View Full Version : Totally subjective- which would you choose Symmar-S MC 210mm or Ektar 203mm

18-Feb-2008, 17:12
Ok so I recently got a copy the caltar branded symmar-s MC, this lens hasn't always had a good life it looks like someone dropped it which dented and busted the shutter. Now the question is assuming I get this back up to working condition (I have a polaroid shutter on the way that should fit it) which would you choose to use: the Schneider or an old Kodak Ektar 203mm 7.7? I have had the Ektar for a while and it is a great lens, plus it is small and light. So does the weight of the Ektar win out or is the newer symmar good enough to warrant it's replacing the Ektar? Granted I know the real answer is whatever works best for me :D , but what do you think?

Robert A. Zeichner
18-Feb-2008, 17:18
What format are you planning to use these with?

18-Feb-2008, 17:31
I guess that would be good to know, at this point I shoot 4X5. I might eventually get a 5X7 but I don't really think that is likely.

Michael Graves
18-Feb-2008, 17:44
That depends on the age of the Symmar. SOme of the older ones were pretty flaky. So make sure you stick to the later MC version. The Ektar is a generation earlier than the MC, but still holds its ground in terms of image quality. And Ektars are consistent. A huge difference, as Robert suggests, is how much image circle you need. The 203 Ektar will cover 5x7 but not with much room to spare. I have a couple of very nice 5x7 negs shot with it in which the vignetting actually enhances the photo. They're an exception. Gotta watch that rising front when I'm shooting verticals. The Symmar covers 5x7 with room to spare and if you get a recent model the image quality is pretty good. I had a good one for a while, but discovered I liked my 210 Fujinon a lot better, so I sold the Schneider and kept the Fuji.

Robert A. Zeichner
18-Feb-2008, 22:09
Michael definitely got where I was headed with my question. That said, I own examples of both lenses (my 210 is actually a Schneider 210 Symmar-S MC) and due to weight, I usually carry my 203 because I can store it folded inside my Deardorff 4x5. I often take more lenses than most people would so I have a 240 and a 165 with me as well giving me a bunch of choices in the somewhat wider to somewhat longer than normal range from which to select. I've used the 203 with 5x7 and haven't run into any vignetting, but that's probably because I haven't used anything more than just moderate movements (usually tilt or swing at the rear which helps the situation) and often do close range shooting which actually increases the image circle. The other reason I prefer to take the Ektar is that I have a push-on filter adapter that takes it up to 52mm which is what fits all but just a couple of my other lenses which take 67mm. The 210 needs a 77mm filter or a 67mm adapter to the rear of the lens which I find to be a PITA. With a proper shade to maximize contrast, the Ektar's single coating is more than ample in the veiling glare department, so the only thing left to be concerned with is sharpness and that is certainly not an issue with any examples of the 203 that I've had the opportunity to use and I've owned as many as 4.

John Kasaian
18-Feb-2008, 22:59
FWIW I'd take a well cared for 203 Ektar over an abused 210 from any manufacturer.

Carsten Wolff
20-Feb-2008, 21:16
I'm with John, although I also have an older 135mm Symmar-S (12xxxxxx) which is perhaps my best lens. Having said that, the 203 Ektar is a gem of a lens and much smaller than the Plasmats in that length. A bit like the Nikkor-M 200/8 in size.
[I have since gone another way and am more than happy with my smallish Komura Commercial 210/6.3].