View Full Version : Do I really need a 300mm lens?

Bill Brady
17-Mar-2005, 04:40
I have a Tachihara. My current lens lineup: 90/8 Super Angulon, 90/6.8 Angulon, 150/5.0 Apo Symmar, 210/6.8? Geronar. I am seriously thinking of buying a 300mm, front runner: Nikkor 300/9. I do mostly landscape and close up work, B&W and Color. I am returning to film from Digital.

So should I get a Nikkor 300/9? or any 300mm? Do you folks use 300mm?

Leigh Perry
17-Mar-2005, 04:55
Bill, I have the Nikkor 300/9. I was surprised how sharp and contrasty the lens is. As someone who normally tends towards wider lenses, I am also surprised how often I've used the lens.

And don't be worried about the maximum aperture. It's much brighter on the groundglass than your SA90/8.

Ken Lee
17-Mar-2005, 05:22
I presume your camera is 4x5. If you get a non-tele design, then you will be rather limited with how close you can focus.

ronald moravec
17-Mar-2005, 05:40
I bought the Zone 6 for it`s 20 in bellows so I could use 300 mm G Claron. Great lens, but you need 12 in bellows for infinity focus.

Bill Brady
17-Mar-2005, 06:02
Thanks Leigh & others,

The Tacihara has 330mm draw, about 13.4 inches if I've done the math correctly. So I am anticipating that the Nikkor 300mm will come to infinity focus.

Gem Singer
17-Mar-2005, 06:18
Hi Bill,

The direct answer to your question is "yes". I have used both the Fuji 300C and the Nikkor 300M on a 4X5 Tachihara. They are excellent lenses to use on that camera. An extension lensboard is available if you need/want more bellows extension for close-ups.

Bill Brady
17-Mar-2005, 06:25
Thanks Eugene,

> I have used both the Fuji 300C and the Nikkor 300M on a 4X5 Tachihara.

Which do you like better. The Nikkor is $60 less.

> An extension lensboard is available if you need/want more bellows extension for close-ups.

Can you give me a URL? It would be greatly appreciated.

Bruce Watson
17-Mar-2005, 06:45
Do I think you should get a 300mm lens? Probably not. Here's why:

When you start running across scenes you want to capture, that you can't because you don't have the equipment, then, and only then, should you decide on getting new equipment so that you can capture those scenes. Otherwise, you risk buying a lens that you cart around with you everywhere and never use (I have one of those, so I speak from experience). Until you have an actual, definable need for the lens, I think you should put your money into film.

Gem Singer
17-Mar-2005, 06:55

Call, or E-mail Jim, at Midwest Photo Exchange, in Columbus, Ohio (www.mpex.com or jim@mpex.com). He can furnish you with either of those two lenses, new or previously owned, as well as an extension lensboard for the Tachi. Midwest ships worldwide.

Both lenses are of equal quality. The Fuji is slightly faster with a larger image circle. Select the one that best fits your budget.

Scott Rosenberg
17-Mar-2005, 06:56
bill, about a year ago i went through the same exercise. i found a very good deal on a 300mm lens, so figured why not. it wasn't long before i started using it far more than i thought i would. go for it! check with jim at mpex.com... he'll give you a great deal and you can always re-sell the lens for nearly what you paid for it.

Bill Brady
17-Mar-2005, 07:28
Hi Bruce,

I live near the Chesapeake bay, and often photograph in coves and around commercial sail boat docks. So I do need a longer lens or to learn to walk on water }:o). Up to now I have been shooting with 35mm and MF, but I'd like to do some LF too.


Danny Burk
17-Mar-2005, 07:34
I have the Fuji 300mm and it's my most-used lens. Terrific quality, light and compact; I've not personally used the Nikkor version but from all accounts the two are very similar in quality. You won't regret having a 300! (Loads of sample images are in my website galleries at www.dannyburk.com)


Melchi M. Michel
17-Mar-2005, 07:37

I agree with all the posts above that the 300M is indeed a great lens. I use mine with a modular Ebony extension board that I purchased (at a fairly reasonable price) from Badger Graphic. I actually bought the lens primarily to do portraiture with the thought that I could also use it in the field. As it turns out, I rarely use it (and I've got exactly the same focal length line-up you do) in the field, even though I always bring it along .

Note that if you plan only to use it in the field (i.e., for landscapes), you can probably save money by not buying the extension board. If I remember correctly, the FTF distance for this lens is about 294mm or so, which means that at an extension of 330 mm, you can focus to 2695mm or about 8.8 feet.

Ted Harris
17-Mar-2005, 07:49
To expand on the answer I gave you via email. Think it through inside your head in terms of how you visualize the scenes you want to capture. I tend to think in terms of framed vistas (not sure I can translate what I mean there) and know that the 300-360 range often provides the 'slice' of the landscape that matches my vision. Further, it is an excellent focal length (if you have the bellows darw) to use at closer than infinity. See an example of both what I mean by framing and use of the lens at closer than infinity here http://homepage.mac.com/tedharris/logging.htm . This shot would definitely have not been possible with any shorter lens.

Ted Harris
17-Mar-2005, 07:52
I can never get images to post right here grrrrr .... let's see if I can at least get the link right ... look here ... [url=http://homepage.mac.com/tedharris/logging.htm[/url]

Ted Harris
17-Mar-2005, 07:53
I give up for now ..... please don't tell the folks who think I can run a website <smile>.

Ken Lee
17-Mar-2005, 08:07
Here (http://homepage.mac.com/tedharris/logging.htm" target="_blank) is Ted's image.

David A. Goldfarb
17-Mar-2005, 08:07
Here's Ted's image--

homepage.mac.com/tedharris/logging.htm (http://homepage.mac.com/tedharris/logging.htm)

Click on "formatting help" on the reply page for info.

Dave Schneider
17-Mar-2005, 08:13
I used my 305 G-Claron extensively with my Sinar. When I started using the Shen-Hao for field work the 305 wouldn't focus much closer than infinity and remain stable. I left the 305 behind in favor of a 240mm. I miss the 305 and am using the Sinar more in the field again and living with the muscle strain and fatigue.

Steve Clark
17-Mar-2005, 08:31
Another thought might be to replace the 210mm with a 240mm and forget about a 300mm for now. If you`re determined to get a 300mm, don`t overlook the Apo-Ronar. Although the Nikkor 300mm is highly regarded, I swapped mine for an Apo-Ronar that I find much more pleasing. I`ve nothing against Nikkors, I have a 180mm that was very inexpensive and is very nice indeed.

Ted Harris
17-Mar-2005, 08:32
I'm cracking up! Thanks David and Ken. There is some glitch in my system here that absolutely willnot get my html posts through to this forum .... I have just not had time to pick it apart.


Bill Brady
17-Mar-2005, 09:50
Hey Ted,

I got to your pics on the first try. Nice, my kind of photos.

I talked to Jeff at Badger and told him my situation. He, too, is backordered for the Nikkor M. He talked me into the Fujinon 300/8.5 (after I brought up the subject. Hopefully it'll be here tomorrow.

The logic: better coverage (not a factor), 30 grams lighter, Uses FLAs that I already have many of (49mm). and has better coatings. I guess the weight and coatings tipped the scale.

BTW, I am shopping for some other Nikon items and finding many items that are on back order. Perhaps it's the time of year.

Michael Kadillak
17-Mar-2005, 15:19
There is no way I would purchase a 300mm lens with only 14" of bellows. Frustration will set in on shots that you think would be infinity and are not.

The easiest thing to do is to simply step five steps forward with your 210. Perspective is identical - only the image size changes. And I am saying this as the owner of 12 Nikon lenses. They are tremendous with the correct supporting cast (bag bellows and at the right long bellows).

You need a camera with at least 24" of bellows IMHO.


Tony Karnezis
17-Mar-2005, 18:33
Mr. Kadillak beat me to the point (Hi Mike!). I haven't used a Tachihara, but using my Nikkor 300/9 on my Shen Hao is an exercise in frustration since many subjects are closer than infinity, and I don't have enough extension. Consequently, I use my 210 Symmar-S for almost all my shooting. Because it's a relatively heavy lens and I like longer focal lengths, I just got a 240/9 Fujinon like Steve Clark suggested. I'll be selling the 210 and maybe the 300 too since the 240 is close enough to the 300 (and for 8x10, the Fujinon excels at true 1:1 macro work vs the Nikkor from what I've read; haven't done the direct comparison yet).

Michael Kadillak
17-Mar-2005, 20:30
Hey Tony!

Sounds like you have been very busy with photography since the recent seminar.

As you stated, there is nothing quite as frustrating as attempting to use what is perceived on paper as a workable set of parameters only to find out that it was a complete waste of time. I was out of town and was rather surprised that this situation and its deficiencies was not brought to the attention of Bill earlier. It is not about the lens as either the Nikon or the Fuji are smoking good lenses, but what takes the lens to the dance.

Rarely do I really shoot many of my 12" and longer lenses at infinity. Even if you did, think of all of the images you are missing beause the damn camera will not focus them. You only have 2"" to play with for goodness sakes!

I predict that you will either acquire a new camera of the 300 will be owned by someone else within two months time.


Melchi M. Michel
17-Mar-2005, 21:34

I have to disagree with Bill and Michael. I myself use a Shen Hao with a 300M and a 35mm extension board to do portraits (head shots) focusing as close as 4 feet without running into any stability problems. I don't know whether your Tachihara is as solid as the Shen Hao, but if it is, I think you'll be fine with the Tachi and either of the light 300mm lenses--that is, unless you're planning to do macro.

Rich Long
18-Mar-2005, 06:00
My combination of Tachihara 4x5 and Nikon 300M on a flat board will focus to 16 feet. I suppose it might get closer in cases where tilt is used. For landscape photography, that's good enough for me. For studio or macro, it won't be close enough.

Bill Brady
18-Mar-2005, 06:45
Well, it's academic now as the Fujinon lens will be here today.

Here is an example of when I think a 300mm would help: I was set up on a dock on the side of a small inlet or bay. The longest lens I had at the time was a 180. Near the other shore <sigh> came a beautiful 4 masted sailing ship. There was a light mist and the wind was down so I had a lot of time to set up the shot. I made the photo, but the ship was just too far away to make a good image. I'm not good at judging distance, especially over water, but I am sure it was close to infinity. I'll likely never get another opportunity to make that shot again.

I do have a 1000mm mirror lens on a 35mm, sometimes I use that for long aquascapes but the quality (contrast) is not as good as I want.

BTW, I have spent some time digging into the specs on both the Nikkor and the Fujinon. The differences are small, but there is a number of characteristics in which I lean in the direction of the Fuji. It's a bit lighter, has better coverage (unimportant in this case), has slightly shorter focal distance, and it appears to have truly better coatings. Unfortunately niether Nikon or Fuji publish the detailed specs as do the German makers.

Also, I have been looking for a Nikkor M 300mm since 2001. So this is no rush decision.

Bill Brady
18-Mar-2005, 06:51
Hey Melchi,

I have been having good success using my 150mm Apo Symmar for macro work. I sometimes add a Nikon achromatic (2 lens) close up lens, although when I operate in the vicinity of 1:1 I usually revert to MF, again with the aforementioned Nikon achromat.

Michael Kadillak
18-Mar-2005, 07:36
For the purposes of closing this post, let us know how it works with the new lens after you have had a chance to make photographs with it.