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stradibarrius
9-Nov-2014, 08:55
When you are searching for a new lens that you are not experienced with how would YOU go about deciding the brand and the characteristics you want?
Is it strictly by price, reputation, brand loyalty etc.?

h2oman
9-Nov-2014, 08:58
Size/weight is a factor for me.

djdister
9-Nov-2014, 09:06
Sharpness (or softness), coverage, and "the look" that the lens conveys. That last part is tough, but I search out as many examples of photos taken with that particular lens to get an idea of the look of photos taken with it, especially shots taken wide open.

vinny
9-Nov-2014, 09:25
Online Research followed by shooting, then making enlargements.

Dan Fromm
9-Nov-2014, 10:04
Buy; try; keep or sell.

Daniel Stone
9-Nov-2014, 10:11
Questions I ask myself, in order of importance:

1. Do I NEED it, or do I just WANT it?
2. Will it allow me to make photographs not possible with the equipment I already own? Will cropping in a bit, or taking a step or two backwards, allow me the same FOV(using equipment I already have)?
3. Will I use it enough to justify the expense?
4. How easy is it to resell, if I decide that I don't need/want it after buying it? "Am I buying a wanted item, or am I buying a glorified doorstop?"
5. What can I sell, that I'm not using, to help fund this purchase? (In my case, this is now very much a concern, as I've got a good bit of stuff sitting around gathering dust :rolleyes:)

stradibarrius
9-Nov-2014, 10:11
Dan's response is really the only way to really know. We have discussed looking at photos on line recently and most seem to agree that it is not a good way to judge. If you don't have a chance to see negatives or prints for yourself then buy, try and sell is probably the best way.

Ari
9-Nov-2014, 10:12
Buy first, ask questions later.
Buying based on images I have seen; questions based on my own experiences with the lens.
I end up not keeping too many.

Liquid Artist
9-Nov-2014, 11:08
Buy; try; keep or sell.
I agree with this.
For some stupid reason I love buying lenses I can't find anything on. Most often getting them dirt cheap.
If I get good results with it, I'll usually keep it unless I have a similar lens. Then I may sell it, using my sample photos to sweeten the deal.

If it's a dog, which has happened with me, I'll often trash it or use it for parts.

Dan Fromm
9-Nov-2014, 12:12
Apologies for not answering Barry's original question completely. I didn't discuss getting to the buy/pass decision.

If I think the lens will improve the results I get and the price is very right, buy, otherwise don't. In other words, if the focal length extends what I can do (longer than my longest, shorter than my shortest, fills a gap) and there's reason to believe the lens will give good results, buy, otherwise pass. 900/10 Apo Saphir. Just too good a deal to pass by. If I don't like a lens I have and the beauty in front of me is likely to be much better, buy, otherwise pass. 65/8 Ilex (f/8 SA clone) on offer for lunch money beats 65/6.8 Raptar in hand.

If I have no idea what the lens is or how it will perform and want to find out and the price is very right, buy, otherwise pass. The VM has given good advice on many of my obscure lenses' performance and coverage. Unfortunately some lenses aren't discussed in the VM. This approach has got me a few really good lenses, e.g., 100/6.3 Neupolar, and got me into Boyer lenses.

If the lens grabs me and the price is very right, buy it. otherwise pass. That's my 60/14 Perigraphe. For the formats I shoot (2x3, 6x12) it adds little to what I can accomplish with my 58/5.6 Grandagon or 65/5.6 Ilex or (latest purchase) 65/8 Fujinon. I got the Fujinon as part of a bundle, have to sell most of the rest of the bundle. All being well, when I'm done selling the Fuji will have cost me lunch money or less.

Run-of-the-mill good lenses from the big four aren't worth thinking hard about. They're too nearly equivalent.

If it isn't clear, I've very, perhaps too, sensitive to price. Good lens, good; good lens for pennies, better.

ic-racer
9-Nov-2014, 14:52
So many lenses and brands from which to choose. For the last 15 years or so I decided to concentrate on just two or three brands and know everything about them including collecting literature and following auctions etc. For me it is Fujinon, Schneider and LF Topcor/Horseman. For the Fuji and Topcor I pretty much sought each lens in the series in which I had interest. There is some financial advantage to having keen off-brand knowledge. For example I have about 15 Large Format Horseman/Topcor lenses and probably got them all for a combined price less than a single new modern LF Schneider. The Horseman lenses are, by the way, very bad and if you see them on e-bay, don't bid on them.

Old-N-Feeble
9-Nov-2014, 15:16
So many lenses and brands from which to choose. For the last 15 years or so I decided to concentrate on just two or three brands and know everything about them including collecting literature and following auctions etc. For me it is Fujinon, Schneider and LF Topcor/Horseman. For the Fuji and Topcor I pretty much sought each lens in the series in which I had interest. There is some financial advantage to having keen off-brand knowledge. For example I have about 15 Large Format Horseman/Topcor lenses and probably got them all for a combined price less than a single new modern LF Schneider. The Horseman lenses are, by the way, very bad and if you see them on e-bay, don't bid on them.

Yeah, especially those really cheap ones from astro... whatever in Japan.;)

Kirk Gittings
9-Nov-2014, 15:22
Buy; try; keep or sell.

Agree. For modern lenses I don't think you can go wrong with the offerings from major brands. It might, like me, take a couple of decades to finalize your set as I have. Take your time great images can be made with less than perfect lenses. I can work the rest of my career with what I have and have no desire to compare anymore, though I will probably add a 75 at some point.

Peter Gomena
9-Nov-2014, 15:36
I'm pretty pragmatic about lens choices. My first two lenses were a Schneider 210mm Symmar and a 120mm Super Angulon, both vintage 1980-81 and new. As I found need for different focal lengths, I filled the gaps with a 150, and 90, also Schneider lenses of the same vintage. The 150 was used, the 90 was new. Wanting something a little longer, and thinking of maybe bridging into a larger format, I bought a used 305mm G-Claron. I later bought a 360mm Schneider Tele-Xenar, but eventually sold it because it wasn't being used and it was a bit heavy for my 4x5's front standard. I chose to stay with the same brand because the lenses were all of the same vintage and would have consistent color characteristics and a similar look. This was more important to me as a commercial shooter than the search for a lens with a particular look.

This all worked well for me as far as look and other characteristics with one exception: The 305 G-Claron produces a much sharper-looking image than the others. I can live with that.

richardman
9-Nov-2014, 17:18
4x5 LF lens are pretty easy to start: just get one of the "modern 4" and it will be just about as good as anything ever made. Once you have some familiarity, then you can decide whether you want some "characters" to play with. Not that the modern 4 do not have characters, but other lens may have different characters, e.g. Petzval for swirly, soft focus for portraits, Heliar for certain sharpness, Goertz for... well Goertz.

richardman
9-Nov-2014, 17:20
Is the OP shooting 4x5? The other consideration is the "spread" of the lens focal length. A lot of "famous photographers" use a single lens only for all their work.

mdarnton
9-Nov-2014, 17:44
The first couple of lenses I got were, as people said, the normal ones from the basic four. Beyond that, I find browsing Ebay to be recreationally relaxing. When I find something as Buy-it-now, and it's dirt cheap, and it looks interesting, I buy it. Anything at all has the potential to be interesting, in some way, but I don't want to spend too much $$$ on what is basically play.

Peter York
9-Nov-2014, 17:53
Copal shutters, coverage, weight, and price. I have a lot of lenses laying about that never get used because the shutters are broken.

jb7
9-Nov-2014, 18:11
Eclectically...

Lenses are the gateway-

Historically- the lenses you might reasonably expect to use: the standard, the short, the long- they come first-
then, as you acquire longer lenses, with a bit more coverage, you begin to wonder, why not go up a format...

It's a vicious circle, the lens...

Bernice Loui
9-Nov-2014, 19:04
It's driven by the type of image to be made. Having the chance and opportunity to try an awful lot of lenses during the zenith years of LF image making, films, and numerous image making situations along with individual preference has absolutely biased my choices.

Generally, the preference is towards barrel lenses used with a Sinar shutter. The Sinar system offers the most flexibility, camera stability and ability to accommodate lens choices at the trade off of weight and bulk.

Having tried most modern lenses from the big four and found that they don't appeal to me for normal to longer focal lengths, the choices ended up with Kodak Ektar , Goerz Dagor-Red Dot Artar, Schneider-Xenar for Normal to longer focal lengths.

Barrel lenses from that era have round iris which gives the option to use then at larger apertures with good OOF results.

For wide angle, Schneider Symmar XL and Rodenstock Grandagon. Tried vintage wide angle lenses, they just don't have the optical performance of the most modern designs in coverage, distortion, resolution, and ... The trade off is size. Compare a WA Dagor, Angulon or even a Wide Field Ektar, modern wide angle lenses are HUGE.

Then we have soft focus lenses that are more of a speciality optic.

What gets carried and used most often for 5x7 - 13x18cm over decades of LF image-making,

*110mm f5.6 Symmar Schneider XL < Used with bag bellows 80-90% of the time >

*150mm f5.6 Symmar Schneider XL < Second most often Used >

*8-1/2" f6.3 Kodak Commercial Ektar in barrel < Most often used >

*12" f6.3 Kodak Commercial Ektar or 12" f6.8 Goerz Dagor in Barrel. < Third most often used >

*19" f11 Goerz RD Artar.
< Just enough bellows (rail length and support is not an issue) to use without resorting to extra bellows and extra front standard

This is the lens set that is used 80-90% of the time. Mostly stopped purchasing any new lenses unless there is a very, very, very good reason to get it. Worth noting, lens coverage is not too significant a factor in these choices except for the wide angle lenses where they can be pushed to their limits for coverage. That is one of the requirements for the way I'll use WA lenses.

Portraits get a different set of lenses.

Don't like anything fussy, don't like trendy lenses, just want and use stuff that does what is needed.



Bernice



When you are searching for a new lens that you are not experienced with how would YOU go about deciding the brand and the characteristics you want?
Is it strictly by price, reputation, brand loyalty etc.?

StoneNYC
9-Nov-2014, 20:52
I look at good spacers starting from normal FL for the shooting size.

Then what I'll use it for (landscape, modeling, studio, Cary around) this greatly affects my choice, since I hike, I want something super light and super sharp as my landscapes I want to be really detailed. This means $$$

If weight weren't an issue, and I were only shooting B&W I would stick to something like the Schneider Symmar-S line, cheap and common and really sharp, you don't need the best, any modern lens is probably sharper than you'll ever really notice, all the MTF chart guys, well, ignore them.

If you're shooting color, the APO lenses, again $$$

Then I get the lineup that fits my shooting style, for me, I'm 4x5 it was 75mm/90mm/150mm/300mm I didn't really need small increments in between. Some do.

In 8x10 it's a little harder and more money, I ended up with 150mm/210mm/300mm/450mm and hopefully someday 600mm 900mm and 1200mm

So more increments, 8x10 seems to be a different animal. Every shooting style is different so you don't really need others to tell you, you need to tell yourself.

But if there's one thing you can take from this, if you're in studio shooting B&W or 20 feet from the car LF shooter, you won't need to spend a lot of money to get really good glass in this market.

Randy Moe
9-Nov-2014, 21:07
Research.

Reputation, condition and price.

In that order.

Ignore fads.

Jody_S
9-Nov-2014, 23:16
Pretty much the same as Randy, but in the exact opposite order. I will try anything I get at a bargain, and I keep the ones I find myself using because I like the results. Then I research the lens to see why I like it. There are too many great lenses out there and I could easily get caught up spending far too much money looking for magic bullets. The best lens usually ends up being the one mounted on your camera.

Mark Sawyer
10-Nov-2014, 00:21
One of everything. If there's a lens you don't have, just imagine the images you could have made with it, if only...

Old-N-Feeble
10-Nov-2014, 01:21
Mark can afford to have one of every lens made because he has pixies that bring them to him for free.:rolleyes::p

Regular Rod
10-Nov-2014, 03:43
When you are searching for a new lens that you are not experienced with how would YOU go about deciding the brand and the characteristics you want?
Is it strictly by price, reputation, brand loyalty etc.?

I wish I knew... I seem to buy mainly on a whim and whether I'm broke or not at the time.

:)
RR

goamules
10-Nov-2014, 07:31
One of everything. If there's a lens you don't have, just imagine the images you could have made with it, if only...


Yep, that's more aligned with my goals! For me, a historian, it has to be a significant design and maker, almost always pre WWII or 1800s. I also ignore the cult status of common lenses, and go for the sleepers.

Randy Moe
10-Nov-2014, 07:50
One of everything. If there's a lens you don't have, just imagine the images you could have made with it, if only...

+1
and most of us have too little time left to wait for Godot

Bernice Loui
10-Nov-2014, 09:42
There would still be the limitations of nature and how optics work. One can idealize what any specific lens does until they are hit with the harsh and un-forgiving ways of natural law.

Lens designers and lens makers are constrained by these physical laws. There are also economics and limitations of the materials used to design and construct any given optic.

There are and never will be a "magic bullet" only what is possible to be designed and made given the constraints of humanity's understanding of optics, materials and all related.

IMO, the far better solution to trying to find that magic bullet or dream of what if 'I" had that lens, it maybe far better and far more productive to learn and understand the limitations and personality of any specific lens (any why, there are hard and very real limitations) and work with them to get a good result rather than continue on a never ending quest for that magic bullet aka lens.

At the end of the day, what matters is being able to produce expressive images, not dreaming or worrying about what could have been if "I" had the magic bullet.



Bernice



One of everything. If there's a lens you don't have, just imagine the images you could have made with it, if only...

Colin Graham
10-Nov-2014, 10:41
Taking a chance on the occasional inexpensive odd lens can be fun, but I'm glad my lens-culling days are over. Most of the 'must-haves' can be filed under 'distinction not cost-effective'.

Mark Sawyer
10-Nov-2014, 10:44
Every lens is a magic bullet, and no photographer ever comes close to living up to the potential of the worst lens they own.

But once you start to discover the different magic each lens has inside...

"Hello, I'm Mark, and I'm a glass addict..."

jnantz
10-Nov-2014, 11:57
hi barry
not sure how i can follow mark's last post but ...

if something is less than 40-50$ i tend to buy it
whether i need it or not. its usually something thought to be junque ( but usually isn't )
otherwise i read and do a bit of research ... last time
it took 4 years to find what i wanted / needed ... and research led me to this website

i dont tend to follow the advice of lene lovich very often
but sometimes it is nice to get a new toy ... ( OAO ... nothing to demanding ) ...

jp
10-Nov-2014, 12:44
I can't tell whether I like a lens till I've had it for a year or so and used it at least a dozen times. Exceptions to that are if it's horribly broken. To me that's part of the appeal of LF compared to DSLRs (and the lenses tend to be more affordable)

Most of us aren't able to eek out what a lens is capable of, and I'm more interested in the softer stuff, so I can sorta get an idea of how a lens will work in some limited situations based on images here and flickr.

Kirk Gittings
10-Nov-2014, 16:46
Nothing you can possibly buy for any amount of money will add more "magic" to your images than patience, effort, practice, vision, self criticism etc.....just saying.

Bernice Loui
10-Nov-2014, 17:07
YES !!!!

In the end, the images made are a direct result of the photographer. All related, lenses, film, post process or any other related means are mere tools to achieve a result.

One can spend and waste an AWFUL lot of time, resources and more on trying out lenses (Been there, done that and not going to try doing that again). The far more constructive and productive actions would be to focus on one's ability to learn, refine and control a set of image making tools, get that settled and work on one's ability for expression.


Bernice



Nothing you can possibly buy for any amount of money will add more "magic" to your images than patience, effort, practice, vision, self criticism etc.....just saying.

Mark Sawyer
10-Nov-2014, 17:58
Nothing you can possibly buy for any amount of money will add more "magic" to your images than patience, effort, practice, vision, self criticism etc.....just saying.

...unless you can buy a pixie. :)

Old-N-Feeble
10-Nov-2014, 18:06
...unless you can buy a pixie. :)

You have the market cornered on pixies, Mark. How did you do that... with a smaller format?:p

Luis-F-S
10-Nov-2014, 19:00
I decided years ago that I prefer vintage glass for my LF B&W work. Of the lenses I tried, and after speaking with LF & ULF friends I respect, I settled on Goerz lenses. Typically for 8x10: 12" Dagor, 9 1/2" Dagor, 6 1/2" WA Dagor, 19 & 24" Artars. For 5x7 9.5 Dagor, 6.5 WA Dagor 12" Dagor & 19" Artar. For 4x5 8 1/4" Dagor, 6" Dagor, 12" Dagor & 19" Artar. That pretty much covers the entire range of what I need and those are the lenses I typically carry with the format. When I used to do architectural work in 4x5, I carried 47 SA, 58 XL SA, 65 Grandagon, 75 Nikkor, 90 XL SA, 115 Grandagon, 180 Super Symmar & 300 Sironar M.

Brassai
10-Nov-2014, 19:57
When you are searching for a new lens that you are not experienced with how would YOU go about deciding the brand and the characteristics you want?
Is it strictly by price, reputation, brand loyalty etc.?


Age is first. I'm after the very oldest lenses I can catch. Second would be if I can fit it on either my Chamonix 045n or Gundlach Korona 5x7 (with 4x5 back.) My favorite brands are the pre-Civil War ones, such as Secretans et Lerebours, Derogy, CC Harrison. I don't buy anything made after about 1930.