View Full Version : Questions about Schneider Symmar 210/370

5-May-2009, 16:01
I have been loaned a Schneider Symmar 210/370. It hasn't been used in 3 decades or more. (Owner doesn't want to sell, as he might want to use it some day. His darkroom has been packed up for a long time, but he is in process of moving and plans set it up in new place.) It looks good - no fungus, no wear. The shutter needs attention - it sticks. Opens promptly but is slow to close - a few seconds after B is released. Is this likely a lubrication problem? Can my mechanically-minded spouse safely look at it? What should it be lubricated with?

Also - I realize this is a convertible lens, but have never handled one before. Focal length of 370 (and coverage for 8x10) with both elements, right? Which element do you take off to get 210? 210 wouldn't cover 8x10, but would be fine for 4x5?

Thanks for your help.

Paul Ewins
5-May-2009, 16:03
It's the other way around - 210 with both elements and 370 with the front element removed. Coverage won't change when you remove the front element. It may illuminate 8x10 but I expect the corners will be quite soft.

5-May-2009, 16:28
YES, the shutter needs a CLA, it is not exactly a DIY job.
You need the right screwdrivers (very small ones), the propper lubricant (lithium based clock oil) and the right way of doing it without keeping parts left over.

You allso need a shutter speed tester to adjust after cleaning and re-oiling.

If you have everything in the home and you know what how to do it is a relative easy job, otherwise......


5-May-2009, 20:38
Expect to use quite a bit of bellows in the converted configuration, more than 370mm because the rear nodal point moves back significantly.

5-May-2009, 22:21
Thank you... I've still got ALOT to learn. My spouse has worked on clocks a bit in his life, but I'll try to get it to the big city for a proper CLA, and use it like a barrel lens until then.
So - I will get the same coverage, possibly soft corners, with either the 210 or 370 configuration? But better sharpness (and more bellows) with the 370?

Mark Sampson
6-May-2009, 04:49
Your lens should be quite sharp as a 210- that's what it was designed for. The conversion to 370mm is just a bonus; the story I heard 25+ years back is that Schneider meant the longer f.l. for portraits, accepting that the corners will be soft.
(Around 1973 Schneider replaced the whole series of lenses with the Symmar-S design, which gave up the convertability for an increase in performance at the designed focal length.)
My own experience with a 180/315 Symmar on 4x5 was that the 315 f.l. was not as bad as advertised, but certainly not as sharp as the Nikkor-M 300/9 used for comparison.

Vick Vickery
6-May-2009, 08:57
For best results when converted to 370mm (front elements removed), remember to always check your focus AFTER stopping down the lens. Focus shift after stopping down is common in convertible lenses and, I believe, is the prime cause for the very bad rap these lenses get...many folks don't refocus after stopping down and then complain that the results are "soft when converted". I find all of my convertible lenses (two triple-convertibles and one double) to be quite usable in converted mode, with only a minimal and very unobjectionable loss of sharpness.

6-May-2009, 09:08
Perhaps its already been mentioned, but you also need to use the green aperture scale which is different for the 2 focal lengths. As a practical matter, I never found the use of the rear element alone to be useful. With a minimum aperture of F:12 and then having to re check the focus as you stopped down, the results don't really reward the extra effort.
In tests, I found that I could crop the 210 image and get a picture that was comparably sharp.

Lynn Jones
6-May-2009, 10:25
Hi sly,

First, all double anastigmats are convertible to one degree or another (should be 6 or more elements). The particular lens in question from the 1960's having green and white aperture plates and compur shutters were problem children. In our experience (and we were the largest selling lenses of this type) was that twenty precent of them were returned in the first year for shutter failure, lens separation, or contrast so low ast to appear unsharp, that was why we started making our own lenses.

Test the lens to be sure it will work for you.