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Thread: Which of my 5 LF lenses are worth keeping or worth upgrading?

  1. #21
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Which of my 5 LF lenses are worth keeping or worth upgrading?

    Quote Originally Posted by manfrominternet View Post
    I wanted to also ask if you guys think I should replace any of the other 4 other lenses I currently have. I have a 6x17 Shen Hao medium format back that I like to use with my Linhof Technikardan 45, but the only lens that has enough coverage for it is my 150mm Schneider Symmar-S f/5.6. :/
    All of your lenses except the 65mm will work on 6x17. However, if what you have is an "extension" back, only the 90mm will work without mechanical vignetting of the sides of the image. The longer lenses will be slightly less than 17cm wide on film. This is not the lens' fault but the back.

    If you care, "APO Symmars" and other newer may be marginally better than your Symmar-S lenses. No reason to switch unless you see deficiencies in your current images.
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  2. #22

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    Re: Which of my 5 LF lenses are worth keeping or worth upgrading?

    EdSawyer, yeah, I was thinking about the Nikkor-T 360mm with the extra 500mm rear convertible. Do you have it? Is it a good lens?

    Anyway, to Corran's point, I do notice that the 65mm Nikon Nikkor-SW f/4 is very soft for my liking. Not only that, the image circle is so small that I can barely make use any movement on my Technikardan.

    Is there a better wide angle lens in that focal length that I should take a look at?

    Many thanks

  3. #23
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Which of my 5 LF lenses are worth keeping or worth upgrading?

    I have read from various places similar accounts of softness from the 65mm f/4 Nikkor, but other times I have heard people say it's a sharp lens. Don't know if it's a QC issue or maybe just expectations not quite meeting reality, especially with wide-angles - the wider view can make things "seem" soft compared to imaging similar subjects with a normal lens. I've noticed this with respect to ultrawides myself anyway.

    All of the widely-available 65mm lenses have about a 170mm image circle (or smaller). If you want a BIG image circle around that focal length, about the only game in town is the Schneider 72mm XL. Which is an excellent lens that covers 6x17 (but will likely not work with expansion backs, though to be clear I never tried it as I got rid of my expansion back for 6x17 in favor of a dedicated 6x17 camera before buying the 72mm XL).
    Bryan | Blog | YouTube | Instagram | Portfolio
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  4. #24

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    Re: Which of my 5 LF lenses are worth keeping or worth upgrading?

    A couple of thoughts: I too shoot architecture.

    The 65mm Nikon Nikkor-SW f/4 I used professionally for years was very sharp, but I've heard others say their's was not as sharp. My current 65 us a Rodenstock Grandagon f4.5. It is SHARP. It also uses smaller filters than the Nikkor 58mm vs 67. So the center filter, nearly essential, was less expensive. And the Rodenstock 65 is smaller than the Nikkor 65.

    If image circle is an issue with your wide lens the Schneider XLs might be a solution. I've not used any but the 47 and the 110.

    As for 90s. Someone else mentioned the Nikkor 90 f8. Absolutely superb! There is a reason Kerry Thalman listed it as one of his classics. it's image circle is as large as any of the other 90s except the Schneider XLs.

    Longer lenses . . . have you thought about the Fuji As? 240 and 300? Both are APOs. Or the Nikkor 300 f9 or 450 f9 They are apochromats at infinity, the Fuji's apparently are better corrected for closer than infinity.

    My 2 cents. Happy shooting

  5. #25

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    Re: Which of my 5 LF lenses are worth keeping or worth upgrading?

    Based on previous ownership of both the 65mm f4.5 Grandagon & 65mm f4 SW Nikor, both are plenty "sharp" with more than good enough optical performance with 4x5 sheet film.. If, the lens is stopped down to f16 to f32 and very little if any camera movement. IMO, they ~just~ cover 4x5 regardless of what their ad claims are. Both have enough light fall off with color transparency film to highly recommend a center filter. Both are more similar than different.

    As for the 90mm f8 SW Nikor, it does have a large image circle for it's size with good optical performance in a small package.. ideal for those that need this set of trade offs. For non-field or low light indoor images, the full aperture of f8 is not as desirable as a f4.5, 90mm Grandagon. Bigger yes, but brighter enough on the edges of the GG to justify the larger optic. Being one of those who do not back pack, camp or similar outdoor activities, the small size of the 90mm f8 Nikkor has zero added value for these needs, where as the brighter GG image of the 90mm f4.5 absolutely does.


    Bernice

  6. #26

    Re: Which of my 5 LF lenses are worth keeping or worth upgrading?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernice Loui View Post
    Nice balanced set of lenses. There is NO reasons to change much if any. The only lens that might be worth considering to change is the 90mm f8 (think this would be a Rodenstock 90mm f6.8 Grandagon, not f8), to a Rodenstock 90mm f4.5 Grandagon. This is a physically BIGGER lens, larger image circle, slightly less geometric distortion.. But IMO, not a significant enough "upgrade".

    No good reason to keep the 135mm Schneider Xenotar, it is a cult lens that just covers 4x5 (spec image circle at f22 of 150mm, 4x5 required image circle 152mm).
    Info on Schneider Xenotar and others of that vintage:
    https://www.pacificrimcamera.com/rl/00832/00832.pdf

    "Upgrading" to APO will NOT make your images better. Better images will come from image making skills, understanding of lighting and shadows, exposure control, technique and all those FAR more important things that directly affect the images you're creating. Give up the belief lens is the primary factor that affects the images made, while the lens is one item, it is not THE item.


    Bernice
    repeat; rinse; repeat

  7. #27

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    Re: Which of my 5 LF lenses are worth keeping or worth upgrading?

    To anyone who has read Kerry Thalman's Future Classics guide and has/had any of his recommended lenses, what are your experiences with the lenses on his list?

  8. #28

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    Re: Which of my 5 LF lenses are worth keeping or worth upgrading?

    Relevance is completely dependent on your specific print or finished image goals. Lens alone is not the sole means to an end. There are other FAR more important factors like lighting, composition, film used, film processing, print making, print finishing and much more. While there is a signature from a given lens, these other factors are equally if in some ways more important than lens or camera which IMO, is really one of the much lesser regarding sheet film images or the means to use a given lens-optic).


    Bernice

    Quote Originally Posted by manfrominternet View Post
    To anyone who has read Kerry Thalman's Future Classics guide and has/had any of his recommended lenses, what are your experiences with the lenses on his list?

  9. #29

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    Re: Which of my 5 LF lenses are worth keeping or worth upgrading?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernice Loui View Post
    Relevance is completely dependent on your specific print or finished image goals. Lens alone is not the sole means to an end. There are other FAR more important factors like lighting, composition, film used, film processing, print making, print finishing and much more. While there is a signature from a given lens, these other factors are equally if in some ways more important than lens or camera which IMO, is really one of the much lesser regarding sheet film images or the means to use a given lens-optic).

    Bernice
    Bernice, It's always a pleasure to see your posts. You are 100% correct, and it would be nice to see more discussion of those elements you list, rather than the mundane gear chat.
    Buy a lens, (or use what you have). Take photographs. Make prints.

  10. #30

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    Re: Which of my 5 LF lenses are worth keeping or worth upgrading?

    Manfromtheinternet. Kerry Thalman has contributed a great deal to the FL community. His "Future Classics" compendium is definitely a worthwhile read especially for someone just getting into LF photography. I have used a bunch of those lenses and still own a few. There's not much more to be said than Kerry already has. My personal preference is for the character of older lenses.... Dagors and Commercial Ektars...so that's what i've mostly gravitated to. Bernice has offered the best advice, i think. What tool will give you the result you're looking for?
    Last edited by Greg Y; 27-Jul-2020 at 14:47.

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