View Full Version : which lens would you choose and why?

19-Nov-2009, 07:02
I'm considering two lenses primarily for 4X5 portraiture and some general still life work. The lenses are 270mm f9 Claron and Fuji 250mm f6.7. I know they are apples and oranges but my primary consideration is sharpness. The lens will be used almost exclusively for BW and light source is not a major consideration. The price for either is close enough to be ignored.
Denise Libby

MIke Sherck
19-Nov-2009, 08:10
I'd go with the Fuji, simply because it has a wider maximum aperture and you may find that useful in portraiture.

Ken Lee
19-Nov-2009, 08:32
I'd take the Fuji.

On 4x5, a 250mm is already fairly long for portraits - I'd take a 210mm Tessar or Heliar, but that's not what you asked.

You'll need lots of light to stop down enough to get enough depth of field to have lots of sharpness. The Fuji is twice as bright for focusing, since each f/stop is 2x the light.

19-Nov-2009, 08:51
The Fuji 6.7 is an older lens with a large image circle (just shy of 400mm if my memory hasn't failed me) that covers 8x10 and is highly sought after by filks with 8x10 cameras. Translation: Expensive.

For half the price of the 6.7 version I bought the newer Fujinon-W EBC 250mm f/6.3 lens. The 250/6.3 still has more than enough image circle for 4x5 & 5x7. In fact, it covers 8x10 at the corners with no room for movements. 300mm-305mm as I recall.

Just something to think about.

Robert Fisher
19-Nov-2009, 08:54
Ken, will either of the 210's that you mention cover 5x7 (used for portrait work)?


I'd take the Fuji.

On 4x5, a 250mm is already fairly long for portraits - I'd take a 210mm Tessar or Heliar, but that's not what you asked.

You'll need lots of light to stop down enough to get enough depth of field to have lots of sharpness. The Fuji is twice as bright for focusing, since each f/stop is 2x the light.

neil poulsen
20-Nov-2009, 19:53
My thought is get an f5.6 240mm Caltar-S II (Schneider Symmar-S) or a or a more recent Caltar of the same focal length. The latter would be a Rodenstock that's probably a little sharper. There's an advantage of f5.6, at least compared to f9. They' re pretty reasonably priced.

But, if you want to split the duty of this lens between landscape and portraiture, the Fuji lens might be better.

I've seen a few 6.7 Fuji 250 lenses for under $400 in the last few months. You might get lucky. The cost of mine was in the $390s.

Ken Lee
20-Nov-2009, 20:09
Ken, will either of the 210's that you mention cover 5x7 (used for portrait work)?

I don't know the official coverage, but a "normal" lens for 5x7 is roughy 210mm. I'd be surprised if they don't cover a circle equal to their own focal length. Official coverage is always stated for focus at infinity, where the image circle will be smallest. For portrait work, the focus is closer, and coverage increases. How much, depends on the mathematics, which I will gladly leave to the experts.

The Tessar I have is barrel-mounted, and the Heliar is in an antique shutter: both have many-bladed apertures that are essentially circular. They have a smooth blur rendering for which they are well-known, and which I prefer for portraits.

Since you mention sharpness as a priority, I would point out that a more modern design may give better color-correction and wider coverage than the classic designs, but I have found these old lenses to be quite sharp within their limitations. As far as I can tell, optical designers had already mastered a lot of physics - by the start of the 20th century. My vintage 150 Heliar performed just as sharply as my 150 APO Sironar S, in the black and white testing I performed.

I'll put a 5x7 back on my camera and look through these lenses. If I see anything surprising, I'll let you know.

20-Nov-2009, 21:51
I would second the use of an old Tessar design. But it doesn't have to be so old, and Tessars hide under many names.

Two examples from my own bag:

1. 8-1/2" (215mm) Ilex Paragon. The weakness of this one is the Ilex shutter--finding a really crisp Ilex No. 4 shutter is more challenging than finding a crisp Copal. The shutter is big because the lens is fast--f/4.5. That is very nice for portraits. And this one is coated and has good contrast, while still maintaining an old-world look. Probably from the 50's--not that old by large-format standards.

2. 240mm Caltar Type Y, if you can find one--I have only seen the one that I own. But it was cheap when I bought it, so uncommon doesn't mean rare collector's item by any means. Close to the same focal length as the 250 that others have mentioned. It's a Rodenstock Ysar or Ysarex behind the label ring (read: classic Tessar design), and excellent by any standard. It's f/6.7 aperture means it fits in a Copal 1, and the modern shutter is also an advantage. Early 70's for this one, coated but not multicoated.

Any Schneider Xenar will also be a Tessar design.

Both have coverage for 5x7, for the person who asked about that.

I have had my eye on 300-360mm lenses for portraiture and distant landscapes, and right now I use the rear cell of my Symmar 180 convertible when I REALLY need a lens that long. But they tend to be normal lenses for 8x10, and they require large shutters, so they tend to attract higher prices. Thought I had a line on a 14" Artar a while back, but not so.

Rick "who uses that Paragon specifically for portraits" Denney

Lynn Jones
23-Nov-2009, 12:02
Since I've worked with both, I'd take the Fuji every time, it is incredibly sharp anc actually covers 10x12. It would have far more market value if you decided to sell it later.


Jim Galli
23-Nov-2009, 12:10
Since I've used both, I'd pick the 270 G-Claron hands down any day. And if you wake up some morning with an 11X14, it'll cover that too. One of the great lenses imho.

Robert Fisher
23-Nov-2009, 12:24
Jim, your application for the 270 G is?

Jim Galli
23-Nov-2009, 12:43
Jim, your application for the 270 G is?

Sharp pictures on 8X10. Recently replaced with a Computar, but that was just because I could.

Diane Maher
23-Nov-2009, 18:36
Are you going for strictly head and shoulders shots?

ronald moravec
23-Nov-2009, 19:36
The G Claron is a great lens with big image circle and is sharp from infinity to 1:1. In fact it is a repro lens that happens to work well at infinity. Not all do. It has a flat field also. My bag has 210 and 300 G Clarons.

The Claron is a lesser lens not of the same quality.

I am not a fan a Fuji lenses. I would pick a German design, Schneider or Rodenstock, over a Fuji.

Brian Stein
25-Nov-2009, 16:08

1. Although some folks are not fans of .... lens, equally many are!

2. All things being equal (see below) I doubt I could tell the difference between the two in a blinded study. Others might disagree...

3. In their new form both would have been very sharp lenses (your primary choice feature), but chance, use, and other happenstances are likely to influence the individual lens you are looking at more than anything else (look at Chris Perez's lens tests to clearly see the variation between examples of the same lens). If you have the luxury, get both, try them and sell the one *you* find to be less sharp

4. As regards tessars, plenty to choose from. My 210 Fuji L covers 240 mm by specs (although some sources suggest this is a dialyte not tessar), so no drama for 5x7. The paragons as mentioned can be nice, and there are many others eg eddie on the flog pages has a neat f3 210 tessar in barrel up for grabs...). Buy, try, and sell is my mantra (Im just weak on the sell part.....)

Kirk Fry
25-Nov-2009, 22:41
12 inch Commercial Ektar???? More than a few folks made a living with these.

Dirk Rösler
30-Nov-2009, 00:24
I'm on 8x10. I have the Fuji and like it a lot. Have not done many portraits with it but the OOF areas seem very pleasant.

Nice photo example here:


I also have the 305/9 G-Claron and that seems a lot sharper, so not sure if it would my first choice for portraits. The Fuji seems 'warmer' somehow, whereas the Schneider has more of a sharp bite.

8-Dec-2009, 00:56
Thank you all for your help. In the last three weeks I've done nothing but test lenses and in order they were Symmar S, Fuji 250 6.7, Sinar N and G Claron 270 f9 and here is what I found: The Symmar S was very nice but big and noticeably softer than the G Claron overall, The Fuji was pretty much the same as the Symmar S though slightly sharper in the center but even softer at the edges, the Sironar N was as sharp as the G Claron in the center and the edges were very nearly as sharp but not quite and it is very heavy. All the lenses were very good and nothing to fault optically. I did notice the brighter focusing image of the faster f5.6 and 6.7 lenses but surprisingly the G Claron's F9 did not present any limitations for me. All the lenses were softer wide open but even here the G Claron was the sharpest and amazingly, the out of focus highlights were as beautiful as my old collapsible 50mm Summicron. I guess you can tell which lens I bought, the 270 f9 G Claron in a brand new Compur black face #1. The lens is as new and it is blazingly sharp, corner to corner. I could not be more pleased. Now all I have to do is overcome this damn knee injury and actually shoot some pictures and not just test charts. Thanks again everyone.
Denise Libby

Lynn Jones
9-Dec-2009, 15:08
The Repro-Clarons are 4 element airspaced Artar type APO lenses covering between 35 and 45 degrees, although truly excellent in performance. The Fuji f 6.7 is a wonderful wide field lens covering 80 degreees with conventional coating. The later Fujinon f 6.3 with multli-coating covered only 64 degrees. Personally, there is no way that I would trade the f 6.3 Fuji or the Repro-Claron for the f6.7 Fuji. I have used all three of them and the above earlier lens was so good that Fuji had to bring it back to the market
because it didn't cover enough for 8x10 cameras.


10-Dec-2009, 00:18
Dear Lynn;
I haven't had a chance to try the Repro Claron but it is my understanding from what Jim Galli and others have written that the 270 f9 G Claron, which is the lens I have, will easily cover the 8X10 format and even the 11X14 with slight movements. As I wrote, I did try the Fuji 250 f6.7 and it was a very nice lens but I found the G Claron to be just slightly sharper and at full aperture the out of focus highlights were just beautiful and that really sold me on the lens. The G Claron is a 6 element lens while the Repro Claron is a 4 element lens with much less coverage.
Denise Libby