Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 25

Thread: 450 mm Nikkor-M vs. Symmar-S 480 mm

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Posts
    9

    450 mm Nikkor-M vs. Symmar-S 480 mm

    Hey all,

    I know that this has been touched on in earlier threads, but I'm in a slightly different situation than previous posters, so I wanted to see what current prevailing opinion is. I'm looking for a longer lens for my 8x10, and the 450mm Nikkor-M and the 480 mm Symmar-S seem like two strong candidates. I have the 210mm (for 4x5) and 300mm Symmar-S, and have been quite happy with them, but I know that the Nikkor-M is highly regarded. However, I have no plans whatsoever to take this lens out of the studio, and will mostly be shooting still life and portraits. Furthermore, my camera can definitely handle the weight of the Symmar-S. As I understand it, they both have a ton of coverage.

    The Symmar seems to be a touch more expensive, but if it's the superior lens, that's not a problem. Then again, if they're virtually indistinguishable, I might as well save a couple hundred dollars. I'll be contact printing exclusively, by the way.

    So, which lens do people prefer, if size and weight are taken out of the equation? Any advice is absolutely welcome! Thanks!

    Best,

    M

  2. #2
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    SF Bay area, CA
    Posts
    15,284

    Re: 450 mm Nikkor-M vs. Symmar-S 480 mm

    Symmar S is actually an older design. It's not going to be quite as sharp, but nobody will begin to notice that minor distinction on any kind of enlargement from 8x10 format. What will be recognizable is the very high contrast of the Nikkor M due to its multicoated tessar design with only 6 air-glass interfaces, versus the gentler plasmat Symmar S. There is also a gentler overall look to the Symmar a bit hard to describe, which I found appealing for color portraits in the equivalent 4X5 option - very sharp when needed, but not busy or harsh in out-of-focus areas like many general-purpose plasmats. Tough choice unless the sheer weight and bulk of a draft horse versus and ordinary horse is important. For tabletop work, I'd far rather use a close-range corrected 355 G-Claron or 360 Fujinon A. For portraiture, I'd pick the Nikkor 450 M over the Symmar S, but with no regrets qualitatively about the latter if I went that direction instead. Remember, overall cost must be factored, taking into account the much more expensive huge 105mm filters needed by the Symmar, unless you're using gel filters over your studio lights instead.

    You might also want to consider the older thick-element single-coated Fujinon L 420 in Copal 3S. It was very highly regarded by portrait studios.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    Forest Grove, Ore.
    Posts
    3,937

    Re: 450 mm Nikkor-M vs. Symmar-S 480 mm

    These lenses are optimized for infinity focus. How about an Apo-Ronar, a Red-Dot-Artar, or something like that? They're optimized for studio use.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Oslo, Norway
    Posts
    188

    Re: 450 mm Nikkor-M vs. Symmar-S 480 mm

    I second Neil’s suggestion. A 480 apo ronar in Sinar DB mount would be cheaper than either of the lenses you consider.
    I have one (in a compur shutter) and am very happy with it.
    "I am a reflection photographing other reflections within a reflection. To photograph reality is to photograph nothing." Duane Michals

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Posts
    204

    Re: 450 mm Nikkor-M vs. Symmar-S 480 mm

    Go for the brightest you can find, an Ilex or Calumet 20" -508mm f7 in shutter #5. I bought mine mostly to use the shutter with diopter lenses, Pentax 820mm, Nikon 667mm, Canon 500mm and 333mm Marumi achromatic close-up lenses, used single or double to half the focal length. Even added a mm-scale at skgrimes.com

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Posts
    9

    Re: 450 mm Nikkor-M vs. Symmar-S 480 mm

    Quote Originally Posted by neil poulsen View Post
    These lenses are optimized for infinity focus. How about an Apo-Ronar, a Red-Dot-Artar, or something like that? They're optimized for studio use.
    Well they do seem to be somewhat less expensive! (And B and H seems to have a used 480mm APO-Ronar for sale in good condition.) How does the character compare to the Nikkor-M or Symmar-S, in your estimation? I've yet to use a process lens.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    2,278

    Re: 450 mm Nikkor-M vs. Symmar-S 480 mm

    Prevailing 8x10 lens opinions commonly found on the web will likely be biased towards small lenses like the Nikkor M, Fujinon A, G-claron, and etc.. This bias appears to be driven by the volume of field folder camera users that want compact-small-lightweight lens with the largest possible image circle optimally designed / built for essentially infinity focus.

    Once in studio or indoors doing table top images, the optical needs are different. This is where an APO process lens like APO artar, APO ronar, APO nikkor and similar absolutely outperforms any of the designed for infinity compact field folder back-packer lenses. The larger image circle of any lens grows larger as the image reproduction ratio approaches 1:1 or life size. The increased image circle within the camera bellows produces flare light that bounces of sides of the bellows reducing image contrast.

    8x10 has specific camera and image making needs for table top work. Does the camera to be used have enough bellows and camera draw? Focal length is always a trade-off of what the table subjects are -vs- what the camera is capable of and what size the table top subjects wanna be on film. Typical focal length will be 360mm to 480mm, keep in mind once at 1:1 or life size, bellows and camera will be out to 720mm to 960mm, will the camera set up be stable and all needed to produce a vibration-shake free exposure on film? Lens focal length affects how the table top subjects can be lighted.. Always use a GOOD bellows lens shade, preferably an adjustable four sided curtain shade. These go a very long ways to reducing lens flare and flare light due to excessive lens image circle size relative to film image size.


    Then there is taking aperture-vs-camera movement-vs-table top subject placement-vs- what can be in apparent focus-vs- lighting. These and more are all trade offs for table top images.

    Applying camera movements coupled with stopping down the lens to achieve apparent focus if the table top subjects becomes a balance of stopping down more shaves off resolution due to diffraction and puts more demands on lighting and there are absolute limits on what can be put into apparent focus using camera movements.

    Given all these other factors involved with table top images, lens choice is really a modest consideration to the overall needs of table top image making. Oh, field folder cameras are often not a lot of joy to use for complex table top images.



    Bernice

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Posts
    9

    Re: 450 mm Nikkor-M vs. Symmar-S 480 mm

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernice Loui View Post
    Prevailing 8x10 lens opinions commonly found on the web will likely be biased towards small lenses like the Nikkor M, Fujinon A, G-claron, and etc.. This bias appears to be driven by the volume of field folder camera users that want compact-small-lightweight lens with the largest possible image circle optimally designed / built for essentially infinity focus.

    Once in studio or indoors doing table top images, the optical needs are different. This is where an APO process lens like APO artar, APO ronar, APO nikkor and similar absolutely outperforms any of the designed for infinity compact field folder back-packer lenses. The larger image circle of any lens grows larger as the image reproduction ratio approaches 1:1 or life size. The increased image circle within the camera bellows produces flare light that bounces of sides of the bellows reducing image contrast.

    8x10 has specific camera and image making needs for table top work. Does the camera to be used have enough bellows and camera draw? Focal length is always a trade-off of what the table subjects are -vs- what the camera is capable of and what size the table top subjects wanna be on film. Typical focal length will be 360mm to 480mm, keep in mind once at 1:1 or life size, bellows and camera will be out to 720mm to 960mm, will the camera set up be stable and all needed to produce a vibration-shake free exposure on film? Lens focal length affects how the table top subjects can be lighted.. Always use a GOOD bellows lens shade, preferably an adjustable four sided curtain shade. These go a very long ways to reducing lens flare and flare light due to excessive lens image circle size relative to film image size.


    Then there is taking aperture-vs-camera movement-vs-table top subject placement-vs- what can be in apparent focus-vs- lighting. These and more are all trade offs for table top images.

    Applying camera movements coupled with stopping down the lens to achieve apparent focus if the table top subjects becomes a balance of stopping down more shaves off resolution due to diffraction and puts more demands on lighting and there are absolute limits on what can be put into apparent focus using camera movements.

    Given all these other factors involved with table top images, lens choice is really a modest consideration to the overall needs of table top image making. Oh, field folder cameras are often not a lot of joy to use for complex table top images.



    Bernice
    Bernice,

    Thank you for the detailed reply! It's much appreciated. I'm using a Sinar Norma for 8x10, but I have the accessories to extend the bellows out for 1:1 if need be. (I already had a Sinar P 4x5 that arrived with lots of extras, and the Norma 8x10 came with some as well.) It has certainly been more than stable enough a camera for my needs thus far. I take it from your reply that those process lenses allow for ample movements? And in your estimation, do those same lenses still perform well when taking portraits? That is, when the reproduction ration is a ways lower than 1:1?

    Best,

    Matthew

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    2,278

    Re: 450 mm Nikkor-M vs. Symmar-S 480 mm

    Sinar Norma is a near ideal camera for this kind of work.

    Lens image circle is the least of the concerns. 210mm being most common with 4x5, 240mm-300mm with 5x7, 360mm-480mm with 8x10. Any GOOD APO process lens (sinar shutter allows using barrel lenses with ease) is far more than good enough optically and image circle wise, camera movement with these focal lengths for table top will not be an issue due to the reproduction ratios involved. Keep in mind, lighting, subject placement will be FAR more important than lens-camera in your case with the Norma.

    If the image reproduction ratio becomes life size aka 1:1, APO process lenses work fine in every way.

    Do NOT forget about bellows exposure compensation aka bellows factor or the images on film will be under exposed.

    Table top subject placement often becomes tallest object in the rear, shortest object in front. This is driven by what is possible to keep in apparent focus with camera movement. If the table top subjects cannot be held into apparent focus, back up the camera set up reducing the subject size on the GG. Use the largest possible taking aperture, don't be surprised if f45 become needed for 8x10 just to hold apparent focus. At f45, lighting becomes a rather curious issue.

    If this is the first time doing table top, suggest trying it all on 4x5, not 8x10 first to get some idea of how this works out. Know subject placement must be done based on the ground glass image, not what is visual on the table.


    Have fun,
    Bernice





    Quote Originally Posted by MCohn View Post
    Bernice,

    Thank you for the detailed reply! It's much appreciated. I'm using a Sinar Norma for 8x10, but I have the accessories to extend the bellows out for 1:1 if need be. (I already had a Sinar P 4x5 that arrived with lots of extras, and the Norma 8x10 came with some as well.) It has certainly been more than stable enough a camera for my needs thus far. I take it from your reply that those process lenses allow for ample movements? And in your estimation, do those same lenses still perform well when taking portraits? That is, when the reproduction ration is a ways lower than 1:1?

    Best,

    Matthew

  10. #10

    Re: 450 mm Nikkor-M vs. Symmar-S 480 mm

    8x10 Norma 480 Apo Ronar by Nokton48, on Flickr

    Back in the 80's-90's this was my 8x10 Sinar Norma portrait camera with 480 Apo Ronar. Later I acquired a barrel 59cm Zeiss Apo Planar and a barrel 420 Imagon, but the 480mm Ronar was the go-to. HP5+ Pyro+ dev, maximum acute resolution and soft light was the style back then for me
    “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
    ― Mark Twain

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •