View Full Version : What is the difference between a 210mm and 240mm, especially having regard to cost

14-Feb-2004, 19:10
I use a 4x5 camera with a 150mm lens and I'm thinking of buying a 210mm or 240mm. A 210 is significantly cheaper than a 240. My question, given that these lenses are rather close in focal length, is this: why would someone buy a 240 rather than a 210?

David Karp
14-Feb-2004, 19:34
If you are looking at an f/5.6 type of lens with a plasmat or similar design, a 240mm lens is going to be on a big No. 3 shutter. The 210mm will be on a No. 1 shutter. The No. 1 is smaller, lighter and not as likely to cause camera shake (compared to the No. 3). A 240mm like a Fujinon A with a max lens opening of f/9 will be smaller and lighter than the plasmat design.

The 210mm plasmat is one of the most widely used lenses. It will likely be less expensive than the 240mm plasmat.

A 240mm is approximately equal to an 80mm lens in 35mm terms, and a 210mm is closer to a 70mm. The 240 lets you get back farther from a table top or portraiture subject or closer to a landscape subject than a 210. HOwever, since you are working with a big negative, the difference between the lenses might easily be offset by purchasing the smaller, lighter, less expensive 210 and cropping when necessary. If you are thinking about the Fujinon, then weight and size are not an issue.

Many photographers find the 210mm to be their most used lens, perhaps because it fits in the gap between normal and long.

If you live in an area with rental shops it might be worth trying both focal lengths out by renting.

David Karp
14-Feb-2004, 19:37
Actually, just after I posted the above, I think that my last comment may also be the reason why photographers might choose a 240. The 210mm is sort of a "tweener" to some, and they want the longer lens which will compress things more, and/or give a little extra reach.

david clark
14-Feb-2004, 19:47
I think that the 210 might often be a longer than normal lens for the 4*5, while the 240 could be either a standard portrait lens for 4*5 or a standard for 5*7 and a short lens for 8*10. 240 portrait lenses, or short lens for 8*10 can be larger than many 4*5 photographers would want to carry into the field. Also, a standard 240mm vs. a tele will require the full extension of bellows. Best

14-Feb-2004, 19:56
I understand the relationship to 35mm, and that's why I don't get it. A 210 is about US1,000 and a 240 is about US1,700. I gather that Schneider doesn't make a 240, but their 300 is about US1,800. I don't see that the extra working distance of a 240, whether for portrait or still-life, especially if one is mostly using available light and maybe a reflector, justifies the additional expense. I suppose that one might want a 300 to flatten the image, but I still don't get the 240 as distinct from the 210. That's why I'd like to know if I'm missing something.

John Kasaian
14-Feb-2004, 20:07

FWIW, my limited experience with 4x5s leads me to think that a 210 ( well, mines a 203 actually) isn't that much different than a 'normal' 150. For many, a 210 IS 'normal!' I'm not trying to be a wise guy or anything---thats just how I see it. You'll see a greater difference between lenses that have focal lengths around 100mm or more apart(this I can state is the case with 8x10s, anyway), so a 240mm will, I think, put more 'long' in your long lens selection that a 210 providing your camera has the bellows to handle a 240. Of course, YMMV. My favorite 240mm at present is the G-Claron, which strangely enough often goes for less than the 210 G-Clarons these days(perhaps the 210 is more popular as a 'normal' lens?) They both utilize the Copal #1 shutter and the difference in size and wieght of the two are, once again IMHO, insignificant.


CP Goerz
14-Feb-2004, 20:45
In addition, most 240mm's will cover 8x10 with a little movement while most modern 210's don't really do that great a job giving slightly dim corners.

CP Goerz

Bob Fowler
14-Feb-2004, 20:46
While I use the 10" (254mm) more than I use the 8 1/2" (216mm), the 9" (229mm) get the most use these days for 4X5 portraits. Funny thing... the 9" is an Ilex Copy Paragon barrel lens that set me back less than $50.00 (brand spankin' new) with a front mounted Packard shutter. All I had to do was doctor up the barrel so the lens would stop down past f/11 and make a mount for the Packard...

Damn nice lens.......

james mickelson
15-Feb-2004, 08:03
The difference is just 30mm but the 240 is a better bet due to your other lens at 150mm. 210mm is not much of a difference at all. I would even opt for a 300mm instead of the 240. Same difference as a 50mm and a 100mm in 35mm format. 150 vs 240 is a little less than half again as large. You can move the camera easily enough to accomplish the difference between 150 and (210) 240. But 300 gives you a better view if you can't move the camera around. This is for landscapes (medium to far distances) mainly and not portraiture or still life which entail different approaches and considerations anyway.

Arne Croell
15-Feb-2004, 08:35
It might help to also consider what other lenses you might want to get further down the road. I like to have a constant factor between the focal lengths, which translates into a constant factor with respect to the angle of view (with some rounding to accomodate actually available focal length). A factor of 2, as mentioned as a possibility by james (going from 150 to 300mm) would mean that on the wideangle side the next one is a 75mm. I have actually used that combination for several years but always wanted something in between. If a factor of 2 is the upper limit, a factor of 1.4 (square root of 2) is probably the lower one, that would be something like 55-75-105/110-150-210-300-450-600mm. Any other factor in between is also possible; the 150-240 combination is a factor of 1.6, or as a series 55-90-150-240-360-600mm. the often recommended 120/210mm combination is a factor of 1.75 or expanded a 75-120-210-360-600mm combination. Of course this constant factor thing is quite subjective and just my personal preference.

neil poulsen
15-Feb-2004, 08:39
It's definitely a "tweener" for me. I've always liked a 180mm, like Steve Sint from days old. A 240mm makes a nice, longer lens for close up, portraiture, table top, etc. For me, a 210mm doesn't make sense for either. Either too long or too short.

My 240mm Symmar-S has been replaced by a 250mm f6.7 Fujinon, which doubles as a wide field 8x10 lens.

John D Gerndt
15-Feb-2004, 09:23
I'll echo what Andrew says about the function of a 240mm being a reason for the added cost. A bunch of us shoot multiple formats and having a double-threat lens is nice. Lenses that cover 8x10 fetch a premium price.

Frank Petronio
15-Feb-2004, 10:13
They sold a lot more 210s to students and beginners (Fred Picker promoted 210s) so there are many more used 210s on the market (Symmars and Sironars). Thus the price is less than a 240 of the same type. Most of the late model, big brand ones are excellent, so you can't go wrong. FWIW, I prefer a 240 but if you can't get the shot with one or the other, the 30mm difference isn't going to be much help. The main advantage of the 240 is the increased coverage for 5x7 and 8x10.

Frank Petronio
15-Feb-2004, 17:56
If you're looking for distance rather than movements for landscapes or portraits, look at the older Tele-Arton and Roletar lenses in the 270 length - not too expensive or large.

15-Feb-2004, 19:12
A word of caution. The 240mm Symmar is usually mounted in a big Compur shutter without any mechanism for opening the shutter blades to focus, except to move the speed dial to "T". Later models, such as the Symmar-S are usually in Copal shutters with press-focus levers.

Jim Galli
17-Feb-2004, 08:02
There are 240's and there are 240's. What if you could get a 240 that was lighter than all of the 210 Symmars and Sironars plus sharper plus covers 8X10? A little Fuji 240 f9A went for $400 bucks yesterday on Ebay. Y'all were snoozing. The 240 G-Claron already mentioned has great coverage for 8X10, WAY more than the Symmars, probably just as sharp as the Fuji but with a bit less contrast, I sell them all the time for under $400, a great lens. As to your original question, if there were only the giant Symmars in Copal 3, I'd skip this size too.