View Full Version : Sharp lenses wide open.

Wayne Crider
11-Sep-2004, 16:04
I am looking for lenses under 150mm that are sharp when wide open. The larger the max aperture the better. If you can, please also comment as to falloff. The lens is to be used on a handheld Graphic. Thanks for the help.

David A. Goldfarb
11-Sep-2004, 16:14
Not much wider, but there's the 135/3.5 Planar, which I've used wide open for handheld 4x5" work.

The 75mm Biogon is said to be sharp wide open, but I don't have one myself.

John Kasaian
11-Sep-2004, 18:46

You might look into some of the lenses used on aerial cameras like the K-20. I haven't heard of any aero ektars under 150mm but there is the fluro ektar(111mm? I forgot) and the Cooke Pentac as well as the Biogons David Goldfarb already mentioned. Good Luck!

Neal Shields
11-Sep-2004, 20:49
I have the 75 Biogon and it is a great lens famous for being sharp at wide open. It has very little fall off because it has very little image circle. I love the lens but I never take it anywhere without my 90mm Super Angulon in case I need a lot of movememt.

It is very heavy and is going to give you quite a workout if you use it hand held.

Bouncing around hand held on a Graflex front standard to my mind might be an iffy proposition.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
11-Sep-2004, 21:22
As mentioned, the 75mm Biogon is great open wide, but is a heavy beast, and not easily hand held, particularly on a Graphic. I would also consider the 90mm f/4.5 Nikon or Rodenstock. You will get some fall off, but these are much more portable than the Biogon, and sell NEW for the same price the Biogon sells for used.

A cheap but not very wide alternative are the Ross 5" f/4 WA Xpres. The military version (they are not marked, but the serial numbers begin with "VV", and they are the only 5" f/4 lens as far as I know) sell cheaply on eBay, although usually in barrel. These perform surprisingly well open wide.

Oren Grad
11-Sep-2004, 22:03
Wayne -

Some years back I shot test negatives at close range with both the 135 Apo-Symmar and 135 Apo-Sironar-S wide open (both f/5.6), and was pleasantly surprised by their apparent sharpness in the plane of focus at maximum aperture (at smaller apertures both of these lenses are superb). But that's a subjective judgment only - I didn't shoot resolution charts or make contrast measurements. As usual, YMMV.

As for vignetting, I've not tested these lenses for fall-off at f/5.6 and distant focus. However, Schneider and Rodenstock have provided data on illumination for their respective lenses. Eyeballing their published charts, it appears that for magnification ratio 0.1x and image circle radius corresponding to the corner of a 4x5 sheet, both show falloff approaching 2 stops at f/5.6. Schneider also shows data for infinity focus, and as expected because of the reduced focus extension, it's a bit worse there.

In case it matters for you, both the Apo-Symmar and the Apo-Sironar-S are very small lenses whose weight would be almost unnoticeable on a Graphic.

Good luck!

Jim Galli
11-Sep-2004, 22:45
2.8 Schneider Xenotar 150mm. You could stop down to f4.5 and still be wider open than anything else.

Darin Cozine
12-Sep-2004, 10:58
Yes the Xenotar is quite nice, but they are rather expensive for a vintage lens and the 150mm is probably quite large. The APO sironar is probably your best bet if you have the $$$.

On the cheap side, dont discount the 150mm Xenar. It is a tessar type, sharp wide open but probably a bit sharper stoped down a little. I have a 150mm f4.5. I use mine stopped down to f5.6 or more. It is nice and bright during focussing, and there is even light across the 4x5. There is not much room for movements, but if you are shooting handheld you wont be using movements. I just took some pics of my family at the park and the background was nicely blurred.

Donald Brewster
14-Sep-2004, 13:01
The Xenotar is also available in a 135mm/3.5F. Smaller than the 150mm and cheaper than the 135mm Planar.

J. P. Mose
3-Oct-2004, 14:45
One other lens worth mentioning is the Linhof select 150mm Tessar. It performs very well wide open. This lens is actually rarer than the other 4x5 Linhof select Zeiss lenses (75 Biogon, 135 Planar and 250 Sonnar). Although Tessars had been available for decades past, it was reintroduced as a Linhof select lens in 1958 when the other mentioned Linhof select Zeiss lenses were brought on the market. Its new claim to fame was Schott glass, which prior LF Tessars did not have. The lens took a back seat to the other new Zeiss lenses and was only made in one production lot (S/N 228XXXX). It is a great performing lens, only lacking a large image circle.

Frank Petronio
3-Oct-2004, 18:30
I met a photographer who had a 150/2.8 Xenotar cammed to his Technika, and he was doing wonderful full-length, short DOF portraits, handheld on Tri-X. They had a beautiful look, I think he stopped down to f/5.6 or /8 for handheld work, and still had a decent margin of error and bokeh.

A pretty sweet set-up. Last I checked, nice 150/2.8 Xenos were in the $7-900 range on ebay.

Lloyd Lim
3-Oct-2004, 18:43
I'm currently using a Schneider Digitar 120mm/5.6 on my Crown Graphic. Not much image circle to speak of, and there is slight falloff at 5.6 at the edges, but you can consider that a plus, as you get a built-in vignetter :)