View Full Version : Nikon 120 f8 SW in Crown Graphic

Bob Kerner
14-Jan-2011, 14:02
I just got a minty body Crown and would like to replace the ancient lens with something more modern and working properly. I have only one other LF lens, a 210 Fuji which I use on another camera. I'd like something in the 120-135 range to use both on the crown and the other camera.

The Nikkor 120 SW f8 has a good reputation for generous coverage and can be had inexpensively (even new). In looking at pictures of it, however, it looks to have a rather large rear element. Will that big element fit into the bellows throat of the Crown without jamming things up?

Anyone use this combo? Please share your thoughts and suggestions


Dan Fromm
14-Jan-2011, 14:25
Bob, I can't answer your question directly 'cos I don't have a 4x5 Crown or a 120 SW. But I do have a 35/4.5 Apo Grandagon and a 2x3 Crown. Same problem, in spades.

The solution is to unscrew the rear cell, put board, shutter, and front cell on the front standard and then reattach the rear cell from behind. To take the lens off the camera, reverse the process. Fiddly.

It can be done and it beats the alternative of not using the lens.

Bob Kerner
14-Jan-2011, 14:38
So you take the ground glass out each time you want to use the lens?

14-Jan-2011, 14:50
I have not used the 120 SW, but I have just put a nikkor 90/4.5 SW on my speed graphic anniversary 4x5. It fits, and I don't have to take it apart to insert it, but the rear element is so big, it doesn't allow much rise movement before the rear portion of the lens is pushing the bellows around, perhaps half an inch max. If the 120 is a little smaller in back, you might be better off. I don't have any rear size measurements for the two lenses. I do also have a nikon 210/5.6 and that is much smaller in the rear.

Also while it's not necessary or even expected of most LF cameras, some smaller lenses are thin enough to remain on the speed/crown when it's folded up. For an everyday lens, I like something that is low profile enough to fold into the box. I keep other lenses handy with my film supply and light meter and don't expect those to be so compact. It's a consideration if you want a quick "press" style use option, but if you're using the crown as an inexpensive field camera on a tripod, not so important.

There's really nothing wrong with using old lenses like tessars and xenars and optars; they are cheap or come with the camera and do a great job stopped down a little bit. They can also have some nice character wide open. The benefit I see of upgrading to a nikkor is to get newer coatings for color use, to be a little crisper resolution wide open, and to have more coverage to use on more than one type of camera.

Bob Kerner
14-Jan-2011, 15:27
Ability to fold into the box is not critical. My concern is that rear element will snag/ move bellows and it sounds like it does.

What else in that focal range is worth looking at?

I' d like it to do dual duty on Crown and monorail is that untrainable

Gem Singer
14-Jan-2011, 15:34
Check out the Fujinon 125W, 125 CM-W, or the Nikon/Nikkor 135W.

Either of these lenses would fit the Crown very nicely.

No problem using them on a monorail as well.

14-Jan-2011, 15:41
i had a 53mm SA i used on my 2x3 crown, i had to take the GG off and screw in the real element that way, worked great though, the nikor 120 f8 is an awsome lens, i was looking at one as well for my 8x10. good luck

Dan Fromm
14-Jan-2011, 15:51
So you take the ground glass out each time you want to use the lens?

Bob, my Graphics have Graflok backs. Their focusing panels have to be removed to attach a roll holder. They come off easily, just press the two chromed bars and slide the assembly to the right.

Does your Crown have a Graflok or a Graphic (spring) back?



14-Jan-2011, 17:21
I'd look at one of the Fuji F5.6 plasmats (N, NW, CM-W), 125 or 135mm. These have image circles of 204 and 211mm respectively, highest among the F5.6 plasmats in those focal lenghts. Compared to the Nikon 120SW, they are much smaller, lighter, will fold inside the Crown, no problems mounting, one stop faster, cheaper, and will allow you to use the limited movements that the Crown offer.

They cost 150-250$ used, so get one and stick it on your Crown, and if needed get another lens for your monorail without needing to take the Crown limitations into consideration. Mounting the rear element though the back is probably a good way to wear out the fine threads on the element/shutter.

14-Jan-2011, 18:45
The Nikon 120 SW rear element does not fit through the hole in the front standard of a 4x5 Pacemaker Graphic. As others have said it could be mounted by removing the ground glass and fitting the rear element through the back of the camera, but why would you want to use a lens with that much coverage on a Graphic with such limited movements?

The Nikon 120 SW would be good on your mono rail. Get something else for the Graphic. There's nothing wrong with the standard issue for Graphics, the Kodak Ektar 127mm.

14-Jan-2011, 19:34
The image circle on the Nikkor 120 SW is 312mm, permitting shift on the short dimension of almost 4 inches either direction, far more than the camera is capable of.

The front and rear diameters are the same... 80mm. Attachment size is 77mm.

- Leigh

Bob Kerner
15-Jan-2011, 08:01
Thanks everyone for your guidance.

To answer some of your questions/comments, I have a spring back; therefore, I think taking the back off to change lenses would be a PITA for me.

There's nothing wrong with the image quality of the lens that came on the camera....as far as I know. I shot stuff yesterday and ran it to a lab but won't know til Tuesday. The glass is clean. The camera is mint; hopefully there are no light leaks. The shutter, however, is waaaay off. Setting it for 1/4 sec keeps it open for a solid 3 Mississippi, there's a soleniod thingy in the way of the shutter release. All in all I'd prefer and anticipated replacing it with something modern with a PC port that I can try some flash with. Even with a $150 Fuji, I'll still be under $400 for the camera and lens.

I will take your collective advice and acquire something for the Crown and, if need be, the Nikkor 120 for the monorail.

Time to shop....

Bob Kerner
15-Jan-2011, 11:57
Check out the Fujinon 125W, 125 CM-W, or the Nikon/Nikkor 135W.

Either of these lenses would fit the Crown very nicely.

No problem using them on a monorail as well.

I found a 135W Nikkor and went with it. Thank you for the suggestion.

Gem Singer
15-Jan-2011, 12:12
You're certainly welcome, Bob.

I have owned a few Nikon/Nikkor 135W's over the years and used them on several different 4x5 cameras.

They have never disappointed me.

Bob Kerner
29-Jan-2011, 09:34
I wanted to thank everyone again, for suggesting the 135 Nikon. The fit inside the Crown is perfect, almost as if it were designed specifically for this application.