Schneider on a flat board with this camera although the Ebony specs list 65mm. The RW45 minimum draw is 60mm.

Cheers, Steve

lilmsmaggie
15-Jan-2010, 19:31
Tech specs being equal to your needs, you should get the camera that's most "transparent" in use; the one that is most comfortable to use and allows you to concentrate on making the image, not operating the camera.

Therein lies the rub. As most of your are aware, you can't handle a Chamonix before buying one, unless you know someone that happens to own one you could borrow.

I think the closest place I may be able to lay my hands on an Ebony mght be in the San Francisco Bay area; Palo Alto possibly, San Francisco for sure. There's nothing here in the Central Valley outside of Sacramento where I live that would give me the opportunity of trying before you buy.

I am considering the accessories I will need. I have the tripod department well covered. Looking at purchasing a Sekonic L-358 as my first meter. This was suggested by B&HPhoto after I explained what I would be using it for B&W film, digital and LF.

Steve Hamley
15-Jan-2010, 19:48
If you can put hands on the camera, an interesting exercise is to get a lens out, put the camera on the tripod and turn off the lights. If you can unfold the camera, attach the lens, and get to the framing and focusing stage without thinking about it, it's a good sign. And it's what I prefer to do with the Ebony shooting sunrises - (bright) lights ruin your night vision temporarily.

So while your at it, operate all the rest of the controls in darkness. Having to come out from under the darkcloth to find the right knob or lever is frustrating to me.

Cheers, Steve

Drew Wiley
15-Jan-2010, 19:59
Choosing a camera is a lot like a marriage. You don't know all the idiosyncrasies
until you've been married to your equipment awhile, and then you just get used to
it and don't pay any attention to the minor difficulties. And nowadays you are lucky
to have a lot of good choices. My philosophy is to buy the best equipment one can afford and actually needs. The RW45 isn't terribly expensive for a view camera, but
there are obviously good alternatives. I'm just glad I bought an Ebony myself. Very
well made, though I dislike the fresnel that came with it (replaced it with a conventional groundglass). Used lenses in the most common focal lengths are so
cheap right now that it's hard to make a mistake, unless somebody misrepresents
the condition. Take your best guess, and after awhile if you don't like the perspective
of a certain focal length, try a different focal length. But you don't have to spend large sums of money for very modern general-purpose lenses. Just avoid no.3 or larger shutters, because most light folding camera won't handle the weight of big lenses. Specialty lenses can get pricey, but you might never need them. But once you take the plunge, you won't regret it. View camera photography is really fun,
and large negatives are wonderful to print from!

rdenney
15-Jan-2010, 20:04
I am considering the accessories I will need. I have the tripod department well covered. Looking at purchasing a Sekonic L-358 as my first meter. This was suggested by B&HPhoto after I explained what I would be using it for B&W film, digital and LF.

The choice of meter depends on your approach to measuring exposure. Those of us who use the Zone System would not want to be without our spot meters. I like Sekonic meters and the L-358 seems like a good one (there is also a 1-degree spot attachment for the L-358, but it increases the price substantially). I have a Minolta Spotmeter F (of the digital display type) and an excellent Sekonic L-718 (not a spot meter), but I still use my Pentax Spotmeter V for large-format work. It's much easier for zone-system applications.

You'll need a way to study the ground glass at enlargement magnifications. I just recently bought a Silvestri 6X tilting loupe after many years of using a Horizon 4X loupe and it is really slick. A must for wide-angle lenses.

And you'll need cable releases, preferably one for every lens. Don't skimp.

You'll need film holders, and many of them. Riteway, Lisco, Fidelity--they are all the same and perfectly fine. Some prefer Toyos which are more expensive.

If you are going to do Quickloads, buy now--some are reporting that they are ceasing production in April, but it may be just a rumor.

And then there are dark cloths for focusing. I have recently, after many years, switched to the Black Jacket, and I wonder why such wonderfulness wasn't available back in the day.

Quietworks Black Jacket (http://www.quietworks.com/frames_files/BJ_SPECIFICATIONS/BJ_NEW_HOME_FRAME_.htm)

You'll need a way to carry it all.

You'll also need a spanner for tightening and loosening retaining rings for mounting lenses on boards.

And then save up for the Maxwell focusing screen.

Rick "and don't forget lens shades" Denney

Bruce A Cahn
15-Jan-2010, 20:48
They are the 2 best possible choices. There are differences. The Rodenstocks appear sharper. If your primary concern is sharpness get a Rodenstock. The image from the Schneiders is very sharp too, but they have a different look. You may not see it in reproduction or enlargement but I see quite a difference in the 2 brands in contact prints. My favorite lens is a 210 XL. Even this $5000. lens does not seem to be quite as sharp as the S series from Rodenstock. But I like it better and use it whenever possible, as a wide lens on 8x10 and a normal one on 5x7. The picture is definitely less contrasty and has a look I can't quite put into words, but love. I have had the 110 and 80 XL and they did not compare to the 210. I realize you do not want a 210, and certainly do not want to spend that kind of money, but I am trying to point out that these lenses have some very subtle and interesting qualities. For 4x5, where enlargement is probable, I use the Rodenstock S lenses. But then again I do have a Schneider (pre L) apo which is a great lens that has given me some of my best platinum prints. It is the Schneider 480, unfortunately better suited to ULF. So to summarize, if you want ultimate sharpness, get the Rodenstock. If you want a slightly lower contrast and a bit moodier lens, get a Schneider.

Lachlan 717
15-Jan-2010, 21:52
I also disagree with Lachlan's philosophy of getting the cheapest camera. Not because I advocate spending money without reason, but because the camera has to be comfortable for you to use, especially under the darkcloth.

Cheers, Steve

Steve,

How has price got anything to do with comfort?

John Kasaian
15-Jan-2010, 23:49
I humbly suggest a 203mm f/7.7 Ektar for your first lens. You'll have ample coverage for learning camera movements, top optical quality, and if you look hard enough you should find a good one for around $200.

Steve Hamley
16-Jan-2010, 05:56
Lachlan,

Absolutely nothing. That's why price shouldn't be considered in camera selection except perhaps as an upper bound to one's budget.

Cheers, Steve

Ivan J. Eberle
16-Jan-2010, 06:41
The question for me is as much one of ubiquity and availability used as any other factor. Used Rodenstocks seem to have fewer "issues".

If you stick with Rodenstocks of recent vintage, all are believed to incorporate APO glass elements whether they indicate it or not. Better still, they're the coin of the realm with identical rebadged lenses which tends to keep used prices almost ridiculously cheap. A 210mm or 135mm Sironar-N is the same as an APO Sironar N or a Caltar IIN or Sinaron version.

The 210mms Caltar II-Ns in mint condition are commonly selling for under $200 used. (It also has a 301mm IC.) The 135mms and 150mms are a little less common but still bargains. They're also quite often found in "mint" condition, as they're perhaps most commonly purchased new as student lenses.

lilmsmaggie
16-Jan-2010, 17:29
I'd like to extend my gratitude and heartfelt thanks to everyone for the awesome advice and insight. Now I need to take some time and digest it all.
______________________________________________________________________
The photograph itself doesn't interest me. I want only to capture a minute part of reality.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

percepts
16-Jan-2010, 18:08
I'd like to extend my gratitude and heartfelt thanks to everyone for the awesome advice and insight. Now I need to take some time and digest it all.

Good luck you should be thoroughly overwhelmed with conflicting advice by now. It's like buying your first PC. You research and research and research going round and round and round in circles until finally you decide "Bugger it I'll just buy the first one I thought of" and you still won't know if it's the right choice because you have nothing to compare it with.

Lee Christopher
17-Jan-2010, 03:51
Good luck you should be thoroughly overwhelmed with conflicting advice by now. It's like buying your first PC. You research and research and research going round and round and round in circles until finally you decide "Bugger it I'll just buy the first one I thought of" and you still won't know if it's the right choice because you have nothing to compare it with.

That sounds awfully familiar! :D

In my case, it was easy as I 'inherited' a 150 APO Roddie along with my first LF set-up and continue to be pleasantly startled by the sharpness, clarity and contrast/rendering of this lens.

The research and never ending round of reading came about where my 2nd lens - my first UWA was concerned. Between a 75mm and a 65mm (a 45mm was briefly considered), I finally settled with a 65mm. Such wide options were not out of preference, but rather more of necessity due to extreme space constraints of many places in my country.

lilmsmaggie
17-Jan-2010, 10:14
Call me a glutton for punishment. Rather than start a new thread, I decided to ask this question within this one. Here goes:

Would a non-folding design better serve the novice LF photographer?

rguinter
17-Jan-2010, 10:47
I have a 72 but it hasn't seen the light of day for a long time. I just don't see subjects that wide.

Can I borrow it? My 90-mm is just a bit too long for this shot.

Just kidding about the borrowing though. Cheers. Bob G.

Lachlan 717
17-Jan-2010, 11:31
Call me a glutton for punishment. Rather than start a new thread, I decided to ask this question within this one. Here goes:

Would a non-folding design better serve the novice LF photographer?

In theory, yes.

Quicker and easier to set up (esp. if you can leave the lens on whilst packed).

I don't consider the minimal volume saving significant enough to desire a folding camera.

percepts
17-Jan-2010, 12:53
You've done it now.
You need to consider portatbility if you are backpacking. Frankly if you are backpacking then a Linhof technika can't be beat (I see the flames coming for saying this). The reason I say this is because whilst it sure ain't the lightest, it is one of the most rigid and robust and it's clamshell design which means it is self protecting. And it will fold up with some lenses still in place. You can just throw it in a small bag with no further protection. Well maybe a soft wrap to stop any scratching/rubbing of outside of clamshell. Just about any other camera needs additional protection which results in needing more space and padding and weight negating the benefit of being lighter or smaller.

Then you have something like a Linhof Technikardan (google: linhof technikardan for sale) which is a collapsable and folding monorail designed for location work. Perfect for for very wide to 500 lenses but packs very small and light but requires good protection in a rucksack. Then you have myriads of field cameras and myriads of studio (monorail) cameras. All depends how far you want to walk with a lot of weight. If you want light then a field camera (technika or technikardan or one of many wooden ones) otherwise a monorail. Take your pick. Only you know how you will use it and what is important to you.

Image quality from them all is potentially exactly the same. Speed of setup really isn't relevant. If you wanted speed you wouldn't be using 4x5 but a technika with a rangefinder is about as fast as it gets with a cammed lens which is small enough to be left on camera. Otherwise they all take time to square up, level and focus.
For flexibility the technikardan can't be beat cos it has studio camera movements and lens capability with field camera portability. But Linhofs aren't cheap.

A clunking great studio monorail might be easier to practice on in the studio but you'll hate having to carry it anywhere.
But if your the lazy type with a mindset that thinks "If it's more than 10ft from the car it ain't worth photographing" and wonder why you find tripod holes everytime you setup your camera, then a monster monorail might be for you.

One other thing. If you want to do macro(closeup) work, then you want a camera which focuses from the rear standard. Those which only focus from the front standard make life difficult because focussing also changes framing. The technika focusses from front. The technikardan focusses from rear.

lilmsmaggie
17-Jan-2010, 14:00
You've done it now.
You need to consider portatbility if you are backpacking. Frankly if you are backpacking then a Linhof technika can't be beat (I see the flames coming for saying this).

Please be nice :) No flames or other incendiaries. Let's not discourage the newbie :D

percepts
17-Jan-2010, 15:14
Can I borrow it? My 90-mm is just a bit too long for this shot.



In your dreams;)