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dodphotography
14-Nov-2018, 17:34
Evening folks,

When I was shooting 4x5 as a primary format my lens of choice was a 135 Sironar S. It is an exceptional optic.

I知 starting a new project on 4x5 and am curious if there are alntertaives to the Sironar, cost wise? I知 not sure I知 able to drop 1,000 bucks into the lens.

I know there are MTF charts but I知 interested in real world comparisons. I知 not working with architectural subjects so extreme movements are not necessary.

Any input is greatly appreciated. Less than 20% of my work is at infinity so closer work is where these pictures will find themselves.

Renato Tonelli
14-Nov-2018, 17:50
I would suggest a Fujinon; I have come to think that Fujinons are an excellent value. The 135mm turns up regularly on auction. I bought mine from Badger Graphics.

Leigh
14-Nov-2018, 17:53
I paid $650 for my APO-Sironar-S 5.6/135mm. It's an excellent lens.
IC (image circle) is 208mm @ infinity. The diagonal of 4x5 is 163mm.

If you want something for close work, the Nikon AM 5.6/120mm is a true macro lens.
The IC is 250mm @ 1:1, which easily covers 4x5. But it's only half of that @ infinity.

- Leigh

Randy Moe
14-Nov-2018, 17:59
You just missed a Nikkor 135W FS right here on the forum.

I was tempted, but sat on my hands.

angusparker
14-Nov-2018, 17:59
Fujinon W 135/5.6 is a great lens. Get a later one with lettering on the outside in a black copal.


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Whir-Click
14-Nov-2018, 21:36
Fujinon 135 CM W - fantastic performance and value.

Drew Wiley
14-Nov-2018, 21:54
Ditto. Any of the Fujinons (W,NW,CMW). Every bit as good as German glass.

Oren Grad
14-Nov-2018, 21:55
When I was shooting 4x5 as a primary format my lens of choice was a 135 Sironar S. It is an exceptional optic.

It depends what you mean by this. If you really liked the way the Apo-Sironar-S draws, including focus transitions and OOF rendering, then get an (Apo-)Sironar-N / Sinaron-S / Caltar II-N. (Do NOT get a plain Sironar, which is the generation prior to the -N. It draws very differently, and that generation has lots of problems with element separation because of the cements used during that era.)

If you're just looking for a competent, affordable 135, pick any late-model 135 from Rodenstock, Schneider, Nikon or Fuji that you can find in good condition at an attractive price. If you don't like it, sell and try something different. In today's market you should find plenty to choose from.

David Karp
14-Nov-2018, 22:02
The best deal on a Rodenstock would probably be a 135mm Caltar II-N. It is identical to the multicoated 135mm Rodenstock Sironar-N. The next best deal would usually be the multicoated Sironar-N. If you need an S, then you are in higher dollar territory.

I agree with the many of the others. The best price/performance ratio would probably be with a 135mm Fujinon NW, which will have lettering on the outside of the front barrel and be marked (for some unknown reason) "Fujinon W." I have a 125mm and 150mm in that series. Both are very nice.

If you want a larger image circle and don't care about single vs. multicoating, the 135mm Fujinon W would be a good choice. It will be marked "Fujinon W" on the front lens ring. This lens covers 5x7.

Alan9940
15-Nov-2018, 07:31
I own a Caltar II-N and it's a wonderful lens! I also own a bunch of Fujis--different series--and they are all good lenses, too. You really can't go wrong with any of the suggestions in this thread. That Caltar, though, is a heck of a bargain IMO.

torashi
15-Nov-2018, 08:00
Perhaps a Symmar convertible? Really cheap. Not sure about its coating or lack thereof

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EdSawyer
15-Nov-2018, 14:18
I'd vote for the 135/3.5 Xenotar. Sharp, even wide open. Fits a #1 shutter. Not overly large or heavy. Great stopped down too. Cheaper than a Sironar-S.

John Layton
15-Nov-2018, 15:18
Another vote for the Caltar II-N. Reliably sharp/contrasty, good coverage for 4x5, compact, great price!

Pere Casals
16-Nov-2018, 09:02
I know there are MTF charts but I’m interested in real world comparisons.

In 135mm I use a Symmar-S that it's razor sharp. It's around 1980 vintage and I measured 70 lp/mm performance in the center...

I'm not able to see practical differences between multicoated plasmats from Fuji, Nikon, Rodenstock or Schneider made since 1980s.

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/lenses/LF4x5in.html

You may find sample to sample variations in the same model that are larger than any average difference between the 4 major manufacturers. And those variations may be irrelevant in practice.

I would focus in finding a seller with good reputation, general lens state, and ensuring shutter is free of problems, brand/model is the least concern of those plasmats of the 4 major makers, all are damn good.

$1000? I would throw some $135 + shipping in a Sironar N from a japanesse ebay seller...

The Caltar N-II 135 are Sironar N or APO Sironar N, the "APO" Sironar N versions are mostly the same than the non "APO".

A Sironar S 135 is around $1000, and the N is under $200, personally I find no justification to spend the 1000, beyond the 8mm larger circle some say the image is slightly different, but we have some controversy about that. Of the N I have a 300, and I don't know how a glass can be better...

Daniel Unkefer
16-Nov-2018, 19:47
I would prefer the chrome convertible Schneider Symmar, or even a 135 Xenar. Ken Ruth got me started on the 135 Schneider Componon (very underrated) and not expensive either. Now I have a complete set of all the Componons.

Should not be too difficult to find something you like at a good price.

Chester McCheeserton
16-Nov-2018, 20:01
Many good pieces of valid advice on here already. But for what it's worth, I'd suggest a Schneider Apo-Symmar 135mm F5.6.

The one that says Schneider in a weird almost cursive font and says multicoating. I'm not an expert on the different models/years but I think maybe this is from the 80s or 90s, and I'd look for it in a modern black copal or compur shutter, not a silver one.

Should def be able to find one for under 400 on ebay or here. I bought one new in 1999 and regret selling it, maybe not as big a circle as a rodenstock S but I used a fair amount of front rise on 4x5 all the time and it served me well for all but the most extreme movements.

Bob Salomon
16-Nov-2018, 21:12
Many good pieces of valid advice on here already. But for what it's worth, I'd suggest a Schneider Apo-Symmar 135mm F5.6.

The one that says Schneider in a weird almost cursive font and says multicoating. I'm not an expert on the different models/years but I think maybe this is from the 80s or 90s, and I'd look for it in a modern black copal or compur shutter, not a silver one.

Should def be able to find one for under 400 on ebay or here. I bought one new in 1999 and regret selling it, maybe not as big a circle as a rodenstock S but I used a fair amount of front rise on 4x5 all the time and it served me well for all but the most extreme movements.

Since you a are being specific with the Schneider Apo-Symmar 135mm 5.6 you should be equally precise about the Rodenstock Apo-Sironar S 135mm 5.6. There has never been a Rodenstock Sironar S!!!!

Chester McCheeserton
17-Nov-2018, 09:39
Since you a are being specific with the Schneider Apo-Symmar 135mm 5.6 you should be equally precise about the Rodenstock Apo-Sironar S 135mm 5.6. There has never been a Rodenstock Sironar S!!!!

But of course, how apropos of you to note that Bob. The legions of lens aficionados will sleep better tonight not needlessly digging the internet for the unicorn Rodenstock Sironar S without that three letter prefix!

Bob Salomon
17-Nov-2018, 10:01
But of course, how apropos of you to note that Bob. The legions of lens aficionados will sleep better tonight not needlessly digging the internet for the unicorn Rodenstock Sironar S without that three letter prefix!

Not all internet users are as discerning as you! But then you probably haven稚 had the correspondence that I have had from people looking for things that never existed because of internet comments.

Pere Casals
18-Nov-2018, 13:53
the unicorn Rodenstock Sironar S without that three letter prefix!

Chester, there is no doubt that the Sironar S is the finest lens that Rodenstock has ever manufactured for general LF photography in the focal range of the series, and one of the finest you can find from any manufacturer.

It covered the top notch market segmentation offering the best Rodenstock could manufacture, for example incorporating ED glass that deals with secondary chromatic aberration off center, at the expense of higher cost and weight.

Another thing is needing or wanting that, given the price.

Of course one may prefer, for portraiture for example, a 70 years old Heliar because of defocus nature or skin flatering, or a true artist like Sally Mann may craft an amazing image with a lens that has a crack in the middle, but if speaking about brute technical performance an S is hard to beat.

This web site has an amazing review about portrait lenses speaking about the personality of different glasses: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/portrait-lenses/

The review is made (in part) from a subjective point of view, but it illustrates a bit the complexities of LF glasses.

Chester McCheeserton
18-Nov-2018, 20:27
Chester, there is no doubt that the Sironar S is the finest lens that Rodenstock has ever manufactured for general LF photography in the focal range of the series, and one of the finest you can find from any manufacturer.


Yup Pere you'll get no argument from me here on that APO Sironar S, or Rodenstock Apo-Sironar S 135mm 5.6 to use precise nomenclature, being a stellar lens, I've had two from that series, a 210 and a 300 and without doing any scientific tests considered them the best plate camera lenses I've ever owned.

I was just adding my two cents to the pot for the OP's original query, the going rate for the Schneider I mentioned is less than half that of the Rodenstock S, and I don't think I ever made a picture with my Schneider that would have been any better if it had been made with a lens with a red circle decoration around the front element.

But undoubtedly it's got more coverage and probably sharper for people who take the time to measure such things.

Sally Mann's not my favorite, but I get what you're saying. I'd use Eugene Atget as an example, his lens certainly wasn't an S design.
Maybe more like a Caltar 2 125, if that ever existed.

I wonder what modern lens that does exist would have been closest to what he used.