View Full Version : reasonable 120 - 135 lens for Tachihara 4x5 GF

Matus Kalisky
18-May-2006, 05:03

in couple of days I should recive my very first LF camera - nearly as new Tachihara 4x5 GF. So now I have to get a lens for it. I was thinking already a long time and I would prefere my first lens to be equivalen to 35mm in 135 format, so something like 120 - 135 in 4x5. So, of course I am avare of the options on the market - I am just nosure what to look at . From all the threads I have read up to now concerning the lenses - it is clear to me that if I wll not print large (or enlarge) I will not be really sensible to little quality differences. But I may want to crop and then the enlarging factor may come to higher values (> 5). So - what I would like to ask you is to look at following list of lenses and give me you opinions which to go for (and wich rather to skip!) and how much to pay for it. I will be limeted to prices around ~ $ 350, so probably late models will not fitt.

Actually - concerning the coverage - how much one really need? I have no good feeling although one may compute the possibel movements but for what kind of work which ammount of coverage you find good - or at least acceptable int his focal range?

I would like to shoot landscapes and some cityscapes and maybe a bit of architecture and even some close-ups- just to give it a try.

I am considering:
- Fuji W models (older single coated with larger coverage and newer EBC coated with somewhat less coverage) 125/5.6 W & 135/5.6W
- Nikkor 135/5.6 W,
- Roddenstock (Caltar) Sironar N 135/5.6, Apo Sironar N 135/5.6,
- Schneider Symmar S 135/5.6, Apo Symmar 135/5.6
- Kodak Ektar Wide Filed 135/6.3
- Osaka/Congo Wide Field 120/5.6

Well, that's basicaly it. My favourit would probaly be Super Symmar HM 120/5.6, but this sels around $ 700 - 800 and that I can not afford (of course if anybody is willing to sel his copy for 350 I am here :D )

I am looiing forward for you opinions


Mark Sampson
18-May-2006, 05:36
I used a 135/6.3 Wide Field Ektar on my Tachihara for some years. It's a fine lens and a good match for the camera. The N/R/S/F lenses are newer and will have more contrast, but not necessarily have more resolution. The WF Ektar has more coverage than any of those- 85 degrees vs. 70 or so- and that will come in handy. It will usually be found in a Kodak Flash Supermatic shutter; this will probably need some attention. (My 1948 version was repaired in 1989 and is still working fine.) The newer lenses will most likely be in Copal shutters, which have legendary reliablity. One accessory you'd want for the WF Ektar is a Series 7>52mm filter adapter ring, which simplifies life a bit. You'll find a lot of lens information on this site, Kodak and other brands too.I have no experience with the Osaka/Congo lens, so can't comment.

Ted Harris
18-May-2006, 06:19
Matus, at ~ $350 you are in the right price range for many current lenses in the 135mm to 150mm range. Check with Jim at Midwest Photo (jim@mpex.com) and also KEH. You will see that there are usually a number of 135/150 Caltar II N (rebadged Rodenstock Apo Sironar N's, Apo Sironar, Syymar S MC, Nikkor W and late Fuji MC lenses all available in that price range. It may be a bit less than some of them go for most of the time but for sure The Caltar IIN and the Symmar S MC will be in that price range. In fact KEH currently lists over 10 lenses in your price range ... some of them current models at under 300 (a Caltar II N MC).

Walter Foscari
18-May-2006, 06:58
Short of the 120 SS HM you should aim for a fuji NW 125 f5.6 (the multicoated version), wonderful lens, sharp and compact. Whatever you choose stay away from the older fuji single coated since the alleged generous coverage is a bunch of bs. I had one where any amount of movement would give you mushy edges. Also not impressed with the congo 120 f5.6: cheap and small but so soft it was hard to focus. I went through all of the lenses mentioned plus a 120 super ang. The Super Symmar HM and the fuji NW were almost always number 1 and 2, IMO.

Philippe Bedfert
18-May-2006, 07:04
Hi Matus,
I have had the Congo 120mm, the Kodak 135mm and the Fuji W 125mm. Forget the Kodak! I have sold it. I have also sold the Congo. A good lens but the Fuji is the better one. I still use it. It has an huge coverage for 4x5 and it is very sharp.

Matus Kalisky
18-May-2006, 07:20
- Ted -

I just mailed to Jim at mpex so let's see wheter he has somethig. Fuji NW lenses appear rather rarely on eBay.

- Walter -

How much would you find reasonable to pay for a nice fuji 125/5.6 NW ?

- Philippe -

May I ask which version of the Fuji do you have? is it marked inside the filter thread and mounted in Seiko shutter, or is it marked from outside the lens barrel and mounted in the copal shutter?

Martin D.
18-May-2006, 07:56
Congratulations to your new camera ;)

Matus Kalisky
18-May-2006, 08:04
Congratulations to your new camera ;)

Thanks. As you see I finaly made it through.

Philippe Bedfert
18-May-2006, 09:54
I was talking about Fuji 125mm W not NW. It's the old one, single coated (EBC) but lighter and with more coverage. The W 125mm has an image circle of 210mm against 198mm for the NW. The W accepts 46mm filters and the NW 52mm. The W family has a very good reputation and the lenses are hard to find and a bit overpriced. I have bought mine around 280€. But it is like new !

Mark Stahlke
18-May-2006, 10:02
I use a Fuji CMW 125/5.6 with my Tachihara 4x5. It's one of my favorite lenses. I see Midwest Photo Exchange (www.mpex.com) has one listed for $495.00. I don't know if that fits your budget but it's worth considering.


David Karp
18-May-2006, 10:46
I have the Fuji 125mm f/5.6 NW with EBC multicoating. I think it has a 198mm image circle. One of my favorite lenses. I bought it from Jim at MPEX and highly recommend him for any LF purchase

tim atherton
18-May-2006, 10:59
The Fuji 125mm f/5.6 NW can often be got for between $190.00 - 240.00. Prices for used fuji lenses often seem much better at dealers (mpex, keh etc) than on ebay. Which isn't always the case with other brands. (mpex has a 135 fuji - not sure exactly which model - one of the W's - for $179...

Gordon Moat
18-May-2006, 11:33
There was also a Caltar S-II line, which are actually Schneider lenses, not the more usual Rodenstock. I think it would be hard to find a bad lens from any that were mentioned. Maybe the filter size might be another thing to consider, though a step-up ring could easily standardize. What other lenses would you want to place in a kit containing a 135mm f5.6?


Gordon Moat

Kevin Klazek
18-May-2006, 12:38
Matus, you will like the Tachi, great choice. My first lens when I got my Tachi was a 135 Symmar-S. I used only that lens for about a year before I added a 210. The 135 is a nice moderate wide for landscape and a good first lens.

Walter Foscari
18-May-2006, 12:56
"I was talking about Fuji 125mm W not NW. It's the old one, single coated (EBC) but lighter and with more coverage. The W 125mm has an image circle of 210mm against 198mm for the NW. The W accepts 46mm filters and the NW 52mm..."

Philippe, have you tested this lens for the REAL coverage as opposed to the claimed one?? With the one I had, far from the alleged 210mm you could hardly go over 180mm without getting soft edges. On the other hand the 198mm of the NW seemed rather conservative.

Joseph O'Neil
18-May-2006, 13:25
I use the Rodenstock Apo Sironar N 135/5.6 on my Tachihara, and before that on my super graphic, and i am very, very happy with that lens. I bought it new, and I think you can only get one used now - all the new ones are Sironar S.

I used to own a Kodka 135mm Wide Field Ektar. Superb lens, sorry I ever sold it some days. However, the cost of one of these older lenses on Eb*y is, IMO, so high anymore, you are better off getting a new or newer 135mm lens.

If you do get the Sironar N in 135mm, the filter size is 40.5mm - same size as a 90mm Angulon. Sometimes a hard size to find, but B+W makes a full range of filters in that size.


Matus Kalisky
19-May-2006, 00:04
- Philippe -
thanks. Now I am a little bit confused as Walter hag quite negative experience with his copy.

- Mark -

Yes I am aware of the one on mpex, $495 is not a bad price, but it is now a bit too much for me. Otherwise I would not hesitate.


Matus Kalisky
19-May-2006, 01:36
Ok, I had a look on some previus treads and here is my list of candidates:

- Nikkor W 135/5.6 (cover 200mm, of course MC)
- Fujinon W 125/5.6 ( cover 198mm, MC, in copal shutter)
- Fujinon W 135/5.6 (cover 206mm, MC, in copal shutter)
- Symmar S 135/5.6 (cover 190mm, MC)
- Sironar N 135/5.6 (cover 200mm, MC)

All of them should be more - less in the same price range with the Symmar S on cheaper side.

Wha would you chose and why? What is you r ecperience with these lenses?



Janko Belaj
19-May-2006, 04:20
Matus... get the lightest one. No kidding -- you are planning to hike. if you put away Symmar S with the smallest circle (but not to small!) we are talking about 8mm in coverage differences. As for quality differences... who will know? All those lenses are *good* lenses. Unless you really put two or three lenses side by side noone will be ever able to tell you something like "those leafs would be much better rendered with XYQZ lens..."
I have made one small test with two 135mm lenses and I can't tell that the newer one is better twice (as much the newer one cost more) ...ops, my clumsy English...
http://www.belaj.com/unsorted/135/test_preview1.jpg (http://www.belaj.com/unsorted/135/)
And for close ups - get later some repro lens for instance... 210 or 240mm G-Claron..? As first - better on 1:1, and second - you will have more room for lightning.
just my few cents :)

Donald Brewster
19-May-2006, 13:31
The APO-Sironar N was my choice for being so darn small and being an excellent performer. I can only point you to Kerry Thalmann's excellent site for further explanation:


Sal Santamaura
20-May-2006, 07:15
"It's the old one, single coated (EBC)..."

EBC refers to Fuji's multicoating. There's no such thing as EBC single coating.

"If you do get the Sironar N in 135mm, the filter size is 40.5mm - same size as a 90mm Angulon. Sometimes a hard size to find, but B+W makes a full range of filters in that size."

I don't know whether B+W has changed its mount design, but the current 40.5mm 010 (UV) filter, when fully seated on a 135mm Sironar N, will just "kiss" the lens' front element in the center. I'm told by Bob Salomon that the same size Heliopan filter's mount prevents that, but can't confirm yet. It's a special order item, and mine has been on order since January 3 of this year; still waiting.

Gary Tarbert
28-May-2006, 04:35
Matus i know of a perfect example of a nikkor 135w5.6 he still has the box! it was offered to me but i already have a fujinon so i declined.
So if you are still in the market and have this lens on your shortlist it would be a good pickup.
We didnt discuss price but he never overprices his kit, bit I would have to make sure he is happy to freight lens to Germany. If you are interested, let me know and I will see what I can do.



John Kasaian
28-May-2006, 05:49
You might also find a 120mm Angulon worth considering, as well as an older 135mm "convertible" symmar which will give you 2 focal lengths for the price of 1. I'm not up on the prices, but I'd imagine they should both be well within your budget (and pretty good lenses besides.)

Welcome to LF!

28-May-2006, 06:18
You may be surprised to find that your "vision" is different when you switch formats. The actual image width of 4x5 is 120mm with most CFHs, so 35mm equivalent is 117mm, while 135mm is like 40mm. (Personally, I like 40-43mm for my Pentax LX, but mostly shoot 250mm on the Crown Graphic.)

Matus Kalisky
28-May-2006, 08:18
Hi all,

well - the things are improving - I just bought from Calumet "demo" Geronar 210/6.3 for $330 (waiting for it to be shipped) and the Tachihara arrived on Friday - so I am looking forward for my lens to come. Still - I keep searching for some nice 120 - 135 mm lens as complemetary to Geronar.

- Gary -
it would be very kind from you if you would ask. I already contacted Jim from mpex and KEH (no answer yet), but if there would be some good offer for a nice copy of Nikkor 135 W - I would give it a thought. Just to mention that I am looking at around $250.

- John -
I am not sure about Angulon 120. It is rather old lens and it is on the slow side. As I just ordered the Geronar, I do not have many reasons to go for convertible Symmar 135, but rather Symmar S 135.

- all -

currently there is Osaka/Congo Wide ANgle Field 120/6.3 lens running on ebay


As far as I know this is similar design to Ektar Wide Field with coverage ~ 220mm. It is known that Congo does not have the best quality control so I am wondering wheter it would be a good choice for $250, or I should rather look somewhere else. What do you think?

Sheldon N
28-May-2006, 14:05
My vote would be to go with the Fujinon W 135mm f/5.6. It has slightly more coverage, and is very small and lightweight. I have one and am very pleased with it. Make sure that you get a multicoated version as it is improved from the single coated version. Look at this website which tested both the older and newer Fuji lenses as well as many others. Note that the 135mm and 150mm EBC coated Fuji's test about as well as anything out there.


You can tell whether the lens is multicoated if the labeling is on the outside of the front lens barrel. This can also be double checked by looking at the reflection. Here's an informative source on Fujinon lenses.


KEH has 3 or 4 of them right now, in varying conditions from $215 to $310. A great bargain if you ask me (though I was able to find my copy locally for $150).

Gary Tarbert
29-May-2006, 04:06
Hi Matus spoke to the owner of the nikkor 135 today he is looking for around the $400aud mark which is more like $300us it is very clean like new i havn't been in the market
for this type of lens for a long time so if thats a good price or not i don't know.

Matus Kalisky
29-May-2006, 04:56
- Sheldon N -

you are probably right. I am actually expecting answer from KEH with some more detailled information on the lenses they have soon.

- Gary -

Thank you very much. Price of ~$300 for a nice copy of Nikkor 135/5.6 W is in reasonable range. I have one similar offer from Jim from mpex , but now I wait for an answer from KEH as thay are supposed to have 1 or 2 Fujinon 125/5.6 W (the more recent multicoated version mounted in Copal) which is my candidate No1. I will let you know how it turned out. But if your friend would be so kind to send me a few photos (or at least serial number) of his Nikkor - I would be very thankful.


Hany Aziz
30-May-2006, 17:54
I don't know whether B+W has changed its mount design, but the current 40.5mm 010 (UV) filter, when fully seated on a 135mm Sironar N, will just "kiss" the lens' front element in the center. I'm told by Bob Salomon that the same size Heliopan filter's mount prevents that, but can't confirm yet. It's a special order item, and mine has been on order since January 3 of this year; still waiting.

I have been placing B+W filters (and occasionally Hoya and Tiffen) on my Caltar II N 135 (same as Sironar N 135) with no problems and no contact with the front element. Great lens by the way. Tiny and extremely sharp.



31-May-2006, 14:12
what kind of rendering you want to get with this lens? Are you going to use black and white or colour or both? I think those are important questions when it comes to choosing a "perfect lens". Obviously all the above lenses are great and can give you super-sharp-high-resolution images. I am more into classic lenses and personally prefer old, cheap 135 mm Dominar Anastigmat which I bought for some $10. It is not a classic lens if you define "classic" as a one which is widely appreciated and highly priced but the look and bokeh it gives is just awsome - I love it. I use it with Tachihara mostly for landscapes and makro work. If you are more into traditional photography - black and white, contact printing etc. just spend few euro and get it. It would be easy in Germany.



John Berry
1-Jun-2006, 18:06
Are you going to be shooting mostly outside? If so I recommend single coated lenses, as they will let you dig into the shadows a little more. Multicoatings have less dynamic range than singlecoated ones. Let's go outside with chrome, and I'll kick your multicoated lenses' ass any day of the week. Understand, I'm in no way bad mouthing the excellent glass that has been mentioned. I just wanted to mention a positive side to single coated lenses. Each brand of lens a personality. Schneiders impress me as cold and impersonal, sironars a little warmer, fujis neither hot nor cold and my 135 wide field ektar lets me feel a personal involvement with the image none of the others do. Except on this, and similar forums, fuji glass is way under rated.

Gary Tarbert
3-Jun-2006, 18:46
John i agree with you fujinons are underated i think its the old belief that everything made in germany is better than japanese have a couple of fuji lenses both excellent.
Matus on that nikkor 135 to be honest if you have seen a new one you have seen this one it's that clean.
But will see the owner next week and ask him about sending photo

Maris Rusis
4-Jun-2006, 20:43
I use an old uncoated Voigtlander Anastigmat Skopar f4.5 F=13.5 cm in a Compur dial-set shutter. The first reason is that it works a treat but the second reason is crucial. The Tachihara 45GF folds up with the lens mounted in place. Neither the front element or the rear element touch or rest on anything during the folding process. I don't know how many other wooden field cameras can do this but a ready mounted lens makes for a quicker set-up and less dust intrusion into the camera. Most 135mm lenses are small so I think this should be possible with other cameras.

Matus Kalisky
6-Jun-2006, 06:50
- all -

I've been for a short holliday but now I am back to lens stuff. In the mean time 6 Fidelity Elite film holders (used) arrived - two of them filled with some film - so I can train loading them :-). I am just waiting for the lens - just take some time to get here over the lake.

- Jan_6568 & Maris Rusis-

It is possible that I will start with B&W but mostly because it is cheaper. I am also considering to develope at home. But definitely I wan to go for color - chromes or negatives. I am also worried that I will pay 50 - 100 euro for a lens with bad shutter. It is NOT easy to buy here something that works for $10 event whe it is very old. I will rather go for more recent lens at least single coated.

I am also a bit concerned about the coverage of these rather old and short lenses.

I quietly hope that I will be able to fold the Tahchihara with 135mm lens on. That would be nice.

- John Berry -

Yes, I will be shooting mostly outside. Hm your opinion about contrast and coating is interesting. I've been thinking about it a bit but I can not see why multicoated lenses should have smaller dynamic range...?

- Gary -

You are very kind. Personaly I have nothing against fujinon or nikkor lenses and their prices :-) . Apo sironar S 135 is tempting but can't be found for less than $500 on eBay - just too much for me.


Martin D.
6-Jun-2006, 08:36
I think you get get a 4x5" E6 slide developped for 95 SK and C41 for 55 SK in Slovakia. That is 2.50 and 1.50 Euro, respectivelly. And the service quality is equal or better than in Germany ;)

Matus Kalisky
7-Jun-2006, 00:13
I think you get get a 4x5" E6 slide developped for 95 SK and C41 for 55 SK in Slovakia. That is 2.50 and 1.50 Euro, respectivelly. And the service quality is equal or better than in Germany ;)

that's nice, but I am a bit far from home ;) - and you forgot to mention that that's probably only in Bratislava...

Martin D.
7-Jun-2006, 06:37
When do you stop asking questions and show us some photos? :=)

Matus Kalisky
7-Jun-2006, 07:30
When do you stop asking questions and show us some photos? :=)
Well, my lens should come within next 7 days, then I will mount it on the lensboard, buy some film and make a photo :) But I have no scanner yet (epson V750 is on the list) so it will take a time. But what the heck! Maybe I will have it scanned just to prove you that I realy got started ;)

Martin D.
7-Jun-2006, 08:14
Drum scanning in Bratislava, Slovakia - 500SK = 13,50 Euro per 4x5" sheet. Flat bed scanners are usually only good for preview work.

Matus Kalisky
8-Jun-2006, 07:31
-all- !

so - my "demo" Caltar 210/6.8 E just arrived yesterday. It is actually like new - no signs of use. I already mounted it on the lens board (and realised I have to get a new one - this one has a bit odd size and wiggles although I ordered it for Tachihara and Copal#1 shutter) and saw first light! Just great! I hope to make some images as soon as I get more reasonable lensboard and some film.

Though I keep searching for some nice 125 - 135mm lens.

I will keep you informed

Matus Kalisky
16-Jun-2006, 07:58
- all -

So, the decision was taken. I could not withstand the pressure and used the Buy-it-now option. So - in the near future I sould become an owner of nearly new Fujinon 125/5.6 CMW which I was dreaming about a long time already.

Now - as soon as the lensboard for my Geronar will arrive I can FINALY start shooting. It happend to be so that my first film is going to be Kodak 100 EPP, but I definitely want to make some BW in the near future and maybe even home developing, but as I know NOTHING about how to do that it scares me a little bit.

..uff less then a year ago I was dreaming about Mamiya M6 and this is how it ended.

David Karp
16-Jun-2006, 08:11
Developing your own black and white film is not all that difficult, and with a little practice, your results will be as good, and most likely better, than those from a lab. Don't worry, when you are ready just make some posts here and you will really see the opinions start flying!

Matus Kalisky
6-Jul-2006, 05:49
well, I am probably to unpatient to wait for your comments - I posted in following thread my first photos:

thanks again for help to all of you