View Full Version : Sharpest Large Format Lenses

27-Aug-2007, 15:21

I'm considering a purchase of a Fotoman 624 camera with either a 90mm or 180mm focal length lens. I would like to do larger print sizes (up to 24 inch high), therefore I would like to know if anyone can recommend any sharp/contrasty lenses for those focal lengths as that criteria is of utmost importance. I have used a 90mm Nikkor before and was pleased with the results (before my equipment got stolen), but is the premium on cost worth the quality one can get from Schneider or Rodenstock lenses? Or is there really no discernal difference between the major large format carriers in terms of sharpness.

Any thoughts appreciated.

Ken Lee
27-Aug-2007, 15:31
The topic appears fairly regularly on this forum.

Scroll down a bit to this thread (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=27941), and you will see a recent discussion of this issue.

27-Aug-2007, 16:08
I beleive that if you are scanning and working up images in Photoshop and using a professional sharpening tool such as Pixel Genius' PhotoKit Sharpener, than any minor differences between manufacturers or variation within a given manufacturers product line will be equalized during post acquistion processing. I think weight, image circle, filter size, etc should be of more concern than manufacturer.

27-Aug-2007, 17:04
Additionally, if you are shooting in color, you may wish to settle on 1 or 2 manufacturers (if you can) of your lenses for color consistency. More of the color will be attributed to the film (particularly transparency), but the lens manufacturers do coat their lenses a bit differently and they do reproduce colors differently. The color differences can be minimized with certain digital programs such as Photoshop however.


Ron Marshall
27-Aug-2007, 18:56
Large format lens test results:


Sheldon N
27-Aug-2007, 19:47
A couple things to keep in mind with such a wide format...

A 90mm lens is SUPER wide, equivalent to a 15mm lens on the 35mm format.

Center filters are a MUST, especially on the wide angle side. I shot my Nikkor 90mm on 6x18, and the fallof was objectionable.

I'd say that a 150mm lens would be a good focal length, roughly equivalent to a 24mm on 35mm film. The Rodenstock APO Sironar S or Schneider APO Symmar-L just barely cover the format and are very well regarded. I'd pick either of the same two lenses in the 180mm focal length, however you aren't coverage limited at that point. A 180mm lens is about like a 28mm lens for 35mmm film.

All lenses tend to do worse at the edges than the do at the center. Shooting a format that goes all the way to the edges of the image circle can lead to results where the center is sharp but the edges are not quite as good. I noticed this with my Nikkor 90mm.

My suggestion, first pick a focal length, then look at your choices in that focal length - keeping a mental note about coverage and the availability of a center filter, then worry about sharpness/contrast.

If I had to choose for you... Schneider 110mm XL with a center filter for the ultra-wide side, or Rodenstock APO Sironar-S 180mm f/5.6 for a more gentle wide field of view (plus avoiding the issues of hitting the edge of the image circle and the need for a center filter).

Gordon Moat
27-Aug-2007, 20:37
A Nikkor 180mm f5.6 will cover 6x24 (56mm by 240mm) at f22, and maybe at f16. It will not cover at larger apertures due to not enough image circle (208mm at f5.6).

The Nikkor 120mm f8.0 will cover 6x24, and not require stopping down as much. That is a lens for 8x10 film. You might want to check other companies for lenses for 8x10 film too.


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

Sheldon N
27-Aug-2007, 20:51
Just a quick note on the format size - Fotoman specs the actual exposed film width of the 624 as 224mm. I had a whole different set of recommendations typed out until I noticed that... :)

Fotoman also has a nice listing on their website of lenses that fit their camera and cover the format, they have one for each camera.

28-Aug-2007, 09:13
I've found my heliar 15cm single coated is tack sharp