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View Full Version : Did you know that 150mm lens for 5x7?



Paul Schilliger
8-Dec-2003, 01:05
Bought earlier this year a 5x7 Super Technika IV, it has now new bellows and it's a great camera, even if it is uneasy with the 110 and 90mm... and has no front tilt. Well, I had an Apo-Symmar 150 and that lens with it's 72 degrees coverage and 220mm image circle proved a little tight, not much room for shift, I had some black corners. I had not much hopes for a replacement, as all the SW and Super things in that focal are considerably larger and heavier... and are expensive. But I came across a lens I had never heard about on Ebay: a 150mm Apo Sironar "W" for wide. This one wasn't marked W as it is a pre-N and S version. The good thing with that lens is that it has a huge 80 degree and 250mm coverage, 3 more cm of rise than the Apo-Symmar (the new Apo-Symmar L has only 75 degrees like the Apo-Sironar S and 231mm of circle) without being one of those large and heavy lenses. It is in Copal #1 with the front rim about the size of the Copal, and is quite small, half the size and weight of the Super-Symmar with practically the same coverage. It wasn't cheap, but like new so I pressed the buy it now button. The seller has let me know that Rodenstock dropped it because the demand was not high enough. What a shame. Anyone use this lens? What did it cost at the time it was in production?

Kerry L. Thalmann
8-Dec-2003, 01:36
Paul,

Yes, I've been using and recommending this lens as a moderate wide angle for 5x7 for several years (I guess it's time to update my Future Classics page). It is a wonderful lens that offers a great combination of generous coverage, outstanding sharpness and reasonable size and weight. I also got mine off eBay, at a very reasonable price. Like yours, mine is the earlier "plain" APO Sironar model. In my article on Rodenstock lenses that ran a little over a year ago in View Camera magazine, this was one of the specific lenses I mentioned to watch for on the used market. Since it lacks the -W designation, many sellers and potential bidders aren't familar with the characteristics of this lens. So, you can sometimes get a good deal. The lens was introduced in the late 1980s (I believe 1987, I'd have to check my notes to be sure). The name was changed to APO-Sironar-W (and a yellow stripe was added around the front barrel) in 1993 when the APO-Sironar-S line was introduced. At this same time, the name of the Sironar-N line was changed to APO-Sironar-N. Due to slow sales, the entire APO-Sironar-W line (there was also 210mm and 300mm focal lengths - which are great choices for the larger formats) was discontinued in 1998 (again, I'd have to check my notes to verify the date, but it's within a year).

Enjoy your new lens, I honestly belive it's the best moderate wide angle ever made for 5x7 landscape work (the 150mm Supper Symmar HM and Super Symmar XL are also outstanding performers, but take bigger filters, weigh nearly twice as much, and usually cost considerably more).

Kerry

Paul Schilliger
8-Dec-2003, 03:15
Hi Kerry,

As a matter of facts, I checked your "Future Classics" page before bidding, and wondered why it didn't stand on it. But I found another thread on the forum where you recommended that lens. I found later a Rodenstock leaflet where the W line stands, with all the charracteristics BUT... not the weight! I'm sure if Rodenstock had put the weight of their lenses on the prospect, they wouldn't have had to drop the "W" line ;-). You know how it goes, one usually don't pay much attention to a product until one needs it! This finding was a good surprise to me.

Paul

Bob Salomon
8-Dec-2003, 05:28
The W was dropped due to the demand for the S eliminated the need for the W. The W sold very well before there was an S.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
8-Dec-2003, 06:26
These were also sold as the Sinar branded Sinaron-WS. Really excellent lenses, and by far the "best" (IMHO) medium-wide for 5x7. I compared a Super-Symmar HM, and was shocked at the size difference, let alone the 150mm Super-Symmar XL, 165mm Super-Angulon, 150mm Grandagon or other super-wides. The only other option are small 8x10 lenses like the 165mm Angulon, 6.5" WA-Dagor, and the like, but these are no where near as sharp nor contrasty, and (in the case of the WA-Dagor) are often more expensive...

Kerry L. Thalmann
8-Dec-2003, 09:44
The W was dropped due to the demand for the S eliminated the need for the W. The W sold very well before there was an S.

Bob,

I don't dispute your sales figures, and I'm sure the 150mm APO-Sironar-S is a big seller. It's one of my all time favorite lenses for 4x5. However, IMHO it does not "eliminate the need for the W". Have you ever shot 5x7 with the 150mm APO-Sironar-S? I have, and while it covers, it allows for very little in the way of movements. That's where the 80 degree lenses like the Super Symmar HM and the APO-Sironar-W offer a distinct advantage over the 72 - 75 degree lenses. An extra 21 - 23mm of coverage my not seem like a lot, but it does make a difference. I still own both lenses. I prefer the APO-Sironar-S for 4x5, but when shooting 5x7 I grab the APO-Sironar(-W) every time.

Of course, 4x5 is a much more popular format than 5x7. So, that could have a lot to do with the relative sales figures of the 150mm APO-Sironar-S vs. 150mm APO-Sironar-W. They are both great lenses. It's a shame that the APO-Sironar-W line was discontinued, but I can understand the reasons. It probably doesn't make economic sense to have three standard lens lines (APO-Sironar-N, APO-Sironar-S and APO-Sironar-W). And for those who need gobs of coverage, there is always the 155mm Grandagon-N.

Kerry

tim atherton
8-Dec-2003, 10:02
I don't dispute your sales figures, and I'm sure the 150mm APO-Sironar-S is a big seller. It's one of my all time favorite lenses for 4x5. However, IMHO it does not "eliminate the need for the W"

The same goes for the 210 W and 8x10 - it covered 8x10 with a reasonable amount of movement. The 210 S doens't really cover 8x10 at all - here as well the S didn't eliminate the need for the W as it didn't replace it. So that's two out of the three (?) lenses that the S line didn't effectively replace.

David F. Stein
8-Dec-2003, 10:20
Kerry or others, are there comparable lenses from Schneider, Fuji or Nikon to watch for: compact, highest quality, moderate wide angle for 5x7. THANKS.

Kerry L. Thalmann
8-Dec-2003, 10:21
The same goes for the 210 W and 8x10 - it covered 8x10 with a reasonable amount of movement. The 210 S doens't really cover 8x10 at all - here as well the S didn't eliminate the need for the W as it didn't replace it. So that's two out of the three (?) lenses that the S line didn't effectively replace.

So, Rodenstock replaced their 80 degree APO-Sironar-W line with lenses that offer less coverage (75 degree APO-Sironar-S). And Schneider replaced their 80 degree Super Symmar HM line with lenses that offer more coverage (105 degree Super Symmar XL). Although I often bemoan the loss of the excellent 80 degree lenses, I understand the economics of this small niche market and am quite pleased that we have as many choices as we do. I'm grateful to both Rodenstock and Schneider (and Fujinon and Nikkor) for producing such excellent lenses in such a wide variety of focal lengths and coverage options.

And, if I really need an 80 degree lens, there's always the used market.

Kerry

Bob Salomon
8-Dec-2003, 10:24
Tim,

Unfortunately the world wide demand for cameras that are larger then 4x5 or even for full system 45 cameras is just a fraction of what it was when the Apo Sironar lenses were originally designed. Yes there is a small niche market segment for 5x7 and larger cameras but the demand has fallen so far and the performance of the S is so good that the demand for the 80 coverage lens simply was too small to maintain production in quantities large enough to keep the Apo Sironar W at a price that would maintain viable sales.

Perhaps if 57 and larger ever regains the market share that they had 20 and 30 years ago there would again be a large enough market for lenses like the W. But at the rate things are going now that does not appear likely.

At least for some smaller camera makers there is still enough of a market to justify there continuing to promote larger sizes. But not in the main stream of photography.

Paul Schilliger
8-Dec-2003, 10:32
I bet you are right, the Sinarons W have a large seventh lens cell at the front made of very thin glass, probably not so easy to produce and also use a larger shutter. If they can now sell you the Sinaron S for the same price, it's all good business for them. But the few W still on the used market are simply irreplaceable by anything else for us, backpackers. For curiosity, has anyone a price figure for what the 150W used to cost new compared to the 150S ?

Kerry L. Thalmann
8-Dec-2003, 10:38
Kerry or others, are there comparable lenses from Schneider, Fuji or Nikon to watch for: compact, highest quality, moderate wide angle for 5x7.

David,

The 150mm Super Symmar HM (also discontinued, but fairly easy to find used) matches the 150mm APO-Sironar-W in terms of coverage and performance. However, it weighs nearly twice as much (740g vs. 380g).

Other than the current 75 degree lenses (APO-Sironar-S and APO-Symmar-L), the only other compact, multicoated 150mm lens I know of that covers 5x7 is the very rare, and incredibly tiny 150mm f9 Docter Germinar-W (not to be confused with the APO Germinar-W, which is bigger and has less coverage). This little lens is very similar to the G Claron (which technically doesn't cover 5x7 according to the specs, but in reality does) in size and design. It does offer three advantages over the G Claron: it's multicoated, it reaches optimum performance at f16 (instead of f22) and it has a removable spacer ring that tunes the performance for either infinity or 1:1. Too bad it's almost impossible to find. If you ever see one, snatch it up.

In single coated lenses, there is the G Claron and the Kowa-Graphic/Computar f9 models. The G Claron fits in a Copal/Compur 0 shutter. The Graphic-Kowa/Computar requires a Copal 1 shutter, but is still a very small, compact lens with excellent performance and coverage. There used to be a guy regularly selling these in barrel mount on eBay - about one a week. Not sure if he has anymore, but he usually started the bidding at $125 with no reseve. If you're interested, do a seach of completed auctions to see if he's sold any recently.

Kerry

Arne Croell
8-Dec-2003, 11:16
Kerry,

the spacer ring (between front cell and shutter) for adjusting the performance at infinity vs 1:1 is used with the regular Docter Apo-Germinars (Artar-type), not the Germinar W. It is true that the Germinar W 150mm has a ring, but it is in the back cell. However, that ring needs to be there, otherwise the cell doesn't sit right in the no. 0 shutter. I have no idea why it is there, it is too thick to be a ring to adjust tolerances, like the ones used by Rodenstock and Schneider. Maybe they used a different mount initially? Of the Germinar W's, only the 150mm one has that.

All these different Docter/Zeiss Germinars are confusing. The main series were: 1. Apo-Germinar: 46 Dialyte process lenses, like the Apo-Artars or -Ronars 2. Apo-Germinar W: Wide angle super high performance process lenses, rather large for their maximum openings and focal length, in 150, 210 and 240mm with angles of coverage between 63 and 72 . No equivalent lenses from other manufacturers exist. 3. Germinar W (no Apo prefix), small wide angle process lenses, very similar to the G-Claron as you said (but multicoated and f/16 as best aperture) Their official coverage was 70.

In addition, there were Germinar S lenses (specialty process lenses in 270 and 600mm), and Germinar K lenses (for copiers).

To go back to the Apo-Sironars, my first 150mm I bought in 1991 was the Apo-Sironar (W). A great lens. For 4x5,I switched to the Apo-Sironar S later, because of the smaller size and weight, but I still keep the original 80 one and won't part with it.

Kerry L. Thalmann
8-Dec-2003, 11:32
At least for some smaller camera makers there is still enough of a market to justify there continuing to promote larger sizes. But not in the main stream of photography.

Bob raises a good point. Most of the camera makers producing cameras bigger than 4x5 are small operations that literally build their cameras by hand one at a time. This is more labor intensive, but doesn't require a huge, expensive automated factory. Modern lenses, on the other hand require very expensive computer controlled manufacturing equipment. In order to recover the engineering and capital costs, these lenses have to sell in significant volumes - unlike the hand made cameras that only sell a couple per year.

That's why a lot of current ultra large format shooters have realively ancient lenses (with a few exceptions) mounted on the front of their new cameras.

Lens manufacturers also face significant competition from their own discontinued products. Although I buy new lenses on occasion, the majority of my large format lens purchases are on the used market. Sometimes it's to get a unique lens that is no longer made. Other times, it's just to save some money. There are a lot of excellent, modern lenses out there on the used market. For many users and applications, there is little practical difference in the performance of a 20 year old multicoated Symmar S or Fujinon W and the current new products (I'm not saying there aren't difference, just that most people will never see them).

There is, however, a difference in cost. Many people entering large format market for the first time have a limited amount of money to spend. Many spend a significant portion of their budget on a new (or like new) camera, and then go with used lenses to save some money. They can often buy two or three used lenses for the cost of a single new lens. They end up with a more versatile outfit for the same cash investment. Combine this with a significant number of people leaving large format for digital, and there is a very active market for used large format lenses - many of very recent vintage and in practically new condition. Observing selling prices on eBay over the past several years, I'd say right now it's a buyers' market. I'm amazed at just how low some modern lenses are going for on eBay these days (unlike the late 1990s, when it ws definitely a sellers' market). As long as they haven't been physically abused, most modern lenses (built in the last 25 years) will probably remain useful beyond the lifetime of those who use them. The only thing that can really wear out is the shutter, and that can easily be serviced or replaced. I don't envy the current lens manufacturers, knowing that their own previous generation (and used current generation) lenses are some of their biggest competition in a very small (and some say, shrinking) market.

Kerry

Kerry L. Thalmann
8-Dec-2003, 11:38
It is true that the Germinar W 150mm has a ring, but it is in the back cell. However, that ring needs to be there, otherwise the cell doesn't sit right in the no. 0 shutter.

Arne,

Thanks for the clarification. I haven't had my Germinar-W very long, and I plan to use it only for shooting landscapes - specifically for backpacking. So, I have not attempted to mount it without the rear spacer ring. You're right that it's much thicker than other spacers I've seen that are used to adjust cell spacing. I have mounted mine in a modern all-black Compur 0 shutter (which is about 30g lighter than a Copal 0). The total weight of the lens and shutter is 135g - amazing.

Kerry

Arne Croell
8-Dec-2003, 12:22
Paul,

I just dug out a German 1994 Rodenstock price list. At that time, the Apo Sironar S 150mm in Copal 0 was listed for DM 1181.00, the Apo-Sironar W 150mm in Copal 1 for DM 1819.00, and the Apo-Sironar N 150mm in Copal 0 for DM 946.00. All prices without VAT (divide roughly by 2 to arrive at Euros or USD). So the "W" was significantly more expensive than the "S", the "S" being closer to the "N" (in price) than to the "W". That price difference was certainly one reason for the dropn in the "W" sales once the "S" came out.

Paul Schilliger
8-Dec-2003, 12:47
That's interesting, thanks Arne! Then the W was definitely in another league and unless the purpose was for a 5x7 camera, the price difference was certainly more than enough to turn someone away. I thought I had paid nearly new price for that second hand lens (Euro 650 - $800), but it seems that it's not too bad after all if it is like new. I never thought I would spend that much on a second hand 150mm!

Arne Croell
8-Dec-2003, 13:11
And if you wanted to have a Compur 1 instead of a Copal 1 with your Apo-Sironar, it was another DM 585 ( 292)on top of it, or DM 301 ( 150) for a Prontor Professional 1S . The Compur 0 added DM 420 ( 210) to a Copal 0, and the Prontor 01S DM 396.00 (198), in1994 prices. Just in case somebody wondered why Compur shutters disappeared..... Kerry, that is roughly $7 per gram of weight saving for the Compur 0 vs Copal 0 - certainly a case for buying used.

Kerry L. Thalmann
8-Dec-2003, 16:22
Kerry, that is roughly $7 per gram of weight saving for the Compur 0 vs Copal 0 - certainly a case for buying used.

Hi Arne,

I bought my Compur 0 off eBay for less than a comparable used Copal 0. Even after splurging on a new aperture scale and plate (the one with the half stop detents) from a 150mm G Claron, it was about $30 more than a used Copal 0 (still considerably less than a new Copal 0 would have cost). So, my weight savings cost me closer to $1 per gram. I was fortunate to get a good deal on the barrel mount Germinar W from our mutual friend Joerg Krusche. This made the lens both very light and affordable.

FWIW, I don't have the numbers in front of me, but in the No. 1 size, the Compur shutter actually feels heavier than the Copal. I'll have to weigh them sometime, but the two lenses I have in the latest style Compur 1 shutter certainly seem heavier than comparable lenses in the more common Copal 1. Whereas the latest Compur 0 shutter seem to have a lot of aluminum in the construction, the Compur 1 shutters I have seem to still use quite a bit of brass. This applies to the latest all-black Compur shutters. In the older shutters, the Compur Rapid and Synchro Compur shutters from the 1940s - mid-1960s are very light. I have a late 9 1/2" Red Dot Artar in a facory mount Compur that weighs in at 185g. Next to it, my 240mm Fujinon A actually looks a bit big and heavy. I'm referring to the older style Copmpur shutters that had the 1, 1/2, 1/5, 1/10, etc. shutter speed progression. The early 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 Compur shutters looked a lot like the final all-black versions, but they had a chrome plated brass speed setting ring and were considerably heavier.

The Seiko 0 shutters (common on the 150mm f6.3 Fujinon W) are also very light.

Not that anyone else who isn't a weight fanatic like me probably cares...

Kerry

Paul Schilliger
12-Dec-2003, 01:05
Good things seem to always come by two. I just found another one, mint condition and cheaper, on the local market. Obviously, I don't need two.

Jeffrey Goggin
12-Dec-2003, 12:38
You may not _need_ two lenses, Paul, but if the second lens is inexpensive enough that you can sell it without losing too much money, you might want to buy it anyway, compare it to your other one, and then keep the better performer of the two.

While sample-to-sample variation between lenses might be minimal when they're new, it's been my experience that after a decade or two of use in the field (literally, in the case of those lenses that are typically used by landscape photographers!), this isn't always true.

Paul Schilliger
12-Dec-2003, 12:51
Well, yes, since the second was a little cheaper, I thought it should help pay for the first I bought who stresses my finances a little at the end of the year! ;-)

Paul Schilliger
12-Dec-2003, 12:53
BTW, both are mint, very little used and in the studio. No risk!

Paul Schilliger
18-Dec-2003, 15:32
I received one lens today, a beautiful piece of optics! I notice that the front cell has a thin spacer ring. Rodenstock says that the lens is optimized for the studio. Does it mean that I should take that ring off for landscape photography? Anyone knows, Kerry ? Bob ? Thanks!

Bob Salomon
18-Dec-2003, 17:59
D'ONT touch the ring. It adjusts the cell spacing for that specific shutter!.

The Apo Sironar W and the Apo Sironar S are both corrected for 1:10. They perform optimally from 1:5 to infinity.

Kerry L. Thalmann
18-Dec-2003, 18:11
Bob's right. Don't tough the spacer ring. It's used to fine tune the cell spacing for optimum performance. They are actually pretty common on newer Rodentock lenses. My 150mm APO-Sironar-S has one, as do a couple of my other Rodensok lenses (don't remember which ones off the top of my head). I think one of my Schneiders has one as well.

Kerry

Paul Schilliger
19-Dec-2003, 00:00
Bob, Kerry, thanks for that info. It's nice to have the experts only one click away!

Cheers

Paul

Paul Schilliger
22-Dec-2003, 06:55
If someone is interested:

http://www.photo.net/gc/view-one?classified_ad_id=559651