View Full Version : Schneider 72mm Super Angulon XL vs. 80mm Super Symmar XL

21-Nov-2007, 12:09
I am considering one of these two lenses for my kit and am curious about how people feel about them, particularly those who have experienced both lenses. To my analysis (probably of little use to anyone, certainly historically should be of no use to me) they seem similar in focal length, dramatically different in size, not too dissimilar in coverage, and not all that far apart in price. So what are some of the important distinguishing characteristics that might help someone choose one of these two lenses over the other? Or am I missing a lens from one of the other major lensmakers that might be better than either of these?

Experience, facts, opinions, and preconceived notions are all welcome.


21-Nov-2007, 13:10
I only own the 80mm, but one of the main reasons for choosing it over the 72 was the filter size and cost associated with that. The 72 takes huge filters if I recall correctly.

21-Nov-2007, 13:23
I chose a Rodenstock 75 Grandagon-N over either of the Schneiders. I don't need to use a CF with the Rodenstock (you do with both Schneiders) and it stops down past f/32 (which the 80 XL does not, so your focus spread is limited to less than 3 mm, in fact more like 2 mm). Further, it is nice to focus with an f/4.5 viewfinder when your eyes are tired at the end of the day (although this was not a huge factor). Are the Schneiders sharper than the Rodenstock. If they are, I doubt I would see it. The Rodenstock is unbelieveably tack sharp, and I am super critical of lens performance. How can you get better than tack sharp?

Rakesh Malik
21-Nov-2007, 14:12
I chose the 80mm SS-XL mainly because it's the more compact of the two.

Realistically though, I doubt that you'll find that much of a difference in image quality between either of the lenses you listed or the nearest Rodenstock or even Fujinon equivalent. Schnieder's 80mm SS-XL is a lot smaller than the Super Angulon though, and I carry my camera quite far from the vehicle. My 80mm SS-XL is going at least to Camp Muir with me, and if all goes well, all the way to the Columbia Crest. So for me size and weight were important. Your needs may not be the same, of course.

I'm not trying to bias you toward Schnieder rather than Rodenstock. My one Rodenstock lens (135mm Sironar-S) is a beauty also. It really is hard to go wrong with LF lenses.

Jose Amado
21-Nov-2007, 14:16
I had also the same problem as you, but I finnally bought the Schneider 72/f5.6. Yes I know about the price beeing higher, big filter format, its weight, etc. But it's a hell of a lens. Sweet, Sharp, AND lots of mm to go when I make front and back adjustments...using my 4x5 AS. You won't regret the price you pay for it after that I can assure you. Good luck,

Eric Woodbury
21-Nov-2007, 15:33
What's your format?

I have the 72 and got it because it is the widest thing that covers 5x7. I like those wides. If I need an 80, I can just crop 10% off the 72. That doesn't go the other way. It also gives a better spacing with the other lenses I have, fitting nicely between the 110mm and the 58mm. I don't have the center filter. Not important for my work.

The 72 does have a huge front element and takes a giant filter, but I use 4" gels and that works fine.

21-Nov-2007, 15:39
I shoot 4x5 with a Master Technika.

Eric Brody
21-Nov-2007, 16:34
Perhaps you should look at the Nikkor 75 f/4.5. It is sharp, compact and can be found used for a reasonable sum. Just trying to muddy the waters. I realize you did not ask about it. For 4x5, I use an Arca, it's hard to beat.


Mark Stahlke
21-Nov-2007, 19:47
I just want to correct a minor inaccuracy. According to the comparison charts (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/lenses/LF4x5in.html) the 80 SSXL stops down to f/32. Mine goes down to f/45.

One thing you might want to compare is the light fall off characteristics of the two lenses you are considering. I'm not sure where you'll find that information or if it's important to you.

Uri Kolet
21-Nov-2007, 19:56
I've just used my SA 72mmXL on a two-week tour of Bryce, Zion, Capitol Reef, and both Antelope Canyons; it's amazing, and I don't use mine with a centre filter. I was also tempted by the smaller, lighter, and cheaper R75/4.5 but was hooked on the 72SA
when I first used it at an f32 LF workshop in Wales in 2003. Thrillling.Buy it in HKG.

gary mulder
22-Nov-2007, 00:07
I am in the happy position of both. Never used them in a side by side comparison but some notes: If you need movements the 72 mm is the way to go. The 80mm on a recessed lensboard will fit inside the closed master technica. Depending on the application you could get away without center filter on the 72mm. On the 80mm I think you can't go without. The same center filter of the 80mm will fit on the 58mm. I wish you wisdom with your choice!

Brian Ellis
22-Nov-2007, 00:20
I bought the 80mm XL for two principal reasons. One was the small size and weight. The other was that I thought the focal length was close enough to both 75mm and 90mm that it would take the place of those two lenses, saving weight and space. I wouldn't feel the same way about a 72mm lens, to me that's too far from 90mm to take the place of a 90mm.

22-Nov-2007, 06:55
I have a center filter for the 72mm that's in very good shape that I'd sell a good discount from new. PM if interested.


22-Nov-2007, 08:15
Depending on the application you could get away without center filter on the 72mm

Gary, interesting observation. What application(s) would that apply to? One of the reasons I decided not to go the 72XL route was that all the vendors I spoke with said the CF was necessary all the time! That was one reason I went with the 75 Grandagon.

I'd be interested in anyone who has been in the fortunate position to compare the SA's against the Grandagons.

gary mulder
22-Nov-2007, 08:59
Gary, interesting observation. What application(s) would that apply to?

these where taken on portra NC 160 with the 72mm sa without a centerfilter on 4 X 5. And are not corrected in PS.

Henning Wulff
25-Nov-2007, 20:13
Gary, interesting observation. What application(s) would that apply to? One of the reasons I decided not to go the 72XL route was that all the vendors I spoke with said the CF was necessary all the time! That was one reason I went with the 75 Grandagon.

I'd be interested in anyone who has been in the fortunate position to compare the SA's against the Grandagons.

I have still one Grandagon, the 65/4.5 and have had the 75/4.5, 90/4.5 and some earlier ones. I replaced the 75/4.5 with the 72 SA-XL and the 90 with the 90/8 Nikkor. The 75/4.5 was a decent lens, but not in the same class as the 72. Also, the extra coverage of the 72 is important to me, as with the 75 on a vertical 4x5 shot I could not bring down the horizon far enough on many an occasion. The difference is significant. I sometimes unscrewed the front filter attachment ring from the 75 Grandagon to get another degree of light, as it is that ring that first cuts into the light cone. The 72 is just a superior lens, with a lot higher performance right to the corners, and the filter ring is large enough so that it doesn't cut into the coverage.

I wouldn't go out without a center filter for either of them. At similar angles, the falloff seems about equal to me. I don't always use a center filter with the 72 (nor with the 75G before) but for commercial work it was essential to have it. Of course, when using the center filter, the coverage of the 75 was very slightly less again.

The 90 got replaced because a common use for that focal length is with my 'light' outfit, and the 90/8 Nikkor is about half the weight. Also, since I really never shoot wider than f/11 anyway, the higher speed of the Grandagon was insignificant. Focussing wasn't an issue either. The Grandagon couldn't really be used at any wider aperture than the Nikkor, and the Nikkor being the only 90f/8 that has 105 degree coverage meant I wasn't losing out in that area.

I don't think the f/4.5 Grandagons are any worse (or better) than the f/5.6 SA's from the same era, but lens design has moved on.

I have an Apo-Grandagon (35mm) and it compares well with the 47 and 58 SA-XL's I use. In the last decade or so Schneider has made a bigger effort to update their lens line than any other brand, but Rodenstock is hardly second tier. Nikon and Fuji have not updated their lenses in the same way, so they have fallen a bit further behind, even though I use and am very satisfied with some lenses from each.

My main use is architectural photography, so the wideangles are my bread and butter.

26-Nov-2007, 03:45
Although I don't own a Grandagon, I doubt there's a major difference in light fall-off characteristics between the 75 and the 72XL, which would mandate the use of a center filter for one but not for the other. If you search this forum, you may find the thread in which there's a link to a table showing light fall-off characteristics of several wide-angle lenses (iirc also the 72XL). And (allso iirc) the light fall-off characteristics of wide-angle constructions (as the 72XL) seems is better than the one of "normal" lens constructions (as the 80XL) - but no guarantee on that.