View Full Version : 355 f9 G-Claron or 360 f6.8 APO Symmar?

24-Aug-2006, 18:05
After a post of photo.net about which lens to get (wasn't my fault; this site was down!) I had pretty much settled on the Schneider 355 f9 G-Claron lens for my 11x14 camera. Specifically, I liked the focal length and I appreciated the fact that it has great coverage and a 77mm filter size (Read: cheaper filters). Since then, I've learned about Compendium Shades, many of which take gel filters. Now that's interesting, because I can use that with all future lenses as well. Furthermore, when I went to go find the 355 G-Claron, I found only one used one from a guy who's gotten bad reviews in the Recommendation Section of Photo.net.

What did I find a lot of? 360mm APO-Symmars. Slightly more expensive, a bit heavier, a bit faster, and I've found at least three of them for sale. What do ya think?? Anyone done a comparison of these two lenses in the past, or have current working knowledge of the differences between them? Which would you choose?


John Bowen
24-Aug-2006, 18:42
My $$ went for a 355 G-Claron last year. I love this lens....lots and lots of coverage and tack sharp.

Just watch e-bay. They turn up all the time.


Doug Dolde
24-Aug-2006, 19:23
I sold off a 305mm G Claron and bought a 300mm Fujinon A.

Why? The Claron was only single coated and I was having some flare problems. And of course a Fujinon A in that length is almost a cult lens.

I think the APO Symmars are generally better lenses than the Clarons. My 210 APO Symmar is a fantastic lens. Very sharp and contrasty.

Oren Grad
24-Aug-2006, 19:26
Alec, the 355 G-Claron isn't hard to find - a bit of patience and you'll see plenty go by. It's also quite a bit lighter than the Apo-Symmar - 855 g vs 1410 g in Copal 3.

But having used both, I prefer the Apo-Symmar. (I like the 360 Apo-Sironar-S even more, but you're very unlikely to find one of those at anywhere near the price of the others.) The Apo-Symmar is just more refined, all around. And in particular, in my experience the G-Claron gets pretty grungy in rendering the OOF backgrounds typical of midrange snapshots taken outdoors.

24-Aug-2006, 21:03
Thanks, Guys. Patience is a virtue I'm still trying to learn. :) Oren, what format were you using for both lenses, and what did you think of the coverage?


Oren Grad
24-Aug-2006, 21:32
Oren, what format were you using for both lenses, and what did you think of the coverage?


Alec, I've used the 355 G-Claron only on 8x10, but it's well documented that stopped way down it will cover 12x20; I loaned my own sample to a friend who has successfully used it on that format.

I've taken just a few test shots with the 360 Apo-Symmar on 11x14. It's clearly usable - it's specified for an image circle of 491mm at f/22 and infinity, which leaves room for movement, since the 11x14 diagonal is more like 425-435mm. I don't know how much, if anything, it gains with stopping down further.

FWIW, I used some front rise for my 11x14 tests (made outdoors, with just a bit of focus extension) and the Apo-Symmar had no problem covering. But that's not enough experience to have a good sense for just when it will run out of steam.

BTW, if budget is an issue, you might also keep an eye out for a 360 Symmar-S MC or Caltar S-II (same thing). This earlier lens shares the same coverage specification as the Apo-Symmar (70 degrees), and I've seen clean ones go for $500 or less.

Ted Harris
27-Aug-2006, 10:33
Alec, the major differences in the lenses are speed and size. Both are superb performers, additionally if you are shooting color then the multicoating may matter. If you arae only going to use the lens in the studio then go for whichever you prefer but if you are going to use the lens in the field then don't even think of the 360 Apo Symmar or similar Symmar S MC (or other plasmats from the other members of the 'big four'). These are huge lenses, until you actually hold one in your hands you really can't appreciate how big they are. Since you are already lugging an 11x14 size and weight may not mattr but just wanted to underscore the size. I use a 300 Apo Symmar in the studio and the only time it ever leaves is when I take it with me on one of our workshops just to show participants what a teally big modern lens looks like.

27-Aug-2006, 18:19
Thanks, Ted. I'll be sure to check one out in person; there's one for sale @ Lens & Repro here in NYC.... I'm not sure yet if weight is going to be a problem. I do plan to use the camera out in the "field" but I plan to buy or make a cart to drag around the city (on mass transit, where posible). The setup's going to be so heavy, what's an extra few pounds?

Well, when I see it in person I may change my mind.... ;-)


27-Aug-2006, 20:20

I use a 360 Apo-Symmar and IT IS one huge chunk of glass! That said... it's also a very, very sharp and contrasty lens.

Mine is used on formats ranging from 4x5 to 8x10. So, I've not had any experience using it on 11x14.

If I were going to pack a lens of this focal length out in the field... (unless I absolutely had to) it certainly would NOT be my first lens of choice! :)

Lastly, they ARE selling for very, very reasonable dollars on the bay these days.


Christopher Perez
28-Aug-2006, 08:12
If budget is a serious issue, Schneider's Symmar Convertible 360mm f/5.6 in Compound #5 can be had for incredibly little money. I have seen several recently trade hands for less then $300US.

I have one that I use on 8x10. But it covers 11x14 with ease. The speed of the lens makes focusing a dream. The resolution and flare control are more than adequate for my needs in contact printing.

Ernest Purdum
28-Aug-2006, 08:25
Whichever lens you wind up with, a compendium lens shade is a very worthwhile item whether or not you are using it as a filter holder. Properly used, it will reduce chance of flare and avoid loss of contrast.