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Thread: Which LF 180mm lens would you buy?

  1. #1

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    Which LF 180mm lens would you buy?

    I just bought a Chamonix 4x5 and I want a 180mm lens for it as my GO TO lens.
    Which would you buy?
    Rodenstock, Schneider, Fujifilm, Nikon or other?
    Price is a consideration.
    Thanks for any advice or help.

    J Durr

  2. #2

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    Re: Which LF 180mm lens would you buy?

    For me it's a no-brainer because I've standardized on lightwieght: The Fujinon A 180mm f/8. Yes it's a bit dimmer than the f/5.6 versions but its small, lightweight has a more than adequate image circle and is a superb performer. Did I mention it was small and lightweight?

    Best,

    Doremus

  3. #3
    Dave Karp
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    Re: Which LF 180mm lens would you buy?

    Well, a lot depends on how you are going to use it. Since you have a folding camera, I imagine you are going to hike with it. That being the case, I agree with Doremus. The 180mm Fujinon A is a very nice, lightweight lens that will not let you down.

    If you are going to need/want a wider maximum aperture, I would look at the 180mm f/5.6 Fujinon NW (for some bizzare reason marked "Fujinon W" on the outside of the front lens barrel as opposed to on the front facing ring around the lens) or the 180mm f/5.6 Caltar II-N.

    Regarding the Fujinon. This lens has Fuji's excellent EBC multicoating and has a nice image circle of 280mm. These lenses are often available at very reasonable prices. I don't know why, but Fujinons are often less expensive than the same focal length lens made by one of the other manufacturers. It certainly has nothing to do with the quality of the product. Another bonus is that the Fujinon NW lenses often have a bit larger image circle than you find in other manufacturer's lenses of the same focal length.

    Regarding the Caltar II-N. These lenses were made by Rodenstock for the late and missed (by me anyway) Calumet photo stores. The Caltar II-N private label lenses were identical to the multicoated Rodenstock APO-Sironar-N lenses. Again, these are usually available for less than the comparable Rodenstock-branded lenses and provide outstanding performance. This lens has an image circle of 262mm.

    I have lenses from all of the big four lens makers. They all made good lenses. I happen to prefer Fujinon and Rodenstock/Caltar II-N lenses over the others. Other photographers have differing opinions. You could not go wrong with a 180mm f/5.6 from Nikon or Schneider either. (Caltar-S II lenses are equivalent to Schneider Symmar-S lenses, in case you decide to go that route.)

    Addendum: It is worth noting that the 180mm Fujinon A is in a smaller shutter and uses smaller filters than the other 180mm lenses. It takes 46mm filters. The others typically take 58-67mm filters.

  4. #4

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    Re: Which LF 180mm lens would you buy?

    I agree with what has been said. Do not fall into the "BRAND TRAP". Get the lens that is best for your needs -- do NOT base it on the brand name. I use a Fujinon A 180mm, not just because it is light in my backpack, but because I do a lot of close-up work -- for which it was designed. For normal 180mm use I would check out their faster f5.6 models, but I would check out other manufacturers as well -- for sure. I have lenses from Fuji to Schneider to Mamiya to Minolta on my 4x5s. Brand is the LAST thing you should consider. Correction -- you should not consider it at all.

    HIT THE DECK!!!!! HERE COME THE HAND-GRENADES!!!!!!!!!!!!


    http://www.subclub.org/fujinon/

  5. #5

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    Re: Which LF 180mm lens would you buy?

    My first 4x5 came with a Sironar (not N) 180mm and I never found a reason to fault it. I have several Fujinons and they are fine lenses, too. Go with what is affordable, in good condition, and meets any specific needs you have, such as size, filter size, weight, etc.

  6. #6
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: Which LF 180mm lens would you buy?

    Quote Originally Posted by xkaes View Post
    Brand is the LAST thing you should consider. Correction -- you should not consider it at all.
    i certainly agree as regards the selection of the first lens for a system.
    All of the "big four" lens makers make excellent products.

    However, you should consider the manufacturer when selecting additional lenses.

    The important factor is the specific characteristics of the lens coatings. This usually varies from one manufacturer to another, though each tries to maintain consistency within their product line.

    I've spent many decades taking transparencies in all formats from sub-35mm through 8x10 (not many 8x10 due to $$$). Some subjects rendered with the same film using different lenses may show a distinct change of some tones. On most subjects it doesn't matter. But that will obviously depend on your subjects and your choice of film.

    And this can affect B&W photos as well as transparencies, depending on the film.

    Consequently, I stick with a single manufacturer whenever possible.

    For example, my LF arsenal (about 20 lenses) are almost all Rodenstock APO-Sironar-S.
    Focal lengths not available in that series (very short or very long) are Fuji or Nikon.

    - Leigh
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  7. #7

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    Re: Which LF 180mm lens would you buy?

    ...For example, my LF arsenal (about 20 lenses) are almost all Rodenstock APO-Sironar-S.
    Focal lengths not available in that series (very short or very long) are Fuji or Nikon. ...

    Since Rodenstock makes 28, 32, 35, 45, 50, 55, 65mm focal length lenses how do you find a shorter one from Nikon or Fuji?

  8. #8
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: Which LF 180mm lens would you buy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Salomon View Post
    “...For example, my LF arsenal (about 20 lenses) are almost all Rodenstock APO-Sironar-S.
    Focal lengths not available in that series (very short or very long) are Fuji or Nikon. ...”
    Since Rodenstock makes 28, 32, 35, 45, 50, 55, 65mm focal length lenses how do you find a shorter one from Nikon or Fuji?
    Bob,

    i expressly stated the APO-Sironar-S series of lenses.

    The shortest FL shown in my LINOS/Rodenstock catalog is 100mm, and that won't cover 4x5.
    The shortest FL that will cover 4x5 is 135mm.

    - Leigh
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  9. #9

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    Re: Which LF 180mm lens would you buy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Leigh View Post
    Consequently, I stick with a single manufacturer whenever possible.

    For example, my LF arsenal (about 20 lenses) are almost all Rodenstock APO-Sironar-S.
    Focal lengths not available in that series (very short or very long) are Fuji or Nikon.

    - Leigh
    This makes one of my points -- chances are you won't be able to stick with one line of lenses from one manufacturer. So you end up having to use different manufacturers' lenses. So there is no point in considering BRAND LOYALTY at all. Only half of my lenses are FUJI, and I don't lose sleep when I slap on a Schneider, Mamiya, or Minolta lens.

  10. #10

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    Re: Which LF 180mm lens would you buy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Leigh View Post
    Bob,

    i expressly stated the APO-Sironar-S series of lenses.

    The shortest FL shown in my LINOS/Rodenstock catalog is 100mm, and that won't cover 4x5.
    The shortest FL that will cover 4x5 is 135mm.

    - Leigh
    Rodenstock called their wide angle design large format lenses Grandagon N or Apo Grandagon, down to 45mm. Since wide angles are a different formula then general taking lenses they have a different model name.
    Fuji and Nikon did the same thing except their model designations were a letter to differentiate them.

    When you get to the Rodenstock digital lenses, down to 28mm then they have a different name as well. Some also have a letter designation. Much like the Apo Sironar-N, Apo Sironar-S, Apo Sironar-W, Apo Sironar Digital.
    Last edited by Bob Salomon; 14-Jan-2018 at 11:28.

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