View Full Version : Lens set for 'classic' look...Super angulons...

Former Member 8144
2-May-2007, 00:28

Having started a thread just about 90mm lens performance wide open it began to take me in a very interesting direction and so I though it may be easier and better for others to start a new thread for this now dedicated question.

I am going to be running 2 personal projects at the same time..so I need my set of lenses to work for both...these projects are really important to me so I'm not worried about these lenses being suitable for more modern jobs (interiors, architectural etc)

I need a lens set of something like a 80/90mm, 120/135mm, and a 180mm.

The 'classic look' will work really well for both projects and so that is what I am looking for..not quite the Julia Margaret cameron look but generally a bit less pin sharp and resolution centred than that which the very modern lenses can give...smooth transition between in and out of focus, good OOF areas, an image that breathes...analogue versus digital..you know the sort of thing.

One project requires very selective focus (normally infinity) using both tilts and swings and shallow dof so shooting close to wide open the other a more traditional shot with infinity focus, shooting at optimim apertures etc.

Darkened corners are not wanted but can be cropped out if necessary on the wider lens.

Because of my movement needs the lenses need to cover good range of tilt and swing.

For the wide 90mm from advice and research its looking like a schneider super angulon F5.6 is the one choice due to its good IC and as I want to keep the look I get from these lenses the same across the board I am assuming it's then best to go with similar lenses for all three...i.e. schneiders..

So to start with the 90mm there are so many different versions of the super angulons from what I can see all with similar 5.6 and 235 image circle...and then for the others many super angulons, symmars, etc.

How far back in versions do I need to go to get that 'classic' look?..first off in the 90mm and then in the other two complimentary lenses?

Thanks very much for any help.


Dan Fromm
2-May-2007, 02:54
Give it up. Super Angulons are all as modern as can be. The "classic look" is an artifact of emulsions (film and paper) and processing, is not due to the lens.

2-May-2007, 04:07
I am not sure how far away inifinity is with a 90mm, but not very far I suspect. Schneider's tables at http://www.schneideroptics.com/info/depth_of_field_tables/index.htm
may be instructive. They don't give figures for distances greater than 200ft (~60m) for the 90mm. Even wide open you won't have a very shallow dof when focused at infinity.

Ted Harris
2-May-2007, 04:36
Dan is on the right track, IMO. The modern lenses give you more flexibility. Control over the final look of your print is a combination of many factors adn teh lens used is just one, perhaps not even the most important. The way you manipulate the film, either in the darkroom or in Photoshop and the choice of paper are equally important, perhaps even more important. As an example, try printing the sme image on two or three dramatially different papers adn look at the results.

Former Member 8144
2-May-2007, 05:25
I am shooting in colour and normally print onto photographic paper (lambda or lightjet) via a drum scan...but for these projects, whilst still shooting in colour, I will be looking at printing to different papers (giclee) if necessary.

The shallow depth of field manages to work even with wide lenses due to the combnation of swing and tilt and focus.

As far as the 'classic' goes its something that came up in another thread and seems quite an interesting visual concept that would suit my two particular projects quite well.

I am not after an old fashioned pre war look simply one where the images are a touch smoother than with the latest modern lenses..i.e. I am happy to forgo a bit of sharpness for the sake of a bit of magic in terms of smooth transitions, good oof areas..a vibrancy to the image..(like the way a kodachrome images takes you back to family vacations..but I'm not after that kodachrome look, that was just to explain the difference in look!..or the way leica lenses are chosen over canon for their look and feel they produce..)

The choice of prinitng papers will have a good affect on this look but within my choice of lenses I was looking for something just that bit more alive.

It may well be that the older heliar lenses etc are too pronounced in their affect and hence my look for a set of lenses that possess that 'alive' factor.

All suggestiosn are really welcome..if for instance there is a particular modern lens line that is noted for its natural look that would be great..one poster has mentioned the rodenstock s line as perhaps having this quality..any other suggestions?



Ole Tjugen
2-May-2007, 05:26
In the 120 to 135mm range you will also need a wide-angle if you want extensive movements. You might get away with a 120mm f:6.8 Angulon - made to cover 5x7". If you want more than that, it's Super-Angulon and similar again - unless you go for the 110mm Super Symmar XL...

There is no super-Angulon 180mm. Nor was there ever an Angulon in that focal length, only 165mm and 210mm. The good news is that there are several other lenses which will give plenty coverage, including all Plasmat-type lenses like the Schneider Symmar (with or without extra letters).

The bad news is that none of these lenses will give the "classic" look when focused on infinity, assuming you mean the look you get with lots of softness and aberrations.

For selective focus you will usually get better results if you focus a lot closer than infinity...

Former Member 8144
2-May-2007, 05:29
Hi Ole,

yes sorry as I think my focussing on infinity statement was misleading..the ffect leads to areas at infinity being focussed although the camea itself is often focussed before that...if that makes sense!

with the super angulons and symmars is their a particular age of lens I need to look at where the visual starts to look differnet from the very 'clean' look of todays lenses?

Ole Tjugen
2-May-2007, 05:41
You mean like this?

http://www.bruraholo.no/bilder/POP2.jpgXenar 300mm f:4.5 on 5x7" film at f:4.5

All Super-angulons are relatively modern, and the fast f:5.6 ones are even more modern.

There are small differences between pre- and post-WWII angulons, but except for the newer ones being coated this makes no practical difference.

All the Symmars I've tried are very sharp, and so are the angulons. Here (http://www.bruraholo.no/images/Lodalen_GF.jpg) is an example - a 165mm Angulon, on 5x7" film again.

Former Member 8144
2-May-2007, 06:50
yes the selective focus like your great shot is something I used many years ago but then said to myself i would no longer use it until i had a project that demanded that look..which now I do!

With the older lenses that you (and others) use I am also seeing effects that are perhaps too pronounced for my needs..the curvature towards the edges etc so it may well end up that these old style lenses are not suitable for my current needs..I think what i'm after is simply losing the sterility sometimes associated with very modern lenses..my second project does not involve selective focus at all but i still require that 'live' feel to the images.

I think the best way i can describe what i am looking for is like the difference between analogue (or live) and digital music..with the latter everything is there but it's missing something..almost the human quality..well that's what i want out of my lenses!

That's why i'm starting to wonder if there is something in between these old style classic lenses and todays modern ones?...or perhaps there is not and it will come down to the paper I print onto and even finding (or recreating) an older film stock look...kind of kodachrome meets velvia!


Michael Graves
2-May-2007, 07:17
While I certainly agree that a lot of the old-style look of photos is a function of the thick-emulsion films and the paper formulations used way back when, the lenses definitely have an effect on this aspect of image quality. I have a 8.5" Ilex Paragon and a 210mm Fujinon W. The focal length of the two lenses is close enough that you'd think I would pick one and get rid of the other. But the image quality is so different between the two lenses I won't part with either one. I narrowed it down to what I call the "micro-halo" effect since I don't know what it's really called.

We all know how to recognize the major effects of flare in an image. But the older uncoated and single-coated lenses have a tendency to flare more than the newer multicoated lenses. If you lay a 12x loupe onto two identical subjects shot between the two lenses the transition lines between bright objects and dark objects is distinctly different between the two lenses. This is true even when not going directly into the light (but it's so beeeeuuuuutifuuullllll!!!). Some subjects just look better when photographed with the older lens.

Ted Harris
2-May-2007, 07:23

Have you done any experimenting with modern lenses (or whatever lenses you own) to see if a slight change in camera adjustments, f stop, using special effects filters or filtering effects, etc. take you part of the way to what you want? Next, you already mentioned trying different films ... good idea.

Finally, all the discussion about natural look and the look of one lens versus another is very subjective and subject to endless argument so what you hear from one user may not be what you see in your own mind's eye at all. It would also help if you explained yoru projects in some more detail. It is possible that some of us ahe actuallythought specifically about similar projects and could be a lot more help if we knew exactly what you were after.

Paul Fitzgerald
2-May-2007, 07:37

" I am happy to forgo a bit of sharpness for the sake of a bit of magic in terms of smooth transitions, good oof areas..a vibrancy to the image.."

Wollensak f/4.5 Raptars, any focal length you want.

Gene McCluney
2-May-2007, 07:52
I think the "look" of somewhat older photos is also very dependent (in black and white) on the color response of the b/w film. By using filters you can approximate the spectral response of the older "blue sensitive" and "orthochromatic" films, and this can go a long way towards giving your photos a vintage look, regardless of lens.

Ed Richards
2-May-2007, 08:23
Buy a couple of good diffusion filters, esp. the ones that have patterns of small circles etched onto the filter (Tiffen Diffusion/FX, for example), and give them a try. You might be surprised at what you can achieve.

Former Member 8144
2-May-2007, 08:34
Hi all,

With all these variables and personal opinions and lens conditions etc I am starting to think otherwise....perhaps I'll play it easy and get myself a good set of the three lenses I need that give me the blend of coverage and apertures I need and a uniformity of look (by lens brand) that I can then look to affect using film, paper, etc options.

As for the two projects the images will be all location, mostly exterior, some interior in one of the projects, many shot from distance, mostly large objects, spaces, etc in the greater landscape, figures will be in some of the images but not the focus, more than that I can't give away..absolutely meaning no disrespect whatsoever to anyone here but having been burnt once...my large projects always stay with me until they are well on their way!!

Anyway..I've learnt some great info about older lenses that one day hopefuly I shall use in a project but in the meantime its off to choose a set of lenses based on similar look, coverage, aperture, weight, cost, etc, etc!!!



2-May-2007, 08:43
I've found that coatings (or lack of them) make a big difference, especially in light conditions that encourage flare. The most 'classic' looking pictures i've ever made were with a nikon and a 70-210 zoom lens on a 35mm camera. The lens is multicoated, but there are so many glass to air surfaces that the flare characteristics are similar to an uncoated lens. At certain apertures, in high contrast situations, prints are permeated with a kind of glow that is just gorgeous, in that soft, atmospheric, retro way. In other kinds of light and other apertures, it behaves like a modern lens.

I bet you'd see similar situation-dependent effects with an uncoated older lens.

Ole Tjugen
2-May-2007, 08:59
Oh yes - I have two old Rodenstock Eurynar 135mm f:4.5, one coated, one uncoated and chipped. The difference is startling, which isn't really surprising with eight glass/air surfaces!

Jack Flesher
2-May-2007, 09:49
Hi all,

but in the meantime its off to choose a set of lenses based on similar look, coverage, aperture, weight, cost, etc, etc!!!

FWIW only, for the most similar look in modern lenses I would suggest your best bet is to stay within one manufacturer's group; buy all Schneider's or all Rodenstocks, and don't mix and match. You could probably do very well with a Schneider Super Angulon 90 f4.5, and then any Multi-Coated Symmar (APO or not) will probably look very similar, at least as respects color cast and contrast.



Former Member 8144
2-May-2007, 09:56
Cheers Jack..sound advice as ever.