View Full Version : 8x10 portrait lens question

29-Sep-2015, 16:29
I am looking for advice regarding a 360mm (or similar) lens for 8x10. I am working on a project for which sharpness wide open is very important, and my current 360, a Fuji W f/6.3, isn't managing. I am also shooting with a Schneider Symmar-S 240mm f/5.6, and it's giving me much better results. I'd be grateful for any advice on 360-ish lenses with large maximum apertures that might give me better results at or near maximum aperture.


Milton Trimitsis
Boston, MA USA

8x10 user
2-Oct-2015, 10:10
The sharpest and highest resolution modern lenses options for 8x10 are the Apo Sironar S and Apo Symmar lenses from Rodenstock and Schneider. This lenses use a special glass that has lower dispersion of visible wavelengths. This are very good for color and black and white. Modern lenses are going to be limited to F/6.3 for the 360mm range due to the size limitations of the copal shutter.

Some prefer the look of older lenses with larger apertures. These are sharp where in focus but a shorter depth of field and more separation from the background. Popular classic portrait lenses are typically based off of the triplet, rapid rectilinear, and petzval design. Petzval type lenses have a more wild look to the out of focus where as the other types are more "calm". Popular brands include Cooke, Voightlander, and Dallmeyer, just to name a few. Classic portrait lenses are typically used with black and white.

2-Oct-2015, 10:17
wait, wait, wait..portrait & sharpness in the same sentence?

not here Pal...not here!


Drew Wiley
2-Oct-2015, 10:55
There were some 4.5 tessars out there that might be relatively sharp near the center of the field, but drift towards the corners unless well stopped down. This might do the trick. But the devil is in the details, because you'd actually have to try a number of them to assess the suitability of any specific example. What you
are currently doing is speaking about modern general-puropose plasmat designs, which aren't intended for use at wide apertures.

Drew Wiley
2-Oct-2015, 12:20
Too bad Lens & Repro still isn't around. They really knew their vintage tessars, but of course, charged accordingly. Anything fast that focal length will obviously be
a really big heavy lens.

2-Oct-2015, 12:27
When you say your F6.3 lens isn't managing, do you mean it's not sharp enough, or not fast enough?

Because if not sharp enough, I'm thinking most lenses in that speed range will be very sharp on 8x10.

But if you mean you want speed, the fastest lenses that are sharp wide open, to me, are Petzvals. I'd look for an F5 Wollensak Vesta or clone.

2-Oct-2015, 17:41

Thanks for your thoughts. My issue with my Fuji 360mm f/6.3 is that it's not particularly sharp wide open, and still pretty soft at f/8. I'd love a brighter lens, but I can work with the aperture -- it's the sharpness that's undoing me. I know that no 8x10 lenses are designed to behave optimally at maximum aperture, but my 240mm Symmar is great, so I know at least some lenses can achieve it. I have a line on a 360 Apo-Symmar that I'm tempted to grab, as my other Schneider is giving me the results I want. Still, I'd love more information from folks about lenses with good center sharpness at max aperture. Thanks!