View Full Version : 8x10 Wide Angle Lenses

Ed K.
5-Sep-2005, 03:49
8x10 Wide Angles - Any Favorites from Personal Experience?

I'm looking to augment my lens collection with a nice, very wide angle for 8x10. Needs to be rectilinear, and as sharp as possible edge-to-edge. Something that works as good or better ( is that possible? ) than a 90mm Super Angulon XL on a 4x5, yet on 8x10. No center filter would be a dream come true too. Focal lengths between 120 and 180 would be good to hear about. I shoot architecture and cityscapes / landscapes with LF wide lenses in 4x5, and Iím just getting an 8x10 field setup of my own together now. There are a few choices, a few notes from people who have actually used a particular lens might help interpret the specifications better. Please feel free to post your favs.

Steve Hamley
5-Sep-2005, 05:38

150mm Schneider Super Symmar XL. Good movement, reasonably flare free, and usable without a center filter (depending on your tolerance of course).

Another possibility would be the 150mm Nikkor SW. A vintage candidate would be the 6-1/2" (168mm) Wide Angle Dagor although I doubt it would perform as well as the 90mm SA XL on a 4x5.

FWIW, the pickings are slim in 180mm lenses that will cover 8x10. No modern lens will for sure, and the vintage candidates like the 7-1/2" (190mm) Wide Field Ektar or uncoated 7" Berlin or Series III Dagors barely cover.


Carl Weese
5-Sep-2005, 06:15
The 165mm Super Angulon has been delivering superb results for me for twenty years. It is very big and heavy, but has all the resolution you could ask for, excellent overall image quality (more complex and much more important than "sharpness") and has enormous coverage that allows for a lot of camera movement on 8x10. I've never found a need for a center filter, but that might not hold if you were doing technical architectural shooting on chrome film. I don't know how hard it would be to find on the used market today.---Carl

Oren Grad
5-Sep-2005, 07:39
Among modern lenses, there are essentially four choices for an ultrawide with top performance and room for decent movement on 8x10:

Schneider 150 SS-XL - current, Copal 1, weight 740g
Nikkor 150 SW - current, but seems to be hard to get, Copal 1, weight 1050g
Rodenstock Grandagon/Grandagon-N - discontinued, fairly common on used market, Copal 1, weight 1450g
Schneider 165 SA - discontinued, fairly common on used market, Copal 3, weight of latest version 1605g

The SS-XL will probably cost at least $2000 new and may be hard to find used at much of a discount, while clean used Nikkor SWs, Grandagons and SAs can often be had for much less, so the choice may ultimately depend on how strong your wallet is vs. how strong your back is.

Oren Grad
5-Sep-2005, 07:43
Oops - forgot to say that the Grandagon is 155mm. I have one myself, but hardly ever use it in part because of the weight, in part because I don't usually see that wide - it's really a special-purpose problem-solver. I can't justify the expense of a 150 SS-XL, though, because I just don't need something that wide very often.

Ted Harris
5-Sep-2005, 08:04
One quick addendum ... the Schneider Super Symmar XL 110 and the Nikkor SW 120 will both hit the corners on most (depends on the design) 8x10's and give you a beautiful imge but there is absolutely no room for movement.

Eric Leppanen
5-Sep-2005, 09:33
I tested both a Nikkor SW 150 and SS150XL, and ended up keeping the XL as it was lighter and easier to pack (the XL can be mounted on a Technika-sized lensboard, whereas the larger rear element of the Nikkor necessitated a larger lensboard such as the Sinar). I also thought the XL was a smidge sharper and more contrasty. The drawbacks to the XL are price and the necessity of a center filter if one shoots chrome film with extreme movements (as I frequently do). I see no need for the CF if one shoots B&W or color neg film. With the Nikkor I did not need a CF even when shooting chrome film.

Both the Nikkor and XL support a 95mm filter thread (or a 100mm press-on holder) when no CF is used. I use the Lee filter system and used an FK100 press-on filter holder on my Nikkor, with good results (you may have to reduce the number of slots to 1-2 to avoid vignetting). The XL with CF requires a special-order FK115 press-on holder with only one filter slot (otherwise vignetting occurs). In either case I used a 4x4" polarizer, rotating the entire filter holder to achieve the proper polarizer orientation. As you are shooting architecture I assume you will need a polarizer, if for nothing else to control reflections. The square polarizer is arguably the only realistic solution for the XL with CF, as ideally polarizers should be used in front rather than behind the lens, see the recent discussion here: www.largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/topic/503043.html#564603 (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/topic/503043.html#564603)

Christopher Perez
5-Sep-2005, 11:18
If you really need something in 180mm, look for an old Bausch and Lomb Protar Series V (8x10) 183mm mounted in Supermatic #0 shutter. I found two (one coated, the other uncoated) for surprisingly cheap. Only at greater than 40x enlargement can I tell any difference between these Protars and new optics.

All the modern lenses that would work for your application have already been noted. The 110XL is sooooo wide on 8x10... its glorious! :-)

Armin Seeholzer
5-Sep-2005, 11:19
I vote for the Rodenstock Grandagon 155 mm wich is in sharpness better then my Symmar S 150 mm and only a tiny bit behind my sharpest lens the APO Symmar 210mm.
I tested all my lenses and it is a pice of optical art to have so much coverage so sharp!
But it was very expensive even used!

Mark Sawyer
5-Sep-2005, 11:50
The Wollensak 159mm is a wonderful little vintage lens. Look for a coated f/12.5 version. While obviously not in the class of XL's, SW's or SA's, it's small, light, fairly sharp, reasonably contrasty, and usually pretty affordable. I don't leave home without it.

Expect some fall-off on this or any lens 165mm or wider. (I would think the fall-off on all lenses of equal focal length to be about the same. Better knowledge, anyone?)

If you really want to go as wide as 120mm, the 121mm SA covers, but just barely, with considerable fall-off and image stretching at the corners.

Michael S. Briggs
5-Sep-2005, 13:37
Mark, there are basically two types of LF lenses, with two different illumination behaviors.
This is why Eric found that, for his uses, he needs a center filter for the 150 mm Super-Symmar-XL with slide film, but not for the 150 mm Nikkor-SW. The types with improved illumation use an optical trick to tilt the pupils: these lenses include the Super-Angulons, Nikkor-SWs, Grandagons, Fuji-SWs, but not the Super-Symmar-XL lenses and olders designs such as the plain Angulon. For some previous discussions see http://www.largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/topic/501033.html.
There is also an article on center filters by Kerry Thalmann in a recent issue of View Camera magazine.

5-Sep-2005, 15:38
My experiance covers much of the range that people above have said, but I will share it, in case there is a nugget of value in my own comments.

When I went to 8x10, I bought a coated Wollensak 159mm f/9.5 to let me know if a 150mm lens was what I was looking for (my favorite 4x5 lens was the 75mm, so it made sense to me that I would). The Wollensak was incredibly small and light, but difficult to focus with. I made a number of good images with it, enough to convince me it was the right focal length. I then sold it (for exactly what I paid for it) and purchased a Nikon 150mm f/8 lens - large and heavy, but a good lens. I used this for six months, but came across a good deal for a Schneider 150mm XL - so I bought that, and sold the Nikon.

The 150mm XL is a stunning lens - lighter and brighter than the Nikon, and VERY sharp - numerous times I have used it wide open and it is wonderful. I did buy the centre filter for architectural images, but seldom use it, as it isn't required for my figure work (and I haven't done much architectural photography since I bougth the 150 XL). The XL lens has fabulous coverage, and while the front cell is huge, the small rear cell makes up for its weight, making the whole lens managable. For filters (I shoot B&W on 8x10) I fitted it with a Cokin X-Pro filter set, which is usable both with and without the centre filter. Not the best optically I realize, but preferable to no filter, or $200+ per large glass filters.

Ed K.
5-Sep-2005, 17:27
Thank you!
The wise ones and gurus have spoken! Thank you all. 150XL might be a winner, especially with 2 inches extra coverage @22. 165 Angulon with 15" circle ( similar to 150XL ) sounds also like a winner. If there really is "free lunch" of sorts in an older lens, that's worth a look for sure. I'm going to check market/specs on the other excellent recommendations too. A wide angle that doesn't barrel and has good edge sharpness is a wonderful tool for interior work. You all responded so fast - amazing!

Mark Sawyer
5-Sep-2005, 23:28
Michael- thanks for the link (I'd missed it when it was current) and for pushing me back to reread Kerry's article. Good information everywhere. It looks like the modern "tilting pupil" designs eliminate about 25% of the fall-off.

I was surprised by Kerry's tables indicating that even a 210mm lens on 8x10 "theoretically" loses 1.27 f/stops at the corners. Looking at my negatives and prints from a 210mm Dagor and 215mm Acuton, I need my imagination to detect any fall-off. The fall-off from the 159mm (theoretically 1.96 stops) is there but manageable in b/w, while on the 121mm SA (with the tilting pupil design,) the theoretical 2.14 loss at the corners is obnoxious. Between that and the distortion, I'd say useful coverage is about whole plate size (6.5 x 8.5 inches), though it does illuminate 8x10 corner-to-corner.

Ed K.
26-Nov-2005, 16:29
Post Purchase Note - 8x10 Wide Angles

While the Schneider XL sounded great, the thought of yet another expensive center filter killed it, as did the price. With the center filter, used, it would have been in the mid 2k range or perhaps more; the equivalent of about 50 rentals of it.

I ended up being lucky to get a fine specimen of a 150SW Nikkor. Coverage is great, as are sharpness and contrast. I have done many shots with the 150SW so far, and it worked very well for architectural shots, both inside and out. Flare is well controlled, especially due to no center filter ( no double and triple lights from internal reflections). The weight of the lens, compared to the weight of the rest of the 8x10 gear doesn't seem bad, although I'm not hiking with it.

Eric was right about the center filter. I don't see any need for one with the Nikkor. The coverage is conservatively stated for the Nikkor. At the time I ended up getting the Nikkor, the 165 SA was not available used.

Distortion is well corrected, although not absolutely perfect ( not as good as a 65mm Super Angulon on a 4x5 ). Maybe the Schneider would have been better in this regard, as well as resale at some point. As the Nikkor cost less and works very well overall, it has done well so far. Having rented the lenses first, I did notice that the Nikkor appeared subjectively brighter all around on the GG, making it easier to focus. I'm sure that the Schneider users know great quality though.

This is an amazing forum, many nice people offered help and advice. Thanks again to everyone.

Walt Calahan
26-Nov-2005, 16:55

I see you've purchased already, but . . ..

I use a Nikkor SW 120 mm f/8.0. Extreme wide view on 8x10. Rarely use it, but in tight places, it's great.

Also use a Fujinon CMW 180 mm f/5.6. Super small lens and light weight, with very nice coverage.

Then for the not so wide, a Nikkor W 240 mm f/5.6. Nothing but good things to say so far.

I know this posting is after the horse is out of the stable. Good luck with your lenses.

John Kasaian
26-Nov-2005, 17:05
While I wish I could justify a 120mm Nikkor SW or 165mm Schneider SA, I can justify a late model coated 159mm Wollensak WA Its a heck of a lens for the price !

Ed K.
26-Nov-2005, 17:54
Walter -
The lenses you mention are all nice, however doesn't the Nikkor 120 SW have only a 312mm image circle? That would mean no movements and a little cropping needed. Nice to get something so wide though. Do you use the 120WA on your 8x10 with good results?

Whatever lenses we can still get should be cherished. Look at how few lenses are on the auction site lately. Perhaps large format is becoming more popular again.

26-Nov-2005, 19:25
Super Angulon 8/210 MC. A bit spendy but you can then move up to ULF and go wider yet without further pain, except maybe filters.

Walt Calahan
26-Nov-2005, 20:01

The image circle for my Nikkor 1200 mm f/18 is 310 @ f/22

312 is fine for the 120 Nikkor, using a bag bellows on my KB Canham lightweight 8x10. Sure it doesn't have tons of movement, but if I compose with extra care, it does a fine job.

When I shoot small 35 mm format, I rarely use my Nikkor 14 mm, but it nice to have in the bag. Same with the Nikkor 120 mm.

I think you'll do fine with your Nikkor 150 mm. You definitely have more wiggle room with a 400 mm image circle. Enjoy it!

Oren Grad
26-Nov-2005, 20:02
Super Angulon 8/210 MC

A bit unwieldy, especially when you take into account the required forklift (sold separately)...

Jorge Gasteazoro
26-Nov-2005, 20:04
There is a SS XL 150 right now on E bay for a very good price. I would not go with the Nikon 150 SW unless you are using Sinar type lensboards. The beast is huge and the back element is as big as the front. Would not fit thought the hole in my camera for tecnika boards.

Ed K.
26-Nov-2005, 20:38
Jorge - I shoot with a lowly '67 FS Deardorff lately - it works with that as well as when using a P2 or similar as you say. If you need the SSXL150 and it's a steal, better grab it. It's not easy getting the choice wide angles these days - plus, it would be great to match up wth the classy and beautifully made Linhof gear.

Walter, thanks. I did see a wonderful Cooke 1000mm go for peanuts, no bids at 1,100. I didn't feel like building an extention tube or box for my camera, which only has about 30-31 inches bellows draw. Would be great to have a 1000mm, I'll check out the Nikkor, thanks on that. As you say, the 150SW has lots of coverage, or wiggle room, and I would not mind twice as much more. Having lots of coverage is really nice.

Jorge Gasteazoro
27-Nov-2005, 00:03
I bought the SS XL new about a month ago thinking it will never show up on E bay. Of course, one month later there it is with a BIN of $500 less than what I paid new....dammit...... :-(

I liked the Nikon, but it was impossible to use with my Gandolfi variant, and Gandolfi wanted so much money for the Sinar front standard that it was just as easy to resell the Nikon and get the Schnieder...

Kerry L. Thalmann
27-Nov-2005, 00:53
Walter - Also use a Fujinon CMW 180 mm f/5.6. Super small lens and light weight, with very nice coverage.


I'm curious how much coverage you get on 8x10 with your 180mm Fujinon CM-W. Fuji lists the image circle as 260mm. You'd need another two inches just to hit the corners of 8x10 straight on. Are you shooting with your 180mm CM-W on 8x10 at infinity? If so, does it cover the full 8x10 image area? Anything left over for movements? It would be great to find a modern, reasonably compact, lightweight and affordable 180mm capable of covering 8x10 (or in my case 4x10).


Ole Tjugen
27-Nov-2005, 06:05
I use a 121mm f:8 Super Angulon and a 165mm f:6.8 Angulon. Both just barely cover, but are nice and wide.

Longer lenses, 210mm f:8 Angulon and 240 f:5.6 Symmar are still wideish. The 210 Angulon is what I use if I need lots and lots of movements - mine is an uncoated version with 50cm image circle!

Walt Calahan
27-Nov-2005, 10:32

Good catch, my mistake: Fujinon W 180 mm F/5.6.

Not CMW.

I think I was looking at my 4x5 gear and got the letters confused with the 8x10 stuff.

Yes with the W 180 mm I get some rise and fall with the front standard. Image circle is 305.

Sorry about my screw up.

Paddy Quinn
27-Nov-2005, 13:44
"Yes with the W 180 mm I get some rise and fall with the front standard. Image circle is 305."

Surely if the image circle is 305mm you aren't getting any rise or fall? You wouldn't even be covering the corners?

Walt Calahan
27-Nov-2005, 15:41

The image circle of 305 is quoted from the manufacturer. I never measure image circle.

All I know is I do get rise and fall, not inches, but enough to make me happy. I've never had clipped corners.

So perhaps I'm defying physics by standing to close to the ground when I shoot, but all I know is the lens works.

I'm making images that I like, and that's all that anyone really needs in this world.

Enjoy - happy shooting.

Ed K.
27-Nov-2005, 15:54
Thalmann asks "Are you shooting with your 180mm CM-W on 8x10 at infinity? " - very important question.

Shooting close up, many non-8x10 lenses will cover fine. I've used a 210 Sironar N on an 8x10 for a macro shot ( don't laugh ), and it worked perfectly at 1:1 magnification even though not designed as a macro or for 8x10. The same lens doesn't even begin to cover 8x10 at infinity.

Also, image circles on specs. often refer to the good part of it, as in the part that is not only bright enough, but sharp enough. There are lenses that cover more than stated in brightness, yet are not sharp past their recommended image circle. This is were it is especially interesting to hear about actual experience with a particular lens. Poor Walter, I didn't mean to drag you into this, thanks so much for your comments, and I will, enjoy!

Walt Calahan
27-Nov-2005, 17:16
Yes Ed and Kerry, most of my 8x10 work is landscapes, so I'm using the Fujinon W 180 mm f/5.6 at infinity or very near to infinity.

I'll see what happens to the corners when I focus on things close, and get back to you. Always interesting!