View Full Version : 8x10" lens: Sironar S 300 or Nikkor W 360?

Marco Frigerio
17-Jun-2005, 02:16
Hi guys!!

I've just switched to 8x10" and I've been shooting with a Nikkor 300M (my "long" lens with the 4x5") for a couple of months.

I'm not satisfied with the results, I use a lot of rise/fall and tilt and I often notice a loss of sharpness at the edges, so it''s time to sell the Nikkor and found a lens in the 300/360mm. range.

I found on the used market (I can't buy new) a Sironar S 300 and a Nikkor W 360, both interesting priced, well I know that the Sironar ia taken in higher consideration, but there's a difference of about 450$ between the two (the Sironar is more expensive) and I can't decide what to buy, I mean, my pocket says "buy the Nikkor" and my soul says "buy the Sironar".
The fact that I know pretty nothing about their optical performances adds complications to my choice.

Any advices would be greatly appreciated (and I'm open to new suggestions in the 300/360mm range).

Thank you.


Antonio Corcuera
17-Jun-2005, 03:30
Marco, I don't know if you mean the Sironar N or S, but both are massive beasts. These and the Nikkor take copal #3 shutters and will cover 8x10" with lots of movements. With the price difference you mention, I'd go for the Nikkor. Maybe you might consider a 305mm G-Claron or a Fujinon-C 300mm (if you are lucky enough to find one) which will cover the format at f:22 and are tiny (copal #1), sharp and cheap compared to the ones you are considering. Or get the Nikkor and for with $450 get a G-Claron ;-)

Juergen Sattler
17-Jun-2005, 03:44
Marco, here on this site is a lens comparison chart for 8x10 lenses - it will help you narrow down which lens to go for. I do second Antonio's recommendation for the Fujinon 300C, but I don't know if it will have enough coverage power if you really use a lot of rise. I do landscape and I have not managed to run out of coverage with my Fujinon 300C.

Edward (Halifax,NS)
17-Jun-2005, 05:31
I would see if I could find a Sironar N in a DB mount and then have SKGrimes.com mount it in a Copal 3 shutter for me. If 240mm is not too wide there are a couple available in the $350-450 range. The shutters go for about $500 new. How does that compare to the lenses you were looking at?

jose angel
17-Jun-2005, 06:16
My vote is for the Nikkor W 360. I would keep the 300M at least for a "testing period", after that you can decide. Plasmat 360 lenses are monsters, perhaps in a future you prefer the more compact and portable 300M.

Im surprised about your dissapointment. Being a very satisfied apo-ronar 300 user, I considered the Nikkor M a better choice for 8x10". Also, the enormous coverage of the Nikkor W 360 makes me to desire this beast...

Ted Harris
17-Jun-2005, 07:55
Monsters only begins to describe the size and weight of these monsters. The 300mm Symmar-S MC I own is the largest and heaviest lens in my kit by a significant margin. Way larger and heavier than my Nikkor 450M. Having said that you are sort of comparing apples to tangerines with the two lenses under consideration. Yes, they are the same basic lens design but the are different focal lengths, have different angles of coverage, etc. As for performance I can make an indirect comment. I have done side-by-side comparisons of other focal lengths of the Nikon W series versus the Schneider Apo Symmars and Rodenstock Apo Sironar N's. The Schneider and Rodenstock lenses performned identically in B&W. The Nikon offerings were very slightly less contrasty but were equally excellent in all other aspects. Of course, I have no idea if ithis remains a fair comparison at the focal lengths in question. I do know that the Nikkor 450M, which is the only lens in the M series I have any experience with, is an excellent performer.

Either one of the lenses you are considering will give you enough additional image circle to correct the movement problems you are having. Generally speaking,many find the Sironar-S series to be the finest general purpose lenses on the market but I imagine you might be hard pressed to tell the difference in the final image. I do find that there is some indinable something that I DO notice in images from my 135 Sironar S, 150 Sironar W and 110 Super Symmar XL that are very similar each-to-each and different from other lenses I own; I can only describe it as 'sparkle' and often tend to chalk it up to a subjective impression.

Jim Galli
17-Jun-2005, 09:14
A Schneider 305 G-Claron is the elegant solution. It covers 11X14 should you wake up some morning with one of those sitting near you. And it's sharp corner to corner. The only thing it has in common with the Nikkor M is the relatively small size, Copal 1 shutter, and f9 maximum aperture. My experience with several is that they are very VERY sharp. G-Clarons will cover 82 degrees when stopped down which is well beyond the 75 that people pay all the big bucks for with the Sironar S lenses. And it does it with half the weight. Sheesh you'd think I invented them or owned a lot of SK stock wouldn't you. My 270 G-Claron is my most used 8X10 and larger lens.

Scott Davis
17-Jun-2005, 09:34
Don't forget some older classic lenses as options. You can find beautiful Kodak Commercial Ektar 12" and 14" lenses (300 and 360mm) for $300-450. They produce gorgeous images, and the 14" will certainly cover 11x14, with some movement, so you'll get ample movement with it on 8x10. The old Goerz Apo-Artars in similar focal lengths will also stead you well, and can be found for similar money.

Ken Lee
17-Jun-2005, 10:29
Keep in mind that if you are making contact prints, then the resolution of any of these lenses will be more than adequate. In that case, it boils down to coverage, then then other factors, like size, filter size, and weight. You might want to determine, the amount of coverage you will settle for. That seems to be your most important criteria.

It has been said that you can never be too rich, too slim, or have too many film holders - and to that I add: or have too much lens coverage.

Brian Vuillemenot
17-Jun-2005, 11:10
I can vouch for the awesome quality of the 300 mm Sironar-S. It's my favorite lens for both 8X10 and 4X10. If the price is a bit of a deterent, there's an almost new one selling on the Badger Graphics website for quite a bit less than new. Hopefully, someone else hasn't snagged it already. Go for the best- you won't regret that desicion!

Eric Leppanen
17-Jun-2005, 13:39
I second the nomination of the 300mm Sironar-S for 8x10. I too got frustrated with lack of coverage and soft edges with the smaller lenses, and am oh so happy I moved up. Superb color rendition and contrast, and very sharp even at the edges. Check out this recent thread: largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/topic/501943.html#550907 (http://largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/topic/501943.html#550907)

There is also a used lens currently listed on the auction site, with a buy-it-now price even less than at Badger.

Brian Vuillemenot
17-Jun-2005, 15:27
What's the stigma against just saying E-bay?

Gregory Gomez
17-Jun-2005, 18:32
My vote is for the G-Claron 305. If you can't find one, I have a 300mm Nikkor W, new and unused, that I could sell you.

17-Jun-2005, 19:51
When I was shooting 8x10, and I only shot color transparency films and inspected the results with high power magnifiers (not that I needed to print at 7x or more, but what the heck ..), I tried many lenses.

I too found the Nikkor 300M not sharp anywhere near the edges even w/o movements (again, when the transparencies were inspected at high power. The Fuji 300 F8.5C was better than the Nikkor by far, however for me it seemed to have what I'd call a hard contrast, which, although subtle perhaps, I didn't care for that much. The 305 G-claron was very impressive - sharp (although not as sharp everywhere as the ApoSironar S, mentioned later), smooth tones, slightly warm color balance. Didn't have a problem with flare. Nikkor 300m W - good, but I preferred the 305.

The 300mm Apo-Sironar S gave the best results of all lenses - smooth tones, sharp, even illumination, etc. If you don't mind the weight and expense, it might be the one to go for. My second choice, and first if weight / expense was a consideration, would be the 305 G claron

The 360mm f6.5 (or whatever the plasmat focal ratio is) lenses (I rented a Schneider once), are HUGE and HEAVY, even more so that the f5.6 300mm. I hear the Nikkor is very good in performance, and better than the Nikkor 300mm f5.6.

Marco Frigerio
17-Jun-2005, 23:53
First of all I'd like to thank you all for the useful advices!!!!

Antonio, I was referring to Sironar S and yes Ted, I know that I'm mixing different things, but I don't want to wait too much because I need to shoot and I that's what I found on the used market now ...

I don't mind about weight because I usually shoot very close to the care and I have a Calumet C1 that's very rigid, what I'm looking for is sharpness because I have to enlarge, I don't make contact printing...sadly price is a concern, but when we come to ultimate quality I can't resist ;)))))...

After reading what you wrote it seems that the right choice could be a G Claron 305 (there's one on ebay in a barrel right now but the seller ship only in the Usa, and I'm from Italy), or a Sironar 300 S (yes Eric, I saw the one on ebay but same problem, the seller doesn't ship to Italy), and in fact the one I mentioned is the Badger one, but in this case I have to decide very very fast...

Gregory, thank you for the offering, if I don't find a 305 G Claron, or don't decide for the Sironar S, I will contact you in private...

UHUH, it will be a loooooooooooong saturday of hard thinking!! ;))))

Thank you again, the guys in this forum are GREAT!!!!!!!!!!


jonathan smith
20-Jun-2005, 10:50
You know, I have never noticed image fall off with my Nikkor M 300, although I don't push the movements with it. I prefer to make adjustments with the tripod and placement before resorting to movements.

It's very sharp and easy to carry and use.

I do have a Nikkor W 240 that is the only lens I experience image fall-off with. Sometimes the corners are a little dark if I'm not careful (or even if I AM). This is a huge lens, and I imagine the 360 W must be gigantic. Not to mention the filter size makes for more expensive filters.

I find that with my subjects, the corners not being sharp is more a matter of depth of field rather than the lens. They're usually sky or foreground grass.