View Full Version : Amateur needs help finding lens for Wista DX

26-Oct-2010, 21:42
Hi all

This is my first post on LF forum and it's going to be a noobish one for sure. I've been out of the game with 4x5 for at least 4 years and even then I only used my old Korona Gundlach for a year and wasn't very good at it. I've been using my Nikon D80 exclusively and I'm sick of the lack of detail in my landscape shots. I was also considering buying a 12mm lens for it. But I finally decided to go with 4x5 again and have 1 camera and 1 lens that might last me a lifetime instead of having to upgrade every year with digital. I also really want to step up and become a better photographer and think about my images more than I can with the Digital.

So I bought a Wista DX off ebay for $350, it seemed to fit my style because it's small, light, and has more movements than my Korona. Right now the only 4x5 lens I have is the Schneider Xenar 135mm, But I've heard it allows for almost no movements because the coverage is so small. I always wanted to get the Schneider Super Angulon 90mm because thats what I always borrowed from my college. I'm basically looking for a nice landscape/architecture wide angle that will give me decent coverage with a good amount of movements. Also this is going to be a setup for field work and hiking so light weight and compact would be nice.

I'm limited to $300 max for the lens. I have an offer for a 90mm SA later model black for $277 shipped with lens board.Also found a kind of beat up Schneider Symmar S 150mm for $160. Would either of these be a good deal for or should I look at something different for the wista? Or just use my xenar 135mm?

Sorry this is such a long winded post but I've been pouring over threads and websites trying to find an answer to this.

27-Oct-2010, 02:08
probably a very fair price for the SA 90mm if it's in good condition and the shutter's working but you could probably get a 150mm that isn't beat up for not much more so that probably isn't such good value
sounds like you're going to come down on 1 lens only because of the $$ so I guess the choice will be which focal length do you want more?
if it's the 90mm go for it, and if it's a 150mm maybe wait for a better one to come along?

27-Oct-2010, 02:55
Agree with Andrew, $160 for a beat up 150mm is not worth it. The 90mm SA is in the right ball park price wise.

I was using a 135mm Tessar for a while in Turkey and then a 150mm Xenar (Tessar type - last production run) and neither has much coverage and the 135mm was softer at the corners as expected, just OK at f16 and fine at f22. With both there's barely room for rise, and with tilt or swing on the Wista you need to use rise/fall or rear shift to keep the film plane inside image circle.

Used with care & stopped down to f22 the 135mm Xenar will give excellent results, I'd go for the 90mm SA now then you could add a 150mm when you have more funds. There's plenty of excellent lenses on this forum if you keep your eyes peeled :D


Brian Ellis
27-Oct-2010, 07:33
You don't say which version of the 90mm SA you're looking at but at that price I assume it's the f8 rather than the f5.6. The f5.6 would give you a larger image circle (which can be important for architecture, less so for landscapes). But it's also a little heavier and a little more expensive. If $300 is your absolute limit the f8 would be a good choice. Be sure to carefully check the shutter before buying (or buy with a right to return if you can't see it ahead of time). If you have to replace the shutter because it gives inconsistent speeds or sticks or has some other problem you'll almost double your cost.

Just out of curiosity - why did you have to upgrade your digital camera every year?

27-Oct-2010, 08:44
Well I didn't have to upgrade my camera every year it was the lenses. I bought an 18-135mm Nikon lens in 2006 but then the VR lenses came out a couple years later and for less than half the price of the 18-135mm. So I bought an 18-55mm VR, then I wanted to do wildlife shots so i bought the 70-300mm VR. And lately I've been disappointed with the image detail and quality, not to mention with switching lenses all the time my CCD is dirty. I've tried swabbing it with pec pads but no matter how many times I do it the dirt remains.

I'm just kind of fed up with digital and would rather go back to film. I like the process so much more with film and especially 4x5. I also always wanted a compact 4x5 field camera and 90mm super angulon since college.

Also the lens I bought is the Schneider 90mm Super-Angulon f8.0 B-500 Copal 0 shutter. I researched the 90mm SA's before buying and the f8.0 fits my shooting style more because it's light and more compact than the f5.6. Not to mention the f8 is alot cheaper on ebay right now $250-$300. I've seen the f5.6 models going for $500-$700 which is way out of my price range right now.

Thanks for all the comments they really helped me make a decision. - Ray

27-Oct-2010, 09:19
What focal Length do you find yourself shooting most of the time?

I would not limit myself to a single focal lenght...

The minimal setup I can envisage is a "longer lens" -- say about 240mm Fujinon A and a wide.. but not too wide.. maybe a fujinon W 125. (I find that the 90mm on the wista 45DX can be limited with movements.. depending on the shot..but I think a 90 requires a recessed board)

BUT if Absolutely forced to stick with a single focal length.. I thinkI would go for a 180mm.. its not too long.. and easier to focus that a 150, at least my 180mm fujinon A f9 vs the Fujinon 150mm CMW 5.6 is. In the 180 I would probably go with the 180mm Fujinon A.. its very small/light and versatile with a relatively big image circle.

27-Oct-2010, 09:33
Well I already purchased the 90mm so I'll see what it's like. The Wista DX field camera is a very similar design to the Tachihara. And both have a minimum bellows compression of 55mm so I've been told. That should give me at least some movements with the 90mm for landscapes, probably not so great for architecture.

What I find myself using as far as focal ranges go on my SLR is super wide angle or telephoto. I like the wide angles for landscapes because I can fit more scenery in a single frame. And then I like the super telephoto for wildlife and macro shooting. I'm not so hot about using a tele on the view camera because the max bellows draw on the wista is 300mm. Which is still long but I'd rather get as much information in the frame as possible.

The Camera and lens should be in by the end of this week, I'll see how the 90mm does and if I don't like it I'll just resell it and get something a bit longer. For now what I'm going to have with me is the 90mm SA and the 135mm Xenar so I at least have wide angle and normal focal lengths covered. I might grab a 210mm symmar a few months down the road but for now I just don't have the funds.

27-Oct-2010, 09:46
(I find that the 90mm on the wista 45DX can be limited with movements.. depending on the shot..but I think a 90 requires a recessed board)

Not sure what gives you those ideas. I've used a 90mm Grandagon and a 90mm Super Angulon on my Wista 45DX for well over 20 years with no limitations to movements, and most definitely no need for a recessed lens board. In fact I use flat lens boards with my 65mm & 75mm Super Angulons as well.


27-Oct-2010, 10:07
Well it depends on the camera too, I also have a Korona Gundlach as I stated above. It is also a field camera but it has a minimum draw distance of 100mm and when it's at that distance it has almost 0 movements. So a 90mm Super Angulon would definitely not work on that camera because it's made for longer lenses. The full bellows draw on the Korona is 25 inches or 635mm so it's does really well with lenses 120mm-400mm focal range.

The Wista DX is a completely different animal, made for 75mm-250mm range because the minimum distance from focal plain to ground glass is about 50mm. It's also much smaller and lighter but is capable of using wide angle lenses generally used on monorails that are 3 times the weight and size. That's what sold me on it. I like using a monorail for the full range in movement but they're so heavy, big, and expensive.

I think L2Bin is correct the 90mm wouldn't work on some older field cameras that aren't capable of bringing the focal plain close enough to the glass. But IanG is correct from what I've read about the Wista DX specifically because it can get the standard as close to the glass as most monorail cameras.