View Full Version : The APO-Sironar-S 5.6 300mm and What Next?

Alonzo Guerrero
17-Sep-2006, 22:34
The APO-Sironar-S 5.6 300mm:
I shoot a lot of urban landscapes, some portraiture, and otherwise just general stuff. My main lenses are Caltar II N 90mm, Caltar II N 240mm, and the newly acquired 300mm Sironar.

Anyway, I traded a bunch of gear at a camera show for the Sironar, and I've shot with it one time. For my first shoot, I chose a few familiar locations of my favorite subject, urban landscapes, and, not knowing what to really expect, I was very pleased with the results. I think I'll keep this lens for the long haul. However, I am not exactly sure what the intended use of this lens is. Is this a thoroughbred I'm keeping at the kiddie land pony park? If so, I would like to see it in action, doing what it was designed to do. What was this lens really designed to do?

What Next?:
I'm also looking for a complementary lens between the 90 and 240 that is well suited for portraiture and the general stuff. So, if you have any suggestions I would like to hear them too.

Sheldon N
17-Sep-2006, 22:51
The APO Sironar S lenses are wonderful - beautiful color and contrast, sharp wide open, and very nice rendition of out of focus areas (bokeh). I don't think that you'll be able to improve on the performance of that lens by choosing another model.

I wouldn't say that it's a thoroughbred at the kiddie land pony park, as long as you're using it. It was really designed to be used on 8x10, but I see nothing wrong with using it on 4x5 if you have the bellows and a sturdy enough camera to support it. You might want to make sure that you use a compendium lens shade, because all that excess coverage throws a lot of light into the bellows that can bounce around and reduce contrast.

Most 4x5 shooters are using the Nikkor M or Fuji C or A lenses for the 300mm focal length, but that's almost solely due to size and weight concerns. If you don't mind a larger lens (and I don't think you do judging by the Caltar 240mm f/5.6 in your kit), then I think you have a definite keeper.

You asked about a portrait lens to add to your collection... Personally, I think the 300mm APO Sironar S would be a dream portrait lens. Just shoot wide open and enjoy the razor sharp plane of focus, shallow depth of field, and beautiful falloff. The 240mm Caltar II-N f/5.6 would do well for portaits too, I bought one just for that purpose.

If you want to add another lens to your kit, a 150mm focal length fills up the gap between 90mm and 240mm nicely. The 150mm APO Sironar S f/5.6 would be the way to go, keeping with your all Rodenstock glass theme. It's a little wide for tight portraits, but does environmental portraits very well.

What camera are you hanging all this glass on?

Alonzo Guerrero
17-Sep-2006, 23:46
You're absolutely right about my gear being 4x5, eventhough I did not mention it. I guess you abstracted this from the lens lineup.

I can't wait for my next opportunity to go out and shoot. Maybe next time I'll select a portraiture subject, just to have a go at that. I enjoy the solitude of landscapes and urban shooting. As such, portraiture is my weakest area, but I am warming up to the interaction. Anyway, about my camera gear, I have two Horseman cameras, an LE and LM. These seem to handle these lenses very well and, in the field, they are firmly grounded atop Majestic tripods. Heavy for sure, but I am usually close to my truck when I'm out, so I don't mind the extra weight all that much. I actually do have a compendium lens shade that works with all of these lenses, but, truth is, I don't use it that often. However, after reading your notes regarding light bounce possibilities, I think I'll incorporate that into my basic setup routine.

As for the next lens, I had been thinking about a 150 or 135, but I wasn't sure which one would be more useful. I didn't want to mention that I was considering these in my opening post because I just wanted to see what suggestions would be made. Is there much of a difference between the two, or maybe something else I may not be considering such as filter or accessory selection/availability/cost, or other considerations? I purchased a Cokin filter system and couple of filters for the other two, but nearly choked when I saw what it will cost to do the same for this big boy. I will shop longer and harder and hope to get lucky before making that purchase. I welcome your thoughts on that subject as well.


Brian K
18-Sep-2006, 19:56
Alonzo, the Sironar -S series is excellent. They are designed as a general purpose lens. The 300mm is more ideally suited for 5x7 or 8x10 due to it's large size, but it will perfrom extremely well on 4x5. It is optimized for 1:10 and not the 1:20 that the Sironar-N is optimized for. If you're ok with the size and weight, you are not going to find a better piece of glass.

You mention the use of Cokin filters, I have to warn you that the use of resin or polyester filters on long lenses reduces sharpness. I'm not certain of the optical science, I think it has to do with flatness, but I have seen the poor effects that can occur. For that reason I switched over completely to glass filters.

The advice about getting a good shade is wise. The front element picks up a lot of extraneous light, and the rear coverage really spits it out. I know of people who shoot 4x5 specifically with an 8x10 or 5x7 just to cut down on the bounce of light inside the bellows. I don't think you'll have much of a problem though. That said, I have the 135mm, 150mm, 180mm, 210mm and 360mm Sironar-S lenses (sinaron SE) and find them superb.