View Full Version : Schneider 210mm lenses

John C Murphy
7-Aug-2004, 08:43
I'm trying to sort through all of the choices of "normal" focal length lenses for 4x5 format. Schneider makes (or has made) several ranging widely in price, so I need advice on what is the cheapest lens that will meet my needs. I plan to use it to photograph landscapes and nature scenes, particularly, clouds. I don't need massive amounts of movement, but I may need to use some front tilt for near-far compositions. Similarly, I don't think I need really wide maximum apertures in order to focus. Coating, however, probably is important since the sun is often a problem when shooting clouds. Thank you for your help.

Ted Harris
7-Aug-2004, 09:07

Your title suggests you are only interested in Schneider lenses so I will concentrate on same. However, for your purposes you will see littleif any difference between similar modern offerings from the big four manufacturers of LF lenses .... Schneider, Rodenstock, Nikon, Fuji.

Others may disagree but I would strongly suggest you stay with multicoated lenses to minimize flare. Having said that you have a progression of modern lenses that will all serve you well starting with the Symmar-S MC lenses and then the recently discontinued Apo symmar and now the Symmar L. Some of the Symmar-S MC lenses were also marketed by Calumet as "Caltar II-S" and by, I believe Burke & James with the same name but stamped Orbit on the lens. If they are multicoated they will say "multicoated" or MC on the lens. All of these lenses are f5.6 lenses. You can ecxpect to pay anywhere from around $350 up to over $800 depending on the lens. A pristine Caltar example will be at the bottom of the price range and should serve you well. I sold one of these about a year ago for 350.

John Cook
7-Aug-2004, 09:15
I ditto my reply to Michael Allen's question, twelve lines down from yours. The lenses I recommended are considerably cheaper, lighter and every bit as sharp.

Gem Singer
7-Aug-2004, 10:29
Hi John,

Take a look at the KEH website (www.keh.com). Since you mention your preference for Schneider lenses, there are several, previously owned, Schneider f5.6 Symmar-S lenses, in the 210 focal length, listed from $300-$400. You may also want to consider a lens in the 180mm. focal length, especially for the near-far landscape photography you describe. The Symmar-S series, in the180 and 210 focal length are multi-coated and have large enough image circles to allow ample movements with the 4X5 format.

John C Murphy
7-Aug-2004, 10:51
I guess I'm looking for more specific information. For instance, there have been several Symmars made, and while the Schneider website gives some specs on them, it's hard to piece together the progression.

Dan Fromm
7-Aug-2004, 11:09
John, not to be a complete idiot, but you asked about 210 mm normal lenses for 4x5. 210 mm is normal for 5x7, 150 is normal for 4x5.

Now, what was your question?



Gem Singer
7-Aug-2004, 11:34

The way I interpreted your question: you asked for advice about the least expensive "modern" Schneider lens in the 210 focal length, that would meet your needs. I believe that I have answered your inquiry. The Schneider f5.6 Symmar-S series of lenses. The Apo-Symmar and Symmar- L series are newer, more expensive lenses, but they are over-kill for the type of photography you described. I was also confused when you referred to the 210 as "normal" lens. It is actually a slightly long lens for the 4X5 format.

John C Murphy
7-Aug-2004, 11:37
That's why I put the word normal in parenthesis. I picked up that idea from Steve Simmon's book.

John C Murphy
7-Aug-2004, 12:20
Eugene, I'm sorry, I didn't see your post when I was typing my first response. The Symmar-S does seem like a logical choice, and they certainly are cheap. Now what did you say about the 180mm length? Will it give a more "big" look to the sky when filming clouds?

Gem Singer
7-Aug-2004, 13:01
Yes, John, a 180 will tend toward that "big" look to the sky, a little more than a 210. A 135 or a 150 would give it to you even more. However, if you really want a "big" look to the sky, KEH lists a previously owned Schneider f8 120 Super Angulon for under $500. But then you would be out of the realm of "normal" lenses and into the realm of wide angle lenses.

John C Murphy
7-Aug-2004, 13:04
Eugene, at what point does distortion become an issue (not for clouds, but for trees and buildings)? Also, if I use a 120mm lens, do I need a center ND filter?

Gem Singer
7-Aug-2004, 13:44

When using a 120 for photographing buildings and trees, wide angle distortion does not become a problem until you move in very close. I don't believe a center filter would be an absolute necessity with a 120. I don't even use one with my 75mm lens. Although some people do.

Fred Picker used to recommend the 120 and the 210 as the ideal pair of lenses for 4X5 photography. 120 is a nice focal length for near-far relationships because of it's extreme depth of field (please don't ask me to explain that concept. I'm a hunt-and-peck typist).

neil poulsen
8-Aug-2004, 05:35
A correction on one of the above comments. The Calumet type Symmar-S lens was given the designation of Caltar-S II, not Caltar-II S. They used the latter designation of "II-S" for one of their Rodenstock lenses.

I get them mixed up. I have a Caltar Symmar-S type lens, and I just checked.

I've standardized on Symmar-S lenses and have good luck with them. While inexpensive, they have an affliction called "Schneideritis" by some. The paint inside the barrels can cause little tiny white or silver specs that surround the aperture area. While Schneider states that this won't affect image quality, I would avoid lenses that have this problem.

Jim Rice
8-Aug-2004, 13:08
I have a Rodenstock Sironar-N MC. I love it.

Jim Galli
9-Aug-2004, 08:49
Differences between a multi-coated Caltar S-II from 1979 and the latest Symmar-L APO will be so miniscule as to be completely impossible to find. In fact if the Caltar was made before lunch when the crew was having a good day, it's likely better. 210 is an excellent place to start, and will have enough movements possible that you can make your horizon down in the 10% area of the frame and use front rise to fill the whole frame with clouds. The Schneider 210 will need a 77mm filter if I recall. Nikon and Rodenstock take 67mm. Never had a Fuji.

10-Aug-2004, 00:11
if you can't choose between a 120, 150, 180, 210 you should tried to rent a 150 to test, and consider if it is too short...too long...or ok for you !

I will go for a 150 in the first place, because it's the cheaper alternative, and then ad an other one later...90 or 240

11-Aug-2004, 15:08
"Differences between a multi-coated Caltar S-II from 1979 and the latest Symmar-L APO will be so miniscule as to be completely impossible to find."

I think this is too sweeping a statement. For one thing, the caltars weren't always made by Schneider, and when they were, they weren't always the identical lens. Although sometimes they seemed to be. In college we had a 90mm caltar s-II that seemed identical in every way (including results) to a super angulon), and we had a 150mm caltar s-II that was the worst lens i'd ever used. there were no external markings to indicate a difference. When I asked a Schneider rep if they made caltar, he told me "sometimes we have." Which implies that sometimes they haven't.

Another point is that the newer lenses ARE better. The question of how much better depends on how close you'll be looking, but even more than that it depends on how you'll be using the lens. With the lens on center, at f22, focussed at infinity, the differences will be very small. But if you find yourself using wider aperatures, more extreme movements, or greater magnifications, the differences will become more pronounced. This is all asuming, of course, that you're applying modern standards of lens performance--which are about sharpness. If you like the hazy, glowing, old lens look, you'll have to dig deeper into the used bins and get some uncoated glass.