View Full Version : Suggestions for small, light 2-300mm 5"x4" lens needed.

18-Dec-2018, 07:20
I have both 90 and 150mm lenses in Copal 00 shutters and would like to add something a little longer. That said, I would like it to be as small and light as possible for two reasons; carriability, and compatibility with my camera - a 5"x4" Gandolfi with a restrictive front unless I reconstruct the this somewhat (apparently mine has a special order front!) which I can do but would obviously prefer not to. I'm not overly concerned with 'ultimate' image quality so the latest and greatest lenses don't interest me, and I'm happy to use something like a small process lens as long as it works reasonably for landscapes at infinity or there about. Lower cost would be better too. Any suggestions?

18-Dec-2018, 07:45
Nikon 250M, 300M. Rodenstock Geronar 300mm f8

Kent in SD

18-Dec-2018, 07:46
The smallest and lightest modern lenses are the Nikon Nikkor M 300mm and the Fuji C 300mm. Neither are what I'd call cheap on the used market, but both have excellent image quality at any typical magnification factor used in landscape photography.

18-Dec-2018, 08:43
I think that 250M is actually the 200M, and both of these Nikkor M lenses are small (the 200 is tiny) and excellent.

Nikon 250M, 300M. Rodenstock Geronar 300mm f8

Kent in SD

Alan Gales
18-Dec-2018, 09:35
The Nikon M 300mm F/9 lens mentioned above is a peach. I used to have one. It's small, lightweight, sharp and contrasty. It has an image circle of 325 so it will provide more coverage than you will ever need for 4x5. It will even cover 8x10. I don't know what your budget is. I checked eBay real quick. There are three buy-it-nows for less than $400. One as low as $350. They are definitely worth the money. I sold mine because I moved up to 8x10 and bought a 14" Commercial Ektar (358mm). I had paid $350 for mine and easily sold it for $400 several years ago

Here is what Kerry Thalmann has to say about it.


Michael Graves
18-Dec-2018, 10:36
Can't get much smaller than the 203mm Ektar...which throws a very nice image, by the way.

18-Dec-2018, 11:34
Nikkor 200M and 300M are both excellent.

Drew Wiley
18-Dec-2018, 11:59
Absolutely ditto. Nikkor 200 and 300 M (there is no 250M). But I also use the 180 and 240 Fuji A lenses, equally small and precise, but with larger image circles relative to focal length. For instance, the 240 Fuji A has even more wiggle room on 8x10 film than the 300 Nikkor M. I also love the Fuji 450C for both 4x5 and 8x10 work, but that's only the case in 4x5 with my Sinar monorails and their long extensions and interchangeable bellows, not with my little 4x5 folder, which has less than 400mm of bellows capacity. There is also a 300 Fuji C (compact), but it's less common and therefore generally more expensive than the 300 Nikkor M. Process lenses are comparatively bigger barrel lenses. They can be wonderful optically, but aren't such a bargain once you add the price of a shutter and mounting. Nor are they compact. They work fine for long "lenscap" style of exposures, provided your camera and tripod are very stable.

peter brooks
18-Dec-2018, 12:29
+1 for the Nikkor 300M - small and sharp (also has 52mm filter threads).

+1 also for the 203mm Ektar which is er... just kind of lovely in so many ways (small, modest, unassuming...) Issue could be dodgy speeds of older shutters - you would expect a Copal to be more accurate.

John Earley
18-Dec-2018, 12:57
If all you will be shooting is B&W another less expensive option is the Nikkor 300/f9 Q. It's only single coated but it's the same lens otherwise, just a bit older. Look for one with a good glass/shutter and you should be good to go.

Drew Wiley
18-Dec-2018, 13:19
The problem with the Q 300 is that it's likely to be in an older no.3S Copal - a fine shutter, but darn bulkier and heavier than the late no.1 shutter the 300M is in. So yeah, double check the shutter specifics first.

18-Dec-2018, 13:48
The Nikon M 300mm F/9 lens mentioned above is a peach. There are three buy-it-nows for less than $400. One as low as $350.

A 300M for $350? Damn--I just bought it! ;) I've always wanted one but they usually go for ~$450. Guess I need to sell my Rodenstock 300mm f9 (Copal shutter) now.

Kent in SD

18-Dec-2018, 14:13
OK. Thanks everyone, that's plenty of food for thought for sure. Will keep my eyes open for a Nikkor.

18-Dec-2018, 14:46
Not sure how uncommon they are, but I have Nikkor Q 300 in Copal 1. It's a fine lens and I actually like the single coating.

Peter Lewin
18-Dec-2018, 14:56
If by any chance you haven't read it, on the LF Home Page, down under "Lenses," take a look at the article on "Modern Lenses for 4x5 Field Work." Since no one makes LF lenses any more, you will be buying on the used market, and while the article is old, the choices from Mssrs. Sparks and Thalman are still relevant.

Drew Wiley
18-Dec-2018, 17:48
The difference between a single coated Q and multicoated M is probably negligible for most purposes. But I happen to keep both a 250/9 G-Claron (a single-coated lens series) as well as a very similar design, except multicoated, Fuji 240A. For black and white work the difference is almost imperceptible. But when it comes to color negs which sometimes have too little contrast, and color chromes, which sometimes have too much, the slight contrast bias between these two respective lenses is a valuable option.

John Earley
18-Dec-2018, 18:06
I have two Nikkor Q 300 lenses. One in a Copal #1 and one in a Copal #3. I also like the single coat versions. The smaller shutter version is much lighter though.