View Full Version : Schneider 180mm lens

Scott Knowles
20-Mar-2006, 11:12
In looking for a Schneider 180mm lens, I notice there are three in the series, the Symmar, Symmar-S and new Symmar-L. What are the differences and are they worth consideration for the cost, specifically the first two being used and the L series new? Looking a prices for near-new (ex or ex+) Symmar and Symmar-S lenses, they run about 50-70% of the Symmar-L lens new price.

Steve Hamley
20-Mar-2006, 11:33

There are at least 5. Two Symmars, Symmar-S, Apo-Symmar, and Apo-Symmar L.

The original Symmar predated WWII and was an uncoated Dagor-type lens. These are rarely seen.

There was a post WWII Symmar that was a convertible plasmat, 70 degrees of coverage. This is the one reference on the Schnider vintage lens page as the Symmar.

The Symmar-S was produced both single and multicoated, plasmat design, like the current ones. 70 degrees of coverage.

The Apo Symmar ceased production just a year or so ago, and is multicoated. 72 degrees of coverage.

The Apo-Symmar L is the current version, has 75 degrees of coverage versus 72.

Any multicoated Symmar-S or later vintage in good condition would be fine. The caveat is that both the Symmar-S and the Apo-Symmar can be in the neighborhood of 25-50 years old so if buying used, you need to account for a shutter CLA and shine a light through the lens to make sure there isn't any internal fogging of the glass (common). If you have to have the shutter and glass cleaned, it would be better just to put the money towards a later and better condition lens. Also check for "Schneideritis" which would reduce the value of the lens.



Joseph O'Neil
20-Mar-2006, 11:46
quote "There are at least 5. Two Symmars, Symmar-S, Apo-Symmar, and Apo-Symmar L."

In the "let's be nit-picky" department, there is a 6th Schneider lens - the Componon enlarging lens. I have a 180mm Componon mounted in a shutter, and it is an excellent lens for 4x5. I don't know the actual image circle or coverage, but I seem to have very good range of movements.

Since the 180mm was meant for 5x7 enlarging, it will cover 5x7, but I am not sure by how much.

Probally it will cost you more to buy a shutter and 180mm seperately and pay to have them mounted than finding a good used one, but in my case, I picked up both fairly cheaply, so the only real cost was having the lens mounted and the shutter scale redone


Ted Harris
20-Mar-2006, 11:57
LOLOLOLOL ... to be SUPER nit picky there is a 7th ... the 180 Macro-Symmar HM ... designed specifically for use as a macro lens working at reproduction ratios of 1:1 and larger but is also a superb performer at infinity although its size and weight (not to mention cost) v. an Apo Symmar or Apo Symmar L would not make it a first choice for normal uses unless you already happened to own one and not any other 180.

Ralph Barker
20-Mar-2006, 12:02
Ah, come on. You guys are forgetting the Super Symmar XL. ;-)

Oren Grad
20-Mar-2006, 12:04
The caveat is that both the Symmar-S and the Apo-Symmar can be in the neighborhood of 25-50 years old

A minor correction: the Symmar-S series dates from the '70s and '80s, the Apo-Symmar series from the '90s.

You can check the date of production of Schneider lenses by serial number here (http://www.schneiderkreuznach.com/service/serie.htm).

Ted Harris
20-Mar-2006, 12:13
Ralph,is that the vaporware Super Symmar 180? Seriously, I didn't know there was a Super Symmar 180. :)

Jim Rhoades
20-Mar-2006, 12:23
And to go even further an early Symmar S could also be a convertible.

20-Mar-2006, 12:56
I have a 180mm convertible Symmar from the '60s, which is an excellent lens. The difference in performance between the various Symmars is a matter of nuance, not of major differences. I believe that the best combination of performance vs price is probably the Multi-coated Symmar-S.

Michael Gudzinowicz
20-Mar-2006, 14:00
At the bottom of the list are the other three 180's: f/4.5 Xenar, f/5.5 Tele-Xenar and f/4 Tele-Arton.

(Scott: Symmar S or newer; Rodenstock Apo Sironar N or S; Sinar Sinaron S; Caltar II N.)

neil poulsen
21-Mar-2006, 10:01
The Symmar-S lenses represent an excellent value. They perform quite well, and they're affordable. Even more reasonably priced are the Calumet Caltar S-II lenses, which are also Symmar-S lenses. It was the version just after the Symmar-S lenses that Calumet converted their line to Rodenstock lenses.

Personally, I would stay away from the earlier, convertable Symmar lenses. You can spot them because they'll have a second focal length in parentheses, usually green. And, they won't have either the -S or Apo designation. For one thing, I've heard they're prone to flair. People use them, though. (No offense to anyone who does!)

Symmar lenses are prone to "Schneideritis", an affliction that causes little silver or white specks on the black lining inside the lens. Even though Schneider claims that these spots don't affect image quality, I would stay away from lenses with this problem. (They might be OK in small number, a moderate spattering of specks.) So, ask about this if you're purchasing on EBay or by mail order.

As a hobbyist, I standardized on these lenses. I like the results that I get with them.

Ole Tjugen
21-Mar-2006, 10:46
I'm happy that many photographers have the same opinion of Symmar lenses as does Neil Poulsen.

After all, it's thanks to them that I have 180, 210, 240 and 300mm (convertible) Symmar lenses at a total cost of about one Symmar-S. As a hobbyist, I appreciate that.