View Full Version : Hypothetical lens question--with real intent

John Cahill
14-Dec-2006, 19:33
Knowledgeqble LFers,

I intend to begin searching for a used lens. I would like something about "normal" fl for 5x7, to be used without much in the way of swings or tilts.
I would used it with a 4x5 reducing back as a longish lens in that format. I would like the very best possible "value"--that is, to me, max image quality for least cash outlay. Does such a lens exist?
In another field (firearms) in which I am also interested, one can get advice such as: For the biggest bang for the buck with those specifications, ya can't beat a good used ......................... Can such a statement be made about a lens, or lens type, so I have an idea of what to look for as I make moves to upgrade?. I currently have a 13 inch Wollensak Velostigmant (uncoated, I assume) in a betax shutter.

14-Dec-2006, 19:49
In modern lenses the 210mm Fuji. The first generation is usually a fairly good value. Outside of the fact it's got great coverage I think it fits your requirements. The older lenses aren't much if any cheaper.

Jim Jones
14-Dec-2006, 20:46
I'm partial to my ancient Kodak Ektar 203mm f/7.7, although there seems to be a bit of a cult attachment to them which runs up the price.

John Cahill
14-Dec-2006, 21:54
Nick and Jim,
Thanks for the recommendations. I know what you mean, Jim, when something get's a cult status. As much as I am a nostalgia buff, it stresses my frugal sould to pay for the cult status ofthe Ektars--although I think I got a good buy on a perdec 152 4.5m made in 1955, for a hundred bucks even a couple a years ago.
I shall keep my eyes peeled for an Ektar and the 210 Fuji. Thanks.

Jim Galli
14-Dec-2006, 22:15
I think a 240mm G-Claron is one of the best bargains available right now. They used to be a $425 lens but it seems everyone jumped ship for the must have Docter Germinar and the G-Clarons have gone begging.

John Kasaian
15-Dec-2006, 00:09

The 203 f/7.7 Ektar is IMHO a great 4x5 lens. You can find good ones in working shutters for under $200. For a 5x7 it is a tight fit without much wiggle room.

On my 5x7 Agfa Anscos I have a brace of 215mm Ilex Paragons (well, ones a Caltar) in Acme shutters that cover beautifully and I didn't pay over $100 for either one on ebay

I agree with Jim Galli---A 240 G Claron will give you lots of moves on a 5x7 (it covers 8x10 beautifully so if you ever move up in format, you'll be covered) and will be different enough from your 13"-er to be noticeable.

BTW, is that Wolly a series 1a? If it is then you've got a triple convertible on your hands (and a very nice one at that!) and you'll already have more focal lengths than you can shake a stick at so if you really need to spend money why not just have Carol Miller at Flutot's make a proper scale for you?


John Kasaian
15-Dec-2006, 00:25
And another thought: If you want the most "bang for your buck" its hard to beat a 240mm G-Claron. It will cover formats well from 4x5 to 8x10 and you can also use it as an enlarger lens (a rather dim enlarger lens at f/9 but a good one none the less!) A real multi-tasker! Alton Brown probably has one.

Struan Gray
15-Dec-2006, 00:47
The G-clarons seem expensive to this skinflint, especially in shutter. If you can live with a barrel lens the less sexy plasmats (which, unlike the G-clarons, cannot be put into a shutter easily) are significantly cheaper. APO-Gerogons, and the Agfa Intergon/Helioprint/Ultragon lenses come in 240 mm versions and sell for pennies. I have seen three-lens sets of APO-Gerogons go for less than $50. My APO-Gerogon-S, which is a 270 mm, cost less than the postage.

The only caveat is to make sure that the lens comes with a mounting flange or jam nut. Otherwise you can end up paying more for the mounting than you did for the lens.

If you can't or won't manage without a shutter, the convertable Symmars are a good buy and make great images. The 180 is less common than the 210, but both are freely available on the used market, where buyers seem to be flocking to wide angles and ignoring the vast pool of long normals that all those photo students had to buy for their courses. Similar vintage plain Sironars are also cheap, but don't seem to crop up so much. Look out too for the Calumet-branded Caltar-S lenses, which are Symmars under the hood.

Later, multi-coated lenses like the Symmar-S and (APO)-Sironar-N lenses are also cheap compared to their purchase price, but the modern shutter they come in usually stops the price from dropping into true bargain territory.

15-Dec-2006, 01:09
I think a 240mm G-Claron is one of the best bargains available right now. They used to be a $425 lens but it seems everyone jumped ship for the must have Docter Germinar and the G-Clarons have gone begging.

Hi Jim,

One mounted in a Copal 1 shutter sold yesterday on the bay for US$515. So, I'm not sure that they're going to remain a bargain for long.

Mind you, it's hard to say whether this is an emerging trend or "one of those frenzy bidding situations!"

Good thing I already have one! :)


15-Dec-2006, 07:56
I think I got my 210mm Fuji-W from KEH for around $200. Not much more then that. Coverage is better or at least equal to the Clarons and the lens is faster. Admittly the 210mm Fuji is about the size of the 240mm Claron so in general the lenses are bigger.

I can't get to the KEH site to check if they have any for sale at the moment.


Ed Richards
15-Dec-2006, 09:16
250 fuji 6.3 is another great buy, if you want a little longer lens. Lots of coverage, but only a 67mm filter.

Ernest Purdum
15-Dec-2006, 09:39
A possible, and often significantly less expensive, alternative to the 203mm Ektar is the 203mm f7.5 Wollensak (for Graflex) Optar.

If you don't need all that much in the way of movements, a Tessar or similar becomes a possibility. With some patience you could probably find one at an atractive price. Where there is a choice, an f6.3 version is probably preferable to the f4.5s.

Ole Tjugen
15-Dec-2006, 13:58
I currently have a 180 Symmar, a 240 Symmar, a 210/4.5 Xenar, a 210/6.1 Xenar and a 210/9 G-Claron as "normal lenses" on 5x7". Either one is good.

The 180 Symmar, the 210/9 G-Claron and the 210/6.1 Xenar are in #1 shutters, the 240 Symmar is in a #2, and the 210/4.5 Xenar is in a Compound #3.

The 4.5 is wonderfully bright, but offers practically no room for movements. The 6.1 Xenar is slightly better, the 180 Symmar a little better again, the G-Claron even more (but pretty dark), and the 240 Symmar covers 8x10" with a little bit of movements.

The 240 Symmar has the drawback of an unusual shutter size, which however is nice for macro protography since the lens cells can be swapped in the shutter for larger than lifesize. That to me is a reason to prefer just about any shutter size except #1...