View Full Version : Schneider symmar or symmar S

15-Jul-2012, 12:36

i'm new to LF and i'm looking for 210mm to use on a 4x5 and 5x7. Is there a big difference between a symmar lens and the symmar S apart from the wider diameter and multi coating? I saw both of them for the same price.
Which shutter will be better?
Will i be better to invest in a 240mm since i'll be doing mainly portraits and still life in B&W.


Ed Bray
15-Jul-2012, 12:50
The Symmar is a convertible the Symmar-S is not.

Schneider themselves and I believe general consensus on the internet by those that know say the Symmar-S is a sharper lens, but for portraiture that may be not what you want.

The big difference between a 210mm and a 240mm is the size, the 210mm is still in a Copal/Compur 1 shutter, the 240mm is in a Copal/Compur 3 shutter and considerably heavier and larger.

What you need to decide is what sort of portraiture you want to do and then tailor your purchase to suit.

Whereabouts in the world are you?

15-Jul-2012, 13:30
The Symmar is a convertible the Symmar-S is not.

Well, the Symmar was marketed as convertible, while the Symmar-S was not. The latter does form a sharp image at roughly double focal length just like the former, so it is technically just as convertible. Whether the quality of either in converted state is up to the standards Schneider targeted by the time they switched to the Symmar-S is another question - LF in general had already grown into a huge print and high quality speciality format by that time, hardly comparable to the mainstream of contact prints back when the plain Symmar was conceived.

In unconverted state, both the Symmar and Symmar-S are fairly equivalent, and good lenses - the Symmar-S MC is doubtlessly a bit better (at least as long as sharp and detailed are within the scope of your definition of good).

Jay DeFehr
15-Jul-2012, 14:26
Hello mylek,

I have a 210-Symmar-S, and use it for portraits on 4x5. It is indeed very sharp, but in a good way.;) Depending on what kind of portraiture you like to do, it might be a bit short for 5x7. I wouldn't mind having a 240, even for 4x5, but I like head and shoulders portraits.

A traditionalist would recommend a Heliar instead of a Symmar, but you'd pay more for it. I'm open to just about anything. I have a Symmar in 150mm, and I tried it converted, the wrong way (front group only), and it made a lovely portrait.

Incidentally, I bought my Symmars after seeing some really beautiful portraits made with them-- though in longer focal lengths for a larger format -- in one of the portrait threads. Do a search and you should be able to find some examples of these lenses used for portraits.

Welcome, and good luck!

Ed Bray
15-Jul-2012, 14:42
I shot this on the front group only of a 210mm Symmar wide open.

I now have the Apo-Symmar 210mm but I would probably not hesitate to use the front or rear group only from it if I needed the effect or focal length.

Not great and it was just a trial to see what it would be like with only the front group as I didn't like the idea of leaving the shutter unprotected when using the rear group only.

I was told it is likely around 420mm focal length and around f14.


15-Jul-2012, 16:34

To make a short story, i've been trying wet plate lately and i took out my old 4x5 that didn't see much use with a 150mm.
I bought an old B&L Tessar 210mm in barrel so it is hard to use it with film and i'm looking for a 5x7 to make bigger plate so i taught to get a 210/240mm lens with shutter to be able to use it specially with film for contact printing.
So, i don't know what will be the best. MC is nice but for some wet plate who needs UV, it might be a problem. Symmar S are quite big specially for the 240mm.

Is it better to buy a lens with Copal, Compur, synchro Compur shuter?

Jay DeFehr
15-Jul-2012, 17:09
Most WP users don't use shutters at all, since exposure times run into several seconds, even with fast lenses.

Kevin Crisp
16-Jul-2012, 16:25
Be aware that not all "S" lenses are multicoated. The series started off single coated, then became multicoated, then came the APO series which was multicoated. If it doesn't say MC or Multicoated on the rim of the front element, it isn't.

I'd prefer the "S" over the original, though both are excellent. The S's come in Copal shutters and they don't have the bright chrome ring of the earlier ones. Many people have painted the chrome black, but that prevents you from ever opening the lens up to get ride of internal haze. Avoid any with rim dents for that reason as well.