View Full Version : What are the big luminous lenses made for?

Paul Schilliger
10-May-2002, 07:36
I am puzzled by this question from some time: Why does Schneider (and maybe some others) have a tradition in making such big glasses as the Tele-Artons and Tele and Apo-Tele-Xenars? Obviously there must be something these lenses can do that more reasonable lenses can't do, otherwise who would pay such prices and bother with the weight. I can understand that with some cameras it can be useful to ha ve a shorter bellows, and a 360-400-500 or 800 tele can help, but I don't think a Tele-Arton 250 mm is made for that purpose only and when it comes to weight an d seize, and also the response to tilt and focus, the tele design has some evide nt draw backs.

So what else are these lenses used for? Are they intended to produce a certain l ook in the images, for example a certain softness or a nice bokeh with very shal low DOF, or is the luminosity only intended to help focussing in relatively dark studio conditions? Are these lenses sharp enough to be used wide open? Or were they precursors like the dinausors... Please do share what you like in those len ses, especially the distinct qualities they have!

neil poulsen
10-May-2002, 10:08
Great point. For example, why not have a modern day 240mm multi-coated double-gause (e.g. wide-field ektar). It would be much lighter than other lenses like the 210 super-angulon, it wouldn't have the expense of the 210mm Super Angulon XL, yet, it would cover all the needs of about 95% of photographers. How many people can afford the 210mm Super Angulon XL? In fact, it begs the question, wouldn't it be more profitable for some company to produce the double-gause in this range. Then there's the 360mm Symmar-S. What a monster!

To Schneider's credit, they developed the G-Claron, which is a smaller, lighter lens. But, they've also cut way back on the number of focal lengths currently available in this optic.

John Kasaian
10-May-2002, 10:35
FWIW Scneider has discontinued the G-Clarons. The limited number of focal lengths now available reflects what it left in the inventory. Maybe they'll replace it with the double gauss design?

Jim Galli
10-May-2002, 12:51
This doesn't completely answer your question but maybe part. Historically some of these go back to speed graphic days when they had focal plane shutters included. That's why the older tele-xenars show up in barrel quite often. The Speed, and many others had a limited bellows draw but a press photog could put 24cm tele-xenar on and use the focal plane shutter.

Paul Schilliger
14-May-2002, 17:18
Thanks! Well I had wished that some owners of Tele-Xenars would have told us ho w wonderful these lenses are and how they can achieve such or such effect thanks to the shallow DOF they offer. But from the lack of feedback I guess it's none-sense to believe that a 360 or 500/5.5 Tele-Xenar wou ld allow on large format the kind of effect obtained with a 180-300/2.8 on small format. So, I conclude that their design is merely a solution to short bellows cameras, period.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
14-May-2002, 17:32

I have a 180mm f/5.5 Tele-Arton, Linhof Marked, manufactured in the late 1950s, than came with my Linhof Technika 23. While this is not a 4x5 lens, it is the same design. The lens is, in my experience, junk. It has poor contrast, terrible resolution, and the same weight as a 180 plasmat. Why was it made? I have no idea, since the bellows on this camera can easily handle a regular 180. Its a mystery.

Paul Schilliger
15-May-2002, 11:50
Sounds as the myth ends here!

N Dhananjay
15-May-2002, 11:57
Since we are speculating here, is it because the shorter bellows draw appeals to some photographers, due to reduced bellows shake, ability to handhold shorter extensions etc? I've used a 30" lens on 8x10 and wind can certainly be detrimental to sharpness. Just a thought. Cheers, DJ

Ole Tjugen
1-Jun-2002, 01:18
With a 360mm/f5.6 Tele-Xenar I can focus really close with me Linhof Color (420mmm rail). The large aperture also makes it easier to focus on a rather dim groundglass. An added advantage of the large aperture is that I can focus without fumbling with loupes etc, sice if it look sharp to my eyes at f5.6, it will certainly BE sharp at f22...

All my lenses are old stuff with max aperture from 3.5 to 5.6. It makes it a lot easier to fokus!

Paul Schilliger
1-Jun-2002, 02:14
Yes, DJ and Ole probably touch the point, the Tele-Xenar line must have been dev elopped in the older time to meet with the demand for short, fast and easy to focus lenses when 4x5 were used han d held and for photo journalism. Thanks for the explanations!

Ole Tjugen
1-Jun-2002, 03:27
Not only that, Paul. My 360mm was originally sold with the Linhof Color I bought it with; it had been used as s studio camera for 30+ years. The need to focus close with a long lens is even more important in product shots in the studio, where space is limited. I don't think a photojournalist would even attempt to focus at a subject less than 2m away with a 360mm lend on a 4x5 camera...

Studios tend to be a bit darker than the great outdoors as well, making a large max aperture even more important for composition and focussing.

Are they sharp enough to be used wide open? I don't know - when I use my lenses wide open, it is to get an extremely shallow DOF. What I focus on is sharp enough, but who can tell about the rest of the image? Is it even important?

Maybe I'll try shooting stars one night; that should tell how sharp they are ;)