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Thread: Nikkor-SW 8/120mm viewing and focusing

  1. #1

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    Nikkor-SW 8/120mm viewing and focusing

    Does anyone have experience using the Nikkor-SW 8/120mm lens on 4x5in and care to comment on the ease and comfort of viewing and focusing with f-stop 8?

    I am new to large format and considering some potential gear, and so have not had an opportunity to experience and compare different combinations of focal length and aperture and their appearance on the ground glass. This lens is of interest to me, and I have read a number of opinions suggesting that f-stop 8 or 9 is very usable for viewing and focusing on longish lenses, but I wonder how it is with something like a 120mm focal length -- or if a larger aperture would really be preferred. The main use would be landscape photography, but there are many low light times when it is nice to make a photograph of the landscape.

  2. #2
    Andrej Gregov
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    Re: Nikkor-SW 8/120mm viewing and focusing

    For landscape shooting, F8 should be OK. But the SW8 is really targeted for 5x7 or 8x10 work given its larger image circle. And they're not particularly cheap for a first large format lens. I might suggest looking for lenses under 1lb. There are great options in the 120-135 range. You may as well try to find a F5.6 option. And avoid spending lots for your first lenses. Keep it under $500 bucks if you can, get your feet wet and then look for pricier alternatives. Probably my most used reference page on the site is the lens charts. Here's the 4x5 version, great for research. http://www.largeformatphotography.in...s/LF4x5in.html

    A great first time buyer lens resource from one of the forum members.
    http://www.angusparkerphoto.com/blog...x5-view-camera

  3. #3

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    Re: Nikkor-SW 8/120mm viewing and focusing

    Thanks for the comment and suggestions. I am glad to hear that you think the f-stop 8 should be okay. I am looking at two or three different focal lengths, and do have two or three different 120mm or 125mm lenses in mind among the options. I have seen some temping offers of the Nikkor-SW 8/120mm and so am considering it. The size is a bit of a drawback, but if it is a great quality lens and easy enough to use with the f-stop 8, then I might be willing to deal with the size.

  4. #4

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    Re: Nikkor-SW 8/120mm viewing and focusing

    I can only reiterate Andrej's advice. There are so many options around the focal length you're looking for, particularly if you include 135, that it makes no sense in my mind to go for an unnecessarily slow and heavy lens that covers an image area much larger than you'll ever be likely to use on a 4x5 system.

    And yes, f/8 is doable, but particularly on 4x5, I prefer something f/5.6 or faster. Under optimal conditions, f/8 is fine, but you may not always find yourself shooting under those circumstances.

  5. #5

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    Re: Nikkor-SW 8/120mm viewing and focusing

    I have a Nikkor 120/8 and use it for architecture. I like the large image circle for movements and shoot it on a Sinar F with fresnel lens and reflex hood. Yes, it is darker than the other lenses I have but it is very useable. The only time I really noticed the difference is at dusk when the light is fleeting.

    I agree with the other users that it is big and heavy, but that's what you get if you want a large image circle for movements.

  6. #6
    Lachlan 717
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    Re: Nikkor-SW 8/120mm viewing and focusing

    Quote Originally Posted by agregov View Post
    But the SW8 is really targeted for 5x7 or 8x10 work given its larger image circle.
    Where's your evidence of this?

    On 8x10", it just covers. Hardly "targeted", especially when you consider the need to centre the lens in order to have its circle in the right spot to avoid vignetting.

    It is a lens for images that might need movements.

    Additionally, it is a lens whose design minimises light drop-off on smaller formats (i.e. 4x5).
    Lachlan.

    You miss 100% of the shots you never take. -- Wayne Gretzky

  7. #7

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    Re: Nikkor-SW 8/120mm viewing and focusing

    I have been using a Schneider 121/8 Super-Angulon for over twenty years. The Nikkor-SW 120/8 is essentially the same design, just newer. I have never had any problems focusing the Schneider; I can't imagine that the Nikkor would be any different. In a perfect world I would have the Nikon 120/8 to go with my two other Nikkor-SW lenses, but the old (1957) Schneider is a fine performer, so I'm keeping it. As others have said, the size and weight should be considered; my lightweight alternative is a 135/6.3 Kodak Wide Field Ektar (a lens I expect to keep, and use, forever).

  8. #8
    Andrej Gregov
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    Re: Nikkor-SW 8/120mm viewing and focusing

    Quote Originally Posted by Lachlan 717 View Post
    On 8x10", it just covers. Hardly "targeted", especially when you consider the need to centre the lens in order to have its circle in the right spot to avoid vignetting.
    Well, I've read plenty of threads in the forum where members are successfully using the lens for 8x10. People use lenses that barely cover 8x10 all the time. But your point is well taken, it's likely not a great 8x10 pick, especially given how wide it is--very few instances where that focal length is needed.

    But all that is beyond the point. For someone new to 4x5 shooting and has not stated the need for the type of movements the SW8 would enable, it doesn't seem like a great pick. Especially as a first lens. A lighter, cheaper, copal 0 lens would be a better choice in my opinion. As mentioned by others, there's a rich selection of lenses in the 120-135mm range.

  9. #9
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Nikkor-SW 8/120mm viewing and focusing

    It's a good lens. All the previous comments are pretty spot-on. I use mine mostly on 8x10 but on 4x5 it is definitely a nice "slight wide" with all the image circle you'd ever want. It's not that big - still only 77mm filters. Certainly not in league with lenses like the 72mm or 90mm XL, size/heft wise. The aperture is really not limiting unless you are exclusively shooting in very low-light conditions.

    If you find one at a good price it's a decent pick. Most start with a 150mm or 90mm, also great options and probably cheaper but if you are in love with the 120mm focal length go for it. As a new shooter I would more recommend a cheap 90mm and see if you want a longer lens. Decent 90mm f/8 lenses can be had for way under $200, but the Nikkor 120mm will be 2-3x more than that.
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  10. #10

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    Re: Nikkor-SW 8/120mm viewing and focusing

    Thanks for the comments. I am glad the general impression seems to be that the f-stop 8 on a 120mm lens is pretty usable. It seems most options I am finding in 120mm are either a nice small lens but with quite limited coverage or a larger lens with very large coverage. So, it seems one has to pick a priority.

    I have also considered some 90mm lenses and have found some good options at f-stop 6.8, but my understanding is that as lenses get shorter certain aspects of the viewing and focusing process become more difficult, and I wonder if perhaps that 90mm versus 120mm might be a transition point. I do really like the field of view of the 90mm lens, but I also like the field of view of the 120mm and wonder if it might be an easier lens to use in the beginning.

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