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Thread: Schneider Apo-Symmar L 5,6/120mm image circle and focusing

  1. #1

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    Schneider Apo-Symmar L 5,6/120mm image circle and focusing

    Does anyone have experience using the Schneider Apo-Symmar L 5,6/120mm lens on 4x5? Schneider's literature indicates that this lens has a 62 degree angle of view and 148mm image circle diameter at full aperture. The specifications change to a 75 degree angle of view and 189mm image circle diameter at f-stop 22.

    So, at a recommended working aperture the coverage should be sufficient for 4x5, but I am wondering if the coverage at full aperture makes viewing or focusing difficult. Are the corners of the image in the ground glass dark or unviewable with the lens at full aperture? I guess particularly if using a rise or fall adjustment when examining the ground glass at full aperture, it might be dark in the corners. What is your experience using this lens? How usable is it on 4x5? Is it easy enough to work around the small coverage at full aperture?

  2. #2

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    Re: Schneider Apo-Symmar L 5,6/120mm image circle and focusing

    I did find this thread shortly after posting my initial message. It seems the search was not too helpful, but the "similar threads" box underneath the message after posting was in this case.

    http://www.largeformatphotography.in...mmar-L-120-5-6

    I would still be curious to hear others' experiences with this lens and its coverage. Thanks.

  3. #3

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    Sep 2006
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    317

    Re: Schneider Apo-Symmar L 5,6/120mm image circle and focusing

    Just looked at the screen through mine on a Wista. Bright and easy to view at f/5.6, image clear all the way to corners. Ditto with about an inch and a half of front rise with only a little darkening (camera design prevents more rise).

    A superb lens - just love mine!

  4. #4

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    Re: Schneider Apo-Symmar L 5,6/120mm image circle and focusing

    Very good lens, but check the corners if you use rise or shift, the image circle are rather thight.

  5. #5

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    Re: Schneider Apo-Symmar L 5,6/120mm image circle and focusing

    Quote Originally Posted by Per Madsen View Post
    Very good lens, but check the corners if you use rise or shift, the image circle are rather thight.
    Agreed. Coverage sort of just ends suddenly without much fall-off.......

  6. #6

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    Re: Schneider Apo-Symmar L 5,6/120mm image circle and focusing

    I use this lens often and I'm happy with its performance. The image circle is limited compared to some of the larger options at 120mm, but the lens is much smaller and it has a brighter aperture for focusing than the f/8 designs.

    I've never actually shot a photograph with the lens at f/5.6, but the image is definitely bright and sharp for focusing.

    This is my favorite and most-used focal length. Currently I have three 120mm lenses, Apo-Symmar-L, Super-Symmar HM and Super Angulon. I recently did a quick, real-world test to compare them, and they're all very close in sharpness and contrast. Obviously the two larger lenses have more coverage, but the Apo-Symmar-L was probably the sharpest in the center, and it stayed nice and sharp within the stated image circle. My test was at f/22 because that's how I usually shoot.

    In case anyone is interested, the SA was pretty much identical in performance, but the SSHM was a tad bit less sharp. Not enough to really matter, and it was a small difference which could be focus error. It was close enough that I'm not concerned about it. In fact I just had a show with some 44x54 inch prints, and even on close inspection, there was no difference in sharpness between the 120 AS-L and 120 SSHM. (I actually did the test to check the quality of my newer 120 SA, which more than held its own against the other lenses.)

    The image circle is somewhat small, but sometimes I think we get hung up on specs without thinking about what we actually need. Even for the urban landscape work I do, this lens has enough coverage for most of my work. Generally I use it with my Technika (which will fold with the lens mounted), and keep the larger lenses for my Technikardan.

    If you use a lot of movements then you might get frustrated. But if you're using a small field camera, it's perfect since the camera might limit your movements anyway. I wouldn't travel with it as my only lens because sometimes I do need more rise for urban/architectural subjects. But for landscapes, or if you have another similar lens with more coverage, it's an amazing lens.

    If I had to pick only one 120, it would depend on which camera I was using. I'd choose the Apo-Symmar-L if I had a field camera that can fold with a lens mounted, otherwise I'd probably choose the Super-Symmar HM. It's a great balance of size vs. coverage, and also has a bright, f/5.6 aperture for focusing. The 120 Super Angulon is a great budget choice, the only downsides are a darker viewing aperture and that it's a big lens.

    But back to the original question, I've had no problems focusing or viewing with the 120 AS-L, and it's a great little gem of a lens. Both of my cameras have a standard groundglass with no fresnel.

  7. #7

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    Feb 2010
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    Re: Schneider Apo-Symmar L 5,6/120mm image circle and focusing

    It's a great lens, perhaps the best in this focal length, and defintely for the size/weight. CHeck the perez tests for more info: http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/testing.html I use mine on a lightweight 4x5 handheld camera where it peforms fine. Not a lot of room for movements but the size and weight are great.

    Interestingly the non-L Apo Symmars are "better" optically than the later -L versions. It's a minor difference but the -L versions were made due to various types of glass no longer being available, so other glass types had to be substituted (to slight detrimental effect). Visible on the MTF graphs from schneider actually.

    -Ed

  8. #8

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    Re: Schneider Apo-Symmar L 5,6/120mm image circle and focusing

    Thanks for the information. I appreciate it. I have read a lot of praise for this lens, and it is good to learn that viewing and focusing at full aperture is a good experience.

  9. #9

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    Re: Schneider Apo-Symmar L 5,6/120mm image circle and focusing

    I use mine for medium format, 6x9 on a 6x9 view. Not enough movement on 4x5 for my purposes.

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