View Full Version : Fujinon "A" Lenses - Optimized to Infinity?

neil poulsen
26-Apr-2004, 22:29
Are the Fujinon "A" lenses optimized to infinity? Often, older "Apo" designs are optimized for macro or process work. Thanks.

Michael S. Briggs
27-Apr-2004, 01:17
The cross-section diagrams appear to show a symmetrical design. A symmetrical optical lens, by symmetry, is optimized for 1:1 reproduction of equal size subject and image.

The text in Fuji brochures (from back when Fuji officially sold LF lenses in the US) tend to emphasize the use of the lenses for closeups, but also state their usefulness for distant subjects. There are many reports in this forum and elsewhere of photographers pleased with their performance for distant objects.

Dan Fromm
27-Apr-2004, 05:01
Michael, are the lenses exactly or almost symmetrical?



Bruce Watson
27-Apr-2004, 07:10
They are derived from process lenses. Beyond that, I don't know.

What I do know is if you want my 240mm Fujinon-A, you'll have to pry it out of my cold dead hand. It is an outstanding general purpose lens. It has excellent sharpness for landscape (at infinity). For a flower series (color and B&W) I've been doing the last couple of years, it shows outstanding sharpness when used closer, up to 1:1. I've used it wide open with excellent results as well.

I've also got one of the hard to find 360mm Fujinon-As. It too is razor sharp. It's too long to use for close work - I only use it for infinity work.

When I'd had the lens for only a couple of months, I found a water fall just when it was ready for someone to take it's photograph. I was on the other side of the gorge from it - the mist was still rising, the light was just right. Infinity shot, taken at f/11. My wife likes that shot so much that she insisted that I enlarge it to .8x1.0m and hang it in the front hall.

If you can't tell, I really like my 240mm Fujinon-A for landscape work ;-)

Ted Harris
27-Apr-2004, 08:16
To echo Hogarth's sentiments both my 240 A and my 300 A are among my most used lenses. The 300 see a lot of duty on my 8x10 for landscapes at infinity and also in the studion for close-ups.

The picture below was taken with the 240 A and scanned on a several generations old scanner.


Ted Harris
27-Apr-2004, 08:21
Whoops and apologies for some reason images don;t seem to be posting for me this AM. A server glitch somewhere.

Steve Hamley
27-Apr-2004, 08:26

I'll stir the pot a little by suggesting closer-optimized lenses are better for the way most of us shoot. I also use the Fuji 240 A up close. Most compositions have foreground elements for which a closer-optimized lens would be ideal.

I find that few of the landscape compositions I take have everything at infinity, and sharpness at infinity is usually limited by atmospheric properties. Even fewer compostions I take have everything at infinity with a "short long" lens like the 240. For sunsets, sunrises, and other scenic vistas, I tend to be using at least a 300. Flare has been my only criticism of the Fuji 240, shooting into the sun at some off-axis positions (slightly outside the field of view) can be problematic in my experience, so lens shades are good.

BTW, I just picked up a new-in-box 360 Kowa for a good price to go in the Copal 3s I have, so I'm interested in how it performs - the "flare test" was good. I noticed it does not come with the spacer ring the 240 Computar did (also a NIB cheapie).


Sal Santamaura
27-Apr-2004, 10:06
The Fujinon A series is optimized for 1:5.

Ken Lee
27-Apr-2004, 10:29
I have a 180A, 240A, and 300A. I can't give enough positive feedback about them, for both closeup and distance shooting.

For some sample + detail sections of images taken with these 3 lenses, see http://www.kenleegallery.com/tech.html (http://www.kenleegallery.com/tech.html" target="_blank)

Michael S. Briggs
27-Apr-2004, 10:49
I have several Fujinon lens brochures of different dates. The words in them don't say whether or not the lens is symmetrical, nor what the reproduction ratio the lens was optimized for. My statements are based on the optical construction figure, which is 3 cm high. The optical construction for the Fuji-A appears to be perfectly symmetrical. The figures for all of the other Fuji designs are obviously non-symmetrical. It could be that the curvatures or thicknesses of the optical elements are slightly different, front vs back, or that different glasses were used. However, I think it likely that the optical design of the Fuji-As is perfectly symmetrical.

A symmetrical lens causes certain abberations to vanish when used for 1:1. The abberations will no longer cancel when the lens is used for reproduction ratios other than 1:1. Hence a symmetrical lens should be optimum at 1:1. This doesn't say that it will not be superb at other reproduction ratios.

I would like to know the source for Sal's statement that the Fuji-As are optimized for 1:5.

Sal Santamaura
27-Apr-2004, 11:34
Michael, my Fujinon and D.O. Industries literature collection is at home (I'm not at the moment, so can't give the specific location within it right now). That's my source for the 1:5 datum.

Arne Croell
27-Apr-2004, 11:42
Tweaking symmetric lenses to perform better at infinity has been done, e.g. for the Dialyte types like the Apo-Germinar and Apo-Artar. This is apparently done by changing the cell spacing - since it is usually some kind of washer on one side of the shutter it also throws off the symmetry by a small amount, since the lens elements are no longer the same distance from the aperture. I don't know if this little deviation from symmetry has any effect really.
This recent thread (http://largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/topic/498092.html#511710) refers to a similar procedure for the G-Clarons, which are Plasmats like the Fujinon-A. So it is not impossible that Fuji has optimized the spacing for a reproduction ratio different from 1:1 by adjusting the cell spacing. Since these are usually small amounts (fractions of a millimeter to a few millimeters) it would not be obvious in a drawing.

Sal Santamaura
27-Apr-2004, 12:11
I own 240mm, 300mm and 360mm Fujinon A lenses, none of which came with washers. It is possible that Fuji built different front and rear cell spacings into the metal barrels that hold the elements.

With each additional attempt to remember I become more certain a D.O. Industries brochure specified 1:5. Will confirm this evening and also carefully measure Fuji drawings for any sign of assymetry. Kerry's on-line .pdf version doesn't provide sufficient resolution to properly evaluate small dimensional detail.

Sal Santamaura
27-Apr-2004, 12:13
Should be "Kerry's on line jpeg version..."

Arne Croell
27-Apr-2004, 12:20
I didn't want to imply they have washers - that is more useful if one wants to change between optimizations. I have a 360mm and it doesn't have one either. Like Sal wrote, Fuji could have built it into the cell dimensions.

Sal Santamaura
27-Apr-2004, 12:28
OK, no need to do any research tonight. Here's what I posted years ago on this subject:

Sal Santamaura , nov 27, 2000; 09:04 p.m. Paul, my 1982 Fuji brochure (in English) doesn't help. However, when D.O. Industries, Fuji's US importer at that time, sent it to me, they included a small booklet comparing Fuji lenses to those from Schneider, Rodenstock and Nikkor. I know of at least one error in this booklet; it erroneously claimed the 250mm f/6.7 was EBC multicoated, while in fact that lens was only single coated. So, take this with a grain of salt. The AS series, which included 180mm, 240mm, 300mm and 360mm lenses, all f/9, is listed as "Wide Field Apochromatic Lens Series EBC Coated. Optimized for 1:1 to 1:5."

Arne Croell
27-Apr-2004, 13:20
Sal, I am not really sure that answers the question unambiguously. Compare the following statement from Schneider about their G-Clarons:

"the G-Claron is a lens of symmetrical design with six elements in four groups, optimized for 1:1 reproduction. The normally used range of linear magnifications is 5:1 to 1:5. The G-Claron may also be used for distances up to infinity by stopping down to f/22 or less."

"Optimized for 1:1 to 1:5" could maybe mean the same?

Regardless of this discussion of a theoretical optimum, the Fujinon-A performs beautifully at infinity as others have wrote. The 1981 Fuji brochure on Kerry's web site states it this way (http://www.thalmann.com/largeformat/as-sfs.htm): "Compact enough to be easily used for location work, each lens delivers the fine performance required for long-distance work as well as the outstanding gradation, detail definition and texture rendition so essential for close-ups and small subjects".

Ken Lee
27-Apr-2004, 13:43
Anyone know where to get a 360A ?

Sal Santamaura
27-Apr-2004, 13:50
Arne, I'm afraid that's as unambiguous as Fuji information gets, at least for a non-Japanese speaker.

Ken, mine's not for sale!

Ted Harris
27-Apr-2004, 15:09
And jsut to whet whistles a bit more ..... once upon a time long long ago Fuji also offered 600mm and 1200mm A series lenses. I have never seen one but know they exist somewhere.

I'll settle for trying a 360mm sometime too. I'd love to see a side-by-side comparison with my 360mm Docter Apo Germinar. Arne, have you had the opportunity to do that?

27-Apr-2004, 17:24
The Fuji information I have says that the AS is optimum in the 1:1 to 5:1 range. The CS is optimized from 5:1 to infinity. I put the one page "update" at : http://members.aol.com:/jcpere/images/fujiA.jpg

Michael S. Briggs
27-Apr-2004, 19:53
The product description posted by Chuck is from D.O. Industries, so it is the same information source cited by Sal (but not the same booklet mentioned by Sal). The full sentence from the description for the Fuji-A is "Superior gradation, detail definition and superior color rendition also make them the perfect choice for optimum results in the 1:1 to 5:1 shooting range." (I think they mean 1:5, since the ratio is usually give as image:subject).

Mathematically, there is only one "optimum" or best reproduction ratio. One should substitute the word "excellent" in the sentence from D.O. Industries. D.O. Industries is particularly recommending the Fuji-A for reproduction ratios from 1:1 to 1:5, which could be consistent with a lens optimized for 1:1, just as Arne has pointed out for the G-Clarons. It could also be consistent with a lens optimized for something in between 1:1 and 1:5. Based on industry practice of making symmetrical lenses, which also reduces costs since a smaller number of different optical elements are needed, it is very plausible that the Fuji-As are exactly symmetrical and D.O. Industries was saying that the lens has its best performance (like the G-Clarons) from 1:1 to 1:5. If it is symmetrical, it would have equally good performance to larger than life size images of 5:1 -- D.O. Industries might not have mentioned this because the market for long focal length lenses for larger than life size LF images is very small.

If one really wanted to figure out the answer to this, one could do some experiments by taking photos with the lens as is, and then with the lens reversed, using fairly wide apertures. If the lens is asymmetrical, performance for distant objects should degrade in the reversed configuration. If the lens is symmetrical, reversing the lens won't make any difference.

In the text from D.O. Industries posted by Chuck, D.O. Industries goes on to recommend the Fuji-C for reproduction ratios from 5:1 (presumedly 1:5, image:subject) to infinity. They are using 1:5 as the dividing line between whether they recommend the Fuji-A or the Fuji-CS.

Arne Croell
28-Apr-2004, 06:31
Ted, to answer your question I have not compared my Fujinon 360mm A with an Apo-Germinar. I only own a Zeiss barrel version of the latter, and only since a few months, so it has not been adapted yet. I have used the similar Apo-Ronar 360mm (the old version in the Compur 2 shutter). I never made a quantitative comparison, but my subjective impression was that the contrast was a teeny bit lower for the Apo-Ronar, with no discernable difference in resolution. That is probably due to the different coatings - the old Apo-Ronar is only single coated. In the 360mm range, I would expect that the Fujinon A and the Docter Apo-Germinar are both very good with maybe a little higher contrast for the Fujinon. Since the Docter Apo-Germinar uses a size 3 shutter in that focal length, my choice would probably be the Fujinon A (without regarding price issues here) because of the smaller size and weight and it has the larger image circle if I want to use it on 8x10.

Michael Chmilar
28-Apr-2004, 14:09
To infinity, and beyond!

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Ken Lee
28-Apr-2004, 15:35
I just developed an image taken with the 300A, and I can't resist sharing a detail section. This shot used a fair amount of rise, so the detail section is well off-center. You can clearly see the nail heads which hold down the roman numerals.

This is TMax 400 developed in PyroCat, which had no problem handling sun on fresh white paint and low values at the same time.



Ken Lee
28-Apr-2004, 16:11
Oh.. what the hey - Here's a 25x enlargement. An image around 8 x 10 feet in size, give or take a few inches.


Eric Wagner
30-Apr-2004, 06:46
I have some information that may help. Modern Photography was supplied with some Fuji lenses for evaluation. In the January, 1974 issue, Art Kramer wrote: "And, unlike most apochromats which are designed to produce their best performance at close working distances of mostly 1:1, the Fujinon A is corrected for infinity."

I also have a brochure titled "A Technical Guide to D.O. Industries/Fujinon Professional Enlarging and Large-Format Lenses." It is in an envelope postmarked 12/10/82. Under the description of the NAS it states: "This wide field apochromat is designed for the photographer rather than the graphic arts industry. The lens is apochromatic at near focus studio distances whereas the purely repro lens is corrected for 1:1. Fujinon's approach produces a lens that is critically sharp from infinity to larger than life, . . ."

Michael S. Briggs
30-Apr-2004, 11:11
I dug through my folder of product literature and found the same brochure that Eric found. It seems quite convincing that the Fuji-As are optimized for 1:few rather than 1:1.

I also found another brochure, For Users Who Select A Professional Lens First, copyright 1984 by Fuji Photo Film Co. and printed in Japan. This brochure states about the Fuji-A: "Since it was originally designed for photoengraving applications, it is excellent for precision close-ups of jewelry, watches, and minature products that require outstanding sharpness and perfect color reproduction.".

So which is it, "This wide field apochromat is designed for the photographer rather than the graphic arts industry." or "Since it was originally designed for photoengraving applications, ...."???

My inclination is to believe the manufacturer, rather than the importer.

Reasons to think that the Fuji-A is symmetrical, or very close to symmetrical (the most likely deviation being the spacing of the cells from the aperture): 1) Fuji's diagrams that show a symmetrical construction, 2) Fuji's statement that the lens was orginally designed for photoengraving, 3) the long focal lengths of the Fuji-A made only in barrel version are much more plausible as intended for the graphic arts / photoengraving / printing trade than for LF photography in circa 1970s, 4) that it was general industry practice to adapt symmetrical process lenses to shutters for LF photography: Apo-Artar, Repro-Claron, G-Claron, Apo-Ronar. (However, none of those were made by Japanese manufacturers.), 5) cost-reduction in making a symmetrical lens with fewer different elements.

All of this shows the limitations of relying on product information written by marketers, and perhaps evidence of communication problems resulting from the language gap between Japanese and English.

P.S. Those who obtain excellent results with the lens used for distant objects will be amused at another sentence in the Fuji brochure: "Also, because it does not have the hardness of apochromatic lenses along with the properties mentioned above, it can be used for general photography." What exactly is the optical property "hardness"?

24-Aug-2004, 09:07
Does anyone know where to get a 600a or 1200a