View Full Version : Recommended 135 or 150 for 4x5

charlie jay
18-Mar-2010, 11:57
Hi everyone,
I have been shooting large format for about a year now at university and have always used Schneider APO-Symmar 150mm's and the odd 90mm borrowed from the uni's store. After a chat with one of my lecturers, he let me borrow his Fujinon CM-W 135. I got on well with it and really liked the large image circle and overall quality of the lens.

I am in search of a lens similar to the Fuji and would be open to all opinions on 135's or 150's. I have everything in my kit apart from a lens and just want to round it off so i can be independent and don't have to rely on borrowing the uni's lenses!

Can anyone recommend either a 135 or 150 that isn't too expensive.. Don't really want to spend more than $400 on a second hand piece of glass but could stretch if i find something amazing. Everyone says go for the Sironar-S but they are really hard to come by and are often expensive.

What is everyone's thoughts?


18-Mar-2010, 12:07
I own a 150 Symmar over 25 years, Three years ago I bid a Fuji 135-W. I never go back to 150 again. This lens always stay with my camera. I like it. Not expensive in used market.

18-Mar-2010, 13:37
Favorite and most often used in my kit: Wollensak 135 4.7 raptar. Got it in minty condition for $125. Had a brand new Rodenstock 150 5.6 APO Sironar S - sold it when I saw what the Raptar could do.

18-Mar-2010, 14:13
This looks pretty yummy.


Eric Woodbury
18-Mar-2010, 14:26
It comes down to what you like and what other lenses you have. For years I used 58, 121, 150, 210, etc. Then I sold the 121 and got a 110. Recently I bought Fuji glass and now use 58 (or 65), 110 (or 125), 180, 240, etc. This is fine for my work and it is much lighter to carry. When I switch to 5x7, it is 72, 110, 180, and up. 5x7 is harder to fit, altho my Sironar W on the 5x7 is one of my favorites.

Robert Hughes
18-Mar-2010, 14:31
Favorite and most often used in my kit: Wollensak 135 4.7 raptar. Got it in minty condition for $125.
Huh. I bought a Busch Pressman D with that same Wollie 135 Raptar for about $125. It works great!

charlie jay
18-Mar-2010, 15:21
Thanks for all the fast replies! Does anyone know what kind of coverage the Raptar has? I'll be using the lens for primarily Architecture/Landscape work

Dan Fromm
18-Mar-2010, 16:12
The Raptar is an f/4.5 tessar type, like all f/4.5 Tessars covers its own focal length plus around 10%. Useful lens on press cameras, don't mean to denigrate it, but not the best 135 for shooting architecture.

18-Mar-2010, 16:15
For landscape the Raptar is all you could ask, for architecture it may be a little tight (which is why I suggested the Symmar on ebay).

18-Mar-2010, 17:17
135mm nikkor's can be had for about $200. Takes 52mm filters and really sharp @f16 too.

Larry Gebhardt
18-Mar-2010, 17:51
Well I have a Sironar S 135mm and it is my favorite lens. I would buy it again if I lost it, so there's my recommendation.

David Karp
18-Mar-2010, 21:18
You liked that Fuji, so you might want to consider a Fuji CM-W. If those are a bit expensive, the prior series (NW) is small, light, also has Fuji EBC coating, and are usually available at good prices. These lenses are not marked "NW." They have lettering on the outside of the barrel, and say "Fujinon W." I have two of these (125mm and 150mm) and both are outstanding. The 125 is my favorite 4x5 lens.

Ivan J. Eberle
19-Mar-2010, 06:44
The "standard" Sironar N is a Plasmat that's very sharp. I have the bargain-priced Caltar IIN version of the same exact lens. It has very good coverage and costs much much less used than the S version. It's not quite as terrific for architecture as my 210mm Caltar IIN, with it's more modest image circle, but I'm not in any hurry to run out to find the S version in 135mm.

That all said the 135mm f/4.7 Wollensak Raptar may be a touch sharper on center. For the price (both mine came along for the ride old Meridians) they're tough to equal. Not being apochromatic, they do have some CA if you go pixel peeping on horizon edges toward the corners.

The condition of the shutter may have a lot to do with your final cost of ownership. The Wollensak Rapaxi have been known to be recalcitant until they've been swished around in several changes of Ronsonol-- and, like many/most 60 year old shutters, they time about 1/2 to a full stop slow on all speeds.

Brian Ellis
19-Mar-2010, 09:08
I've owned two 135s, a Nikon W and a Sironar S. Both were excellent lenses but I didn't see any real difference in image quality between the two and the Sironar cost a lot more than the Nikon. I believe the Sironar has a little more coverage though. The only 150 I've owned was a G Claron. Very nice lens, small, light weight, plenty sharp, f9 is not problem at this focal length, and G Clarons are usually inexpensive.

19-Mar-2010, 16:27

In case you missed it check your private messages.


Andre Noble
20-Mar-2010, 04:10
Brian, you will find a difference between APO Sironar S and a Nikon W lens by viewing the negative with a loupe that is 9x or higher. An 8x loupe doesn't cut it.

By the way, I recommend the gentleman save up and treat himself to a brand new Nikon 120mm SW f8 lens from B&H at $799. Indredibly sharp, built like a tank, and image circle large enough for 5x7 and 8x10.

22-Mar-2010, 20:04
I'm using a Schneider Symmar 150 5.6 convertible that is extremely sharp above f8. Really beautiful lens.

John Kasaian
22-Mar-2010, 20:38
The 150 G Claron is a delightful lens, as is the 135 WF Ektar.

Vincent Malaud
6-Apr-2010, 09:20
Brian, you will find a difference between APO Sironar S and a Nikon W lens by viewing the negative with a loupe that is 9x or higher. An 8x loupe doesn't cut it.

Andre, your comment made me wonder at the utility of an Apo Sironar S vs a Nikon W in the 135mm focal for contact printing??

If you need an 9x magnification to see any difference, can I conclude that on a contact print from a 4x5' neg, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference? Am I right?


Jim Rhoades
6-Apr-2010, 13:37
Test, test, test. Interesting statement from Catshaver and Mr. Hughes. I have a 135mm Schneider Xenar from a Crown Graphic. Same thing as the Wolly. This lens is so sharp that it kicked the snot out of a 135 Sironar N.

The bad news is the movement is somewhere between nil to none. But then the N did not have much either.

Architecture calls for more movement than most 135's give. That advise on a f/8 120mm is solid.

6-Apr-2010, 15:21
150 ... i use a computar symmetrigon
lots of movements, and covers 5x7 too so
when you get the urge to get a bigger camera
you won't need another lens.

have fun