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michealxgrzz
15-Aug-2018, 12:36
Hi there, First time posting here from way down under in UK. (https://t.co)
I've just gotten into large format photography and am looking at a few lenses (on a budget), with a Sinar Alpina 4x5. For long lenses I'm keen to get something in the 300-400 range, and a congo 400mm f8 has just come up for pretty jolly cheap on a certain website.
I have tried searching but can't find anything particularly valuable on it.
Does anyone own one; or can anyone vouch for them?
Are there any other lenses out there that you guys would recommend for second hand under $350US? - Is the Fuji 400 going to be significantly better?

Dan Fromm
15-Aug-2018, 13:25
This forum has resources that you, a new arrival, may not be aware of. In particular, there's a list of links to sources of information on lenses and even some cameras. You'll find it here: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?138978-Where-to-look-for-information-on-LF-(mainly)-lenses

I know that you asked for reports and recommendations, not "look up the specifications yourself," but you should try that anyway.

As for recommendations, I can't say anything about LF telephoto lenses except for the 12"/4 TTH, which is a fine lens but absolutely not what you should want, from my own experience. The 400 TeleCongo is an old-style 4 elements in 2 groups tele, the Fuji is a newer design. So is Schneider's Tele-Arton. If I had the need and the money I'd look for a Tele-Arton, if 360 mm is long enough, or the Fuji.

ottluuk
15-Aug-2018, 21:48
Your camera should be able to use 300mm non-telephoto lenses (if the rail and bellows are long enough to bring the standards significantly more than 30 cm apart, it'll work). There are still good deals on 300/9 Apo-Ronars (look for one in a Copal 1 shutter) - these are very compact, sharp and easy to handle.

The primary advantage of telephoto designs like the Congo is that they need less bellows extension for infinity focus: you can use a 400mm on a camera that only has 300mm of extension and so on. The downsides are physical length of the lens, the image moving around in unexpected ways when using front swing/tilt, less coverage and more chromatic aberration (at least in designs that don't use expensive glass types with unusual dispersion characteristics - ED glass in Nikon-speak). For a beginner in LF, I think a non-telephoto lens is better if your camera extends enough to properly focus it.

Steve Goldstein
16-Aug-2018, 04:05
Some time ago I did a limited comparison of two 400mm telephotos - a Tele-Congo and a Fujinon-T - on 5x7 black-and-white film. The Fujinon had more coverage and was sharp to the corners, while the Congo weakened in the corners (it's only specified for a 200mm image circle at infinity so that's no surprise). Either would be fine on 4x5. The Congo weighs 150gm less and has a 16mm shorter flange focal length (needs less bellows draw at infinity focus and everywhere else) than the Fujinon. Because I primarily use a lightweight Nagaoka wood field 4x5 I choose to carry the Congo for occasions when I need the reach of a 400. It meets my needs and I have no quarrel with the results. One thing I've found, though, is that I rarely use the 400, usually opting for a 300mm non-telephoto on an extended lens board. It's easier to crop when printing than to add missing image at the edges.

Your Sinar Alpina is stronger and more rigid than my Nagaoka so it should have no trouble with either the Congo you're eyeing or a Fujinon-T (or other similar lenses). The Congo would be fine IMO provided you pay a sensible price for it. They appear on eBay regularly, but not frequently, so you should be able to find some history on previous sales.

Since you're just getting into LF, you might consider starting with just one or two lenses closer to "normal" focal length until you've moved up the learning curve. Anyone here will tell you that LF is a different animal and there are plenty of mistakes to make and learn from; keeping it simpler may help you learn more quickly. You may even decide that 400mm is simply too long for what you want to do with 4x5! But if you feel the Tele-Congo is a screaming deal at auction close then go for it, no harm will come from it resting on your shelf provided you periodically exercise the shutter.

Bernice Loui
16-Aug-2018, 09:07
Suggest a non telephoto design lens as the Sinar Alpine has 18" or about 450mm of rail. The bellows will go that distance. Only advantage to a tele design lens is reduced bellows length and there is a high price to pay for this. The typical telephoto design VC lens is often larger than their non telephoto design of equal focal length and aperture. The more important item is how they behave when camera movement is applied. This is due to the lens nodal point being significant;y forward of the lens board or center of the lens. They are often not as good optically as their non telephoto focal length equivalents.

Where the telephoto VC lens has an advantage is on a field camera with limited bellows length or on film formats larger than 4x5 in focal lengths of 600mm and up. This is due to the difficult task fo maintaining camera stability as the overall length of the camera becomes quite extended.

Sinar Alpine being a monorail camera does not have the problem of limited bellows and camera length of a typical 4x5 field camera. For both camera types proper camera support (tripod & tripod head) is an absolute must requirement. One limitation of the Sinar Alpine, the rail is specific to the Alpine. Sinar did make an extension rail for this camera, they are not common. While most of the Sinar accessories does work on the Alpine, having the non-standard Sinar rail often limits it's compatibility to many of the other good things about the Sinar system. Suspect this is why the Sinar Alpine never endured as a Sinar product.


Bernice

Bernice Loui
16-Aug-2018, 09:15
On lens "sharpness" majority of modern view camera lenses are GOOD, often more than good enough given they are in proper functional condition.

There are SO many other factors that can severely affect image quality, from film flatness, camera support, technique (focusing and related), aperture used, film used, post camera processing and more. IMO, when starting the view camera endeavor, it would be more ideal to focus on developing camera technique and skills required using known good modern lenses with a predictable, repeatable and reliable shutter. Put the, "how sharp is thy lens" at the bottom of the importance list.


Bernice

Luis-F-S
16-Aug-2018, 12:38
On lens "sharpness" majority of modern view camera lenses are GOOD, often more than good enough given they are in proper functional condition.

Bernice

Agree. As I've said before, most lenses are better than most photographers!

Pere Casals
16-Aug-2018, 17:19
Hi there, First time posting here from way down under in UK.
I've just gotten into large format photography and am looking at a few lenses (on a budget), with a Sinar Alpina 4x5. For long lenses I'm keen to get something in the 300-400 range, and a congo 400mm f8 has just come up for pretty jolly cheap on a certain website.
I have tried searching but can't find anything particularly valuable on it.
Does anyone own one; or can anyone vouch for them?
Are there any other lenses out there that you guys would recommend for second hand under $350US? - Is the Fuji 400 going to be significantly better?


The 400mm f.8 Tele-Congo is listed as having a maximum format coverage of 5"x7" and an image circle at f.16 of 235mm, the fuji covers 220mm, both cover well 4x5 and allowing movements.

In general Fuji was a way more renowed manufacturer than Congo, here (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?129091-Congo-400mm-f8-sharpness-on-a-budget&p=1313421&viewfull=1#post1313421) you can find Kumar opinion, that I think it's pretty fair.

Anyway, if you are starting, I'd think it twice before purchasing a 400mm lens for 4x5. If you are building your kit you should plan what lenses you want in the kit in order to have jumps in the focals allowing to address the situations like you want.

Most often used focals in 4x5 are 150mm and 210mm, being 150mm the normal lens (also 135mm is considered normal). For landscape you would have a dilema to decide if you want 65 & 90mm or if you replace both by a single 75mm, then you have to decide if your normal lens is the 135 or the 150. If you make portraits you may want a 180, a 210 or a 240, and this links to what you acquire for a really long lens.

As me a newcomer to LF that has made huge mistakes in glass acquisition what I'd recommend is that you start shooting a lot with one or two lenses that are close to normal focal. Then you will learn what you want from a lens, if you want coverage for arquitecture, bokeh for portrait or lightweight for hiking with the Alpine in the bag.

Jim Andrada
18-Aug-2018, 10:33
I agree with Pere and others that you should just get a sort of normal lens (150 - 135, whatever) and shoot with it for a couple of months. Personally I like a longer lens - I had 210 and 300 for my 5 x 7 and used the 300 95% of the time. I use 150 -300mm lenses quite often on my MF cameras as well. But that's just me. Other people tend to go wider. Start in the middle and get to know the lens, then take it from there.

orgraph
23-Nov-2018, 02:46
https://farm1.staticflickr.com/613/32402196130_23810743f8_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/RngJ2Y)2017-02-05 Kiev Rus, Kiev Region, Ukraine, Киевская обл Foma 100 in LC-29 1-19 6-30 min007web (https://flic.kr/p/RngJ2Y) by Yuriy Sanin (https://www.flickr.com/photos/52922077@N08/), on Flickr
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7411/27851514260_def9379db3_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Jr9hRJ)Actovskiy canyon (https://flic.kr/p/Jr9hRJ) by Yuriy Sanin (https://www.flickr.com/photos/52922077@N08/), on Flickr
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7509/26539152914_9edfbdf237_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Grb6xY)Русь. Украина 2 (https://flic.kr/p/Grb6xY) by Yuriy Sanin (https://www.flickr.com/photos/52922077@N08/), on Flickr

neil poulsen
23-Nov-2018, 03:25
https://farm1.staticflickr.com/613/32402196130_23810743f8_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/RngJ2Y)2017-02-05 Kiev Rus, Kiev Region, Ukraine, Киевская обл Foma 100 in LC-29 1-19 6-30 min007web (https://flic.kr/p/RngJ2Y) by Yuriy Sanin (https://www.flickr.com/photos/52922077@N08/), on Flickr
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7411/27851514260_def9379db3_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Jr9hRJ)Actovskiy canyon (https://flic.kr/p/Jr9hRJ) by Yuriy Sanin (https://www.flickr.com/photos/52922077@N08/), on Flickr
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7509/26539152914_9edfbdf237_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Grb6xY)Русь. Украина 2 (https://flic.kr/p/Grb6xY) by Yuriy Sanin (https://www.flickr.com/photos/52922077@N08/), on Flickr

Very nice images; thanks for sharing them.

neil poulsen
23-Nov-2018, 03:37
Hi there, First time posting here from way down under in UK . . .

What kind of photographs do you like to take?

fotopfw
23-Nov-2018, 05:31
For 4x5", cropping after the fact is not that useful, so there it's more or less mandatory to use the lens you need to make the image you want. So likely, you will be accumulating more lenses. Then it's of no consequence what lens you buy first. If you shoot initially for that angle of the 400mm that is.

@ Orgraph: stunning work for you! Really love the content, it seems alive!

scheinfluger_77
23-Nov-2018, 07:24
...@ Orgraph: stunning work for you! Really love the content, it seems alive!

+1 on that, there just isnít much to argue with here.

OP, all the advice about where to start is good. But... you may not want to follow the crowd, if so make your own pick on the lens then start shooting.