View Full Version : Schneider 58XL vs. Rodenstock Apo Grandagon 55?

Andre Noble
1-Jan-2002, 06:54
This question has not been asked in the archives, so here goes:

I am considering getting one of these two ultra wide lenses in next few months t o augment the charming Nikkor 90 (which many times is not wide enough for the sh ot)for full 4x5 frame coverage.

Anyone have experience of their own choosing between these two, and if so, which one did you get, the Schneider or the Rodenstock, and what was your reasoning?

Word is, optically the Rodenstock is excellent. Any other tid-bits?

paul owen
1-Jan-2002, 07:45
Andre, As you know from a previous posting I too am looking for a wide angle, so I've been doing plenty of research!! The 55 Rodenstock seems to be VERY good, only problem I've come across is a posting where the flimsy rodenstock lens caps have rubbed on the rear element and marked the glass!! A replacement cap would solve this!! It also appears that a centre filter is essential too (extra cost). FRom all reports the 55 vs the 58XL seems to be an even match!! This narrows the choice down between both lenses to something as simple as brand loyalty!! Just some thoughts!! Regards Paul

Bob Salomon
1-Jan-2002, 11:09
"only problem I've come across is a posting where the flimsy rodenstock lens caps have rubbed on the rear element and marked the glass!!"

That is the only time we heard of it also and we are the distributor.

The person who psted that comment, I believe, had purchased a used lens and this comment may have no bearing on a new one. To date no one who has bought a new lens in the past 12 years has reported this to us.

paul owen
1-Jan-2002, 12:12
Yeh, but it's still worrying all the same!! I only mentioned this "problem" as it's the only negative point I've come across for this lens!! Lighten up Bob!!

Mark Nowaczynski
1-Jan-2002, 12:18
For the record let me state that the three wonderful Rodenstock lenses (90mm f4.5 Grandagon, 135mm f5.6 Sironar-S, 210mm Sironar-S) that I bought new last year came with flimsy, thin, and inadequate lens caps stamped with the word Rodenstock on them.

From this forum I learned of the existence of machined delrin lens caps made by S.K. Grimes, and I have now replaced all my lens caps with these very substantive improvements. These lenses deserve to be better protected and now Rodenstock's 'oversight' has been corrected.

The issue of flimsy lens caps has surfaced before on this forum, as has the elegant solution provided by S.K. Grimes.

Mark Nowaczynski
1-Jan-2002, 12:27
For full details see:


These are the Linhofs of lens caps.

Jim Johnston
1-Jan-2002, 12:40
I don't think that Bob said anything out of line. He was only stating that in the past 12 years there was only one comnplaint, and that complaint may not have been based upon a manufacturer's supplied lens cap.

I think that Paul needs not to be so defensive.


Bob Salomon
1-Jan-2002, 12:44
No Paul.

You relax. " but it's still worrying all the same!!"

It simply has not, is not and will not be an issue.

If you truly want to end all worries buy a set of custom Novoflex metal caps. but you would be the first to do so.

Kevin J. Kolosky
1-Jan-2002, 14:20

There is one plain and simple answer to your question. Ask each distriutor to suggest a stocking dealer near you who has a demo lens of the type you are condisering buying. Really no different that asking for a test drive when you go to buy a new car. If they won't allow you to test the lens you are considering buying, run from that place as fast as you can. But don't rely on someone telling you something might be good when you are buying a new lens. Test the one you want to buy and make sure that if it is no good you can take it back. I am sure that the Rodenstock people and the Schneider people want to know when they have a lemon out there and I am sure they would be willing to take it back if it proves to be so. Right Bob?


Bob Salomon
1-Jan-2002, 14:27
All lenses supplied by us are warrantied to perform to their specifications. If not thet are reaired or replaced per warranty.

However very few retailers will make new lenses used by renting their new stock. So the specific lens a dealer rents isn't always a new boxed unit. It is a lens in their rental stock.

Virtually all dealers dealing in pro equipment rent so there is no problem finding one. Just there may not be one near where he lives.

Glenn Kroeger
1-Jan-2002, 14:37

Photomark in Phoenix has (had) a 55mm Apo-Grandagon in their rental fleet.

I rented it twice, then bought one based on excellent results.


Jeffrey Goggin
1-Jan-2002, 15:18
I have likewise rented Photomark's 55mm Grandagon and found it to be a superb lens ... haven't yet purchased one, though, as the money always seems to find another outlet besides photography.

Trevor Crone
1-Jan-2002, 15:18
Andre, I cannot speak from experience with regards to the 58XL from Schnieder bu t I have been using Rodenstock's 55 Apo Grandagon for sometime. Initially on 6x9 cm and more recently on 5x4. Unfortunately it provides little room for lens shif t on this format but its such a sharp lens right to the edge even on 5x4.

This is purely subjective but I find that a lot of my images taken with this len s seem to have an almost fluidness about them, a kind of 3D feel. Imotive I know but it's something I cannot fully explain.

Good luck with your choice.

Andre Noble
1-Jan-2002, 19:25
Thank you all for the input. My intuition was telling me to consider the Rodenstock Grangagon 55mm, and based on your threads I'll take that hunch and go with it, (albeit possibly considering custom made lens caps from Grimes as a required accessory). I hope its not TOO wide for my TOYO Field 45AII, which is supposed to have the Schneider 58XL as the widest limit of usable lenses.

Aside: I'm too impulsive to test rental lenses as was suggested, but I know some of you aren't so thank you for the fruits of your labor. When time comes, hopefully in next year, I'll order the 55mm from RW, and keep it if it meets performance expectations. I'm looking forward to it.

1-Jan-2002, 19:28
"If you truly want to end all worries buy a set of custom Novoflex metal caps. but you would be the first to do so."

If this is true Bob I'd like to meet the Dunderhead at Novoflex who insists on marketing lenscaps that no one has ever purchased!

1-Jan-2002, 19:32
Andre be advised that if you buy from Robert White you will not receive the wonderful Lifetime Warranty on the Rodenstock lens that is only available from Rodenstock's Autorized Distributor in the U.S.A., yadda yadda yadda... oh nevermind.

Bob Salomon
1-Jan-2002, 19:52
"marketing lenscaps that no one has ever purchased"

Sorry Wayne.

they are made from aluminum,on a custom order basis, for very long Canon and Nikon lenses .

Since I forgot you were here I should have added, never ordered one for large format lenses.

But if you wish they can. Rather expensive though for a non- existant problem.

paul owen
1-Jan-2002, 20:17
Bob, a rare NOT non existent problem, surely??

Bob Salomon
1-Jan-2002, 20:30
"a rare NOT non existent problem"

No. Non-existant.

In 12 years distributing Rodenstock 1000's of new lenses. Not one lens reported to us with this problem.


The person with this problem had purchased a lens that was NOT new.

Julio Fernandez
1-Jan-2002, 22:32
In marketing, perception is reality, yes Bob. You have heard from others now read my comment. The dammed Rodenstock caps are flimsy, cheaply made. My cap for a 60mm ID fitting weighs exactly 4.70 grams. Adding another 2.5 grams of plastic would make the cap's convex surface much more sturdy. The extra cost of another 3 grams of plastic at about $2.00 per pound for the resin would add to 1.3 cents additional material cost per cap. Even at the generous mark ups of this industry, that would probably translate to 8 cents more per cap/lens. OK, Bob, tell Rodenstock marketers to make a decent cap, and add the 8 cents to the selling price of each lens and stop making a reputable optical manufacturer look cheap and greedy. You can help the manufacturer better by listening to customers instead of whitewashing their mistakes. For your info, a Schneider 58mm ID lens cap weighs 7.06 grams and is much sturdier. You do not have to rely on Novoflex specially ordered caps, get Schneiders.

Andre Noble
1-Jan-2002, 23:23
The stiff corner of a field camera lens board and the front element of an adjacentlens are not a good combination when a flimsy lens cap is in place. The Nikon LF lens caps are adequate for their protection. The Japanese engineers pay attention to little, but vital details like that.

Bob Salomon
2-Jan-2002, 06:03
:You can help the manufacturer better by listening to customers instead of whitewashing their mistakes.:

Listen to whom if no one compalins to us?

We always pass on comments from dealers and users where there are problems.

So far, 12 years, no connsumer, no dealer, has had a complaint about the caps or had a problem caused by the caps.

Now because the factory has agreed to make good on one consumer's complaint that a USED lens had a problem they should change everything?

Again, 12 years. 1000's of lenses. Noone has reported a problem.

Bob Salomon
2-Jan-2002, 06:32
"I had a damage of a back element and Kerry had also some troubles with his front element"

Then it is strange neither of you contacted us directly.

Bob Salomon
2-Jan-2002, 08:31
"So Bob it was not 0 it was 1 dad you had just to remember your brain! But I know all good salesman are always forgott the problems they just want sales! But its OK Bob its your job! "

The one, and only, time this question arose was with your used lens Armin.

No one else has reported tis.

Jean-Marie Solichon
2-Jan-2002, 09:30
"I hope its not TOO wide for my TOYO Field 45AII, which is supposed to have the Schneider 58XL as the widest limit of usable lenses." Andre, I have been using the 55mm Grandagon on my Toyo 45AII for 18 months and it is quite usable. I believe that Toyo states that the 45AII can take lenses as short as 47mm, which looks true to me. Be prepared to drop the bed, back tilt and rise the front standard, this takes less than 20 seconds. An other detail : whith dropped bed the revolving back does not rotate properly anymore. In order to rotate the back 90? you have either to tilt it back rearward or to force it into position which scratches the paint of the bed (and is what I do 80% of the time). By the way I second all the good opinions about this lens.

Andre Noble
2-Jan-2002, 10:04
Armin and jean-Marie, thanks for the tip on TOYO/Rodenstock 55mm compatibility.

Bob Salomon
2-Jan-2002, 10:09

"My cap for a 60mm ID fitting weighs exactly 4.70 grams"

The one we just weighed, 60mm I.D. Rodenstock cap, weighs 5.6699046 g.

In fact we weighed 3 of them. 1 with the older logo and 2 from new items in stock with the newer logo on the cap. All weighed the same on an electronic postage scale.

Michael Chmilar
2-Jan-2002, 14:31
To get back on topic:

If someone has used both the R 55 and the S 58, can you comment on the brightness of the f4.5 vs. f5.6 on the ground-glass?

2-Jan-2002, 20:40
What's up with all these people having gram scales????

Frank Hansen
2-Jan-2002, 23:41
You guys are kidding, right. I have a scuff mark on the front element of one of my Rodenstocks and could never figure out how it got there! Now it makes sense.

Why has Rodenstock not mentioned this or warned the consumer that an expensive piece of glass could be damaged by a lens cap that is less than stellar.

Frank H.

Julio Fernandez
3-Jan-2002, 16:34
Bob: Your Rodenstock lens cap weighs "5.6699046 g." in a postal scale. WOW! Your scale weighs to SEVEN DECIMAL places such as used in few analytical labs for supercritical applications, ....for the mail room? really? If instead the seven decimals result from converting ounces to grams, it is bad technical practice to write all that the calculator can calculate, because it is misleading. OK you beat me, my Swiss Mettler laboratory scale weighs only to 2 decimal places. Be that as it may, this only proves that there is yet a third type of Rodenstock cap or that they are not made to consistent standards. The discrepancy can be settled easily by me sending you my Rodenstock cap. You can weigh it and feel it, provided that if I am right, you will give me a good and solid Rodenstock cap. I do not know how you can do that, they don't really exist, do they? . Bob, from a long experience in quality matters I can tell you it is bad business to judge product quality according to complaints received or not received. A good number of users do not complain, they just change manufacturers. Others do not understand the cause of the failure or do not know who to complain to, others yet don;t want to bother; probably the same that do not return rebate stickers for real money! Manufacturers that do CARE about Quality make the best product they can that the market can tolerate. Another 8 cents to the selling price of a lens would not make Rodenstock lenses uncompetitive. Makes you wonder, if a manufacturer is willing to risk damage to the customer's lens for the sake of 1.3 cents, (factory cost), how far will it go when tempted by 25 cents pocketable money that the customer may be less likely to notice that an up front lens cap? Bob, this can not a be a complaint to you personally because I am in Canada, but I have no doubt that if I went to the Canadian distributor I'd get pretty much the same answer as you have provided. Just curious, have you told Rodenstock about the complaints you are having about the caps? PS: I just weighed a NO NAME cap, 60mm. It weighed 8.34 grams. It is much much more solid than Rodenstock's and will remain on the Rodenstock lens from now on.

Bob Salomon
3-Jan-2002, 17:37
"Bob, this can not a be a complaint to you personally because I am in Canada, but I have no doubt that if I went to the Canadian distributor"

Feel free, ask for Mike at Kinderman. 905 940-9292

Rod Klukas
7-May-2002, 14:02
We tested the 58mm xl against the 55mm grandagon. The test was on a tall gray bldg with black glass windows inset with the lower sill fluted or grooved so it appeared like shark teeth. The image was deliberately vignetted so one corner would be in the center of the image and the diagonal would be black(vignetted). The exposures were shot at f16. Here are the results:

From center the image was a slight bit flatter(more even) with the Schneider for the first inch outward when read with the densitometer. (no center filters were used), but from there on the Schneider fell of f radically until it came to its penumbra which was 3/8" wide. The Rodenstock was far more even with less fall-off after the 1st inch and its penumbra was only 3/16". The Rodenstock seems to be somewhat better although if you need movement a center filter would still probably be best for either. In terms of sharpness when viewed with an 8x loupe the 'sharks teeth' of the window sills were markedly better rendered by the Rodenstock than the Schneider. So you decide...

By the way I always recommend the 82mm filter size with an 85mm kaiser cap and leave the brass Heliopan ring on all the lenses where needed with this cap. The 82mm filter will cover more than 98% of all lenses with the exception of the polarizer and therefore saves you bulk and money while protecting your lenses as well. Rod

Tom Westbrook
22-Nov-2003, 16:24
Does anyone know if the Schneider IIIb center filter works on the APO-Grandagon 55mm? I already own the IIIb and would prefer not to shell out umpteen bucks for another, similar CF. The IIIb is the recommended filter for the Schneider 58mm lens.

The Schneider filter has a filter factor of 3x or 1.5 stops and the recommended Rodenstock filter shows a fitler factor of 4x or 1.5 stops (not sure why the factor and stops are out of synch). That's according to Schneider and Rodenstock product literature. The thread sizes are the same. Other than that I don't have a clue what differences there may be.

Thanks for the help.

23-Nov-2003, 22:09
My 355 Schneider G claron has ridiculously flimsy lens caps too. I could press them in with a finger to touch the front element... no problem. My Nikon 450 mm caps are GREAT! Very sturdy and hold their shape. It is insane to have these unforgivably cheap caps on these great German lenses. Why be defensive Bob? Just help solve the problem instead of living in denial. And if there are no problems with these caps why is Grimes co. making them and people here on the forum spending a lot of $$$ to replace the originals?

Arne Croell
24-Nov-2003, 04:15
I have used the Schneider IIIb center filter on the Grandagon 55mm and it worked fine. I got it for a 75mm Grandagon originally, 12 years ago, but in the meantime it has also worked on an 80mm (used occasionally with the filter) an a 110mm Super Symmar (used rarly with the filter though). It may not be the _theoretical_ optimum for all of these lenses, but it is close enough to work nicely in practice.