View Full Version : Your Favorite Lens?

Kirk Gittings
10-Mar-2007, 12:11
What is your favorite lens?

As an architectural photographer, I prefer moderate wide angle lenses. I recently treated myself to a brand new copy of my all time favorite lens, partially because I was worried about the availability down the road. It is a 120 Nikkor SW. I like it for 4x5 because of the extreme 8x10 coverage, and sharpness of course and I find the "look" of this exact focal length on 4x5 to be about perfect for how I see.

David Karp
10-Mar-2007, 12:22
Funny, because the focal length is so similar, but my favorite is a Fujinon NW 125mm f/5.6. Nowhere near the coverage, but so small and light for landscape work. Very sharp. This focal length fits me very well.

If I photographed architecture for a living, instead of for fun, I would probaby invest in the same lens Kirk mentioned, due to its extremely large image circle just in case I ever get an 8x10 (or maybe a 115mm Grandagon N to match my 90 and 75).

Gordon Moat
10-Mar-2007, 12:40
My Schneider 135mm f5.6, just because the field of view is about all I want most of the time. I also like the way the relationship of foreground to background objects is handled. Works nicely in cropped view with my Linhof Super Rollex too.


Gordon Moat
A G Studio (http://www.allgstudio.com)

Brian Ellis
10-Mar-2007, 12:45
Schneider 210mm Apo Symmar. I'd guess that 70% of all my photographs are made with it.

Colin Graham
10-Mar-2007, 13:08
Actually, my new favorite is a 360mm commercial congo. This thing is sharper than any of the big 4 lenses I have. I make poor compositional choices sometimes just to be able to use it! My previous favorite was a fujinon 250 WS, which I still like very very much.

David Rees
10-Mar-2007, 13:09
Schneider 120mm APO Symmar L. Image circle much smaller than your Nikkor, but more than adequate for landscape use. My smallest and lightest lens. I seem to use it for 70%+ of my work -- but I carry the backpack of other lenses for the exercise...and just in case...

10-Mar-2007, 13:16
Schneider 110XL on 4x5. Without a doubt.

Dan Fromm
10-Mar-2007, 13:16
Kirk, I find the most-used focal length/favorite varies with format.

When I was shooting Super 8, I think I shot most often at 6 mm, the shortest the Schneider zooms on my Beulieus would go. I wouldn't have given up that focal length for any other. But if I were limited to just one camera it would have been a Canon 310XL with its w/a adapter.

On 35 mm still, my most-used focal length is probably 105 mm.

On 2x3, I don't have one favorite focal length or lens, I have a trio. 47/5.6 SA, 65/8 Ilex, 80/6.3 WF Ektar. If I were restricted to just one -- artificial situation -- I think it would be the 47.

I can't explain why I see so much narrower on 35 mm still. I suspect it has to do with extreme consciousness of not framing tighly enough when I first started.



Don Boyd
10-Mar-2007, 13:22
I love my Rodenstock 150 sironar-s. I probably do work-arounds to be able to use this lens when I should be using a 90.

Walter Calahan
10-Mar-2007, 13:34
Well I shoot mostly 8x10, so hands down my Cooke XVa is my favorite 'cause it cost me my left nut. Ha ha ha ha.

But personally, my favorite lens is the one on the camera that makes it possible to capture the image I have in my mind. It really doesn't matter to like one lens over another. I do enjoy my Nikkor 120. I also enjoy my Fujinon 125mm on 4x5.

Lately I've had a ball with a Kodak Aero-Ektar 178mm f/2.5. It allows me to see in a different place than a traditional lens.

Michael Graves
10-Mar-2007, 13:45
I'm sort of like Walter. I don't really have a singular favorite. Since I probably shoot more 5x7 than anything else, my 210 Fujinon gets a heavy workout, but so does an old 8.5" Ilex Paragon that's mounted on my 5x7 Eastman. When the eastman goes out, the Ilex goes. Another lens that gets a lot of use is a 120 Angulon. I keep moving it back and forth from a Graphic lensboard to a Toyo lensboard so I can use it either way.

Harley Goldman
10-Mar-2007, 13:53
Definitely my Fujinon 240mm. It is small, my sharpest lens and I seem to use it all the time.

10-Mar-2007, 13:59
For 4x5: Dr. Staeble POLYPLAST casket set. Three front lenses, one rear lens, all in a tiny Compound shutter. Combinations are 105/135/165/190mm (approx f:5) and the rear element used alone is 220mm (f:22). Mostly I use the 190mm. Only drawback is a focus shift of approx 1/8". Purchased from Dagor77.

10-Mar-2007, 14:22
My favorite lenses will be Nikkor 450M for 8x20, which I will have it in 5 days. For 8x10, 210SA and for 4x5 Fujinon 210WS.

Ron Marshall
10-Mar-2007, 15:04
My favourite lens I own, is a 110 f5.6. I would prefer a focal length of 120 (splitting hairs) but would have to sacrifice weight, or image circle, or brightness.

Greg Lockrey
10-Mar-2007, 16:08
Well I shoot mostly 8x10, so hands down my Cooke XVa is my favorite 'cause it cost me my left nut. Ha ha ha ha.

Walter, don't you mean, "he he he he"?

I like my 90 Super Angulon first and the 210/360 second.

Michael Kadillak
10-Mar-2007, 16:10
450M Nikon for 8x10 and 8x20. They say that because it is a Tessar design it should not be a best of breed lens, but it is as sharp as the best Wisconsin cheddar and contrasty as the dickens. It also covers like a big dog though 12x20. It is a shame that it is no longer being made as anyone that shoots 8x10 and larger should have one in their lens bag.


Mark Sawyer
10-Mar-2007, 16:13
The one I missed by $5 on ebay, and now some bid-sniper has it, and he's no doubt making MY photographs with MY lens, and I can't make my art without it... grrrr...

Ole Tjugen
10-Mar-2007, 16:29
If I look through my pictures, I believe it's either a 90mm f/8 Super Angulon or a 210mm Schneider Xenar. I use both these lenses quite often, and on both 4x5" and 5x7. Most of the other lenses get used more on one format than the other.

Scott Rosenberg
10-Mar-2007, 16:35
based on 'which lens i use the most' i'd have to say without question my 110-XL. however, my 150 Sironar-S is really, really nice, though i find i prefer the 110 focal length.

Eric Biggerstaff
10-Mar-2007, 16:41
Probably my Rodenstock 150mm Apo-Sironar S, it seems to be getting used more and more these days.

Bruce Watson
10-Mar-2007, 16:46
An interesting question, but I can't answer it. I've got three lenses that I use equally - each gets about 30% of my total photographs. These three lenses are my 110mm-SSXL, 150mm Sironar-S, and 240mm Fujinon-A.

I love them all. Please don't make me pick just one claim it as a favorite!

John Kasaian
10-Mar-2007, 16:46
I'm thinking about this one---favorite is not neccesarily the most used, at least in my case. In 8x10 that would have to be the 10" WF Ektar and the 19" RD Artar---the most used are the 240 G Claron and the 14" Commercial Ektar.

Jack Flesher
10-Mar-2007, 17:09
On 4x5, my favorite is probably my probably my 150 APO Symmar. On 8x10, I really like my Fuji 300C, but the 240 Dr. Optic I recently got may push it off its pedestal...

Renee Galang
10-Mar-2007, 17:11
my macro sironar 210mm because it is my only lens at hte moment. I've used it to take photos of the species that I discovered and this photo is on front page of a scientific journal! I will be using this with my new 8x10 and 11x14! I am looking a lens to cover my 11x14 though. But this macro lens will to go my grave with me, guaranteed.

Steven Barall
10-Mar-2007, 20:05
My favorite lens is my humble and simple little Rodenstock 150 N because it's the only lens I had for years and years and I used it to shoot everything under the sun and the lights. My second favorite is a Schneider Angulon 90 6.8. The circle is smallish but I don't mind seeing the edge of the circle in the photos and the shutter doesn't work but that's what color neg film is for.

Have fun everyone. Cheers.

10-Mar-2007, 20:28
Great question...

On 4x5... probably my 240 Nikkor f5.6

On 5x7... probably my 240 G-Claron

On 8x10... definitely the 240 G-Claron... or 355 G-Claron


Frank Petronio
10-Mar-2007, 20:31
150 Symmar on 4x5

Kirk Gittings
10-Mar-2007, 20:32

You are just a 240 kind of guy....

Jim Jones
10-Mar-2007, 20:38
On 4x5 an Ektar 203mm f/7.7 because it's never let me down in over 30 years.

Eric Brody
10-Mar-2007, 20:48
Like others, I find myself using my very first large format lens, a Fujinon 210W, the only one I had for over two years, many years ago. It was recommended by a wonderfully patient salesperson at the old Helix store in Chicago. I spent so much time looking through it, I started seeing with that viewing angle. The 210 is sharp and has a huge image circle, helpful when I pushed the envelope of movements in my early 4x5 years.

I find myself using my next purchase, a Nikkor 90 f/8, as my second most commonly used lens... probably for the the same reasons.


10-Mar-2007, 21:04

You are just a 240 kind of guy....

Hi Kirk,

:) I do believe you're absolutely correct. :>0

Hope things are going well with you Kirk. :>)


John Kasaian
10-Mar-2007, 21:53
On 4x5 an Ektar 203mm f/7.7 because it's never let me down in over 30 years.

Yup, thats my favorite on 4x5 too. I haven't shot the 4x5 in over a year but I can't convince myself to part with my 203!

Jon Wilson
10-Mar-2007, 22:56
My favorite 4x5 lens is a 9/240W Germinar Docter Wetzlar installed in a Lafayette Instrument Company Copal 1 with matching scale installed by SK Grimes Shop and a 120mm Nikkor-AM*ED f5.6

For 8x10, my most recent favorite lens include a 15.5 inch f5 Ilex Portait lens in an Ilex shutter and a 360mm Congo f6.3 in a copal 3s shutter.

Jan Pedersen
10-Mar-2007, 23:43
203mm is a magic number. A perfect Dallmeyer Pentac mounted in an Alphax #5 by Tim the Shutter Man.
The short DOF when needed but also a pretty sharp lens when stopped down and that wonderful bright ground glass is a close number one. 4x5 only.

11-Mar-2007, 01:39
At the moment, it is the Schneider 135mm f5.6. It isn't quite wide enough, and my 80XL is a bit too wide. I think I'm going for a 110 XL.

Ed K.
11-Mar-2007, 02:01
It depends so much on what I'm doing, which project set at the moment. If the "favorite" is due to most often used, hands down it's:

4x5: 210 Sironar. Just works, for so many things, so well.
8x10:450M Nikkor. It wants to be a 600 when it grows up though.

But when the view works right for it, in terms of image quality, Fujinon 360 6.3 is the one that makes quality I'm always amazed at. While not considered venerable or very special, it is far sharper than any other lens I own or have rented and a real joy to use. The image quality makes up for the weight easily. It is nothing short of amazing. But it's just a tad wide for what I've been shooting most lately.

For interiors or when wide is needed for 8x10 - love my 150 Nikkor, for 4x5, love the image on my 65 Technica Angulon, but hate its center filter (speed loss). So, if hating a center filter on a 65 makes it not favorite, the 90mm Fujinon is a pure joy on 4x5.

And in terms of what I don't own yet, but enjoy more than I should (rental lens), the 1200mm Nikkor TED has brought home the bacon a few times for me. I sure wish I owned it.

11-Mar-2007, 03:31
My favorite is the one I'm using at the time.

Scott Davis
11-Mar-2007, 03:55
If forced to pick a single lens, I'd say the 14" Commercial Ektar for 8x10. I may have found a new love today though - have to soup the film to see. I picked up a Seneca Portrait 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 lens on the auction site, and then got a Century Master studio camera to put it on (couldn't put my Packard shutter behind it inside my 8x10). What I was seeing on the ground glass yesterday was just magic, so we'll see when the negs come out of the soup today.

Tom Westbrook
11-Mar-2007, 04:39
I'm also a moderate-wide kind of guy so my Schneider 110mm SSXL gets the most use, I'd guess, but I love it when I can use my 210mm Sironar-S!

Ken Lee
11-Mar-2007, 04:46

I think I use this lens most, especially when visualizing the scene.
It's a 1954 Lee Autofocus, and I take it with me wherever I go.
I have 2 of these, but haven't been able to find a shutter for them.

Ted Harris
11-Mar-2007, 06:30
Like so many others, on 4x5 the 110 SS XL. On 5x7 the 150 Apo Sironar W. On both formats the 300 Fuji A is a close second.

eric black
11-Mar-2007, 07:44
150mm Rodenstock Sironar S- does at least 85% of my workload

phil sweeney
11-Mar-2007, 08:26
8 x 10 - 14" red dot
7 x 17 - 15" turner reich

dominikus bw
11-Mar-2007, 09:02
Ken, great words....:D
In my earlier 4x5, I used 150 more than 210, both are symmar-s mc. I always passionate with simple things & details and mostly arround 1:2 - 1:3 magnification, symmar-s 150mm didn't give an outstanding result as it used for lanscapes or 1:3 - 1:~ magnification, unfortunately I don't have much budget to get one of fabulous makro-symmar so I replaced symmar-s with componon-s, first time I used componon-s 5.6/100 but it's a little bit to wide for me so I replaced with 5.6/150 and I used this 150 often than the other, and for my taste only, componon-s 5.6/150 is a bomb for 1:2 - 1:4 ( maybe more ) magnification. I guess I can live with 150mm and it will be my favorite lens... :D

David Millard
11-Mar-2007, 09:13
Well . . . my favorite on my 23 Technika is my 53mm Opton Biogon. On the downside, it's heavy, it's single-coated, it has a relatively small image circle, and the Compur shutter has discrete f/stop detents rather than the continuous aperture setting possibilities on a Copal shutter. However, the images are voluptuous on a light box, I've never had a problem with flare, and I can always use back tilts if necessary for landscape images. Additionally, the flange focal distance (over 70mm) is greater than the focal length would suggest, so the bellows don't constrain the lens movements. My next favorite lens, with the same caveats, would be my 100mm Planar.

Joseph O'Neil
11-Mar-2007, 09:49
270mm G-claron 1st, 135mm Rodenstock Sironar N 2nd, both 4x5


Diane Maher
11-Mar-2007, 10:25
8x10: 420 mm Repro-Claron (I like the look of a Kodak 203 mm on this format too).

5x12: 450 mm Nikkor-M

Ralph Barker
11-Mar-2007, 10:41
I think of lenses as being similar to models - enough so that it may be dangerous to label any one as my favorite. I'd hate for one of the un-favorites to be offended and stop working for me. ;)

Thus, the following are among my favorites:

on 4x5 - the 110mm SS XL, the 240mm G-Claron, or the 300mm Docter, depending

on 8x10 - either the 240mm G-Claron, the 16.5" RD Artar, or the 150mm SS XL, depending

Ralph Barker
11-Mar-2007, 10:45

I think I use this lens most, especially when visualizing the scene.
It's a 1954 Lee Autofocus, and I take it with me wherever I go.
I have 2 of these, but haven't been able to find a shutter for them.

Didn't both of those come with a front-mounted shutter, Ken?

I have an older pair of similar lenses, but they've become somewhat soft-focus over the years.

11-Mar-2007, 11:48
I can't necessarily say that this is my favorite (or 2 favorite lenses) but looking over the images that I have taken with my 4 X 5 the most commonly used focal length is my Rodenstock f 5.6 150mm Apo Sironar S and next is my Rodenstock f6.8 90mm Grandagon N MC. Most of my images taken with the 90mm (and the 75mm) lenses have been in the west where the landscape is much more open and expansive than in the east.

I have always liked the 120mm focal length but due to the size/weight I have not carried my wonderful Schneider f 5.6 120mm Super Symmar HM that frequently.

Now with the new Toho FC-45X and armed with a new battery of many smaller and lighter lenses, I suspect that I may be using my "new" Schneider f5.6 120mm Schneider Apo Symmar L relatively frequently (particularly for the east coast).


Ken Lee
11-Mar-2007, 13:50
Didn't both of those come with a front-mounted shutter, Ken?

Heavens, you're right !

I thought those things were lens caps, but now that you mention it, they are front-mounted shutters.

Thanks - I love this forum !

Bruce Watson
11-Mar-2007, 14:12
I thought those things were lens caps, but now that you mention it, they are front-mounted shutters.

No no, you were right the first time -- those things are lens caps. My father tells me that they have more problems as you get older.

Years ago when I would catch him napping, or at least what looked strangely like napping to me, he would tell me that he was simply doing "eyelid maintenance." Checking for holes. Interestingly he's coming up on his 90th birthday and he has yet to find any holes, but he does maintain his vigilance. ;)

Brian K
11-Mar-2007, 14:15
Which ever lens I need at that moment to get me that shot.

Brian C. Miller
11-Mar-2007, 19:20
I'm with Ralph, my favorite is the one on the camera.

The Wollensack 135mm is a good lens. It doesn't cover when I start swinging it, but it does cover the Super Graphic's movements. Yes, I have other lenses, but they don't fold up with the camera so the Wollensack gets the most use.

Doug Dolde
11-Mar-2007, 20:47
Schneider Super Symmar 110mm XL closely followed by APO Symmar 210mm. I could live with just these two easily.

Brad Rippe
11-Mar-2007, 21:22
I Use 4by5 black and white and two years ago I sold my Schneider 210 Symmar-S, which I used all the time, and bought the little Nikkor 200-M to downsize. I think that is my favorite. I really like the Fuji 240-A, followed by the Nikkor 300-M.

bruce terry
12-Mar-2007, 10:09
One little nine-and-a-half Dagor 240 is all I've got, so by default my fav for 8x10. Dislike having to "choose" between lenses, why I just use a 50 in 24x36 and used only a 100 in 6x6. In my upsidedown head the fun has always been finding images that fit the lens rather than fishing for lenses that might fit the image. This M.O. keeps it maybe, too simple, but I'm happy with it.

Christopher Perez
12-Mar-2007, 11:24
I love Ken's front mounted shutter lenses.

Being not as bright or witty...

4x5 - Tie between Schneider 210mm Symmar-S/MC f/5.6 in Compur and Schneider 110mm Super Symmar XL f/5.6

5x7 - Schneider 210mm Xenar f/6.1, it's just magic for me in this format

6.5 x 8.5 - tbd, but I suspect it will be the Docter Optic 240mm Germinar-W f/9

8x10 - Schneider 300mm f/4.5 Xenar in #5 Compound

I reserve the right to change my mind the moment I pick up a camera and find the lens I need for the subject at hand. :) :)

12-Mar-2007, 16:03
The two I use the most are the Nikkor-SW 120mm f8 for wide angle work and the Nikkor-M 300 f9 for longer shots. I seem to keep reaching for these two lenses time and again and they never let me down. I have a lot of other fancier and more expensive lenses but these are consistently my favorites and most used.
Dave B.

Ken Lee
12-Mar-2007, 18:42
This thread reminds me of an old Zen story:

Once upon a time, a Zen Master asked his students: "What is your favorite part of the body ?" Student A: "My ears, because I can hear the breeze blowing through the pines" Student B: "My hands, because with them I can make wondrous things"... and so it went.

Finally, a student asked: "Oh teacher: what is your favorite part of the body ?" The teacher answered: "My navel". The student, puzzled, asked the teacher: "Respected teacher, why is the navel your favorite part of the body ?"

The teacher answered: "I like to sit up in bed and eat celery. In my navel, is where I keep the salt".

QT Luong
12-Mar-2007, 20:09
Between 1/2 to 3/4 of images made with Schneider 110 XL on 5x7.

13-Mar-2007, 04:31
The 240mm Fujinon A - it is the best large format lens ever in the history of the universe -period.

13-Mar-2007, 18:01
(the following pertains to 4x5...)

When it was the only LF lens I owned, the 135mm f4.7 Xenar was my favorite. Even after I "upgraded" to a 135mm Symmar-S the little Xenar was still my favorite. For a while after that, lenses came and went. There were Sironars, Geronars, a Wollensak Raptar and a few more Symmars - some convertibles too - a Nikkor and even a beautiful little 90mm Angulon. The Xenar was still my favorite. Then one day, I found a 127mm Ektar...then, that was my favorite and although I rarely use it anymore, it still is I guess.