View Full Version : Wide Angle Lens Selection

Mikael Tran
16-Feb-2006, 12:52
I am in the process of getting a wide angle lens for shooting landscapes and occasional architecture in 4x5. I can only buy one lens at this time, but would like to know your opinions on your experience with these lenses, and whether if i should go with a Schneider Super Angulon 72mm XL, or a Nikkor SW 90mm f4.5.

I currently use 165mm SA, 210mm, 400mm. I am thinking of getting a 72mm XL now, and down the road, may invest in a Schneider 110mm XL or 120mm SA. Also, do i need a center for 72mm?If i should go with the SW 90mm, then down the road, i may have to get a 58mm or 65mm SA to complete my lens arsenals. Thanks in advance for your help.

Kirk Gittings
16-Feb-2006, 13:06
In commercial 4x5 architectural photography, the rule of thumb is 90% of your images are taken with a 90mm lens. With my personal b7w architectural photography it is more like 40% with a 90mm.

Andre Noble
16-Feb-2006, 13:30
Kirk, I now you are a professional, im your opinion, is the Nikon SW 90 f8 usable as your standard 90 lens (image circle ~235mm) ?

16-Feb-2006, 14:02
Pretty hard to say what the widest useful lens is, since personal taste comes into play. The high popularity of 90mm lenses does suggest that many folks, including me, find it very useful.

Distortion becomes more and more of a factor as you go down from 90, along with mechanical limitations. Even with a bag bellows, my 65mm SA has limited tilt/swing, because the rear element slams into the ground glass. And at some point you will need a very expensive center filter.

90mm is as wide as I personally willingly go; I hang onto my 65mm only as a specialty tool, occasionally useful in narrow confines, for highrises, interiors, etc. It's a mystery to me why people use wider lenses, such as 58, 55, 47, unless they are shooting 120 or cropping. I'm sure someone will tell me why.

Until recently I had a 110mm SSXL; IMHO it is the widest lens useful for landscape.

Gary Smith
16-Feb-2006, 14:14
I just recently bought a 72mm Schneider, and have found it to be a wonderful lens. It has plenty of movement, and is incredibly sharp. I have not bought the centre filter yet, but I think that at some point I am going to have to. I considered a 65mm lens before I bought the 72mm. and found the lack of movements to be a determing factor. I also use a 90mm, which before I bought the 72, was used for about 50 percent of my shots. I really doubt you will go wrong with the Schneider.

Hope it helps.


Scott Davis
16-Feb-2006, 14:46
Another lens to consider is the Rodenstock 75 or 90 F6.8. Not quite as bright as the F4.5s, but much lighter, more compact, and don't need a center filter. Also a fraction of the price. I got mine in like-new condition off Ebay, still in original box, for $450. As said here by other folks, I would not go wider than 75 because of the phyiscal limitations such a lens imposes. Frankly, unless you will be photographing in caves or medieval churches, I wouldn't spend the extra money on the super-fast glass.

Henry Ambrose
16-Feb-2006, 15:27
I'd buy the 110 since you think you'll want it sooner or later. Its very much wider than your nearest lens, the 165mm. Not as different as the 72 but still plenty different. My second choice would be the 90 - Kirk's right about the 90 - you won't go wrong.

Kirk Gittings
16-Feb-2006, 15:31

I have never used that Nikon but it should do fine. What kind of arch do you intend on photographing? Wider lenses than 90mm for architecture can be useful to solve problems sometimes but induce so much distortion that they usually are not the "Go to" lens. But in big cities with skyscapers they are a necessity. I use a 47, 65, 90, 120, 150, 210, and 305. All Schneiders except the 150 and 120 which are Nikons. Primarily the 90mm for 4x5 and the 65mm for 6x9 roll film.

Ron Marshall
16-Feb-2006, 18:46
Michael, I have a 75 and a 110. I use the 110 many times more than the 75. However I shoot mostly landscape. From the architecture that I have shot, I would prefer a 90 with a good amount of rise, to the 72, in general. I often shoot in low light, and I definately appreciate a fast lens.

Frank Petronio
16-Feb-2006, 19:07
90/4.5 Rodenstock. Best I've tried, it is an important lens for architecture and landscape.

Brian Ellis
16-Feb-2006, 20:03
I had the same dilemma and resolved it by buying the Schneider 80mm XL, an excellent lens that's small and light with a 4.5 maximum aperture that makes it easier than usual to focus with a wide angle lens. While it's an expensive lens I figured it would serve the purpose of both a 90 and a 72 and it pretty much has, only very rarely have I wanted anything shorter.

Bruce Watson
17-Feb-2006, 15:21
What Brian Ellis said.

Diane Maher
17-Feb-2006, 20:39
I have the Nikkor 90 mm f/4.5 and it works fine on my 4x5 (I shoot mostly landscapes), but I have little in the way of movements due to the design of the camera, not the lens. I haven't used it in a while other than to exercise the shutter since most of my shooting is with my 8x10 these days. However, I am happy with the lens.

Mikael Tran
19-Feb-2006, 04:36
Wow; you don't know how utterly happy i am to receive such wealth of response and candor especially from one of my favorite people in the world whom i truly admired. While most of you have achieve world known status through book deals, editorial, exhibitions, photo essays, commercial fine arts, and work shops. I am in the other hand, have had no formal education in this field, but merely enjoy shooting purely for personal gratification. And for that i must say, i feel very privileged that you guys have taken the time to respond to my post.

At any rate, i have decided and went ahead and bought the Nikkor SW 90mm f4.5 mostly because i will predominantly shoot landscape and waterfalls, and i don't think i will shoot as many architectural scenes to warrant a much wider lens than the 90mm for now.

Kirk--i totally agree with you about the 90mm as probably the most often used lens than any other lens. I think i will not regret buying the 90mm for now. By the way, congratulation on your recent recognition as being the featured photographer in stockphotography.info.

CXC--i too agree that the SS110mmXL is an excellent performer. However, this is just my hobby, i can not afford to buy it at this time.

Gary--Thanks for your prompt rely; i understand the 72 is an extremly nice and sharp lens to shoot, but i don't quite see myself have the need for it yet at this time. I agree, one could never go wrong with a Schneider.

Henry--i would love to get the 110mm XL but i am in the middle of preparing for a trip to Vietnam this coming Monday for 3 months, mostly backpacking and photography. I guess i would have to think about it when i get back.

Kirk--to be honest, i only shoot architecture on numerous occasions. I first thought about the 72mm XL mostly for shooting waterfalls up close.

Ron--fast lenses are nice especially when shooting at low light; strange as it might seems, i've always stopped down to a smaller aperture for greater DOF. Hence, i guess in my case, it benefits me mostly during focusing in extremely low light condition.

Frank--i have never owned a Rodenstock lens; i understand this lens has a close resemblance to the Nikkor SW 90mm f4.5.

Brian--hmmm, why didn't i thought of that? I guess i will have to ask myself is it a need or a want? I think i will settle for the Nikkor SW 90mm for now due to limited budget. By the way, i hope the arctic breeze in hasn't dampen your spirit. :) I am too, from Seattle as well, but most likely will chase after the hot tropical breeze of Vietnam in a matter of days. I will definitely think of you while i am basking in the sunny beaches of Nha Trang. :)

Diane--thanks for confirming my decision with the Nikkor SW. I have always loved Schneider lens ever since my first exposure to large format, but after having shot with the Nikkor SW 90 f4.5 from a friend, it has changed my mind about Nikkor lenses in general.

By the way, does anyone know how to attach the sample photos here for everyone to see? Thanks!