View Full Version : Your first lens

John Kasaian
27-Nov-2005, 21:02
It occurred to me that there are a lot of threads asking about what first lens to buy for that first ever LF camera. Perhaps it would be of some worth to new shooters if a few of us listed our own "first" lenses in whatever large formats we've shot and if those lenses were good, bad, or indifferent.
I'll start:
4x5: 162mm Wollensak Velostigmat in a Rapax shutter that came with the camera. A classic lens for B&W. Surprisingly good for a cheap lens even though mine's uncoated. Quite nice for portraits

5x7: 14" APO Artar. Very sweet! While I originally got it for the 8x10, its more at home on a 5x7!

8x10: 14" APO Artar that I bought for about $400. I found it extremely sharp (again, this one's uncoated) but with limited coverage, so it's now found a happy home on my 5x7. Wide open at f/9 it is very easy to focus. Even at $400 and staggering sharpness, I think mine was a bit pricey for a 'first' 8x10 lens when compared to the 14" Commercial Ektar

12x20: 450mm Nikkor M. An incredible tessar lens with loads of coverage in a modern shutter---tack sharp all the way to the edges----how did they do that with a tessar??

Almost "first" lenses:
8x10: 14" Kodak Commercial Ektar. Like the Nikkor M, I found it to have uncommon coverage thats sharp all the way out to the corners. Its in a large #5 Universal shutter. Single coated, it's my "default" 8x10 lens now. The shutter requires something like a Gepe cable release to trip the double action(cock and fire) shutter. It replaced the 14" APO Artar on the 8x10.

4x5: 127mm Ektar in a wartime black supermatic. Uncoated. Sharp in the center and starts to mush at the edges. Minimal coverage for 4x5 with no wiggle room.A good lens for Speed Graphics but IMHO not for 4x5s that have tilts, swings, rise or shifts---you'll run out of coverage. The 203 Ektar is a far better deal if you want wiggle room on your 4x5.

Doug Dolde
27-Nov-2005, 21:20
SS XL 110mm

Dave Moeller
27-Nov-2005, 21:40
4x5: 135mm Optar - not enough movements to really get the feel for LF photography, so I quickly added a Fuji 250mm lens. A much better lens in every way.

8x10: 480mm f/9 APO-Nikkor with a Packard shutter. An excellent lens in all respects (as long as you don't mind not having a regular shutter); it's still my most used lens in 8x10. It also taught me the value of process lenses, including just how inexpensive 8x10 lenses could be if you are willing to forgoe a regular shutter.

Although I've since added a number of lenses, I've found that I shoot more with longer lenses in large format than I would have thought, given my choices in 35mm and MF. I've added wide angle lenses to both systems, but they see little action as I find longer lenses to be much more to my liking on bigger negatives.

William Mortensen
27-Nov-2005, 21:57
4x5: A little Bausch & Lomb Rapid Rectilinear with a broken (always open) Wollensak pneumatic brass shutter. It appears to have been cemented improperly, as there's a crescent around one edge. It came with a second-hand homemade 4x5 for $20. But I made photographs with it...

8x10: A Series II 9 1/2" Wollensak Velostigmat, uncoated with a Studio shutter, (two speeds, T and B). It has the adjustable soft-focus in the front, and despite myriad tiny scratches and bubbles, is a very sharp and reasonably contrasty lens. I think it was $30 or $35. It was my only 8x10 lens for several years, and I made some wonderful images with it. I'll have to take it out again sometime and let it show my Nikkor-M and Apo-Ronar what a REAL lens can do...

Mike Chini
27-Nov-2005, 21:59
152mm Ektar on a Super Graphic. Fantastic lens. Very sharp and contrasty. I regret selling that kit but I'm thrilled with the 150 Sironar-S!

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
27-Nov-2005, 22:11
The 5x7 Korona I inherited from my Great-Uncle in 1982 came with a 16cm f/4.5 Zeiss Tessar. Not a good lens for 5x7, so I replaced it with a used 210mm G-Claron, on advice from Stephen Shore.

John Berry ( Roadkill )
27-Nov-2005, 22:21
4x5, 135 optar
8x10, 300 computar

27-Nov-2005, 22:28
Post WW2 Steinheil Unifokal 150mm f:4.5 (coated) in Press Compur shutter. It was for a 9x12 Gaumont & Cie rosewood beauty that had been "liberated" in WW2, and given to me by my best friend's brother after its 135mm Zeiss Tessar had been removed. It was a wonderful lens -- I've never seen another one for sale anywhere.

Kirk Fry
27-Nov-2005, 22:52
4X5: Rodenstock Sironar 210mm. After 100 sheets of film you will have a general idea if LF is for you and what you want to get next.


Oren Grad
27-Nov-2005, 23:09
The first LF lens I ever bought was a 250 Wide Field Ektar, for 8x10. But I made only 7 exposures with it before I had a chance to borrow a 240 Apo-Sironar-N, and it became instantly apparent that crisp, modern glass, in a crisp, modern shutter, was what I really wanted. Although I've tinkered with lots of different lenses new and old on a wide range of formats since then, in that one fundamental respect my taste hasn't changed.

Tadge Dryja
27-Nov-2005, 23:16
First lens for 4x5:

Got a 150/9 g-claron in a copal #0 shutter for $150. Good deal.
I've since bought a bunch of other lenses, including a 150/5.6 Fujinon, but still use the g-claron since it's so small that it folds up into my field camera.

I know that in LF, there are hardly any 'bad' lenses, but it's still reassuring to see the purplish glow of a multicoated lens, or hear the nice bzzz-click of a modern shutter. So I've kindof sworn off buying the old, single/un-coated lenses, despite their merits. More for you guys, eh?

Jorge Gasteazoro
27-Nov-2005, 23:30
4x5 a Nikon 210 w

8x10 Sironar N 300

James Bleifus
27-Nov-2005, 23:37
8X10 I bought a 210 G-Claron from Jim Galli. Wow, what a great lens. I followed up with a 305 G-Claron. Who knows what's next.

Cheers, James

Eric Leppanen
27-Nov-2005, 23:38
First LF lens and camera: SS110XL on a Toho FC Mini ultra-light monorail (no movements). I was looking for a 4x5 version of my Mamiya 7, and this combination seemed to be the perfect counterpart to the M7's 65mm lens. The Toho is still the only LF camera that could fit (along with several lenses, no less!) in a Lowepro Photo Runner fanny pack, and was super for hiking (now if they could only make an 8x10 that compact....). Alas, no movements proved too limiting, so the Toho was eventually sold and I joined the conventional LF camera world.....

27-Nov-2005, 23:57
4x5", Schneider Symmar 5.6/210mm (Good, used in photo school)
5x7", Docter Apo-Germinar 9.0/240mm (Excellent, still using today)

Colin Carron
28-Nov-2005, 00:17
Schneider Angulon 90mm f/6.8 on to 4x5. A nice, cheap, lightweight wide angle with more available movement than the Schneider website would imply, though shading off into a blur towards the edge of the illuminated circle. My first one disintegrated after a few years but I replaced it and still have one. Great for 6x9 rfh's. The Super Angulon is sharper with a bigger image circle.

Ole Tjugen
28-Nov-2005, 00:37
210mm f:4.5 Xenar, on a 5x7" Technika with 4x5" reduction back. Then I got another Technika 5x7" - with 5x7" back and a 300mm f:4.5 Xenar (big huge thing in a # Compound).

And then a "real" 4x5" camera, a Linhof Color that came with a 135mm f:3.5 Zeiss Planar, a 150mm f:5.6 Symmar, a 210mm f:4.5 APO-Lanthar and a 360mm f:5.5 Tele-Xenar.

So I quickly got used to having all the lenses I could possibly need, and all the "old classics" most photographers have only heard about. I've continued from there...

Alan Davenport
28-Nov-2005, 00:43
I shoot 4x5.

First lens: Caltar II-N 150mm f/5.6. Good lens, room for movements.

Second lens: Elgeet 254mm f/4.5. Covers 8x10 (at least.) I don't think it's as sharp as the Caltar, but haven't done any testing. I don't think they made many of these.

Third lens: Super Angulon 90mm f/8. What can I say? Still a classic.

Fourth lens: Don't have this one yet, but the next in my series would be a 400mm telephoto.

28-Nov-2005, 05:26
hi john

my first lf lens was a 127 tominon mounted in a polaroid press shutter.
it was on my speed graphic when i bought it from ep levines.

Ben Calwell
28-Nov-2005, 06:08
My first lens came with a 4x5 kit I purchased new in 1982 from Calumet. It was, I think, a re-badged Rodenstock 210mm tessar-type. Very nice lens. As an aside, the kit came with a Calumet 400 series view camera (the one with 22-inches of bellows draw), case, dark cloth (which I'm still using) and a nice loupe (which I'm also still using).

28-Nov-2005, 06:46
Rodenstock 150mm Sironar-N. Had a Calumet 45N, needed a lens, the Rodenstock was available locally. The rest, as they say, was history.....

John Layton
28-Nov-2005, 06:47
My first lens for 4X5 was the 135 Optar that came with my first 4X5, which was a Crown Graphic. The "nicer" version of this lens and a great performer but without much coverage - fine for the Graphic! Replaced this with a 135 Symmar - pre MC and pre "S" version, with Compur shutter, but very nice indeed. When I started building cameras, the first was an 8X10, for which I found an old 12" Berlin Dagor - lots of character and "flare enhanced" shadows - and I needed to warm the pneumatic shutter in an armpit to keep it going in cold weather! The 12" covered my 11X14 as well, but then I briefly tried a 14" Gold Dot, the latest version which I believe was manufactured by Kern Optics under contract from Schneider - and ultimately replaced this by a Kern-built Blue Dot Trigor for a flatter field, which I'd also tested by taping strips of 35mm Agfapan 25 inside an 11X14 holder and the results looked like 35mm negatives from my Leica! An amazing lens - or at least a stellar example of this design. When I began designing and building 4X5's, my "first" lens was a 210mm Sironar-N, which I use to this day. The symmetry of this optic is such that it gives very even performance from infinity to close range. I'd considered adding a 210 G-Claron to this for close in work - but it really did no better than the Sironar. I also find the 210 to work well with 5X7 - and to my arsenal I've since added a 90mm 6.8 Grandagon, a 120mm f/8 Super Angulon, and 305mm f/9 G-Claron. I'm currently in the market for a 65mm lens as well as a 450mm one (likely a Grandagon and M-Nikkor, respectively). My only true regret was my decision to sell the Trigor - and I hope I run into one again someday!

28-Nov-2005, 06:47
8x10,5x7,4x5: Fujinon 250mm f6.7. Still the best lens I have ever used.

28-Nov-2005, 06:59
First lens was a 150mm Zeiss Tessar in a Compur that came with the Kodak Master View. They're both buried in a closet somewhere.....

Matt Miller
28-Nov-2005, 07:01
4x5 - 135 sironar-s

8x10 - 12" dagor

3x4 - 150 cz jena tessar

David A. Goldfarb
28-Nov-2005, 07:14
I think my first LF lens must have been the 10" Wide-Field Ektar, and then maybe the 120mm/f:14 Berthiot Perigraphe, then the 12" Gold Dot Dagor, and the 19" Apo-Artar, all keepers. The Dagor and Artar are barrel lenses that I use front-mounted on the Ektar's Ilex 5 shutter.

28-Nov-2005, 07:23
John, I also use the 14" blue dot Trigor. It even covers my 8x20. And I will agree, it is one of.. if not the most amazing little lenses I've ever owned.

Bruce Watson
28-Nov-2005, 08:09
110mm SS-XL. It's sharp, has huge coverage, it's bright, easy to focus, and it's pretty small. What's not to like???

I've still got it. It's one of my most used lenses.

Ron Marshall
28-Nov-2005, 08:59
4x5 : Rodenstock 180mm APO-Sironar S. Great lens, good for close work, easy to focus in low light. Got a great deal used, otherwise I would have gone with my first choce Nikor 200 f8, for the lower weight. I am very happy with it and have since expanded to: 75, 110, 180, 300.

Doing it again I might go 80, 135, 200, 300 for a little less weight.

Donald Brewster
28-Nov-2005, 09:59
4x5: Nikon W 210mm

8x10: 19" Goerz Artar and 6.25" Wollensak

Christopher Perez
28-Nov-2005, 10:41
4x5 - Schneider 210mm Symmar-S/MC f/5.6 - It was a great lens and is the reason I recommend newbies go with the 210mm focal length first.

8x10 - 12inch Kodak Commercial Ektar f/6.3 - Wonderfully sharp, but would recommend starting with a 14inch Kodak Commercial Ektar f/6.3 if portraits are the targeted subject matter.

7x17 - 355mm Schneider G-Claron f/9 - It just seems "normal" to me in that format. I also have a 305 GClaron and it's just not the same to me on this format.

Kevin Crisp
28-Nov-2005, 11:10
For 4X5, the Schneider 150 Symmar-S (multicoated). I eventually lost it in a home burglary, but the negatives from that lens are as sharp as any. Replaced it with the APO version. If I had to do it over again, I think I'd go with the 150 g claron since it is smaller and lighter and covers more and gives movements on 5X7 which the Symmar does not. 5X7, the 180 Schneider-S (multicoated) still my favorite 5X7 lens. 8X10, the 355 G Claron.

28-Nov-2005, 11:19
I started out in 4x5 with a Nikkor W 180mm. At first I found it boring, and rapidly expanded with an SSXL 110mm and a G-Claron 240mm, both of which saw more use. After a few years, though, I started to appreciate the 180mm more. Its huge disadvantage, for me, is that it doesn't cover 8x10, which I now prefer.

I ended up with: 80 - 110 - 180 - 240 - 355 - 450 - 600.

In hindsight I would be better served by: 90 - 150 - 210 - 305 - 450 - 600. For me the 80 is too wide for 4x5, and the 110 is too wide for 8x10. Better a 90 for 4x5 only, along with the 600 for 8x10 only.

Mark Sampson
28-Nov-2005, 11:45
My first LF camera was a 3-1/4" x 4-1/4" Speed Graphic. It had a 127mm Ektar from 1946 on it. When I bought a 4x5, that was the lens I used.

Steve J Murray
28-Nov-2005, 12:06
4x5 first lens: f 6.3 , 10 in. (256mm) Caltar (tessar design). It is a good first lens because it is very bright in the ground glass, making composition quite enjoyable, and focusing a breeze. Wide open the gg looks like a 4x5 inch LCD image. My 90mm f 6.3 is dismally dark compared to the 10 in. Caltar. It's also a very sharp lens, even though it was inexpensive. I think I paid $50.00 for it used (1972). Currently the Acme shutter still works, albeit the slower speeds are obviously way slower than marked. I took many fine images with that lens, and have no intention of ever getting rid of it.

Daniel Geiger
28-Nov-2005, 12:54
I knew LF was my thing, so got a three right away:

SS 90 f/8, Sironar 150, Nikor-T 360/500 for Arca 4x5. I upgraded since to SS 90XL with CF (90 f/8 anyone?), and added an Apo 210 and the 720 rear element. 72/75 is tempting ...

fred arnold
28-Nov-2005, 15:15
4x5: 127mm Ysaron. Surprisingly large image circle, considering it came from a copy-camera. Augmented it within a year with a 203 7.7 Ektar, which better fit my field of view.

Armin Seeholzer
28-Nov-2005, 16:56
4x5 1. 135mm Sironar N MC, 2. 75 mm Nikkor f 4,5
8x10 360 mm Universal Heliar

David Karp
28-Nov-2005, 17:50
I purchased a 210mm f/6.8 Caltar II-E (same as a Rodenstock Geronar) after I bought my first 4x5. This is a multicoated triplet design. Light, small, and with enough movement to cover 5x7. Very sharp within its image circle. It is quite sharp and nice to carry in the field. The person who sold it to me (at Calumet) said that I would really like this lens. He was right. I thought that I would get rid of this eventually, but I like my little triplet and have no plans to replace it. BTW, I use it for B&W. No real experience with color using this lens.

Scott Davis
28-Nov-2005, 20:12
for 4x5, it was a Sinaron (aka Rodenstock) 210 F5.6 . Shortly after I got a 4 3/8" Dagor Am. Opt. f8 to give me a mild wide-angle.
For 8x10, it was a 14" Commercial Ektar. I actually had the lens for six months or more before I had the camera to put it on.

Kirk Gittings
28-Nov-2005, 20:14
210 Fujinon for a 4x5 Tachihara in 1978.

Josh Z.
29-Nov-2005, 15:42
For 4x5 my first lens was a Schneider Super-Angulon 90mm f/8... It was a great lens for starting as it was easily used on most cameras without recessed lens boards or bag bellows, fairly cheap used, and its a great perspective... Still by far my most used lens, though I only have that one and a 210 Nikkor W... Still looking to get something around a 75mm...

As for camera... I started with a Horseman 4x5 monorail that I got used at an awesome price... It's an awesome camera, and though I don't use it much anymore (more difficult to backpack with), I'll never get rid of it... It might be big and bulky, but it makes up for it in terms or rock solid stability and precise control... Now I mostly use a Shen Hao 4x5. Really nice field camera, though at times I really wish the tilts were as nice to work with as they were on the Horseman...

29-Nov-2005, 18:02
8x10: 165 angulon from 1948

4x5: Still need glass, probably will be a Rodenstock 135 sironar-s

Tony Karnezis
29-Nov-2005, 18:46

1st lens: 150/5.6 Rodenstock Sironar N

Most used lens: 210/5.6 Schneider Symmar S or 240/9 Fujinon A


1st lens: 300/9 Nikkor M

Most used lens: 450/9 Nikkor M or 19" Red Dot Artar

Nick Morris
30-Nov-2005, 05:28
for my Super Graphic 4x5- it came w/ 135mm Rodenstock in 1000 super speed graphic shutter. eventually built the following lens collection: 100mm, 135mm WF Ektars; 250mm tele-optar, and my favorite 4x5 lens, 203mm 7.7 Ektar.

for 8x10- my 1st came w/ 9 1/2" Wollensak Series IV lens in terrible condition (but it took good pics). first buy- 13'' Series 1A Wollensak Velostigmat Triple, off ebay for $36 plus shipping. My best buy ever, and still my favorite even though I have a sharper, contrastier Raptar Series 1A.
Also have acquired 8 1/4" (which came when I upgraded my camera to an Ansco from Eastman 2D) & 9 1/2" Dagors; 12" f4.5 Series II Wollensak Velostigmat w/ variable focus front element; and a 159mm Wollensak Ex Wide Angle.

Will use exsisting lenses for my 5x7 Ansco, which came with 190mm Ilex lens.

The best to all for a joyfull holiday season.

William Mortensen
30-Nov-2005, 22:34
Scanning down the replies so far, it's remarkable how many indicate a progression from 4x5 to 8x10. This may be the most "natural" evolution of a lf photographer's choice of format.

Oren Grad
30-Nov-2005, 23:09
The progression may seem reasonable in the sense that 4x5 is relatively cheap and readily available and 8x10 is the same shape as 4x5. But I wonder how natural the very squarish 4x5 felt in the first place for those here who grew up with 35mm and didn't make a stop at 6x6 or 6x7 along the way.

1-Dec-2005, 04:29
The progression may seem reasonable in the sense that 4x5 is relatively cheap and readily available and 8x10 is the same shape as 4x5. But I wonder how natural the very squarish 4x5 felt in the first place for those here who grew up with 35mm and didn't make a stop at 6x6 or 6x7 along the way.


As a freshman in LF, I find 4x5 not bad but I'm temped to crop to a more panoramic format. That's why I will upgrade to 5x7.
My first lens was an Apo Ronnar 360, because it was cheap :-)
After that an AGFA 210mm and even later a 150mm in a shutter.

Mike Chini
1-Dec-2005, 07:16
Loved the 4x5 'shape' right from the start. Coming from 35mm, it felt much more comfortable immediately and still does so.

Struan Gray
1-Dec-2005, 07:24
I did go through 6x6, and love the square so much that I often crop 4x5 down to make square prints.

The first LF lens I owned was a 127mm Series III Dagor. The first LF lens that I used was a 180 mm Symmar. The first lens that I both owned and used was a 150 mm Symmar.

Tom Westbrook
1-Dec-2005, 09:59
I jumped into 4x5 with both feet in 2002 and got three lenses to start with: 1) 72mm Schneider Super Angulon-XL (a huge thing), a 110mm Schneider Super Symmar-XL, and a Rodenstock 150mm APO-Sironar-S. All were recommendations from folks on this list. I was shooting mostly architectural/urban subjects early on, hence the choices. Lately I've been doing more landscapes and noticed that I'm using longer lenses (150mm-300mm) much more often (I'm hoping Santa will drop a Fuji 450C in my stocking this Xmas). Obviously, lens choice has a lot to do with what you plan to photograph. I' pretty happy with 4x5, so haven't seriously thought about a trade-up in size so far.

As for aspect ratio, I found the 4x5 to be just fine, since I came directly from 6x7. I hadn't shot 35mm for over a decade before upgrading to the 4x5. I recently got a 35mm and have found the narrower format appealing for many subjects, though. I still like the squarer formats, though, for most things. I'd guess some dedicated 35mm shooters went straight to 5x7?

William Mortensen
1-Dec-2005, 10:23
About 70% of my stuff is uncropped 8x10, but finding nothing sacred about any format, I crop to any aspect ratio while shooting. I'd rather the format meet the image requirements than force an image to fit the format. Generally, I go edge-to-edge in the longest dimension, but occassionally take an 8x10 down to whole plate size just because I like that format. But I can respect those who prefer a standard size for whatever reason.

Craig Wactor
1-Dec-2005, 22:59
90mm angulon

Pete Skerys
2-Jan-2007, 04:46
4x5 - 150mm Symmar-S (It came with a Wista45 metal field I found in a dodgy second handmarket in Seoul - it was a choice of the symmar or a 150 xenar for the same price.) Does the Ś'stand for super? If not it should!
5x7 - 120mm (Linhof) Angulon ($AU400 with a Linhof Technica 5x7 + case and accessories). Havent used it enough to make legit comments.
8x10 - 300mm Caltar Series II (Rodenstock) with a little (typical) delamination. I picked it up for $AU280 - so had to buy an 810 to use it. Like the format: big and beautiful!
12x15 - 330mm Dalmeyer Stigmatic Series II. It didnt actually come attached to the gorgeous mahogony dry plate field camera I couldnt resist. It was tossed in as a freebie. An interesting lens that appears to cover at least 11x14 - which i intend to convert the plate cam to. Oh, I forgot,... the deal also included a HUGE f3.5/12.1" TT&H Cooke soft focus portrait - cant wait to use this one - but the siZE! (Maybe Iĺl have to get a studio camera....?)

Ole Tjugen
2-Jan-2007, 06:22
210mm f:4.5 Xenar, on a 5x7" Technika with 4x5" reduction back. Then I got another Technika 5x7" - with 5x7" back and a 300mm f:4.5 Xenar (big huge thing in a # Compound).

And then a "real" 4x5" camera, a Linhof Color that came with a 135mm f:3.5 Zeiss Planar, a 150mm f:5.6 Symmar, a 210mm f:4.5 APO-Lanthar and a 360mm f:5.5 Tele-Xenar.

So I quickly got used to having all the lenses I could possibly need, and all the "old classics" most photographers have only heard about. I've continued from there...

That's a surprise - I now own NONE of those lenses!

Frank Petronio
2-Jan-2007, 06:45
180 Nikkor on a Cherry Wista 4x5. Both were demos, I did everything with one camera and one lens as a student.

2-Jan-2007, 07:38
11x14: (First and only LF system) 360mm f5.6 Symmar Convertible. A great match, really, if not for the condition of the lens.... About as bright as it gets!


2-Jan-2007, 08:04
127mm tominon that came with my speed graphic,
great little lens :) ( and cheep too! )

Eirik Berger
2-Jan-2007, 08:05
My first LF lens were a APO Sironar N 135mm f5,6 on a "flimsy" Cambo SC. The camera is sold a long time ago, but the lens I still have and it is the one I use most.

andy bessette
2-Jan-2007, 08:14
for 4X5 Tachihara--my first lens I bought for part of this year's Christmas present to myself: a near-mint Nikkor-W 135mm, f5.6 in Copal #0 shutter for $255.


Vick Vickery
2-Jan-2007, 09:01
Wollensak 159mm f12.5 EXWA for my new used Graphic View II in 1971...the lens was BRAND NEW from a small box ad in Popular Photgraphy Magazine for $50.00 including shipping if I remember correctly! Kinda wish I still had that lens...NEVER ran out of coverage on 4x5!

Hugo Zhang
2-Jan-2007, 09:42
4x5: 210mm Sironar-N, don't remember much of that lens because a SSXL 110mm soon took its place;

8x10: a brass barrel 14" Dagor came with my first Wista 8x10, very sharp with a beautiful glow, then a Deardorff came and a 18cm f/9 Zeiss-Goerz Dagor became my favorite landscape lens, the latest 8x10 is a Kodak 2-D, my dedicated portrait camera with a beloved Heliar 36cm lens;

10x20: I have assembled 5 lenses for this new format. If I have to choose one lens, it has to be my 14" Blue Dot Trigor. I use it 90% of time and have started to fall in love with it. My first, last and only!

Jim Galli
2-Jan-2007, 10:35
In 1993 I was at a photo swap in Pasadena and there was a seller willing to swap a clean Cambo 4X5 with Caltar-SII (Schneider MC Symmar) 210 for my Pentax 6X7 outfit. I was off and running and that lens though I didn't know it at the time was a stellar performer. Pre-Ebay.

First 8X10 lens was the 190mm Kodak WF Ektar.

First 11X14 lenses bought together on Ebay were 270mm APO Rodenstock copy f9 lens, and a giant f4.5 14" Rodenstock Eurynar.

I don't have any of the 4 mentioned anymore.

Richard Årlin
2-Jan-2007, 10:51
My first LF camera was a Plaubel Peco Universal III 5x7 which I bought a Nikkor-W 210 for and later a 121 SA, then someone gave me an old noname wooden 5x7 folder which had a Zeiss Jena Goertz-Dagor 240mm f/6,8 in a shutter which became my first lens for a Shen-Hao HZX 810-IIAT. The first lens I bought for this was a shuttered 158mm Taylor-Hobson wideangle anastigmat ser. VIIb and eventually a 14" and a 19" red dot artar.

Before the Shen I aquired an Ebony SV45TE and a 150mm Apo-Symmar, the only LF lens bought new. Other lenses for this are a 80mm Meyer-Goerlitz wideangle aristostigmat (and a 75mm F/5,6 SA which I plan to sell), a 108mm Taylor-Hobson wideangle anastigmat ser. VIIb and a 240mm red dot artar, all in shutters. I also have a shuttered ex.wa Wolly 108mm (selling it) and a 133mm Taylor-Hobson wideangle anastigmat ser. VIIb F/6,3 not 6,5 in barrel for this mounted on a Thornton-Pickard on a Linhof lensboard which I just buitl built from parts of a defunct shutter (Thanks Ole, I'll send a picture when completed)


Andrew O'Neill
2-Jan-2007, 11:14
First lens was a Nikkor 150. Only bought it because the camera store guy (in Japan) said that that was the normal lens for 4x5...back then I knew very little about LF. I rarely use the lens.

Second lens was a Nikkor 210. Use it often on both 4x5 and 8x10.
Third Lens: 90mm Fujinon. Use it whenever it a lot on 4x5 and 8x10 (closeups on 8x10)
Fourth lens: 120 SW Nikkor. Use it often on both 4x5 and 8x10.
Fifth lens: Nikkor 240. Love this lens.
Sixth lens: 300 Nikkor.
Seventh lens: 450 Nikkor...use it a lot.
Eigth lens: Nikkor 360 telephoto. Rarely used it so got rid of it so I could get my last lens: Fujinon 600 which I use often for both formats.
I recently acquired a 12" Wollensak Veriostigmat from Jim Galli. Having lots of fun with it.

I really want to get something between my 300 and 450 that'll cover 8x10. Keeping my eye's open...

Keith Pitman
2-Jan-2007, 11:59
210mm Symmar S on a cherrywood Zone VI/Wista 4x5 in about 1983.

Jim Noel
2-Jan-2007, 14:29
It was a long time ago, but my first large format lens was an almost new Triple Convertible Rapid Rectilinear in a Compound shutter. This covered both of the cameras I had atthe time, a 4x5 and an 8x10. O remember saving my allowance to get the $20 to purchase it.

It is interesting that I remember this first lens, but have no idea what the second one was. There have been a few dozen between then and now.

Jim Noel
2-Jan-2007, 14:31
Wollensak 159mm f12.5 EXWA for my new used Graphic View II in 1971...the lens was BRAND NEW from a small box ad in Popular Photgraphy Magazine for $50.00 including shipping if I remember correctly! Kinda wish I still had that lens...NEVER ran out of coverage on 4x5!

I'm not surprised it never ran out of coverage for your 4x5. I still have mine, although the box disappeared long ago. It is used a lot on one of the 8x10's.

Daniel Geiger
2-Jan-2007, 16:01
A kit of SA 90 f/8, Sinaron S 150 mm, and Nikkor T360 with 500 rear element for Arca 4x5. Since upgrated to SA 90XL, Sinaron is the most frequently used lens, even does some half way decent close-ups, but added a Rodenstock 180 Apo-macro. The 360 is tied for second most frequently used with the 90, the 500 gets occasional use.

2-Jan-2007, 16:04
The 550 Schneider XXL is a really good first lens for 12X20 and 20X24 formats.

It was not my first lens for these formats, but could be my last.

Sandy King

Jay DeFehr
2-Jan-2007, 16:31
My first LF lens purchase was a Turner Reich Triple Convertible in 12/25/28 configuration. Still love it, and use it regularly even though I now have way too many lenses.


David A. Goldfarb
2-Jan-2007, 16:37
My first LF lens was a 10" Wide-Field Ektar, which I still use.

Greg Lockrey
2-Jan-2007, 16:39
My first large format lenes were 90 Super Angulon, 150 Symmar S, and a 210/370 Schneider convertable on a Cambo SCII. I was working in a photoshop in Charleston, SC at the time and knew pretty much what I was getting into. ;) That was 1971. Don't have the box but still have the lenses.

Joe Blaze
2-Jan-2007, 16:59
For personal work I started with an 8x10 Sinar P (used) with a Nikkor 360mm f6.5 (used) and used that for a long time as my only 8x10 lens. For a special project I obtained a Schneider Super Angulon 165mm f8 (used) with the center filter. Recently I obtained an Rodenstock Apo-S 240mm f5.6 (used) and a Schneider Apo-Symmar-L 480 f8.4 (used - a lucky purchase opportunity). All this is heavy, but I don't mind and I am thrilled with the results.

When weight is an issue I use a much more manageable Linhof M679 for 6x9 film and a 4x4cm digital back with a bunch of film and digital lenses from 35mm to 200mm This equipment has great movements and rigidity, but its not really "large format".

From what I read from this forum, 8x10 is not really "large format" either!

Good luck to everyone in the new year - 2007!

2-Jan-2007, 17:17
My first lens was a Nikkor W 150 f5.6. It was and is a nice lens to start with. I used it a lot with my Toyo 45AII learning how to take pictures of the inside of lens caps. Next I went with a Nikkor SW 90 f8 and then a Nikkor W 210 f5.6. Since that time I have acquired and used a lot of lenses, mostly Nikkors but with a healthy dose of Schneiders(10), Rodenstocks(4) and a very nice little Fuji-W 150 f5.6 I recently got from a member of this forum. My favorite lens is probably my Nikkor 300M. It really is a superb small lens with a huge IC. My best pictures have come from this lens. I don't know why but I love the images I get with it. When I use it, I almost think I know what I am doing (sort of....).
I've started to acquire some 8x10 lenses for the inevitable day when I lose my mind and give in to buying a larger format camera. The shortest 8x10 lens I have is a Nikkor SW 120 f8 and the longest is a Nikkor T-ED 800. I'm 55 and like to shoot landscapes and figure I only have a limited number of years left to try a larger camera if I want to take a picture of something more than 10 feet from the car.
Dave B.

2-Jan-2007, 17:26
5x4: Schneider Xenar f/4.5 135mm on Graflex Crown Graphic Special.

brian reed
2-Jan-2007, 17:30
My first lenses were Rodenstock 180 5.6 and 210 caltarIIn 5.6, I use the 180 quite a bit, but I just got a 300mm which I seem to use most often now.

Helen Bach
2-Jan-2007, 17:37
I bought a complete ex-RAF MPP S-94 5x4 kit in the early seventies. It came with a 184 mm Wray Lustrar (f/4.5) and an 89 mm Wray Wide Angle Anastigmat (f/6.3). The Lustrar is OK (I still use it occasionally), and the WAA forms a recognisable image. It was alright for what are now called 'environmental portraits' - I used it with the 3000 ASA Polaroid film.


Graham Patterson
2-Jan-2007, 17:51
5x4: 135mm Symmar-S (came with the used Wista).

John Bowen
2-Jan-2007, 18:36
4x5 first was a 210 Symmar-S, followed by a 120 Super Angulon, then a 305 G Claron. OK, I'll admit that although I never met the man, Fred Picker provided the advice for my 4x5 lenses. I've recently added a 90 Super Angulon and a 150 Macro Nikkor just arrived the other day....Thanks Ted.

8x10 360 Symmar-S (came with the camera), I already had the 305 G Claron. I've since added a 240 Fujinon, 450 Fujinon, 600 Fujinon, 300 Symmar-S (came with the second camera), then 355 G Claron and finally a 450 Nikkor-M. These lenses were acquired with an eye toward ULF and 7x17

7x17 the 305 G Claron, 450 Nikkor, 600 Fujinon and 355 G Claron were in my possession prior to owning the 7x17.

I rarely use the 305 Symmar and 360 Symmar-S. If I'm ever attacked by a bear or thug, I think the 360 will come in very handy as a weapon, it weighs about 1/2 a ton!

Jim Rice
2-Jan-2007, 18:45
135 Optar that came with my $50 Speed many many moons ago.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
2-Jan-2007, 18:49
My first LF camera, a Korona inherited in 1985 from my great uncle, had two lenses attached; a 16.5cm f4.5 Tessar with a dead shutter and a Kodak no. 33 (8 1/4" f4.5) Anastigmat in barrel. I replaced Tessar with a used 150mm Sironar-N and used it for a year until I moved to 5x7 and purchased a used 210mm G-Claron (but not from Jim Galli). I sold these two lenses many years ago to finance a Leica.

2-Jan-2007, 21:20
First 4x5 lens: SK 210 Symmar f5.6

First 5x7 lens: Nikkor 240 f5.6

First 8x10 lens: 19" Red Dot Artar

Mostly modern glass... I'll have to try something "older" one of these days! :)


Jim Rice
2-Jan-2007, 22:21
8X10 360 Caltar-IIN.......lovely though I haven't made an exposure yet. I'm wanting to to Steve Simmon's "Minimum time to maximum black" thing first. Waiting on the Azo.

Kirk Fry
2-Jan-2007, 22:49
Rodenstock 210mm Sironar (late 60's vintage), used on a Calumet CC400 in the mid 70's. Loved that lens, some of my best shots were taken with it. Unfortunately, the front elements separated as Rodenstock had not quite debugged the early synthetic glues. One sees many Rodenstock lenses of this age with separated front elements.

Brian Vuillemenot
3-Jan-2007, 11:16
4X5- Apo Sironar-S 150

8X10/4X10- Apo Sironar-S 300

When you start with the best, there's never any need to upgrade...

Wayne R. Scott
3-Jan-2007, 11:48
4x5 - 135mm Optar f4.7 in Graphex shutter

5x7 - Kodak Ektar 71/2" f4.5 in Ilex No.4 Shutter

8x10 - Wollensak Vitax 16" f3.8 in Studio No. 5 Shutter


3-Jan-2007, 14:15
I started with 9x12 cm - my first lenses were 135mm Zeiss Tessar and 105mm Color Skopar, came with the Certo camera.
I uprgaded to 4x5 Tachihara and got Hugo Meyer Satz plasmat convertible 152/210/320.
For 5x7 210mm B&L RR lens, which I mounted in an old compur shutter, is the first I got and still use.