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BetterSense
10-Apr-2011, 20:32
Are Tessar lenses very limiting?

I'm poor and trying to buy lenses for my first monorail camera. Unlike my speed graphic, I can't get away with random enlarger lenses and scrounged elements, because I actually need a working shutter. 150mm tessar lenses are fairly cheap, but I'm wondering if I will regret it in terms of image circle. One of the key reasons I bought a monorail is to use more movements than my speed graphic allows. Even though I'm poor, it would be folly to buy tessar lenses and then have to re-buy plasmat lenses when I find out I need more image circle. Schneider's website says the 150mm Xenar has an image circle of 180mm at f/16. Can someone translate that into how much movement is available? Do you find tessar-formula normal lenses very limiting in terms of image quality and image circle?

ic-racer
10-Apr-2011, 21:42
Are Tessar lenses very limiting?

I'm poor and trying to buy lenses for my first monorail camera. Unlike my speed graphic, I can't get away with random enlarger lenses and scrounged elements, because I actually need a working shutter. 150mm tessar lenses are fairly cheap, but I'm wondering if I will regret it in terms of image circle. One of the key reasons I bought a monorail is to use more movements than my speed graphic allows. Even though I'm poor, it would be folly to buy tessar lenses and then have to re-buy plasmat lenses when I find out I need more image circle. Schneider's website says the 150mm Xenar has an image circle of 180mm at f/16. Can someone translate that into how much movement is available? Do you find tessar-formula normal lenses very limiting in terms of image quality and image circle?

You might want to look into a 210mm Tessar. I believe it will have much more image circle, maybe 250mm or so.

As to how much movement you get, well the easy answer is to subtract the format diagonal from the image circle and divide by 2. That is how much diagonal wiggle room you get. To break that down into vertical and horizontal you need to do some simple trigonometry. If your format is somewhat close to square (4x5) then you can estimate by just dividing the number by two again.

Example: 4x5"
Diagonal of film about 150mm
Image Circle about 250mm
Diagonal movement from center = 50mm
Vertical movement from center = a little greater than 25mm
Horizontal movement from center = a little less then 25mm

Oren Grad
10-Apr-2011, 22:05
How tight is your budget? Taking a quick peek just now I see that KEH has in stock a 210 Caltar-S II (Symmar-S) in EX condition for $199, and a 180 Nikkor W in EX condition for $215. Both are modern plasmats that will give you gobs of coverage for 4x5. KEH happens to be short on bargain-priced 150's at the moment, but if you keep an eye out some of those will likely show up too.

John Kasaian
10-Apr-2011, 23:14
You might find a 203mm Ektar for under $200. A 162mm Wollensak Velostigmat is an exceptional 4x5 lens---sharp when stopped down and bokeh-y when shot wide open. I haven't seen one in awhile but they used to go for cheap. Another alternative is to find a 150 or 210 G Claron barrel lens and shoot it with a "hat" until a shutter shows up(a #0 copal or prontor scavenged off a polaroid copy camera should work) All these should give you plenty of wiggle room

Martin Miksch
11-Apr-2011, 00:51
I use a 210 Xenar on 5x7, it will give you plenty of movement on 4x5, the 180 is also usable on 5x7; over the time I collected a 135, 165, 180, 210, 270 and 300, the 165 is a Zeiss, the others are Schneider; beside LF I have a very good Tessar Zeiss T 45/2.8 for Contax and a very good Mamiya 135/4.5 which is also a Tessar design. Gowland used Tessars on his Gowland TLRs, IMO the Tessars are a bit underrated, they are very sharp, at least in the center.

Ole Tjugen
11-Apr-2011, 02:21
There is a little difference between different Xenars, so you first have to decide whether to buy new(ish) or old used. The latest Xenars have a little more image circle than the older f:4.5 ones.

But if you want image circle, i would recommend going straight for a plasmat. I have the full set of the old Symmars, they are more than sharp enough and have lots of image circle. See if you can find a 180mm Symmar for a reasonable price.

cdholden
11-Apr-2011, 05:43
Why do you NEED a shutter? I have one of the 162mm Velostigmats that John mentions above. It's currently mounted on an unused enlarger cone. I would be willing to part with it for the cost of postage. How about a 180 Symmar-S in shutter at a fair price? Send me a PM to discuss since this isn't the classified ads.
Shutters are overrated unless you require flash sync. ND filters can help slow things down to make barrel lenses more usable.

Chris

Richard Rankin
11-Apr-2011, 06:28
If you have to have a shutter, I second the Caltar 210. Mine was the very last modern lens that I sold. It had been my go-to lens for years and I've seen them well under $200.

However, if you are really poor, then Chris is correct. With barrel lenses, you can several amazingly good lenses for what a Caltar or anything else in shutter would cost. Buy a filter holder and some ND filters and you can shoot anything anywhere. I use the rubber band holder that I think is from Lee

Richard

BetterSense
11-Apr-2011, 06:33
I just don't understand this about not needing a shutter. You must live in a location where the wind occasionally stops blowing. I'm well versed in shutterless shooting, but I find that I often need to use at least 1/125 to prevent blur from the wind.

BrianShaw
11-Apr-2011, 06:55
If you want to shoot with movements you'll likely need a "decent sized" inage circle, like that offered by the Symmars mentioend above or any otehr plasmat type lens. It might help the discussion if you would educate us about your definition of "poor"... is $200 + shipping too much for you? If not, there are options. If so, then maybe reconsidering just how much movement your interested in using.

BTW, I live where we have sunlight and I can't make shutterless camerawork work for me. I think you'll really want a shutter... may even even moreso than movements.

BrianShaw
11-Apr-2011, 07:01
Are Tessar lenses very limiting?


Do you find tessar-formula normal lenses very limiting in terms of image quality and image circle?

To answer your question directly, no... I don't find tessar formula lenses to be excessively limiting. Maybe I'm not as creative as some people, but I use modest to no movements for 97% of my photography.

Ivan J. Eberle
11-Apr-2011, 07:57
IF your monorail has back movements (or on a technical camera like a Linhof Technika or a Meridian), the smaller IC of a Tessar is somewhat less limiting as back movements don't change the cone of light. (In those shots where the zone of important focus is essentially in one plane, you can also get the film plane into focus with back moves.) This has a couple of drawbacks, however. One being that back moves are your converging line correction (or, more likely when used in place of front tilt and swing--distortion). The other problem is that Tessars aren't well corrected much before f/22. They typically didn't use low dispersion or apochromatic glass as do most recent vintage Plasmats.

So shooting wider open with a Plasmat is likely a better bet than doing so with a Tessar (unless you're going for the off-axis coma and chromatic aberrations look).

But the question becomes somewhat academic nowadays. Perfectly good 210mm Apo Plasmats are readily available in modern working and accurate shutters, often for under two hundred bucks. These became the go-to lenses in LF once multicoating took hold. Not only did studios dump them for digital, they're also ubiquitous because they were typically student lenses that saw limited or no use after a semester or two so they're often found in excellent or mint condition. Don't screw around wasting your time and film at this rate, buy a Plasmat.

Mark Sawyer
11-Apr-2011, 08:05
If you think you'll be using movements, go with a Plasmat; more coverage, and sharper in the corners. Mind you, I often turn to old, uncoated Tessars for my own work for their smoothness compared to multi-coated Plasmats. Either can be quite sharp across the image with a suitable focal length, but the Plasmats let you use a shorter focal length. I never hesitate to put a 215mm Plasmat on my 8x10, but wouldn't even consider that focal length in a Tessar, (except with a very extendeed bellows, of course).

BetterSense
11-Apr-2011, 08:37
My camera is a Calumet CC-400. So it has back movements.

The only lens I have in a working shutter is an MP-4 copy camera lens, which is pretty lame in the corners and doesn't allow for any movements. I'm tired of wasting film and opportunities using this lens. I have other shutterless copy/enlarging lenses and I'm well versed in the ways of shutterless shooting, but in TX it's always bright and windy. I'm similarly tired of developing blurry and overexposed pictures, and being unable to shoot at medium apertures. I tried making a drop-shutter but got frustrated with not being able to trigger it without shaking the camera and gave up. My standards for glass quality are very low; I'll use really grungy lenses...scratched, bent filter rings, single coated, uncoated...I just need something in a shutter that works reliably and that seems to be the expensive part. I actually did save up my money and bought a 210 symmar convertible off eBay but I was very disappointed to find that the shutter does not work, so I haven't really used it. $200 is too much for me to spend right now, so if I hold out for a plasmat-style lens it will be some time before I can use my camera. On the other hard I can get a Tessar for under $100 which might be able to go in this month's budget. Of course if I do get a Xenar etc. tessar I will probably be stuck with it, being unable to justify replacing it with something better later.

Oren Grad
11-Apr-2011, 08:52
$200 is too much for me to spend right now, so if I hold out for a plasmat-style lens it will be some time before I can use my camera. On the other hard I can get a Tessar for under $100 which might be able to go in this month's budget. Of course if I do get a Xenar etc. tessar I will probably be stuck with it, being unable to justify replacing it with something better later.

Then get the tessar and start making pictures. Using it will tell you whether you need to upgrade when budget allows.

BetterSense
11-Apr-2011, 08:56
I believe that is what I will do. Is there any chance my 210mm symmar convertible elements would fit into the shutter of a 150mm f/4.5 Xenar lens? That's the lens i'm looking at buying, so if the symmar elements I have now will fit Xenar 150 shutter that would be a bonus.

drew.saunders
11-Apr-2011, 10:50
I have 3 tessar-formula lenses, a 165/3.5 Zeiss Tessar, a 200/8 Nikkor-M and a 250/4.7 Fuji Fujinar. I don't run out of IC on any of them, but they're all longer than 150mm. I have a 120/5.6 plasmat that has an IC in the same neighborhood as your 150 Xenar, and I do occasionally get vignetting when I use a lot of movements, but not often.

If you're looking for a plasmat for under $200, here's a 180/5.6 for $165: http://www.keh.com/camera/Large-Format-Fixed-Focal-Length-Lenses/1/sku-LF060000610310?r=FE

domaz
13-Apr-2011, 14:48
I believe that is what I will do. Is there any chance my 210mm symmar convertible elements would fit into the shutter of a 150mm f/4.5 Xenar lens? That's the lens i'm looking at buying, so if the symmar elements I have now will fit Xenar 150 shutter that would be a bonus.

I had a 150mm Xenar and it was in a Prontor #1 shutter (same as Compur). 210mm Symmars are probably in #1 shutters as well so you should be ok with that.

IanG
13-Apr-2011, 15:45
Have used a 135mm Tessar for 5x4 but it's barely adequate and only sharp enough for my needs at f22, still quite capable at that aperture but not as nice or sharp as my mid 1950's CZJ 150mm f4.5 T coated Tessar. Coating certainly helps substantially with micro contrast of local detail.

I also have a late last production (early 2000's SN) Xenar 150mm f5.6 and like the coated Tessar it's a good lens, however Tessar's offer very little room for movements so I find it very important to adjust the rise/fall to compensate for any tilt & get best use of the image circle.

Both lenses were fair prices the 150mm Tessar was a pair of cells (well under $100) they now sit in a 1930's compur 1, the 150mm Xenar was mint (as new) over the $100 budget at 100 but at the time the exchange rate would have been more favourable so $130-$140.

I do have at least 3 more Tessars 135mm, 150mm & the sharpest of all at wider apertures an f6.3 165mm from 1913.

It's also worth looking at the Ilex Paragons, the coated versions are quite good, again cheap $100'ish.

Remember regardless of the image circle Tessar designs (LF) give optimum sharpness at f22 and a shutter is needed :D

Ian

cyberjunkie
13-Apr-2011, 20:12
I believe that is what I will do. Is there any chance my 210mm symmar convertible elements would fit into the shutter of a 150mm f/4.5 Xenar lens? That's the lens i'm looking at buying, so if the symmar elements I have now will fit Xenar 150 shutter that would be a bonus.

As already confirmed by others, if the Xenar is not too old, it should fit the same No.1 shutter used by a Symmar 210mm (convertible or a later model).
If you have a little of patience, you could find lens cells for a surprisingly low price, and use the same shutter for different optics.
With time, you could find an old Prontor Press shutter coming from a Polaroid MP-3 reprocamera, to avoid swapping the cells around. Those shutters are like any other No.1 "Press", while the shutter you own has no diaphragm (the MP-4 used a "one shutter, many lenses" scheme, so the diahpragm is operated from the lens barrel).
Convertible Symmars are perfectly OK, much better than more expensive lenses. The cheap price comes from widespread availability, not lack of quality.
I own most of them, from 135mm to 360mm, with a couple of duplicates. I would be happy to sell you a 135mm for 100 euros (with CLA'ed shutter), but the shipment charge would make it too expensive for you, i guess.
Keep in mind that the back cell can be used as a (free) portrait lens. The same is true for old, non-N, Sironars, but they are not so easily available.

If you don't mind using uncoated lenses and pre-WWII shutters, you have another chance: buying a Dagor (or one of the many copies). There are many of them (from 135mm to 165mm, i'd suggest), mostly in dial-set Compurs or small Compounds. I have a special attraction for the latter, they are not noisy, and work surprisingly well even after being left unused for a long time.
Original Dagors (Germany or USA) are not very cheap, but many copies could be found for very little, with some luck. I have a Laach Dialytar, a Boyer Beryl, and i have just received a russian-made Kaelar (see the thread i have just started): the reflections confirm that they are all Dagor copies. If you don't go too far with the focal, they could be used as convertibles, with your Calumet. Longer focals would need the version with more bellows reach (i know because i own the older version made by Kodak).

have fun


CJ

BetterSense
13-Apr-2011, 20:44
I have an Angulon 90 which I believe is a dagor, and it's my only short lens. It works well at f/32.

It's good news that my current Symmar covertible elements are likely to fit the shutter on the Xenar 150 I just bought. That means I almost gained 2 lenses. I'm not sure I understand your bit about using the back element as a portrait lens...aren't you supposed to use the back element by itself when you convert the lens to the 'longer' focal length?