View Full Version : Leightweight long lens over 600 for 4x5 / 5x7 suggestions?

Paul Schilliger
10-Dec-2003, 03:23
Out of the Nikkor T, are they any lightweight and affordable lenses (around two pounds 1Kg) in the 900 - 1000 - 1200 range (I have 600)? The process lenses like the Ronars in that size are usually made for ultra large format and are therefore huge. Or maybe a convertible? I reckon that a lens that long is not the most commonly used, but could be worth too shoot on a larger chrome what would otherwise be shot on rollfilm. Now, don't ask me how I would extend my camera to that length! I still have to think about it ;-)

Scrubbity Barrows
10-Dec-2003, 05:46
You could try the Fujinon-T 600mm-it's a telephoto so will need less bellows. Also Artars spring to mind.

Paul Schilliger
10-Dec-2003, 06:15
Already had one. Have now the C, much better. Next step should be at least 900mm. Thanks¨!

Arne Croell
10-Dec-2003, 06:49
Paul, with that weight requirement of just 1 kg, there is not much left. Maybe you could try to use one half of a 480mm Plasmat (Symmar S, Sironar; there was no 480mm in the older convertible Symmar line) and see what focal length and quality you can get?

Frank Petronio
10-Dec-2003, 08:07
Not having a rig that could handle such a beast, let me indulge in an academic question: Could you really use such a long lens to practical advantage? I could see using twin heavy duty tripods with a reinforced geared monorail and a modern long lens, but you might also have to build a wind screen and sandbag the whole contraption. I think that trying to use a "normal" camera in the field might make the whole venture a wash compared to cropping an image shot with a good 600mm lens. But I really don't know for sure - does anyone have real experience?

Ken Lee
10-Dec-2003, 08:48
Paul - Could you share a link to any of the images taken with the Fujinon 600T or C ? I'd also like to hear about the difference in image quality, if no photos are available. I have read that there is an upper limit to resolution for longer lenses, and the published test results I have read seem to bear this out.

Another option would be to get a longer lens (or a telescope) for 35mm or Medium Format, take multiple images, and stitch them together digitally. For landscapes, this might be possible, since many of the subjects do not move, except for clouds.

N Dhananjay
10-Dec-2003, 08:49
I use a 30" Artar on my 8x10. It can get tricky in windy conditions and is perhaps best used with a monopod supporting the front. I don't know if the 4x5s, which are smaller, are upto the task. One option might be to use an 8x10 camera with a 4x5 reducing back. I know there are 35" Artars and even longer, though they are pretty rare. Artars are probably the smallest and lightest of the process lenses but even they might be overly heavy on a 4x5. You could try using the single element of the long Protar VIIs but the bellows demands get really high with these when they are used behind the stop as intended. If you are looking at a 900mm or 1200mm, that is about 36"-48" of bellows extension at infinity. There aren't too many 8x10s that can handle that kind of extension, and no 4x5s. So that pretty much limits you to telephoto models like the Nikkor. I'm not a big fan of tele designs but there were some earlier lenses that were also tele lenses - I seem to recall B&L having some really long ones, maybe some aeriel type lenses, maybe Dallmeyer who was supposed to be quite into teles. If nothing else works, maybe using the Dallmeyer Adon, which is a sort of Galilean telescope that can be used on its own or in front of another lens, miht be the way to go. I've used the Adon on its own and its pre-anastigmat performance is pretty evident but maybe it will make out OK at doubling the focal length of a good anastigmat design. Good luck, DJ

Paul Schilliger
10-Dec-2003, 09:05
Cropping a shot taken with a good 600 is probably what reason would tell. Maybe there is some irrationality in my move. I know none of you are and I admit that I am sometimes a gear freak and I like experimenting, it's just part of me! Has anyone ever tried to take apart a Tele-Xenar? I have a 500, maybe it would produce a soft 900 with lots of chromatic aberration? Of course the best would be a small process lens like an Artar 960mm f16 weighing only 800g! Maybe they will make one for me... Oh well, the more I think about it, the more I think the solution is in cropping a sharp shot taken with the 600C! Bear with me!

Paul Schilliger
10-Dec-2003, 09:21
Ken, I could compare images taken with the 600T (Fuji) to a same size crop of a shot taken with the 450C. The 600C however is a very sharp lens just as are the 300 and 450. There is no point linking you to a web JPG, but I can send you a crop of the scan. I noticed with the 600T that is was reasonably sharp at f16, but beyond, degradation occured quickly and it was quite soft at f32.

David A. Goldfarb
10-Dec-2003, 09:38
I have seen one of those "Big Bertha" type cameras--a Graflex SLR with a 35" or longer lens for sports photography on a long rigid extension tube with something underneath to support it. I think this arrangement functioned with a single tripod, so it's possible, though I'm exactly sure it's desirable.

What about negative diopter lenses or tele-adapters, perhaps designed for some other purpose?

Ken Lee
10-Dec-2003, 10:09
Paul -

"Ken, I could compare images taken with the 600T (Fuji) to a same size crop of a shot taken with the 450C. The 600C however is a very sharp lens just as are the 300 and 450. There is no point linking you to a web JPG, but I can send you a crop of the scan. I noticed with the 600T that is was reasonably sharp at f16, but beyond, degradation occured quickly and it was quite soft at f32

Please send me crops of the scans - that would be great.

I have a Fujinon 400T, and have wondered about replacing it with a 450C. I have sometimes found greater detail in cropped images taken with my Fujinon 240A, than in the same shot, full-frame, made with the 400T. I attributed it to camera vibration, but have often wondered.

Nevertheless, shouldn't all these lenses, beyond 300mm, reach a peak of around 48 lines per mm anyhow ?

Frank Petronio
10-Dec-2003, 10:45
There is (was) a Sinar publication I remember that detailed the lengths a European photographer went to with his Sinar system - something like 48-60 inches of bellows, a huge lens, etc. There is also a Swiss eBayer who regularly is selling exotic big glass, with special standards for Sinar cameras. And I wouldn't be surprised to learn if some of the Detroit auto photographers used 900mm+ glass on some of their car shots in the desert - might want t osearch old PDN issues or post over there. So it is possible, just hard and expensive!

Arne Croell
10-Dec-2003, 10:54
Taking apart a Tele-Xenar would most probably result in quite the opposite, an increased focal length for the front cell, as the negative back lens increases the focal length in a Tele construction. A negative cell alone (the back cell) would not result in any picture.

In 35mm and MF there used to be the budget approach to just use a single achromatic pair of lenses of modest aperture for real long focal lengths, not a telephoto construction - so a 500mm was a 500mm long tube with that achromat lens pair at the front. I wonder if that approach could be used here using really long focal lengths achromats from optics suppliers. No idea if they would cover the format. I found these (http://www.edmundoptics.com/IOD/DisplayProduct.cfm?Productid=1501) with focal lengths around 1500mm and 1900mm at Edmund Optics, but they are costly at over $1000. Maybe a first try with some old reading glasses with low diopters (e.g. 0.75dpt = 1333mm focal length) might help to check this?

Arne Croell
10-Dec-2003, 10:55
That should have read: "a decreased focal length for the front cell" in the first sentence.

Andrew Crump
10-Dec-2003, 10:57
Ive never seen any mention about the longer apo germinars and their quality; MR Cad http://www.mrcad.co.uk/ has a few in stock, there in a copal 3 1000mm f 19.5 --not cheap though.

Arne Croell
10-Dec-2003, 10:59
The photographer Frank was referring to might have been the late Reinhardt Wolf, who photographed the New York skyscrapers and Spanish castles in the 1980's/1990's with real long focal lengths and a Sinar - but he used 8x10. His lenses were Apo-Ronars up to 1200mm.

Arne Croell
10-Dec-2003, 11:01
The Apo-Germinars in 750mm and 1000mm, or even 900mm and 1200mm for an older version, are quite good. Similar to the Apo-Ronars they violate Pauls weight criterion, though, and would seriously stress the front standard of a 4x5.

Scott Atkinson
10-Dec-2003, 11:33
For what it's worth, I've owned both the Fujinon 600-T and the 600-C, and I agree-- there's no comparison. The 600-T is, in fact, the worst-performing lens I've had from any modern manufacturer. And it's not just vibration: the Nikkor 500-T just blows it away. What I haven't tried is the 720mm rear element on the Nikkor--any experience, anyone?

Mark Sampson
10-Dec-2003, 11:58
Somewhere it's been published how Andreas Feininger did his huge telephoto shots of New York City in the late '40s. If I remember, he used an old (even then) 1000mm process lens, attached to a homemade two-box camera (one box slid inside the other to focus), and a five-legged tripod for stabliity. I think it was 4x5 film. That's spectacular work he did, too.

Paul Schilliger
10-Dec-2003, 12:27
«The 600-T is, in fact, the worst-performing lens I've had from any modern manufacturer. And it's not just vibration: the Nikkor 500-T just blows it away» I was going to write this but then I thought maybe it would offend a T600 owner. But now that it has been said... Yes, the Nikkor T500 is quite good in comparison. One of my friends has the 720 element and finds it weaker. The same applies to the 600-800-1200 combo. Very good on the short end, acceptable with color fringing on the long end.

I had seen some of the Germinars 600 on Ebay. At 3Kg, I wonder what a 900 would weigh. However, it's not so much the weight of the glass, but the heavy process camera mount. If the lenses could be fitted in a lighter tube...

The shots that Reinhardt Wolf took of the Manhattan towers are really awe inspiring!

Paul Schilliger
10-Dec-2003, 12:41
The Apo-Germinar 1000 19,5 that Andrew suggested could be the answer. If it is mounted in a Copal #3, it must be of decent size. However, considering the price, you have to be very serious about it!

Arne Croell
10-Dec-2003, 12:46
Paul, the Docter Apo-Germinars in Copal 3 are:

750mm: 1925g 1000mm: 2185g

The barrel versions are much heavier, at

750mm: 3900g 1000mm: 4500g

Both the 900 and 1200mm were part of an earlier Apo-Germinar line from the 1960's and are very rare. I do not know their weight, but probably similar to the 1000mm.

I also own the Fuji 600T and, yes, also for me it is my weakest modern lens. Useable, but not great. Since its my only telephoto and the other Fujis I have are excellent, I thought thats just the way LF telephotos are. Maybe I'll give the Nikkor a chance now.

Paul Schilliger
10-Dec-2003, 13:16
At two kilos, it's a heavy piece, but with shutter included, it would probably pass the weight test. This isn't a lens that I would use without a second tripod anyway. But let's wait.

I think the Fujinon T600 is not an apo corrected lens. Tele lenses must be apo corrected, the Nikkors are. However, plain focal lenses are crisper than the 360-500 Nikkors.

Scott Atkinson
10-Dec-2003, 13:58
No offense meant to 600T owners--it may just be mine that's crummy! As to the Nikkor teles, I should add that in the last couple of years I've gone to Fuji 300C and Fuji 450C instead of the Nikkor 360mm/500mm combo. This was in part a quest for improved image quality, but also a matter of weight, the fact that I use them for 8x10 (plus the Fuji 600C), and because I got an Arca that could handle them. I do think the image quality is better--but I was recently looking back through some images I've shot both ways and was surprised to see the Nikkors holding up well.

Schneider has a new 8x10 telephoto series out, but I haven't seen them--don't know how they compare to the Nikkor 600-800-1200. Like the Nikkors, they look really big and heavy.

Arne Croell
10-Dec-2003, 14:13
I saw the new Schneider telephotos at photokina last year - the front cell had nearly the diameter of the Copal 3 they came in. Big lenses, and overkill for 4x5. I had hoped they would come out with something like the smaller Nikkor series, in size 1 shutters. Oh well... I use and love the 450C Fuji and its in a different class compared to the Fuji 600T. I do like the 600mm focal length, though, since it fits my lens line quite well (...150-210-300-450-600mm), but with my Technikardan I need a telephoto in that focal length. Since I have the 450C, the Nikkor 500mm is too close and the 720mm would be the only alternative.

Paul Schilliger
10-Dec-2003, 14:23
Arne, how long can you extend the Technikardan? I use with the folding Technika 5x7 a Wista extension tube made of 3 rings that has fittings for the standard Linhof boards on both ends. It is light and makes for another 10 cm extension. Allows me to mount the 600C on the Technika.

10-Dec-2003, 16:56
I have a Nikkor 720T, which I love and use constantly on 4x5. Quality is terrific; maybe it varies from one sample to another, but I've also used a Nikkor 500T and don't see a difference in quality. I'm very much a long lens person; I lust after the 1200T, but would have to get an 8x10 with 4x5 reducing back to shoot 4x5 with it. Which I've been thinking about doing for over a year now :)

Arne Croell
11-Dec-2003, 02:32
Paul, the TK extends to 520mm or 510mm, somewhere in that range. So that would be another 120mm or so for the 600C. That may be tough for extension tubes, and might vignette, too. Also, do extension tubes for a size 3 shutter go on regular Technika boards? The Technika 5x7 has larger boards, right?

Paul Schilliger
11-Dec-2003, 02:55

I use the regular boards with an adapter. The Wista tube has a normal lensboard on one side and takes a normal lensboard on the other side. Additional rings of 2,5 and 3cm can be ordered. It has a wide diameter and would not vignette easily with the 600, I have used it with some rise without a problem even on 5x7. But yes, it slightly stresses the front standard. I had it on the smaller 4x5 Technika with the 1Kg Fujinon T600 some years ago and that was a bit too weak, but stiffer than if I extended the bed fully to take the lens straight. But no problem on the 5x7 or on the monorail with the lighter 600C (575g). I don't really know how the Technikardan would handle that extension having never used one. What you could get in the worst case is a slight lens tilt.

Paul Schilliger
11-Dec-2003, 03:01
BTW, the Fujinon C600 has a shorter Ff of 573mm! The standard tube could be enough.

Arne Croell
11-Dec-2003, 05:19
Sounds promising. How much extension does the standard Wista extender give you?

Paul Schilliger
15-Dec-2003, 01:47
«How much extension does the standard Wista extender give you?»


It is 10 cm long. The inner diameter is 8cm and it weighs 350g.

Paul Schilliger
18-Dec-2003, 08:04
I wasted some time doing some (useless?) entertainment: Now it's your turn to waste more time reading it! ;-)

<a href="http://www.paulschilliger.com/Temporaires/lens_test"</a>

Not sure about my html, so here it is again:


Ken Lee
18-Dec-2003, 08:55
This is very interesting !

Could you give some more information about the converter "hardware" ? Could a good machinist could adapt it to "any" large format lens ?

Paul Schilliger
18-Dec-2003, 13:06

Givin' me hard work, hey! I posted some scans from the Horseman catalogue. Yes, a "decent" machnist can do that very easily. But I am not pushing anyone in purchasing this item *new* for this purpose! It's a bit pricey...


Michael Mutmansky
18-Dec-2003, 13:27

You've now piqued my interest with this post. You are using the converter on a 450mm Fujinon C, correct? Do you see the possibility to use this on the 600C also?

There are many, many 8x10 shooters out there who would like a long lens for their work, and spending the money on the 1200T is probably not the best way to have it happen. If this converter idea could be used for 8x10 work intended for contact printing or for only low enlargement ratios, then it may be a very useful approach indeed.

The sharpness certianly appears to be good enough for contact printing, but your samples are from the sweet spot in the center, so it's not clear whether that quality can be expected out further from the center of the optical axis.

Any thoughts?


Ted Harris
18-Dec-2003, 13:40
Some additional thoughts on the Horseman converter.

First, for those not familiar with this beast, it is designed to use with any of the modern 150 mm lenses to work as a 2x converter and it does that extremely well. Given the way it mounts you should be able to use it without modification with any lens that uses a #0 shutter (I will try it with my 240 Fujinon A later today). Difficult to tell from the scan but paul's results look awfully good. When the converter is used as designed with a 150 mm lens it is extremely difficult to tell the results from those obtained with a 300 mm lens. I have done side-by-sides with the Horseman converter/150 Apo Symmar combo v. a 300 Fujinon A and an uneducated viewer will often not see any difference, even hard for us guys to tell.

Paul, would you share yoru modifications with us, obviously I, as an owner of the beast, am interested. Do I assume correctly tht it is merely an adaptor ring to permit mounting on a #1 or a #3 shutter?

For those interested in purchasing one of these, they were discontinued about two years ago but are still relativelyeasy to find in Japan and you should be able to get one from Midwest in the range of $250 give or take.

Paul Schilliger
18-Dec-2003, 13:48

Interesting thought! I think it should. You would probably need 100 to 120cm of bellows to place the converter far enough from the back to ensure a wide image circle. I tried projecting the image from the window to the wall with the 600 and the converter the other day, and it worked. The converter was placed far from the lens, maybe 30 to 40 cm if I recall. I have no camera that can do the test but what I thought could be appropriate would be a monorail with an intermediate standard. The converter should be fitted in the center of the frame of the intermediate standard, and so it would be possible to adjust independently the lens-to-converter distance and the lens-to-film distance, evaluating the best enlargement ratio and image circle. Worth a try!


Michael Mutmansky
18-Dec-2003, 14:03

Actually, thinking about it, the 450C would probably be long enough for my purposes, did you say that resulted in about a 1400mm lens?

What is the flange focal distance when you are focused at infinity?


Paul Schilliger
18-Dec-2003, 14:24

The mount will not work straight on the Fujinon A 240. It will require quite a bit of an extension. The place where it needs be placed is focal dependent. But it will work very well with the 240 once you have a custom attachment. From there, all you need is a tube wide enough to avoid flare and a fitting on both ends. Do not expect it to beat a Fujinon 450 though... It should be soft in comparison unless you are lucky and find the "sweet spot"!


I was going to suggest the 450 for I think I should do well. I have set it for my longest extension, a little above 710mm, but with an additional 10 or 20cm, the image circle would be larger. Even at 700, it could be enough to cover 5x7 but I would have to check on film and my 5x7 camera is just not long enough...

If someone owns one of those monsters and can test it, it would be interesting to know!

Paul Schilliger
30-Dec-2003, 07:12
A more thorough testing showed that there is a serious issue with mechanical vignetting which can only be solved by stetching the bellows when possible. This, I'm afraid, makes it probably impractical for formats larger than 4x5. Please read the update.


Paul Schilliger
13-Jan-2004, 12:30
It's time for a final evaluation of the idea of using the Horseman converter to make extra long lenses out of the 300 (900mm) and 450 (1450mm) Fujinon C. I have a few film sheets before my eyes, and there is not much to boast about them.

The 5x7 sheets have black corners despite my checkup for the pupil from the corners of the ground glass. I wish I had doubled some of them with normal lenses, for they were nice... The 4x5 are just "exploded" "large format 6x7" as far as sharpness is concerned. They remind me of my old 600mm tele lens when it was closed at f45, even worse. In addition, the corners are soft. There was a lot of trouble composing and focussing on such a dark ground glass (f32 for the 300 and f45 for the 450). Some speeds are not recommended with such long lenses (1/2-1/4-1/8) and that's just where the images had to be taken. Using a second tripod didn't help making work easy.

I guess I had some fun experimenting, and I hope you didn't bother reading it! P.S. do not look for the test page, I deleted it.