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appletree
21-Jan-2015, 15:22
So, hi again all. Got a ton of help for my tripod search/selecting (oops that was Apug) and would love some direction on a 210mm lens, please.

Summary question for this thread: Does my selection boil down to personal taste and price range?

A few bits of information:

Lens not being purchased anytime real soon (so thank you for links to current ones being sold, but I probably will not pull the trigger as first lens will be a 150mm).
Price range is bang for buck, I prefer to buy once and be done (for a long time).
If used like I shoot MF and 35mm it won't be used too often. I generally find myself sticking with one lens. Probably will travel with two (either 90mm and 150mm or most likely 150mm and 210mm) when backpacking. Otherwise all three will stay in my bag.
I would prefer not to own multiple lenses in same focal lengths. Thus niche lenses might not be wise purchases. (I understand ask me again in 10+ years and I may have convinced myself why I needed 4 different 150mm lens)
I primarily shoot landscape/macro in my home "studio". Really interested in using the 210mm for portrait work though (a direction I am itching to work towards). Little to no architecture work.
For 150mm, practically settled on a Rodenstock APO-Sironar S.
Camera I own is a Chamonix 045N-2.

I think that covers any pertinent details that seem quite commonly needed or helpful in giving advice.

Details:
So, I have read an article by John Sparks and Kerry Thalmann (both seem well known/respected) on their favorite landscape lenses. Also read, Ken Lee's page on his favorite lenses and comments regarding such. Have also read through an article by Jeroen Bruggeman on large format lenses for portrait work.

No idea how I would decide between the seemingly endless options out there. Have sort of settled on one of these (maybe...):

Schneider Symmar-S
Voigtlander Heliar
Schneider Xenar
Rodenstock Ysarex


So, an early question I have is, I want a lens that will still be sharp, and is that possible with some of these lenses people seem to love for their softness traits? I mean I guess that is a silly statement they are all sharp as heck, I'm sure. But I don't want to see every blemish, yet perhaps have the ability to do such a thing. While also when fully open have a creaminess and softness that is just beautiful in it's own right. I guess with everything I have said a lens that can do a lot and wide range of uses, although if not an expert or the "best" at any of them, that is fine.

I mean to be honest the bokeh differences between Heliar and Xenar might never really be noticed unless I compare a photo or own both lenses....otherwise I only "known" one type of personality trait of the lens I own. Perhaps my expectations are unrealistic and thus why people own multiple lens, but for my first I would love to track one down that can take really sharp beautiful photos from the hip up if I want to or open the aperture and create a beautiful softness. Doesn't have to be the best at sharpness or the best at softness.

Thanks for any advice. Not really driving myself crazy or anything, just a bit of research and reading and trying to know what I suspect will work for my peculiarities/personality and thus know what to keep an eye peeled for on the used market. For the record I love (slightly NSFW) the aspects of this photo (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/portrait-lenses/Evgeniya4.jpg). *Photo from Jeroen Bruggeman's article. Yet I would love to "be able to" throw in some faster speed film and f/22 and produce a sharp macro shot or landscape or (maybe would be silly to not use the 150mm...not really sure)...maybe better example is to turn around and shoot a sharp portrait.

As always, I tried doing some leg work to avoid repeated questions/topics that pop up every-so-often. For instance had to do more research than I should admit to sort out I need Linof style boards that have their holes center-drilled...most likely will need #0 and #1 sizes...although if I get a non-Copal shutter and blast, no idea......more research!! That said, the help around here (in my short time), has been much appreciated.

Excited I have been slowly building my kit for my Chamonix. If you can't tell...I tend to ramble. Apologies!

Jim Galli
21-Jan-2015, 15:28
Get a Caltar S-II Multicoated.

Randy Moe
21-Jan-2015, 15:29
Shutters are very important primarily for new to LF. The pros here shoot with hats or less.

I try to buy good working shutters with lens of the day.

John Kasaian
21-Jan-2015, 15:34
Take a look at a Wollensak Velostigmat f/4.5----sharp stopped down & nice bokeh wide open.

Vaughn
21-Jan-2015, 15:40
I'll throw another one out at you. My first 4x5 came with a Computar Symmetrigon 210/6.3. Usually comes with a metal lens hood -- and in a Copal 1 shutter. Very sharp, good contrast. Usually a lot of bang for the buck!

Lachlan 717
21-Jan-2015, 16:18
For the landscape/macro aspects, consider a Schneider G Claron 210mm.

Dan Fromm
21-Jan-2015, 16:25
Schneider Symmar-S
Voigtlander Heliar
Schneider Xenar
Rodenstock Ysarex

Symmar-S -- generally accepted as a very fine lens, much more coverage than you need for 4x5. Abundant and relatively inexpensive.

Heliar -- many versions, cult lens, expensive. Again, more coverage than you need for 4x5. Not as sharp as a tessar type or a good plasmat like the Symmar-S. People claim that Heliars have an exceptionally smooth transition from in-focus (sharp) to out-of-focus (not sharp).

Xenar -- many versions, several speeds. More coverage than you'll need for 4x5. 210/5.6 Xenars are very sharp even wide open, older f/4.5ers aren't. Tessar types. There are many older f/4.5ers around, often in so-so shutters. I'd hold out for an f/5.6er. Scarcer than the Symmar-S.

Ysarex -- another tessar type, same comments as for the Xenar except that users claim they're the best tessar types around. I wouldn't know. Not that common and I have no idea about prices.

If I were in your position I'd look for a Symmar-S when I started shopping because its likely to be the least expensive and easiest to find. In terms of what the lenses will do for you, all but the Heliar are roughly equivalent unless you huge movements, in which case the Symmar-S wins. Heliars are somewhat scarce and expensive and the fast heliar types I've used haven't been outstanding. But I've never used a real (whatever that means, there are several designs) Voigtlaender Heliar.

Chuck Pere
21-Jan-2015, 16:52
How about an 8 1/4in Dagor? Should be sharp stopped down. But not sure if it will give you the soft look you want wide open.

appletree
21-Jan-2015, 16:56
Wow, the responses. Thank you all. Seems like my suspicions were right, there are a multitude of options and even more and more, it seems.

I will go through all of this tonight and respond. Thanks again.
Did not realize how important the shutter is (I assume that post refers to it's condition...not the type of shutter?)...I will try and research this as I am sure it has been discussed a lot. Being new to LF it is not something I had considered or studied, yet.

Taija71A
21-Jan-2015, 17:03
___

Out of the various 210mm lenses that you have cited (Schneider Symmar-S, Voigtlander Heliar, Schneider Xenar and Rodenstock Ysarex)... Like Dan, I too will 'Throw my Hat in the Ring' -- For the 'venerable' Schneider Symmar-S.

*However, let's face it... There is an overabundance of good choices 'out there' -- For you to discover! :)
--
Regards,

-Tim.
_________

Drew Wiley
21-Jan-2015, 17:08
There are so many 210's to choose from. Don't forget the Fuji W series. These are also abundant at excellent used pricing, and are excellent performers. The Symmar S has a little different personality, being a slightly older design. If you need something more compact than these general purpose plastmats, a 210 G Claron or 200 Nikkor M would be superb choices. None of these lenses are particularly noted for their performance wide open or for potential softness. They're
all modern hard-sharp designs. But in my experience, the Symmar S has a tad better bokeh, at the expense of extreme sharpness (though you'd probably never
even be able to detect a sharpness difference without making really big prints). Once in awhile a 210 Fuji L shows up, which was a tessar instead of plastmat.
The Nikkor M is also a tessar, but an extremely hard-sharp one with disappointing bokeh. I'd really think about a general purpose lens and a "softie" as separate
subjects. And don't expect a dagor to solve that dilemma. It has its own kind of "look" which you will pay dearly for; but really, I think they're one of those cult
things that is vastly overrated. I wouldn't worry to much about all this. 210's are abundant, and if the shutters and glass are still in good condition, most of them
are excellent.

Bill_1856
21-Jan-2015, 17:21
Wait until you need it to buy one. Otherwise -- forget it!

Alan Gales
21-Jan-2015, 17:21
I recognized the portrait that you linked to. It was taken with a Voightlander Heliar 210mm f/4.5 lens wide open. It's here http://www.largeformatphotography.info/portrait-lenses/ just scroll down.

John Kasaian
21-Jan-2015, 17:32
Wait until you need it to buy one. Otherwise -- forget it! +1
Shoot with your 150mm exclusively for several months, learn what your film/developer combo can do, and see what you think before investing. Your newly gained experience will tell you more about what you need and don't need, what "look" you want or don't, far better than a book, or any of us for that matter.

Will Frostmill
21-Jan-2015, 17:39
For what it's worth, Tessar formula lenses are fairly common, and with some exceptions, give really neutral/nice out of focus backgrounds. There are cult favorite makes, such as the Kodak Commercial Ektar, a lens used to make most of the famous 20th century portraits you've seen in history books. (E.g. Karsh's portraits of Humphrey Bogart, Churchill, etc.) However, lots and lots of makers made Tessars, so look at some of the less well-known makers like Wollensack, Bausch & Lomb, Rodenstock, etc. Tessars typically have both nice bokeh and lower resolution in the edges and corners, and sharpen up nicely within a few stops. Longer focal lengths for the format tend to have a larger area of central sharpness. A good example could serve you well for studio work, since you may be stopping down quite a bit anyway.

One secret about Tessars: if you loosen the ring holding in the front element, and unscrew it a little bit, you change the focal length slightly, but you also increase the softness/glow. (Don't drop it!) Refocus for your new focal length, and you have (potentially) the glowy softness that people pay lots of $$ for in big name lenses.

I'd say that 210mm and 90mm are the sweet spot for inexpensive LF lenses. 210 was a "normal" for 5x7, which isn't much used, and millions of 90mm lenses were made for landscape and architecture. I wish you the best of luck!

David Karp
21-Jan-2015, 17:53
A Rodenstock Sironar-N or APO-Sironar-N is a nice lens with excellent out of focus characteristics. The Caltar II-N is identical and may be available for a lower price.

For that matter it is good for you to know that a Caltar S-II = Symmar-S, and 210mm f/6.1 Caltar Pro = 210mm f/6.1 Xenar.

Old-N-Feeble
21-Jan-2015, 18:00
^^^ I've read may times the 210mm f/6.1 Xenar is a fabulous lens provided 249mm IC is sufficient.

Jim Galli
21-Jan-2015, 18:15
I recognized the portrait that you linked to. It was taken with a Voightlander Heliar 210mm f/4.5 lens wide open. It's here http://www.largeformatphotography.info/portrait-lenses/ just scroll down.

Most of the oof which is grand to be sure, in that portrait, was done with tilt. Heliar's are not typically that soft. But the oof areas are nice.

I once upon a time shot a sea of sagebrush type image with my f6.1 Xenar and was initially thrilled until I made a 16X20 inch print and discovered the corners on that lens are noticeably weak.

The Caltar I started the thread with is the Calumet branded Schneider Symmar S but sometimes a bargain because most folk don't know what it is. I began LF with one about 1993 and it would resolve in the 60 lppm which is pretty stunning. G-Claron is as good or better but must be used outdoors because it starts at f9. I've never kept a Rodenstock lens. To me they're soul-less. To other's just the opposite. The Ysarex will be weaker in the corners than the Xenar, and some of them are emitter's. Gamma rays. Won't hurt you. Don't let your kids sleep with it.

Oops. I have a Caltar 90mm f4.5 which is Rodenstock. Safe to say all 90mm on 4X5 is soul-less.

Liquid Artist
21-Jan-2015, 18:16
If you have a lens you like already stick to the make / model just add the focal lengths you want. Otherwise look through the photos on this site, and try something that produces the photos you like.

Once you get the selection you want feel free to experiment with vintage and unique lenses.

mdarnton
21-Jan-2015, 18:27
I think what you will choose depends entirely on your own taste. I thought I liked wiry-modern sharpness, until I tried a Tessar-type lens that someone gave me, and loved the creamy-smoothness it gave--now I'm buying Tessars when/wherever I find them. You need to inform yourself on the look of various lenses and make your choice based on your preference. Most lenses look sort of the same closed way down--it's at the wide end that they separate. The other consideration you haven't considered is that focusing at a bright f4.5 is nice, 5.6 and 6.3 are doable, and f9 is focusing hell in anything but bright light.

Peter Yeti
21-Jan-2015, 18:46
It's not a bad idea to stick to a single lens when you step up to a larger format. When I bought my first 4x5" long ago it came with a 210mm because that was the most used lens in commercial photography at the time. So, there is an oversupply of used 210's to choose from.

If you finally want to buy one - and only one - 210 for all-purpose there are a couple of considerations:

- You can't make a small image angle larger but always can use a section from a larger image circle
- You can't make a soft lens sharper but always can make a sharp lens softer

If I could afford only one lens for my 4x5", it would be a 210mm Plasmat like an Apo-Sironar N or Apo-Symmar. I guess, the Fuji and Nikon equivalents are as good but they are not common where I work.

Many people seem to be very fond of Tessar type lenses. I have some Zeiss Tessars and they are excellent for certain things but I don't like them for close-up/portrait and they have limited image angle. They used to be considerably cheaper than Plasmats. I think that's not an issue anymore if you can afford a box of sheet film.

Peter

P.s.: Way more important than the lens is the photographer. Don't worry too much about which lens because it quickly becomes a waste of time and creativity.

Luis-F-S
21-Jan-2015, 19:06
Get a Caltar S-II Multicoated.

+1 There was one for sale recently for $170 that was a steal. May still be available. If I didn't already have one, a 210 G Claron and two 8 1/4" Dagors, I would have bought it!

Peter Lewin
21-Jan-2015, 19:37
FWIW, back in the 80s, Fred Picker recommended the Symmar-S 210 as your first 4x5 lens, and the 120 Super Angulon as the second. I still have my Symmar-S and it is one of the three lenses in my standard kit (the others are a Schneider 80 XL, and a Rodenstock 150). So, given that they are easy to find and relatively inexpensive, my vote goes to the Symmar-S.

appletree
21-Jan-2015, 21:30
Wow. I am stunned. Thank you all so much for the mature and helpful answers. Great community sense and warmness around this forum. Much appreciated.
So I volunteer Wednesday nights with kids at my church and did not expect to come home to 3 pages...sorry for not replying to you all individually.

What I have gathered:

Love the idea of not worrying too much about my list of kit purchases (for lenses) until after shooting my first lens for a few months.
Get the hang of the format, shoot and learn, shoot and learn, ie what it means that edges/corners are weak (will have to google this one...or just start shooting when I spring for a lens), or the importance of shutter quality/state, the actual affect of tilt (and learning to look at a photo and have a hint of how tilt/rise/fall/shift/etc effect the image).
The Schneider Symmar-S seems to be a fan favorite. Or as it seems the Calumet branded Caltar S-II Multicoated (as this seems to be the exact same as the Schneider just manufactured and branded for Calumet...?). I mean is the f-stop and everything the same, it just is labeled as a Caltar lens?
Something I forgot to mention is using filters. I mean if I want a particular image "softer" I guess I could learn to use the rise/fall/tilt/etc and/or throw on a filter.
Things like focusing indoors above f/9 being a pain are things I just don't/won't know til I "get my hands dirty" with this format.
I mean it seems like other than the transition from focus to oof areas will still be soft when wide open, just not have that particular personality trait as the Heliar (for example), yet make up for it on the sharpness and wide range of uses for me as my "first" lens.
Some suggestions regarding starting with a 210mm lens is interesting and something I had not given much thought to.


Also, meant to mention it in the opening. For portraiture work I rarely expect to be taking head-shots, mostly waist up, posing, chest up, random backgrounds (not backdrops), etc. Not much Karsh influence, respect for him, but not my cup of tea when I mean portrait work. Hence why I landed on 210mm and not 240mm or something longer.

PS: Not sure if frowned upon (so I won't link any), but is it just me or do the Schneider 210mm Symmar-S lenses regularly go for sub $200 on eBay. I am sure there is a classified around here as well when I am ready to keep my eyes peeled for one. I mean I wanted to make sure I am looking at the right model...one sold for $135 in December, clean glass. Is the Calumet one manufactured in more recent years or literally the same thing? Sorry for asking here, I could search this on my own!

Alan Gales
21-Jan-2015, 21:50
Most of the oof which is grand to be sure, in that portrait, was done with tilt. Heliar's are not typically that soft. But the oof areas are nice.

I agree with you, Jim. Heliars are real nice but the tilt really helps make that shot.

I really like the photo so I instantly recognized seeing it before and remembered where to find it. I guess you could say I have a photographic memory. ;) Is that joke lame or what?

Taija71A
21-Jan-2015, 22:04
Wow. I am stunned...

___

Hi Jonathon!

There is no need to be stunned... ;)

Speaking for myself (*And many others), the Forum Members here... Are 'More than Happy' to help YOU -- Because you helped yourself FIRST !!! :)

Before, seeking any 'Advice'...

1). You took the time to do 'extensive' research.

2). Then, you clearly and concisely explained yourself and put forth very 'articulate' and well thought out questions... As well as also explaining your thoughts and personal preferences -- 'In great Detail'.

Congratulations... 'Job Well Done!'
--
Welcome to the LPFP Johnathon... And we look forward to your forthcoming questions and contributions... In the Days, Weeks and Months to come! :)
--
Best regards,

-Tim.
_________

appletree
21-Jan-2015, 22:09
I agree with you, Jim. Heliars are real nice but the tilt really helps make that shot.

I really like the photo so I instantly recognized seeing it before and remembered where to find it. I guess you could say I have a photographic memory. ;) Is that joke lame or what?

Hi Alan, yes I mentioned that article in my initial post. Unfortunately, I ramble and it turns into a lot of blocks of text haha. I should have linked the initial article I found it on to give it further credit and it not get buried in my post. I don't plan on taking portraits exclusively with that "personality", but I would like to have the option. As it seems I should be able to do quite a ton with the Symmar-S, filters, and my camera's movements...and lots of experimenting. Something magical in the smoothness and transition. But not in a weird way where it nose-dives from really sharp to really oof. Although perhaps photos that have such a "harsh" transition is more due to the movements than anything...I have much to learn.

Hopefully after being in 35mm and MF for 5+ years now and already developing nearly 90% of all my b/w film (been scanning 20+ rolls for a few days now!), I will be able to make a smooth transition once getting my entire kit together.


Hi Jonathon!
Ah, good points. Thank you for the warm welcome and compliments. I am part of a unique young generation who enjoys vinyl records, old cameras, developing film, all while being too familiar with internet forums. Some more harsh (unfortunately) than others, so I always try to help myself first before "bothering" others. Honestly, most places/people don't mind being "bothered", but answering time old questions that for someone new don't realize get asked often nor take the time to do some legwork. I think it is also a subtle way of showing respect. Not that the former method is showing a lack of, but by being responsible and working for yourself a bit, it is something that can show a sign of respect to those offering help. Communities like this are so fundamental. Unfortunately my generation, often times doesn't seem to think the way I do. But I digress. :)

Thanks again. Been a lot of information and help here. Good feeling knowing that the 210mm lens will allow me to have that extra money for pup changing tent, film, film holders, lens boards, etc. The 150mm lens though that I "want" (not need), will be a splurge. But to me if it is a staple in my kit for years and years to come worth it. And it is affordable for lenses...don't get me started on my Leica lens...haha, a reason I only own a 50mm lens.

Taija71A
21-Jan-2015, 22:17
Wow. I am stunned...

___

Hi Jonathon!

There is no need to be stunned... ;)

Speaking for myself (*And hopefully many others), the Forum Members here... Are 'More than Happy' to help YOU (as you have already evidenced) -- Because you helped yourself FIRST !!!

Before, seeking any 'Advice'...

1). You took the time to do 'Extensive' research.

2). Then, you put forth very 'Articulate' and well thought out questions and Also explained your thoughts and 'personal preferences' -- In great Detail.

Congratulations... 'Job well Done!'
--
Welcome to the LPFP Johnathon... And we look forward to your forthcoming questions and contributions... In the Days, Weeks and Months to come. :)
--
Best regards,

-Tim.
__________

Peter De Smidt
21-Jan-2015, 23:09
Don't forget to check KEH, a reputable used dealer. You can regularly get items from them for less than on Ebay, and with KEH you have a clear return policy. Adorama and BHphotovideo, two big NY retailers, have good prices on used stuff as well. I"ve bought from all of them with good results. That's not to say don't buy on Ebay but be careful. I've bought lenses there twice listed as "excellent" that were riddled with fungus. They might've slipped by, but when told about it the sellers didn't want to accept returns...

appletree
22-Jan-2015, 08:16
Of course, do plan on using eBay last, most likely. I would prefer to buy from private sellers/photographers, then check KEH (used before), B&H (always buying stuff from B&H), and then Adorama. If all else "fails" then use eBay. That said since I am in no rush and unsure if I will/should get my 150mm first or 210mm, I can keep waiting until one from classifieds or KEH pops up.

Good points though. eBay, while convenient, can sometimes pose more headaches than it is worth.

Dan Fromm
22-Jan-2015, 09:35
appletree, private sellers in general offer fewer consumer protections than KEH, B&H, Adorama and the dread auction site. If you must buy from a private seller pay by credit card or PayPal. Both offer substantial consumer protections. If you pay with cash or cash equivalents (personal check, postal money order, Western Union, Moneygram, ...) you're vulnerable.

I've been buying via eBay since I stumbled across it in 1997, have had one (1) purchase and no (0) sales so far that left me feeling abused. The one purchase turned bad happened long before eBay and PayPal put in their current very strong buyers' protections. I don't understand the widespread aversion to eBay as a place to buy. I bid, win, pay and the goods arrive or I bid, don't win, don't pay, and the goods don't arrive.

Jim Galli
22-Jan-2015, 10:40
One question unanswered. The Caltar S-II is identical in every way to the Schneider Symmar S manufactured in the same time frame. There was later a Caltar II N which was a Rodenstock Sironar N. Also a fine lens. These days since the bottom has dropped out of 210mm plasmats there may be no price difference between the branded and the unbranded.

When it comes to bokeh, the worst LF lens is better than the best tiny format lenses. Brute force and simplicity of design in a comparative way all make anything you buy for LF have finer bokeh than 35mm and digi things that people are paying stupid money for.

Thank you for your work with kids at church.

jp
22-Jan-2015, 10:52
A nice tessar is the Fuji 210/4.5 in a copal 3s shutter. Probably $200-300. The copal 3s has lotsa iris blades and it's got the tessar goodness.
For a physically smaller setup, a 203/7.7 optar or 203/7.5 ektar will be very good.

If you're handy you can hook a magnifying glass to a shutter from one of your lenses and have a softer look like that portrait you posted. e.g. https://www.flickr.com/photos/13759696@N02/sets/72157645693237451/

appletree
22-Jan-2015, 11:02
Hey Dan,
Thank you for the heads up. Not that you would have any clue, but I am very familiar with purchases online, both private and through companies. I spent a lot of time (and money) collecting art, fine art prints, posters, etc over the past years. Majority of that is all second hand and have always been very careful (and ask a lot of questions) when it comes to private sellers. The art forum I am a member of also tries to keep a concise feedback system in place to help add an additional level of security. Although at the end of the day, it is the responsibility of the parties involved to be careful, mindful, and always double check all details/information/photos/etc. Sadly, seen many people left out to dry on deals "too good to be true" or 99% of the time the root cause can be traced back and you find they sent money as a gift, cash, money order overseas, never had photos, there was a lack of communication, etc etc. Not that the act itself is justifiable, but proper steps taken can help mitigate the odds of something bad happening.

At Jim,
Yes! I meant to post this morning that I did some more research and stumbled upon a post (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?80093-CALTAR-S-II-210mm-f5-6-Vs-Schneider-Kreuznach-Symmar-210-5-6&p=770713&viewfull=1#post770713) by Kerry Thalmann regarding the details and specifics of the Caltar lenses.

And no need to thank me. Turned 28 last year and generally have lived a very introverted life (goes well with my choice of hobbies, vinyl records, art, and mainly photography). Although after a breakup with someone I was with for many years, I sort of hit rock bottom only to do a complete 180 and become involved with church, be baptized, volunteer, go out and make friends, see life differently/more beautifully, adopt two cats (some of you may love the names...Sudek and Cartier), and am more open and outgoing than ever before in life. So not to spill my life story, it has been a great thing to actually get out there and break out of my shell. Something that if I didn't change in the blink of an eye, could have either ruined me or continued down a path of destruction.

To sum it up, I think I am still the same for the most part, yet changed and altered (won't get spiritual here) in a way that I know understand and appreciate life infintely more. And with that I think it is why I have always enjoyed "slowing down" in my hobbies. I mean I love my computer and games and iPhone, but nothing beats spinning an old record, holding a freshly developed negative to the window light, spending hours taking two rolls of macro tulip shots, etc etc. You get the picture. ;)


And back to topic, yes I believe the price difference is now negligible. Seems like (assuming I am looking at the correct model and age range) can be had for sub $200, quite regularly and in excellent condition. Just need to decide on if I am going to get a 210mm first (since it is more budget friendly, than my prized 150mm Sironar-S). And to look into knowing how to "check" the shutter or confirm it's condition.

Thanks for all the help gents!

Peter De Smidt
22-Jan-2015, 11:14
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/shutter-speed/id560154244?mt=8

Luis-F-S
22-Jan-2015, 11:45
Seems like (assuming I am looking at the correct model and age range) can be had for sub $200, quite regularly and in excellent condition. Just need to decide on if I am going to get a 210mm first (since it is more budget friendly, than my prized 150mm Sironar-S).

"prized 150mm Sironar-S" Really???? Why???? Try taking pictures instead of reading specs!

appletree
22-Jan-2015, 12:43
Peter,
Thanks for the app link!

Luis,
Sorry for that, not my intention to strike a nerve or pet peeve of someone. A reminder that sarcasm does not translate well over the web, it was merely a joke...mainly pointed at myself and "fascination" with specs, options, brands, reviews, etc. And for the record, I love taking photos and do very very often, I also enjoy this side of the hobby as well. Once again, regarding my comment, it was meant as a bit of dry humor.

Peter De Smidt
22-Jan-2015, 13:09
I don't know this seller, but this looks worth looking into: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?118899-FS-Fujinon-210mm-f-5-6

Fuji makes outstanding lenses. I used to have a 210 Symmar-S, but now I have one of the Fuji's. Both are great lenses, but my Fuji seems a little sharper in the corners, but that could just be sample-to-sample variation.

Old-N-Feeble
22-Jan-2015, 13:26
I recently picked up a nice 210mm f/6.1 Xenar for $110 delivered. The glass is perfect but there are three very small coating imperfections (not cleaning marks) that won't affect image quality in the least. Cosmetically the lens barrel is very good and the shutter is excellent. Very good deals can be found especially if you don't mind minor imperfections.

appletree
22-Jan-2015, 13:56
Wow, what a superb price for a lens (any lens for that matter)!

Thanks again everyone. Looking like I might be getting a 210mm sooner than later while I am saving up for the 150mm I want. At least then I could be using the camera. Regardless I still have film holders, lens boards, dark cloth, and many other things to accumulate. A little bit at a time for now, I am not in a real rush...other than my own eagerness to use my camera. Luckily, I have a fridge full of 120 film and plenty of other cameras to coax me until my kit is formed.

appletree
22-Jan-2015, 15:00
Not the proper place to ask, but don't want to start another thread and mostly just curious.

Is there literature or books compiled with information regarding lenses? Specifically like the model changes over the years and differences. I know with guns (dad is a gunsmith) there are millions of books that show serial numbers, roll-stamp changes, different date ranges, rare versions, etc. Often records that were meticulously kept by Colt, Browning, Winchester, Sharps, Purdy, etc.

The real question I had was it "seemed" that some of the lenses for the Symmar-S were made in Japan and/or Germany, some seem to have yellow lettering (could be photo taken/calibration or just aging), seem to sometimes just say Schneider (I think), and sometimes says Schneider Kreuznach. Perhaps sites and/or books exist on these topics/information.

Randy Moe
22-Jan-2015, 15:10
Not the proper place to ask, but don't want to start another thread and mostly just curious.

Is there literature or books compiled with information regarding lenses? Specifically like the model changes over the years and differences. I know with guns (dad is a gunsmith) there are millions of books that show serial numbers, roll-stamp changes, different date ranges, rare versions, etc. Often records that were meticulously kept by Colt, Browning, Winchester, Sharps, Purdy, etc.

The real question I had was it "seemed" that some of the lenses for the Symmar-S were made in Japan and/or Germany, some seem to have yellow lettering (could be photo taken/calibration or just aging), seem to sometimes just say Schneider (I think), and sometimes says Schneider Kreuznach. Perhaps sites and/or books exist on these topics/information.

Guns are way more popular than LF lenses. Bigger market. Far more demand.

appletree
22-Jan-2015, 15:12
Yeah, I guess apples and oranges. Just was curious if this information was readily available or out there in the interwebs!

For the most part it seems like nothing changes with the lenses unless they have a different model name given or it is changed...otherwise they made the lenses for x amount of years.

Lachlan 717
22-Jan-2015, 15:58
I am in no rush and unsure if I will/should get my 150mm first or 210mm

Why not split the difference and get a 180mm? These tend to be the red-headed step child of the LF lens series, seemingly not wanted by many. So they are outstanding optics that are CHEAP!!

Dan Fromm
22-Jan-2015, 16:27
appletree, look here: http://1drv.ms/1w0vbMD

Old-N-Feeble
22-Jan-2015, 17:02
FWIW, for 4x5" I've decided to eBay a 210mm Apo Symmar-L soon and keep a 210mm f/6.1 Xenar because the latter is smaller, lighter, has plenty of coverage, costs less, and is just as sharp and contrasty as the former. I'll also auction off a late 203mm Ektar in Compur. I'm keeping a 150mm Apo Symmar-L and will eBay a 135mm Apo Symmar and 135mm Fujinon-W.

These decisions are not due to differences in lens sharpness or contrast but mostly due to cost and size of image circle vs. size and weight.

Will Frostmill
22-Jan-2015, 17:07
Not the proper place to ask, but don't want to start another thread and mostly just curious.

Is there literature or books compiled with information regarding lenses? Specifically like the model changes over the years and differences. I know with guns (dad is a gunsmith) there are millions of books that show serial numbers, roll-stamp changes, different date ranges, rare versions, etc. Often records that were meticulously kept by Colt, Browning, Winchester, Sharps, Purdy, etc.

The real question I had was it "seemed" that some of the lenses for the Symmar-S were made in Japan and/or Germany, some seem to have yellow lettering (could be photo taken/calibration or just aging), seem to sometimes just say Schneider (I think), and sometimes says Schneider Kreuznach. Perhaps sites and/or books exist on these topics/information.

google "lens collectors vade mecum"

Tim Meisburger
22-Jan-2015, 18:24
On point that has not been mentioned. If you are looking for a set of three lenses, consider filter size. Its much easier if all three use the same filter. Thats difficult with the 90, but one option would be to buy filters for the 90, then fit step up rings to the other lenses.

By the way, the of in that photo is tilt. To get a sense of the Heliar look, look at her face as a head shot. I love it (its my favourite portrait lens).

Alan Gales
22-Jan-2015, 19:46
Why not split the difference and get a 180mm? These tend to be the red-headed step child of the LF lens series, seemingly not wanted by many. So they are outstanding optics that are CHEAP!!

Yet 360mm is very popular for 8x10. ;)

Luis-F-S
22-Jan-2015, 21:06
it was meant as a bit of dry humor.

Sorry about that. It just amazes me the pains some people go through and agonize to find the perfect lens when they could use a "cheap" lens and spend more time improving their photography. Newbies in particular think a great lens will make a great photo and I'll take an older lens any day to the latest greatest Sirosomething-$. Not that it's not a great lens, just that 99.99 % of photographs and photographers will never see the difference. I don't think I own a single LF lens that's been made in the last 30 years, and most are much older. There's just not that much difference in the lenses from most of the major modern (now defunct) brands. L

Luis-F-S
22-Jan-2015, 21:20
Not the proper place to ask, but don't want to start another thread and mostly just curious.

Is there literature or books compiled with information regarding lenses?

The real question I had was it "seemed" that some of the lenses for the Symmar-S were made in Japan and/or Germany, some seem to have yellow lettering (could be photo taken/calibration or just aging), seem to sometimes just say Schneider (I think), and sometimes says Schneider Kreuznach. Perhaps sites and/or books exist on these topics/information.

Lots of books written on lenses, just most of them are ancient. Allen Greenleaf's Photographic Optics, Macmillan 1950; A History of the Photographic Lens by Rudolf Kingslake 1989, & his Lens Design Fundamentals, 1978 come to mind, but none of them will tell you the difference between yellow and white lettering on a lens. Most of the remainder are old manufacturer's catalogues.

appletree
23-Jan-2015, 11:21
appletree, look here: http://1drv.ms/1w0vbMD
Thanks Dan for the link...exactly what my curious (bored) mind was looking for!


On point that has not been mentioned. If you are looking for a set of three lenses, consider filter size. Its much easier if all three use the same filter. Thats difficult with the 90, but one option would be to buy filters for the 90, then fit step up rings to the other lenses.

By the way, the of in that photo is tilt. To get a sense of the Heliar look, look at her face as a head shot. I love it (its my favourite portrait lens).
Oh I know it was not mentioned but I have considered this. I noticed this when I first started looking and just planned on sticking with 67mm filters. Buying those and using a step-up ring for my Hasselblad lenses (already own some bay filters) and also the smaller LF lenses. Then again it seems from Schneider's page that the accessory threads are 77x.75 (for the 210mm Symmar-S), thus I may want to think about going with all 77mm filters then stepping up as required.

Although 77mm may not be as common as 67mm, these things I will have to do some reading up on and learning. Then again I could use the lee filter system or something similar. Not very familiar with this, but it seems common and popular for this very reason. Some quick research on the existing threads around here and Apug should help me figure out what bin to dig through at the local camera shop.


Sorry about that. It just amazes me the pains some people go through and agonize to find the perfect lens when they could use a "cheap" lens and spend more time improving their photography. Newbies in particular think a great lens will make a great photo and I'll take an older lens any day to the latest greatest Sirosomething-$. Not that it's not a great lens, just that 99.99 % of photographs and photographers will never see the difference. I don't think I own a single LF lens that's been made in the last 30 years, and most are much older. There's just not that much difference in the lenses from most of the major modern (now defunct) brands. L
Luis, I totally understand. Like I said I know comments such as mine can strike a nerve sometimes. But, for clarity sake, I personally do NOT believe in the equipment or materials to make a photographer a photographer. If I did, I would throw it all out the window and just go digital. I appreciate quality and do not mind taking the time to research and look at different options and weigh cost vs function, etc etc. I like being planned and organized. But, it is enjoyable to me to do the research, to find out the date a lens was made and where it is from, to discuss with others what they like/don't like, as well as begin to develop my own idiosyncrasies along the way of this adventure.

That said, I don't "have" to have a $700 150mm lens, but that is the lens I want to get. I am leaning toward a $150 lens for 210mm focal length. Getting out and taking photos should be the end goal. But the means to this may be quite different from person to person. I enjoy the ride along the way, as opposed to just pulling out a plastic card, buying it all, and doing my thing. I am fortunate enough that the ride to LF doesn't impede me much, as I have 35mm and 120 to shoot. :)

Lachlan 717
23-Jan-2015, 12:20
What's making you "want" to get the $700 150mm lens, over, say, a $250 one, given you seem to understand that the likelyhood of seeing any discernable/demonstrable difference is highly unlikely?

Doing so, and then writing that you're "leaning towards a $150 lens for 210mm focal length" thus seems counterintuitive...

appletree
23-Jan-2015, 12:31
Fair question. I am not trying to be contradictory towards my own comments, but anyway...I think the reasoning is this.

I plan on using the 150mm focal length 80% of the time. Why? Well I have yet to shoot LF, but basing this on what I like shooting in MF and 35mm and the focal lengths/trend I follow in all my past photographic history. Thus, I am able to justify "springing", if you will, for a 150mm Sironar-S from the get go (for the most part) to avoid ever wanting to "upgrade" in the future. Rather than have that itch one day, I just soon spend extra on the lens (which is the one piece of photography I think really justifiable, yet I guess some justify film holders, loupes, etc) I plan on utilizing most...even though I realize the "quality" curve is to a point of diminishing returns.

And conversely, I do not see myself using the 210mm "as often" and plan on perhaps having more than one, one day, and the fact that naturally the 210mm focal length seems less expensive, all concludes to a lens like the Symmar-S being right up my alley, budget and just starting out. Seems like a wise choice. Perhaps the Sironar-S is not the wisest of decisions, but I guess I could rationalize it all sorts of ways. The same way someone might rationalize a $10,000 speaker set vs $1000. Clearly a larger "gap" exists between a $100 pair and the $1000 pair, but not as drastic as the $1000 to $10000.

Long story short, I don't feel in a huge rush to put together a kit. No vacation planned or trips in the near future and have tons of film I have been scanning/still developing and sitting in the fridge. I am justifying the "expensive" (I guess relative to some...to me it is expensive, but then again I don't spend money like water/I used to [once buying a home 1+ year ago...sort of had to create a budget!]) lens by saving up for a bit longer and my own, well ridiculousness. At least I admit my madness. ;)

Drew Wiley
23-Jan-2015, 12:48
Not to directly contradict Mr. Galli, who is deservedly recognized as a soft-focus lens addict, BUT there is a distinction between a soft focus lens and something
that renders pleasing selective focus, where the background "bokeh" is undistracting when the main subject or whatever is crispy rendered, in which case it is much easier to find an excellent performer in 35mm than large format, at least at a realistic price. Any number of LF tessars of disappointing in this respect, including Nikkor M's. You often gotta go back to older long FL fast-aperture versions in really big shutters - no exactly convenient for 4x5, which might not even
be able to support the weight reliably. ... But contrary to the post just above, focusing and composing at f/9 is easy. I do it all the time. Small max apertures only become difficult with wide-angle lenses, where you've got a lot of rapid falloff in the circle of illumination. In something like a 210 on 4x5 it's a non-issue.

appletree
23-Jan-2015, 12:56
Interesting. Thanks for the information and your views on the matter. I think once I get to the nitty gritty of using the format and having it in various settings, I will learn and begin to formulate my own understanding. That is why I really appreciated the idea to just start with one lens and get the hang of it all. It will help me make a much more accurate decision on a second lens and/or other accessories I would like to change or add to my "kit".

Peter De Smidt
23-Jan-2015, 13:08
Just so you're aware, focal length similarities regularly don't follow up too closely from 35mm (and digital) to large format. For instance, I love 20mm with 35mm, but I don't use anything that wide with LF. 150mm are very common lenses. If I were you, I'd buy a good one for $200 or less. Use it for a year or two. Then if you feel the need, buy the more expensive lens and compare. With the prices most lenses are at now, you can do very well for very little money. As a result, if you decide to trade up in the future, you won't be out much, if at all. High priced items are more likely to fall in price a bit. That said, the difference between a 150mm and a 210mm is similar to the difference between a 50mm and a 60mm lens. I own a 150mm, but I've not used it. I received it in trade for something else I wasn't using. I mainly use a 120mm, 210mm, and a 90mm, from most used to least. I have many more lenses, but it's not worth it to me to carry all of them into the field.

Large format photography is very different from other types. Lots of people try it out only to discover that it's not for them. It's a good idea to keep your investment low until you're sure that it's what you want to do.

Dan Fromm
23-Jan-2015, 13:19
Sorry about that. It just amazes me the pains some people go through and agonize to find the perfect lens when they could use a "cheap" lens and spend more time improving their photography. Newbies in particular think a great lens will make a great photo and I'll take an older lens any day to the latest greatest Sirosomething-$. Not that it's not a great lens, just that 99.99 % of photographs and photographers will never see the difference. I don't think I own a single LF lens that's been made in the last 30 years, and most are much older. There's just not that much difference in the lenses from most of the major modern (now defunct) brands. L

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/chasing-magic-bullet.html

appletree
23-Jan-2015, 13:31
Oh, I am (and have been) really excited to jump in and remain in. I had been wanting to switch/pick it up for over a year. But I do understand the sentiment. I was aware, sort of, but not to the extent that I might end up leaning toward one focal length...more or less than I expected. Thanks. Perhaps it would be wise (and I could shoot sooner) starting with a 150mm ($250 or less) or a 210mm in the same budget range. In today's market I imagine that commands exquisite lenses still.

Thanks for the advice everyone.

Peter Yeti
23-Jan-2015, 13:32
Since you mentioned 67mm filters, that's what fits my 5.6/210 Apo-Sironar N. Symmar-S's always need larger filters than the corresponding Sironar Ns. I have both Sironars and Symmars and would be hard pressed to tell them apart. Price should be similar, too. So, if your old screw-in filters are really important to you, the Apo-Sironar N might be the better option.

Peter

P.s.: I'm totally with Luis, a wide choice of lenses can really get in the way of concentrating on photography.

appletree
23-Jan-2015, 13:35
Once again, thanks for the advice. Note: currently do not own any filters this large...so nothing pinning me down to one size vs another. I was just looking over the list of lenses a while back and seemed like the largest size (at the time) I thought I might end up with was 67mm, and supposedly it is a fairly common size.

I only own filters for my Leica lenses and same for Hasselblad lenses.

Lachlan 717
23-Jan-2015, 13:41
Fair question. I am not trying to be contradictory towards my own comments, but anyway...I think the reasoning is this.

I plan on using the 150mm focal length 80% of the time. Why? Well I have yet to shoot LF, but basing this on what I like shooting in MF and 35mm and the focal lengths/trend I follow in all my past photographic history. Thus, I am able to justify "springing", if you will, for a 150mm Sironar-S from the get go (for the most part) to avoid ever wanting to "upgrade" in the future.

I am concerned that you've missed the point here. You will not see any difference in output between any of the modern Plasmats. There will not be any demonstrable "upgrade" to be had. This is not like digital where you will see a difference between shots taken using a Tamron super-zoom and a Canon L Series prime lens.

Your lack of experience in shooting LF will affect your final image quality long before any lens difference will (workflow, technique etc).

In the end, though, it's your money. We can only give you opinions, many of which come from decades of experience.

Jim Galli
23-Jan-2015, 13:48
When I die, and someone opens up my lens vault and itemizes what's in there, and then compares the capabilities, the possibilities, against the body of work I created, it will be UN-arguable if they say, here is a large disparity. So MANY classic lenses, so few classy images.

So what? I loved having them. I enjoyed thinking about the possibilities, even if they were unrealized.

If a $750 Sironar S brings you pleasure in owning it, go for it. It's the best. Kerry said so. And it's like buying art. The value travels with it. IF you get run over by a truck it's not like your wife and kids won't be able to get the $700 bucks back.

Me-thinks we have a lot of holier-than-thou preachers on this forum. I wonder what's in their cupboards?

appletree
23-Jan-2015, 14:04
I am concerned that you've missed the point here. You will not see any difference in output between any of the modern Plasmats. There will not be any demonstrable "upgrade" to be had. This is not like digital where you will see a difference between shots taken using a Tamron super-zoom and a Canon L Series prime lens.

Your lack of experience in shooting LF will affect your final image quality long before any lens difference will (workflow, technique etc).

In the end, though, it's your money. We can only give you opinions, many of which come from decades of experience.
Hi Lachlan. I apologize, but I don't believe I have missed the point. I realize that there is no discernable (to my eyes or any others) difference between the various lenses being discussed. At least in terms of pure quality. Yes, maybe between non-coated $50 random manufacturer lens and a $1000 lens, but that is not what we are comparing.

Regardless, if to the photographer/owner/etc, "feels" that it is an upgrade, then is it not all in the eye of the beholder? If they (I am not, but then again I don't judge those that do), prefer to have used a Super King Deluxe $10000 lens to create an image and sleep with the thing, then so be it. Whatever makes them happy in what they do. Even if the images are totally "horrible", poor developing skills, scratched negatives, dust everywhere, etc.

And I would not be able to compare to digital, I honestly do not own a digital camera, other than my phone. That said I wouldn't mind getting one in the future for shooting "preview" shots in the "studio".

Once again, I believe I firmly and clearly stated that I believe in the photographer themself much more than the equipment or materials they use. I feel like my view is fairly clear. And honestly, does it matter? I understand and countless times in this thread expressed my gratitude, but it is impossible to make a decision that makes every LF member sleep better at night and "be proud" that I "did the right thing". At the end of the day it is my responsibility to be happy with my own decision, formed from the opinions of others, my own research, and my own experiences.

As always, thanks for your opinions.


When I die, and someone opens up my lens vault and itemizes what's in there, and then compares the capabilities, the possibilities, against the body of work I created, it will be UN-arguable if they say, here is a large disparity. So MANY classic lenses, so few classy images.

So what? I loved having them. I enjoyed thinking about the possibilities, even if they were unrealized.

If a $750 Sironar S brings you pleasure in owning it, go for it. It's the best. Kerry said so. And it's like buying art. The value travels with it. IF you get run over by a truck it's not like your wife and kids won't be able to get the $700 bucks back.

Me-thinks we have a lot of holier-than-thou preachers on this forum. I wonder what's in their cupboards?
Jim,
I hope I covered my views enough. Ad-nauseum at this point. But yes, I do agree, different strokes for different folks. Thanks for the view/opinion from both angles. Ultimately, I will just decide and go with it. I don't think any decision is inherently wrong, even if it is against the grain of someone somewhere doing this for 58 years and counting. I think a young individual being interested and passionate about the medium is a win, regardless of the lens he (or she) uses.

I got some great advice in here, and it has all been very helpful. Thanks again to you all. :)