View Full Version : 135mm Kodak WF Ektar vs. Fujinon-W (older style) For 5X7+

5-May-2012, 11:39
Hi folks,

I'm seeking information regarding 135mm WF Ektar and Fujinon-W (lettering inside filter ring) lenses. I want sharp/high-contrast images center-to-corner on 5X7 with a few millimeters of wiggle room... a minimum of 223mm to be more precise.

This thread is dedicated solely to "relatively modern" coated shuttered 135mm lenses only... so no need to suggest focal lengths that are "close to 135mm" nor barrel lenses.

In all my searching I've never found another modern 135mm lens, other than the WF Ektar or older Fujinon-W, that meet these criteria. And... I haven't found any quality comparisons between them.

So... What's the sharpest/highest-contrast (center-to-corner) relatively-modern coated shuttered 135mm lens that covers 223mm+? Are the Ektar and Fuji-W really the only two players?

ETA: Lens size/weight are very important too. This is why I'm looking at slower options... for a fairly lightweight/compact kit.

Many Thanks All!!

Mark Sampson
5-May-2012, 12:27
Mike, the 135/6.3 WF Ektar has been my favorite lens for over twenty years. It's plenty sharp on 4x5, and I like its tonal rendition in both b/w and color.
That said, the Fujinon-W is likely to have higher contrast, as most modern lenses are more contrasty that the Ektars. That's presumably due to improvements in optical design, glass, and coatings. But I use the Ektar alongside several modern lenses and the (small) contrast difference has been irrelevant, if not invisible, in the final prints.

Joel Truckenbrod
5-May-2012, 12:33
I can't comment about the whole "vs." aspect, as I've never owned or used the mentioned Kodak WFE. This said, I do own the mentioned Fujinon and have used it for the past year on 5x7. Will it do what you want? Yes. There are two primary drawbacks. First, the image circle covers 5x7 corner to corner, but needs to be placed carefully and the resulting movements are limited. I personally only use back tilt with this lens because of how tight the IC is. Second, the lens is single coated, so you have to be careful of flare. All this said, it produces beautiful images when carefully used. It's also extremely small, cheap and light. I suspect the Kodak has similar limitations given the coverage and age of the lens.

On a side note, I just ordered a Fujinon 125 f8 for the larger image circle/potential for movements with 5x7. I'm not sure if I'll end up holding on to the 135mm...hard to say, as it is a nice pack lens. Best of luck!

5-May-2012, 13:05
Mark... Thank you. Does the Ektar provide "substantial movement" on 4x5 (up to 70mm in any direction) and still remain sharp/contrasty at the far corners?

Joel... Do you know the weight of the 125mm f/8 Fujinon? I editied my OP to reflect that size/weight are important concerns too. The 135mm Ektar and Fujinon-W are pretty small.

Joel Truckenbrod
5-May-2012, 13:08
The fujinon 125 f8 is a pig. :) I believe the front element is 82mm if that gives you any indication. It was cheap, had the coverage (280 I believe) and was multi-coated, which were my criteria.

5-May-2012, 13:35
Thank you, Joel. I'm looking for a lightweight lens to provide a lot of movement on 4x5... or just cover 5x7 comfortably with a few mm to spare.

5-May-2012, 16:33
I have 2 135 WF Ektars. One is from 1946, the other 54. The 46 has a distinct blueish coating and the 54 is more purple. The 4x5 ektachromes from the 54 were better for color by just a bit. Sharpness is identical. I've had the 45 since 1972 and the 54 from 75 and I lubed them last in 80. I cycle all my lenses yearly.

5-May-2012, 16:52
T-D-G... Your keeping two 135mm WFE's? :)

5-May-2012, 17:31
Oh my yes! I have one on my Super Triamapro (a camera with a Grafloc back I modified) and the 46 lives on a 4x5 Special. I use them regularly

5-May-2012, 17:34
I can't say I blame you. ;)

Leonard Robertson
5-May-2012, 18:07
This page: http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/cameras/ektar_list.html gives the 135mm WF Ektar coverage as 230mm at infinity. This page: http://www.subclub.org/fujinon/byfl.htm gives the single-coated 135mm Fujinon W coverage as 228mm. So essentially the same coverage. Enough for 5X7 and a bit.

I did notice the Fujinon takes 46mm filters. It would be easy to find a step-up ring from that size to a more common filter size, like 49mm. The Ektar, I imagine, needs a slip-on Series size filter ring, which may not be as easy to find. Depending on how much you use filters, this may or may not be important.

I don't know if there is any reason to prefer one shutter over the other. I've never used a Seiko LF shutter, so I don't know what sort of open-to-focus procedure they use. Maybe someone can comment on this.


5-May-2012, 18:18
Yes, coverage is essentially the same for both the WF Ektar 135 and the older Fujinon-W. I "think" the Ektar is a double-gauss type while the Fuji is a plasmat. I'm not sure how that affects corner performance but I suspect the Fuji is a little sharper off-center at wider apertures than the Kodak... I don't know though.

I don't think I'll be using filters... maybe a polarizer sometimes.

I'm not really bothered by either brand of shutter (both have good reputations) but I think Seikos are harder to find should the need arise. I've had a couple of Seikos pass through my hands but that was a long time ago. IIRC, open viewing was an easy task.

Leonard Robertson
5-May-2012, 19:08
The choice may be a matter of which of the two you find first. It sounds like on-film performance will be like the coverage - so similar you don't need to worry about any real difference. I suspect the WF Ektar may be more expensive, being more of a classic lens, although the older Fujinons with large coverage are probably sought after too. I don't think either of these are especially common, at least not on eBay, but not 19" Dagor-rare either.


5-May-2012, 19:22
I think you're right, Leonard. Neither are common but neither are rare either. From what I've seen, given identical condition, they sell for approximately the same price too. If what I've read is accurate, both are very sharp in the center even wide open and sharp to the corners of 5x7 stopped down. I'd like to know if there's any difference in these lenses at wider apertures at the corners. One thing I'm seeing sometimes is that the Kodak is reputed to be more sensitive to flare than more modern offerings. But we all know how a tidbit of information, accurate or not, can be perpetuated for decades. I think I'd do alright buying one of each to try because the quality control of Fuji/Kodak is/was stellar.

Doremus Scudder
6-May-2012, 02:47
I've got two WF 135mm Ektars too, one in the States and one in Europe. For filters, I use a Series VII to 52mm step-down ring. 52mm filters are just slightly smaller than Series VII. Sometimes this vignettes; for that I have a Series VI to 67mm ring. Both of these are readily available. You could use Series VII filters to, if you have them.

The 135mm WF Ektar uses up all the movements on my 4x5 field cameras. The extra coverage compared to my 135mm Nikkor W is really convenient and the Ektar is only slightly heavier/larger. It is my most used lens now (one or the other of them, anyway). The only drawback: it won't fold up with my Wista DX...

I don't shoot 5x7, so I can't help you with experience there.



6-May-2012, 06:01
Doremus... Thank you for sharing your experiences. By "all the movements" on your Wista DX do you mean just rise/fall plus shift or are you including front swing/tilt too? So you can use 2+ inches of movement in any direction with no issues? If so that's at least 5x7 coverage. How are the corners moved farthest from center? Sharp/contrasty... any visible degradation from the center image? At what aperture?

Doremus Scudder
7-May-2012, 05:29
I have used all the rise on my Wista DX plus quite a bit of "point-and-tilt" to add more rise and have still not vignetted with the Ektar (this with a shot in portrait orientation). The lens has not-so-sharp edges and corners wide open, but they sharpen up when stopped down. I rarely use the lens at less than f/22. I don't shoot 5x7, so I can't help you there.

As for resolution, see the tests here http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/testing.html
Although not as rigorous as some would want, the 135mm Ektar compares well with the others.



7-May-2012, 07:14
Thank you, Doremus. That extra information helps. Those extreme movements on your 4x5 push the lens further than I ever will. I understand that you mostly shoot this lens at f/22... but have you notice at what aperture those far corners become reasonably sharp?

Thanks for the hevanet link. It's helpful but I think Thalmann and Perez only tested those lenses for straight-on 4x5 performance. I'd really like to know how the two lenses in question perform slightly beyond the corners of 5x7. I'm beginning to think that specific information is nowhere to be found.

I can do a reasonably decent job of testing them myself but I want others' experiences too because, as we all know, "identical" lenses vary in performance... sometimes greatly... so my little tests will be somewhat meaningless regarding the bigger picture. The more shared information I can find, combined with my meager testing, the better.

Mark Sampson
8-May-2012, 10:00
I've run out of coverage with my WFE on 4x5, but only when trying to shoot skyscrapers. While working on that project, I bought a 1957 Schneider 121/8 Super-Angulon, which apparently covers 8x10. It's a fine lens, too, but I think of it as 'the howitzer'. The Ektar remains my favorite for anything that doesn't require huge movements- but if I was going to shoot 5x7 I'd use the Schneider.

8-May-2012, 11:31
Thanks, Mark.

Actually my format for this lens will be no larger than 75x112mm (~3x4.5in) which has a 135mm diagonal. The odd size is derived from stitching two 56x112mm images on the long side. I want the option of shifting up to 33 percent of the (combined) diagonal in any direction so coverage needs to be 1.667x the diagonal or 225mm. I want the image sharp and high-contrast to the far corners.

Since I want to keep my cake and eat it too I want this performance in a small package. As far as I can tell there are only two options... per the title.

Is your WFE sharp to the corners on a full 225mm diagonal?

8-May-2012, 12:47
Just curious, what's special about the 135 Fujinon W with lettering inside the filter ring? I've got a 135 W somewhere, but I couldn't tell you if it has lettering inside or out or what. I've only used it in one session on 4x5 a while back, with very modest movements, so I couldn't tell you anything else about it.

8-May-2012, 12:52
DJG... The older model (and I think the old Fujinar-W too) have larger image circles. The later versions with the lettering on the outer edges have smaller image circles. The older ones have 228mm image circles.

Steve Goldstein
8-May-2012, 12:54
There are three versions:

Lettering inside = single-coated, 80-degrees FOV @ f/22
Lettering outside, 52mm filters = EBC, 75-degrees
Lettering outside, 67mm filters = EBC, 76-degrees

The 52mm-filter version is sometimes referred to as "NW", the 67mm as "CM-W".


And yes, I realize the table at that site says both NW and CM-W have the same field of view, but they have different image circles and if you do the math it comes out to 75 degrees for the NW.