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View Full Version : Nikkor SW 120mm f/8 vs Rodenstock Grandagon N 115mm f/6.8 for Chanomix 45N-2



cwhill
16-Dec-2017, 11:15
Hi,

I have just purchased a Chamonix 45N-2 which will be my first LF camera and I'm currently looking for an appropriate lens. I'm about to embark on a project in the north of England using a combination of 35mm and 4x5. Im using a 35mm lens on my 35mm camera and would like a similar focal length for the 4x5 to maintain a consistent aesthetic (I plan to shoot predominantly architecture and portraiture). After some preliminary research I have come across both a Nikkor SW 120mm f/8 and a Rodenstock Grandagon N 115mm f/6.8 which both look to be suitable lenses and affordable lenses. Could anyone please give any recommendation as to which one may be a better choice? (and which focal length is closer to 35mm on a 35mm camera). I appreciate both are heavy lenses but I would like the flexibility of a large image circle.

Thanks in advance.

Charlie

Mark Sampson
16-Dec-2017, 11:49
Can't go wrong either way. Both are top-quality, professional-grade optics. Buy on condition and price. I think my 90/8 and 75mm Nikkor-SW lenses are superb, btw; I'd own the 120/8 in a heartbeat if I didn't already have a Schneider 121/8 Super-Angulon.

Steve Goldstein
16-Dec-2017, 11:53
The 115mm Grandagon-N is heavier (740gm vs. 610gm) and takes larger filters (82mm vs. 77mm) than the 120mm Nikkor-SW. The Nikkor also has a larger image circle, though that's pretty much irrelevant if you're only working with 4x5 as either lens has more coverage than you would likely ever need. If those are the only choices, I'd go with the Nikkor. And as Mark pointed out, there's also the 121mm Super-Angulon to consider, as well as the later 120mm Super-Angulon. I'm sure any of these would meet your needs.

There's been a great deal of discussion and argument over "equivalent focal lengths" over the ages. As a strict equivalent, I consider 135mm to be a better match to a 35mm lens in terms of angle of view, based on the ratio of the short dimension of each format. The useful short dimension of a 4x5 sheet is about 96mm, which is 4 times the short dimension of a 35mm frame. 4x35 = 140, for which 135mm is the closest focal length. Others will give different answers by considering the ratios of the formats' long dimensions or diagonals. I've always found the diagonal argument the least compelling, but that's me.

Should you choose 135mm, either an old "inside lettering" Fujinon-W or a Wide Field Ektar will give you the most coverage as far as I'm aware (though much less than the 120mm Nikkor-SW or 115mm Grandagon-N), and either can be had relatively easily at reasonable cost. The 125mm inside-lettering Fujinon-W will have a slightly smaller image circle than the 135mm, though still well more than 4x5, and the slightly wider field of view will allow you to crop a bit. Whether these would do for your architectural work is a question only you can answer, I'm afraid. All three of these lenses are in a different size-and-weight class from the Nikkor-SW or Grandagon N.

The price of used LF lenses seems relatively stable at the moment, so if you're not happy with your initial decision you can sell on the lens without losing much or anything and buy another.

Bob Salomon
16-Dec-2017, 12:17
These are both wide angle designs and as such both have fall off, center to edge. If you find that you want to correct this fall off then it is important to know that Rodenstock made center filters for their WA lenses. Nikon never did.
Also this is not a common or popular focal length choice for 45. A 90mm is far more popular.

Dan Fromm
16-Dec-2017, 12:22
Bob, none of these lenses is particularly wide for 4x5. Rodenstock and Schneider don't recommend center filters for lenses [edit to correct an error in the original post] that cover less than ~100. The 115 is intended for 5x7, covers 85 on that format shot straight ahead. On 4x5 it covers 66 shot straight ahead. Both made center filters that will fit the 120 Nikkor and work on it. See my article on CFs.

If I were the OP, I'd use the 120 or so lens I buy to find out whether I can live with the falloff. The 115 will be down ~ 1 stop from center to corner shot straight ahead on 4x5. More with movements, of course. Test first, then buy a CF if needed.

Bob Salomon
16-Dec-2017, 12:52
Bob, none of these lenses is particularly wide for 4x5. Rodenstock and Schneider don't recommend center filters for lenses longer than 90 mm. Both made center filters that will fit the 120 Nikkor and work on it. See my article on CFs.

If I were the OP, I'd use the 120 or so lens I buy to find out whether I can live with the falloff. The 115 will be down ~ 1 stop from center to corner shot straight ahead on 4x5. More with movements, of course. Test first, then buy a CF if needed.

Granted, but maybe, since he will use them on a view camera, he decides that he wants to use movements and no longer is in the center of the optical path.

ic-racer
16-Dec-2017, 13:24
Seems like overkill for a 4x5 field camera. I clicked on the thread thinking this would be a discussion of using those lenses for 8x10 :)
Though, for architecture with the N115, I suspect the keen user could maximize the cameras performance with some parallel movements, assuming the bellows behaves.

Dan Fromm
16-Dec-2017, 13:34
Bob all that you say is true. It is interesting, though, that the consensus of users here seems to be that w/a lenses no shorter than 90 mm give acceptable evenness of exposure on 4x5 without a CF. Shorter than 90 need a CF, 90 mm is a judgment/personal preference call.

angusparker
16-Dec-2017, 14:19
Both lenses overkill for 4x5. Id recommend a Fujinon 125mm/5.6 as smaller, cheaper and with enough coverage. This lens comes in numerous versions with different filter ring sizes - so pick the one that matches the size you use for filters. The CM-W version is the newest, then the W with outside lettering, then the one with inside letters. Filter sizes run 67mm, 52mm and 46mm. The smaller the older I think. Some 46mm versions may be single coated.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro

John Layton
16-Dec-2017, 15:02
I've had such a great time with my 120mm f/8 Super Angulon - for 5X7 (and even for some 8x10 use). But it seems to me that either this or the Rodenstock 115 would tend to "overweight" the front of the Chamonix...which would either indicate the somewhat lighter Nikkor 120, or perhaps the smaller Schneider 120 Symmar (which covers...just), or maybe the Super Symmar - but this is a bit rare and somewhat expensive. But there are great options for 135's - inexpensive, small and lightweight. Sironar-N, Nikkor-W (which some claim is a bit "soft"?) Schneider Symmar, Fujinon, WF Ektar, etc.)

Rereading your post...if I were to do just architecture I'd go with the 120, or even consider a 90. But you'd mentioned both architecture and portraiture...and with one lens. If this is indeed the case...then your best compromise might be the 135 - unless you're wanting to do "environmental" (typically full body with equally important background), in which case a 120 would work. I keep wanting to recommend that you take a 90/150 (or even 210) combo...but it sounds like your need for a "consistent aesthetic" might indeed dictate the use of one lens only.

xkaes
16-Dec-2017, 15:54
At least two here have said these lenses would be overkill. Let me make that at least three. But somehow, for some reason, LF makes some people go overboard. Many confuse a large image circle with a large angle of view.

Greg
16-Dec-2017, 16:08
Another one to consider is a 105mm FUJINON SW f/8 with letters on the outside of the barrel. Stopped down it barely, and I mean barely just covers whole plate.

Pere Casals
16-Dec-2017, 16:17
At least two here have said these lenses would be overkill. Let me make that at least three.

I also think it, the nikon SW 120 covers just 8x10, so that coverage is an overkill.

With a not needed coverage we can have some drawbacks:

> More stray light bouncing from bellows to film, in the SW120 case 3/4 of the light go to the belows (most illuminating the folds of the bellows), this can erode the Multicoating absence of flare.

> Less chance of high 4x5 performance because design has to be optimized also for more distant corners.

> More weight and cost.

> Chance of lower max aperture with same weight.

But Nikon SW 120 still may be a good option if one plans to move to 5x7 or even 8x10, still for 8x10 the SW 150 may be a better choice, because it allows movements even when focused at infinite.

xkaes
16-Dec-2017, 16:29
Once again, we will need to hear back from CWHILL as to what he wants to do -- after giving us an inadequately phrased question. We can come up with every option under the sun, as we often do -- or why this or that would be the better approach -- until waiting to hear back from the person with the original question.

Bob Salomon
16-Dec-2017, 16:44
I also think it, the nikon SW 120 covers just 8x10, so that coverage is an overkill.

With a not needed coverage we can have some drawbacks:

> More stray light bouncing from bellows to film, in the SW120 case 3/4 of the light go to the belows (most illuminating the folds of the bellows), this can erode the Multicoating absence of flare.

> Less chance of high 4x5 performance because design has to be optimized also for more distant corners.

> More weight and cost.

> Chance of lower max aperture with same weight.

But Nikon SW 120 still may be a good option if one plans to move to 5x7 or even 8x10, still for 8x10 the SW 150 may be a better choice, because it allows movements even when focused at infinite.

The Rodenstock optimally covers more then 57. In fact, so does the 90mm 4.5 Grandagon-N MC!

Corran
16-Dec-2017, 18:56
For those saying the 120mm Nikkor or other similar lenses are overkill, consider that it could be a multi-use optic for both 4x5 and 8x10, if one foresees going that way.

That's why I bought mine, when I found one at an excellent price (consider that the Nikkor sells for under $500, sometimes under $400!). For 8x10, this is a STEAL for an ultrawide lens. On 4x5, it's an excellent lens for architecture if you don't want as wide as a 90mm and normal lenses are too long.

Oren Grad
16-Dec-2017, 19:31
I have the 115 Grandagon. For me it's a very-wide for 5x7 and whole plate. IMO it's overkill for general 4x5 field work - way too much bulk and weight to lug in a 4x5 field kit unless one has a very specific need for extreme movements.

35mm is my favorite focal length for 35mm. There's no strict equivalent for 4x5 because of the different aspect ratio, but my favorite focal length for 4x5 is 135mm. There are many excellent, affordable, very compact 135mm lenses that would serve very nicely in a 4x5 field kit. I would start there and go to the big Grandagon or Nikkor-SW only if you find from experience that you really need the extra coverage.

Also a general point about using extensive movements: if the idea is to use lots of front rise on architectural subjects, keep in mind that beyond a certain fairly modest amount, the artifice calls attention to itself and the pictures pretty much scream "look how much front rise I used!" If that's what you want it's fine, but to my admittedly jaundiced eye that works only occasionally as an in-your-face special effect; usually it's just annoying. A portfolio full of such pictures certainly wouldn't reflect a "consistent aesthetic" with 35-format pictures taken without a shift lens.

Bernice Loui
16-Dec-2017, 19:51
Have used both on 5x7 for decades. The image circle is large enough to allow significant camera movements on 5x7. Both are not small, not light weight. On 4x5 the larger than needed image circle could be excessive for what is needed.

What about a modern 135mm f5.6 Plasmat (Rodenstock, Fujinon, Schneider, Nikor) in place of the 115mm or 120mm?

Better light weight combo could be a 135mm f5.6 and a 90mm f8.


Might also consider a 120mm Angulon, 4 3/8" Wide Angle Dagor or similar, it is much smaller is does fine at f16 and smaller apertures.


Bernice

Jac@stafford.net
16-Dec-2017, 20:14
What about a modern 135mm f5.6 Plasmat (Rodenstock, Fujinon, Schneider, Nikor) [...]

May I save the OP from the Planar 135mm ƒ3.5? It is one of the lenses I got with my Super Technika. Sure, I like it a lot. Fast, easy to use on the ground glass, but with so limited coverage that movements are almost futile. I wonder how it established a good reputation. Legend?
.

Bernice Loui
16-Dec-2017, 20:31
Zeiss... branding.

They have good performance at-near full aperture, once stopped down this advantage is discounted. Been there done this, pass. IMO, a good Tessar is a much better value giving up about one f-stop of full aperture.

It seems there is a modern market run on large aperture LF lenses for some reason.


Bernice



May I save the OP from the Planar 135mm ƒ3.5? It is one of the lenses I got with my Super Technika. Sure, I like it a lot. Fast, easy to use on the ground glass, but with so limited coverage that movements are almost futile. I wonder how it established a good reputation. Legend?
.

Alan Gales
16-Dec-2017, 22:48
I've got the 121mm Super Angulon. It is single coated and is said to cover 8x10 straight on with no movements. I bought it for 4x5 and have not tried it for 8x10. I like wide angle lenses but it's super wide on 8x10. Anyway, it has no problem covering 4x5 with plenty of movements. I paid about $180 for mine and have since seen a few go for even less if you are looking for a bargain. Some lenses have been going up in price on Ebay lately due to less availability, so you need to check.

The 121mm feels like a 35mm lens on a 35mm camera to me but as Steve said in post #3 there is debate about that. The problem is 4x5 is a squarer format than 35mm so it depends upon how you compare them. A 90mm feels like my 25mm Zeiss lens on the old Contax to me but some feel that it's not quite that wide to them.

neil poulsen
16-Dec-2017, 23:47
I've got the 121mm Super Angulon. . .

I have this lens, and I quite like it for 4x5. For me, it's about focal length, not coverage. 120mm is a nice intermediate focal length between 90mm and 150mm, and I would prefer it to the 115mm lens. (For my own reasons.)

I have a friend who has the 115mm lens and likes it. But, he mentioned that it can have a tendency towards flare. So, he's careful about how he uses it.

To take a step further . . .

I like a moderate wide-angle lens, and for landscape, a 90mm lens a little too wide. (It's excellent for architecture.) For something a little wider than 121mm, I carry a 105mm Fujinon SW that I also like.

xkaes
17-Dec-2017, 08:30
Whether 115mm or 120mm, I don't understand getting a lens that covers 8x10 for use on a 4x5. Like the other lenses mentioned, the Fujinon 120mm lenses cover almost 300mm. I use the Fujinon NW 125mm with an image circle of 200mm. That's way more than I need for 4x5. Plus the lens is much smaller, lighter, is a whole f-stop faster, and has a newer, air-spaced design and better multi-coating. For me, that's a win-win-win-win.

Dan Fromm
17-Dec-2017, 09:17
Joe, never underestimate the power of IWANNA.

David Karp
17-Dec-2017, 10:14
A 120 or similar was a standard for shooting architecture in the days when architecture was routinely shot with a view camera.

Alan Gales
17-Dec-2017, 10:18
I have this lens, and I quite like it for 4x5. For me, it's about focal length, not coverage. 120mm is a nice intermediate focal length between 90mm and 150mm, and I would prefer it to the 115mm lens. (For my own reasons.)

I have a friend who has the 115mm lens and likes it. But, he mentioned that it can have a tendency towards flare. So, he's careful about how he uses it.

To take a step further . . .

I like a moderate wide-angle lens, and for landscape, a 90mm lens a little too wide. (It's excellent for architecture.) For something a little wider than 121mm, I carry a 105mm Fujinon SW that I also like.

Neil, like you, I bought my 121mm lens for the focal length. I have a 250mm Fujinon that I really like for 8x10 and on 4x5 the 121 feels the same. It was cheap too. :) I just mentioned that it covers 8x10 straight on to show that it easily covers 4x5 with all the movements anyone would want.

Who knows though, one day I may find a subject to use it on 8x10. After I bought mine I read somewhere that Clyde Butcher had one in his kit.

Alan Gales
17-Dec-2017, 10:19
Joe, never underestimate the power of IWANNA.

I think we probably have all been caught up in IWANNA at one time or another! ;)

consummate_fritterer
17-Dec-2017, 11:52
My IWANNA is bigger than your IWANNA.

neil poulsen
17-Dec-2017, 12:58
Once again, we will need to hear back from CWHILL as to what he wants to do -- after giving us an inadequately phrased question. We can come up with every option under the sun, as we often do -- or why this or that would be the better approach -- until waiting to hear back from the person with the original question.

Seems to me that the original question was clear. The OP was interested in a comparison between the 120mm Nikon SW and the 115mm Rodenstock SW. He specifically indicated that, " . . . I would like the flexibility of a large image circle."

What's difficult to understand about this question? If there are posts that are taking this thread astray, it's those that put forward, and appear to insist on, lenses that do not meet the OP's original criteria.

xkaes
17-Dec-2017, 13:28
Seems to me that the original question was clear. The OP was interested in a comparison between the 120mm Nikon SW and the 115mm Rodenstock SW. He specifically indicated that, " . . . I would like the flexibility of a large image circle."

What's difficult to understand about this question? If there are posts that are taking this thread astray, it's those that put forward, and appear to insist on, lenses that do not meet the OP's original criteria.

If it were clear, we would not be here. The difficulty is that he didn't say WHY. He is using 4x5. Does he want flexibility for a future larger format, for extreme range of movements, or some other reason. You are guessing what he wants as much as any of us. The only reason we have "gone astray" -- as often happens here -- is because the original post was not specific enough and we have to guess what his situation is and what he wants and intends to mean.

So, yes, it IS difficult to understand. Why not let CWHILL tell us what he means?

David Karp
17-Dec-2017, 15:13
He said this: "I plan to shoot predominantly architecture and portraiture" which should give us an idea of what he wants to do with the lenses. He also said "Could anyone please give any recommendation as to which one may be a better choice? (and which focal length is closer to 35mm on a 35mm camera). I appreciate both are heavy lenses but I would like the flexibility of a large image circle."

A 120mm would be great for shooting architecture. My understanding is that many architectural photographers preferred to use a 115mm to 120mm if they could get all of the subject into the frame. If not, then hopefully the 90mm would work, and if not that, then go to the 75mm or 65mm. It might be helpful if Kirk Gittings pitched in here. If I remember from prior posts, I think he often used his 120mm Nikkor for architecture and still uses it for landscapes with his 4x5 Phillips, which is similar to the OP's Chamonix.

In my experience, a 125mm Fujinon NW (one of my very favorite lenses) does not have enough image circle to use effectively for architecture. A 120mm Super Symmar, a 125mm Fujinon W (older, single coated), or 120mm Angulon would have the same problem.

ADDITION: I purchased a 120mm f/8 Fujinon SW, which is single coated, because I wanted a lens in the 120-125mm range with more image circle. It was probably less than half the cost of the 120mm Nikkor, which would have been my #1 choice due to reputation and the fact that it uses 77mm filters instead of the larger 82mm filters used by the 115mm Grandagon-N. I shoot black and white only and have no problem shooting single coated lenses.

xkaes
17-Dec-2017, 15:35
He said this: "I plan to shoot predominantly architecture and portraiture" which should give us an idea of what he wants to do with the lenses. He also said "Could anyone please give any recommendation as to which one may be a better choice? (and which focal length is closer to 35mm on a 35mm camera).

OK, to complicate things even more -- just trying to interpret -- I think a 125mm or 135mm is closer to a 35mm on a 35mm camera. There are a ton of options there. I love my Minolta Rokkor-X 35mm f1.8 as well as my Fujinon NW 125mm f5.6 which I consider to be very similar in perspective.

I can't recall every using my 35mm Rokkor or 125mm Fujinon for portraiture, but I have used both for architecture, for sure.

But I'll wait until CWHILL clarifies.

Alan Gales
17-Dec-2017, 16:54
Jock Sturges used a 250mm f/6.7 lens on 8x10 for photographs of people. A 120mm lens on 4x5 can be great for environmental portraits.

xkaes
17-Dec-2017, 17:31
And I once took a few portraits (apparently we have a different definition) of my girlfriend with a 17mm lens. She dropped me.

I learned a lot from the experience -- about photography and women.

Bob Salomon
17-Dec-2017, 17:37
He said this: "I plan to shoot predominantly architecture and portraiture" which should give us an idea of what he wants to do with the lenses. He also said "Could anyone please give any recommendation as to which one may be a better choice? (and which focal length is closer to 35mm on a 35mm camera). I appreciate both are heavy lenses but I would like the flexibility of a large image circle."

A 120mm would be great for shooting architecture. My understanding is that many architectural photographers preferred to use a 115mm to 120mm if they could get all of the subject into the frame. If not, then hopefully the 90mm would work, and if not that, then go to the 75mm or 65mm. It might be helpful if Kirk Gittings pitched in here. If I remember from prior posts, I think he often used his 120mm Nikkor for architecture and still uses it for landscapes with his 4x5 Phillips, which is similar to the OP's Chamonix.

In my experience, a 125mm Fujinon NW (one of my very favorite lenses) does not have enough image circle to use effectively for architecture. A 120mm Super Symmar, a 125mm Fujinon W (older, single coated), or 120mm Angulon would have the same problem.

ADDITION: I purchased a 120mm f/8 Fujinon SW, which is single coated, because I wanted a lens in the 120-125mm range with more image circle. It was probably less than half the cost of the 120mm Nikkor, which would have been my #1 choice due to reputation and the fact that it uses 77mm filters instead of the larger 82mm filters used by the 115mm Grandagon-N. I shoot black and white only and have no problem shooting single coated lenses.

Unless he will be doing environmental portraiture both lenses would be far too short for classic head and shoulder and portraits. Th3 foreshortening would be far too great, unless he wants that effect!

Tin Can
17-Dec-2017, 18:00
Not only is the WA effect, bad for the self-conscious, the mirror effect is also a problem. People don't really know what they look like or sound like.

I found a solution for one poor soul. I set up a vertical 40" monitor (life-size) beside a DSLR/135 mm DC and gave my friend the remote. Click and shoot until you see what you like.

Nothing but, 'Delete all that, right now!'

We remain friends.




And I once took a few portraits (apparently we have a different definition) of my girlfriend with a 17mm lens. She dropped me.

I learned a lot from the experience -- about photography and women.

Alan Gales
17-Dec-2017, 23:17
And I once took a few portraits (apparently we have a different definition) of my girlfriend with a 17mm lens. She dropped me.

I learned a lot from the experience -- about photography and women.

;)

VincentF
8-Dec-2018, 04:17
Have used both on 5x7 for decades. The image circle is large enough to allow significant camera movements on 5x7. Both are not small, not light weight. On 4x5 the larger than needed image circle could be excessive for what is needed.

What about a modern 135mm f5.6 Plasmat (Rodenstock, Fujinon, Schneider, Nikor) in place of the 115mm or 120mm?

Better light weight combo could be a 135mm f5.6 and a 90mm f8.


Might also consider a 120mm Angulon, 4 3/8" Wide Angle Dagor or similar, it is much smaller is does fine at f16 and smaller apertures.


Bernice

When you use Nikkor SW 120mm f/8 on 5x7,could you tell me about fall off with velvia 50,100 color transpаrеnt film?Or you use center filter?

chassis
8-Dec-2018, 06:38
Hi Vincent, I use the Nikkor 120/8 with color negative and black and white film, and do not use a center filter. The landscape is stopped down, the portrait is probably f/11. vis:

https://www.wilmarcoimaging.com/img/s/v-3/p3082567694-4.jpg (https://www.wilmarcoimaging.com/p46190493/eb7bc400e)

https://www.wilmarcoimaging.com/img/s/v-3/p3127513573-4.jpg (https://www.wilmarcoimaging.com/p130952904/eba6a11e5)

Dan Fromm
8-Dec-2018, 11:12
Schneider and Rodenstock recommend center filters only for lenses that cover more than 90 degrees. This recommendation is somewhat conservative.

90 degrees off-axis is down two stops from the center. Fine, wonderful.

Thing is, with a 120 mm lens shot centered on 5x7, for example, the image circle is 210 mm, i.e., the frame's corners are 82 degrees off-axis and cos^4 puts them 1.6 stops down from the center. This is well within negative film's latitude. Slight cropping will improve things.

Small wonder that we disagree about when a CF is really needed.