View Full Version : 90mm lens

12-Jan-2004, 16:55
If I am prepared to carry the extra weight is it worth getting a faster 90mm or am I better with F8 ? I am looking for a lens to use with Wista RF (fresnel screen) for landscape and I want very sharp results with a good colour balance.

For each of these which would you choose out of Nikkor, Schneider, Fuji ?

David Karp
12-Jan-2004, 17:16

I can't speak about the other manufacturer's products, but I do have a 90mm f/4.5 Rodenstock Grandagon N that I like a lot. The colors look good, and it is plenty sharp. I use it on a monorail camera. I don't know if the rear element will fit into the front of your Wista, since it is quite big. Try before you buy one of the big 90s from any of the manufacturers to make sure it fits. It might also make your camera feel pretty front heavy. The big Grandagon N just barely fits into the front of my Crown Graphic (it rubs on the way in), and it makes things quite front heavy.

If you decide to go with one of the lenses with a slower max aperture, then I would recommend that you consider the Nikkor 90mm f/8. This is the only one of the bunch that I am aware of that gives you an image circle comparable to that offered by all of the other big versions, except for the Schneider Super Angulon XL (which has the largest circle). I can't speak to its color balance, but many photographers who carry their lenses into the field swear by this lens, including John Sexton (for whom color balance matters little).

I am sure you will get a lot of other responses with direct comparisons between lenses. I hope this helps.

Gem Singer
12-Jan-2004, 17:22
Hi Joel,

For the Wista RF, I would use an f8 90mm lens because of its lighter weight and smaller sized design. As you know, the faster 90's are larger sized heavier weight lenses. They also take large sized filters. For outdoor work, there is very little advantage to having the speed increase of a faster lens. An f8 90 will allow ample brightness for focusing most of the time.

The lens I would choose is the f8 Nikkor 90SW. It has an image circle of 235mm. and good used ones are readily available if you search around.

Bob Salomon
12-Jan-2004, 17:23
There is no problem mounting a 90mm 4.5 Grandagon-n on any camera using a Linhof Technika board like the Wista.

Frank Petronio
12-Jan-2004, 17:33
I'd be interesting in hearing why a faster lens would somehow have a better color balance than a slower lens. If anyone told you that that are full of it. The faster, larger lenses have more coverage, which is helpful for architecture - but for most landscape work you'll be fine with the slower, more compact versions. You might consider getting a dedicated center filter down the road, to see if it makes a difference to you (especially with skies.)

Rodenstock 90/6.8 Grandagons are somewhat brighter than the Schneider and Nikkor 90/8s; and they are all in the same price range. 67mm filter size, Copal 0 shutter. I think any of the three top brands would suit your needs fine.

Andre Noble
12-Jan-2004, 20:24
I use the Nikon 90mm f8. Extremely sharp. Large image circle for 5x7 use and 4x5 architecture.

Jim Galli
12-Jan-2004, 21:27
Joel, I have Grandagon 4.5, Grandagon 6.8 and a tiny Congo. The only possible strike against the 4.5 is it's weight. Other than that It's a pleasure to have the bright screen and I think it's the sharpest of the 3. Not sure why it wasn't in your list. It's actually the Caltar version which made it a better bargain yet.

steve simmons
13-Jan-2004, 08:01
Color balance and image circle size are not related. Any moderns lens - made in the last 20 or so years - will be fine for color work

With whatever lens I selected I would get a brighter screen - from Beattie, Bromwell, or Linhof. This will brighten the image from any lens by about 2 stops.

steve simmons www.viewcamera.com

Brian Kennedy
13-Jan-2004, 08:57
I use the 90/8 Nikkor SW, too, after reading Kerry Thalmann's reviews (http://www.thalmann.com/largeformat/). I was initially concerned that it would be too dark and difficult to focus, but I've been pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to use. I do have a fresnel screen.

I really like the lens. The image circle is large, larger than you'll ever need for landscapes, and it is incredibly sharp. Compared to a 90 with a larger maximum aperture, it is lightweight. It's a great choice for a landscape lens.

Michael Hewson
13-Jan-2004, 16:20
G'day I use the Nikon SW90 on my Wista field 4*5 - and I think it perfect for the job - lightweight, sharp and so I concur with others.

13-Jan-2004, 16:29
Thanks for the advice.

I like the sound of the Nikkor SW 90mm f8 but I am worried about the screen being bright enough to focus, especially when taking dawn or low light shots. Is this a problem or is it still possible ?

Gem Singer
13-Jan-2004, 17:11
Hi Joel,

Focusing on a ground glass in very dim light is difficult, even with a faster f4.5, or f5.6 lens. The Fresnel that is built into the Wista's focusing screen will help, but a good focusing loupe, like the Wista loupe, will help even more.

Using an 90mm f8 lens is not a problem. I have a few lenses that are even slower, and they aren't problematic either.

Todd West
13-Jan-2004, 23:47
Is this a problem or is it still possible?

Well, I managed to successfully focus my 90 f/8 Super Angulon for a 5 minute late twilight exposure. Using a loupe, particularly one where you can unscrew the base and tilt it helps a lot, but it ultimately depends on how low light you need; if you're planning to compose by moonlight before the sun comes up life will be a lot easier with some sort of additional light source regardless of what lens you choose.

Christopher Condit
16-Jan-2004, 00:38
Another point against humongous lenses, even if they do fit on the lensboard and the board on the camera, is that the rear element may mechanically impede movements.

Pete Kiefer
2-Jan-2005, 16:08
The size of the lens, its maximum aperture, or its weight have only secondary effect on its performance. Some of the smallest and "dimmest" lenses are also the sharpest. Most so-called "wide angle" process lenses have apochromatic color correction and reproduce lines beyond where any film can regester. They have maximum apertures of f/9 or smaller. These wide angle process lenses are cheap, sharp and plentiful. They are also quite easy to focus in dim light because they are often sharpest wide open and tend to "snap" into focus at longer lens to subject distances.

If you have trouble focusing in dim light, like I sometimes do. get a couple of "MagLights". Unscrew the reflectors to expose the bulbs. Place one at your nearest point and one in the distance near the furthest point you wish sharp. Do your lens tilts and depth of field adjustments using these bright points. Retreive your "bright spots" and "there ya go".