View Full Version : What's the best 240mm and 300mm for my needs
After a bit of the usual research on the interweb, large format forum, browsing brochures, MTF's, and wotnot I'm no closer to sussing out which 240mm and 300mm lenses would suit me.
I mainly do landscape on 5x7. I like movements so tele lenses are out. I have bellows extension up to 500mm. I'm not a weedy bloke so lugging heavy lenses into the field isn't a problem. The lenses would also need to be multi-coated (had issues with single coated lenses in the past so I wish to avoid them). In these lenses I would be looking for consistency of (high) resolution across the film plane above all but would like to know about the usual illumination and distortion across the field, and colour fidelity. My technique also requires that the lens performs extremely well at f5.6 - f11(ish).
From the last sentence you may think that I would be interested in one of the f5.6 lenses from any of the big four. However, I would be interested in how these larger lenses perform against their smaller apertured brethren. If the performance of the f5.6 lenses turns out to be 'average' in the range f5.6 to f11(ish) then I'll consider the lighter lenses, all else being equal.
However, am I correct in thinking that while the Fujinon A (and C?) and the Nikkor-M are small, light and by all accounts sharp enough, these perform better at close ranges rather than infinity because they are effectively process lenses? This was my impression of the Fujinon-A 240mm - sharp on close objects up to say 1:20 but at infinity it was average. In this respect, would the heavier lenses be better?
I don't hear much about the heavier lenses so I would be interested in hearing people's impressions in the field of Fujinon's CM, Nikon's W range as well the those from Rodenstock and Schneider given the remit in the second paragraph. I may also be looking at something in the 450 to 480mm range as well (Schneider's Apo-symmar 480mm appeals to me).
Sorry for the lengthy post.
I agree that the smaller, lighter weight process lenses are not quite as satisfying at infinity as they are at closer distances.(An anecdotal statement. No scientific evidence to back it up).
For those focal lengths, in the 5x7 format, I prefer the Nikon/Nikkor f6.3 240W and the f9 300M.
The Fujinon "A" series and the Schneider G-Clarons are based on process lens formulas. The Fujinon "C" series and the Nikon/Nikkor "M" series are 4-element Tessars.
Although they have smaller maximum apertures, both the 240W and the 300M are bright enough for outdoor shooting in daylight. The 240 is a large lens, mounted in a copal 3 shutter. However, it is not quite as heavy as the Nikon/Nikkor f5.6 300W. The f9 300M is a compact lens with lots of coverage. There's no need to carry two large heavy lenses in the field.
I've never had issues with the single coated 305mm g claron when shooting e-6, c41, or b+w. I just happen to have one for sale as well. http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=84311&highlight=305mm+claron
Exactly what I meant by "anecdotal". I did not state that I had issues with single coated process lenses.
My experience with process lens formulations is limited to the Fujinon "A" series.
The images made with those lenses just didn't show the same degree of "roundness" as those made with Plasmats and Tessars.
As I stated, that's only my opinion.
I wouldn't know what "best" for you but I really like my 240 G Claron,
For 300mm I have both a 12" Dagor and 300 Nikon M and either one are champs. Not in the focal length you've ask, but a really fine long lens on my 5x7 is a 14 inch apo Artar( if your bellows will accomodate one)
Peter J. De Smidt
How about a 240mm f9 Docter Optics Germinar W? Unlike G-clarons, kowa, kowa-graphics, computars, the DO lens is multi-coated.
If wight is really not a problem then take APO Sironar S, my 240 is my sharpest lens and did put my APO Symmar on the second place!
I own a Fuji W 300/5.6 that performs very well -- I recently saw one here for sale.
Heavier than the slower lenses, but that is what you get if you want to work at f5.6. At f11 it should be particularily sweet. I work under the redwoods and that f5.6 is wonderfull -- my 19" RD Artar f11 is sweet, but can be a bit of a pain in low light.
I use a 150mm G-Claron and a 210mm Sironar - N on 4X5. If the 240mm lenses of either type preforms as well, either would be very good for you. The 240mm Sironar - N would be easy to find at a low price due to the number that were sold. The 240mm G-Claron would be easy to find cheaply in a barrel but it would be harder to get a shutter for it without breaking the bank.
Have you considered using a 210mm lens? The 210mm Sironar - N has a ton of room for 5X7.
A 240 Fujinon A and a 300 Fujinon C / Nikkor M would be sweet. The smaller apperture is not as much of a problem on 5x7 as it would be on 4x5, though a f4.5 lens is a pleasure to use sometimes. I use a 210 Sironar S and 300 Fujinon C on 5x7, and dont feel the need for any other focal length very often. I think I prefer 210 to 240 or 180. I tried an inexpensive 180 and 240 to come to that conclusion.
I own a Fuji W 300/5.6 that performs very well -- I recently saw one here for sale...Vaughn
I think it would be just as well to ignore my previous post. I can't remember ever using f11 in the years I have used it. And I contact print which would hide any slight loss of sharpness across the image. :o But I do like the lens.
Many thanks to all for replying.
Thanks Gem for pointing out that the Fuji-C and Nikkor-M are Tessar designs. I'd forgotten about that :o . I have seen a few Nikkor-M 300mm's knocking around recently so...
I certainly agree that the G-clarons are nice and sharp but always wondered about their ability at infinity. The same goes for the Apo-Ronars. Obviously these are designed for optimal performance at 1:1. However, I could go for one of these if I end up doing portraiture if there is sufficient lack of depth-of-field wide open although the Nikkor-M 300 will do that job I would guess!
I've also heard how good the Sironar-S is in 210 and 240mm and interesting to hear from Armin how it compares, albeit in the briefest terms, with the Apo-Symmar (in 240mm guise).
I should add that my other lenses either side of the 200mm and 300mm are an Apo-Symmar L 180mm and an Apo-Tele-Xenar Compact 400mm, so 210mm is a little too close to 180mm, hence my choice in focal lengths. As I use 5x7, a 240mm or a 300mm is maybe all I need rather than both of them.
Any more comments out there?
The satisfactory performance of G Clarons at infinity has been beaten to death in other threads. I have an early formula 240, made long before the rumored adjustment by Schneider for use at infinity, and it is superb at infinity.
An f:5.6 lens is, obviously, a bit over one stop brighter on the ground glass when wide open. And for that benefit you go up to a Copal or Compur 3 shutter in the modern ones, and add lots of weight. It is a trade off. I can focus my 240 G Claron just fine so for me it is an easy call.
The G-clarons and Fuji A's, while superbly corrected at close range, are also extremely
sharp at infinity. Either one would be quite portable in 240 -250 mm range, though the
Fuji A would have higher contrast due to multicoating. Once you get to 300mm the
Nikkor M would be smaller and a lot more common. But a superb alternative would be
the Fuji 300C. I work with all these lenses, and it would be difficult for anyone to tell
apart which print was shot with which. All of these lenses would have plenty of coverage for 5x7.
Oh - Fuji C's are four-element dialytes like the apo ronar (but with much wider coverage) rather than tessars like the Nikkor M. You can't go wrong with any of these.
Just get a 270mm Computar and call it a day.
In between your 240-300mm range, super sharp and light.
And will cover 14x17" when you eventually get there!
And will cover 14x17" when you eventually get there!
Don't forget about the 250mm f6.7 Fujinon-W. I've been using one for years on both 4x5 and 8x10. Not as compact as the Fujinon A, but not huge, and it's faster, has tons of coverage, and is very sharp. Relatively affordable, too.
Although the Fuji 250/6.7 is a great lens, you might also want to consider the current Fuji CMW 250/6.3. They both fit into Copal 1 shutters, so are more compact than the 240/5.6 lenses out there, while losing less than a stop of light. The 250/6.3, although having a smaller image circle than the 6.7 is still available new, and cheaper when used. The 320mm image circle should be enough for your 5x7 needs.
I certainly agree that the G-clarons are nice and sharp but always wondered about their ability at infinity. The same goes for the Apo-Ronars. Obviously these are designed for optimal performance at 1:1. However, I could go for one of these if I end up doing portraiture if there is sufficient lack of depth-of-field wide open although the Nikkor-M 300 will do that job I would guess!...
I've been using a 300 Apo-Ronar, albeit on 4x5 not 5x7, and the results are very good. I can't say for sure how much movement it would give you on 5x7 (though you can find out easily enough) but I've used it with fairly extreme rise on 4x5 and it's still sharp at the edges, at infinity. I have the later blue-stripe version. Some have said these later ones have a spacer or something to make them more suited towards shooting at infinity, but Bob S. has said that's not the case.
I normally use the Apo-Ronar at F/22.5 or so and near infinity. I drum-scan my negs at 4000dpi and make large exhibition prints, and in practice the 300 Apo-Ronar looks as sharp as my 210 Apo-Sironar-S in the final print. I'm using a Technika on a Gitzo 3-series CF tripod. It's a solid setup, but I have the feeling that stability is probably the weakest link in my chain, not the lens. And a huge plasmat in a copal 3 would only make the stability problem worse.
I think the Apo-Sironar-S range is really amazing. I use the 210 version now on 4x5 and it's my sharpest lens. It definitely outperforms the 210 Apo-Symmar (non-L) it replaced. Again, I often use it with pretty extreme rise and even the edges are tack sharp.
I also used the 240mm version with 8x10, and it was also an amazing lens, probably my favorite for that format. I'm sure the 300mm is also great, but it's big.
For what it is worth, there is a 240mm f/9 G-Claron in a barrel on "That Auction site". It is $143.95 Buy It Now.
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