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Thread: Using Schneider Kreuznach’s Super-Symmar XL 150mm Lens

  1. #1

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    Using Schneider Kreuznach’s Super-Symmar XL 150mm Lens

    I’m writing this while awaiting delivery of a 2002 copy of this lens, and of Schneider’s IVa centre filter, from Europe. Between Christmas and coronavirus, DHL is being slow as molasses on delivery.

    I intend to use the lens with an Arca-Swiss F-Line camera configured for 8x10, although I also want to see how it fares with the camera configured for 4x5. In the next week or so, I’ll post some photographs of the camera, lens and centre filter, and talk about the lens’s image circle in relation to rise and shift. This post is about the lens’s basic characteristics and initial setup. I needed to sort out the issue of filters in particular. The post may be useful to people who are interested in buying a copy of the lens.

    Focal Length Equivalent in Full Frame 35mm

    The forum’s 8x10 lens comparison chart says that this is a 21mm lens in 35mm terms. Toyo has a chart that suggests 24mm. Mat Marrash, who owns a copy of the lens, says in his YouTube videos that he regards it as a 24mm equivalent.

    Minimum Lens to Subject Distance

    Schneider Kreuznach recommends a maximum scale of 1:3. For a 150mm lens, that’s achieved at a lens to subject distance of 0.6m (2’). I don’t anticipate using the lens that close to a subject. For close-up 8x10 at a scale of 1:5 and larger, I have a 210mm Nikkor AM ED Macro lens.

    Working Apertures

    Specifications:

    Largest Aperture: f/5.6
    Largest Aperture with Centre Filter: f/11
    Smallest Aperture: f/64

    As far as I know, Schneider has not recommended a range of working apertures. Rodenstock does for its 155mm Grandagon-N. For 8x10, it recommends f/22 to f/32. That sounds good to me. I also want to see how the lens performs at f/11 and f/16. I’m not in a hurry to use f/45.

    Apparent Depth of Field

    For me, one of the attractions of this lens is generous apparent depth of field compared to longer lenses. I made the chart attached to this post to get a general sense of the lens’s behaviour and for planning purposes. I wouldn't use the chart in the field to focus the camera. To make the chart, I used Cambridge in Colour’s depth of field calculator.

    The chart is for an 8x10 camera and a 150mm lens. It covers f/11 through f/32. It assumes that someone is viewing an 8x10 print at a distance of 25cm (10"). It also assumes that the viewer of the photograph has 20/20 vision, natural or corrected. This strikes me as a sensible assumption, but it results in notably more conservative values than is typical for depth of field charts.

    Using Filters

    This is a bit complicated. These are the relevant specifications:

    Front element filter thread: 95mm
    Front element filter thread with centre filter: 112mm
    Rear element filter thread: 62mm

    I was not set up to cover a diameter of 112mm. I use screw-in filters standardised at 82mm and a Lee100 filter holder with Lee square/rectangular filters that are 100mm wide. The paragraphs below discuss options for dealing with this problem.

    Using the Centre Filter

    I purchased Schneider Kreuznach’s IVa Center Filter to address light falloff. I’m happy to use the lens, as the centre filter requires, at an aperture of f/11 or smaller. The trade-off is a loss of 1.5 stops of light. I see the loss as equivalent to 1.5 stops of neutral density, manageable and in some circumstances beneficial.

    Using a Polariser or Neutral Density Filter

    What about stacking a filter on top of the centre filter? As noted, the centre filter takes screw-in filters that are 112mm (4.4”) in diameter. Few companies currently make filters in that size, those that do offer a limited range and prices are high. I’ve been able to acquire the following at reasonable prices, which will meet my current needs:

    • NiSi Natural Polarizer. When rotated to neutral, it should also be possible to use this filter as roughly a 1-stop ND filter. This filter has a male thread on one side, female on the other.
    • Tokina Cinema PRO IRND. Typical of ND filters for digital filmmaking, these filters also cut infrared light. Tokina makes 1-stop through 8-stop. I have 4-stop and 7-stop. Tokina's IRND filters only have a male thread.

    I should note that I'm interested in a polariser to control reflections and glare, not to darken skies, which tends to be problematic with a wide angle lens.

    I can also use these filters with my Nikon Nikkor W 360mm, which takes 95mm screw-in filters. I expect that a 95mm to 112mm step-up ring and these filters will often be more convenient than using my Lee100 Holder and 100mm square/rectangular filters. I've purchased a step-up ring made by a relatively new company called Lüzid. Made of brass, it's competitively priced and seems to be a decent product.

    As far as I can tell, none of the top filter makers currently make 112mm skylight, black and white or colour correction filters. No doubt these filters are available used, but it may take some patience.

    Using a Neutral Density, Black and White, Etc. Filter on the Rear Element

    It’s possible to add a screw-in filter without stacking it on the centre filter. As noted above, the lens’s rear element takes 62mm screw-in filters. One could also use a Kodak gel filter on the rear element, or indeed in front of the lens.

    There’s a fairly detailed discussion about the mechanics and pros and cons of this approach in the recent thread Using a Neutral Density Filter on a Rear Lens Element.

    Because I'm standardised at 82mm, I'd use a 62mm to 82mm step-up ring if I wanted to use a screw-in filter rather than a Kodak gel. I would consider this option for a neutral density, skylight, black and white or colour correction filter. When it comes to a polariser mounted on a rear element, I think that getting the rotation right would take patience.

    Obviously, there’s a point where adding filters to the front element will result in vignetting. If this happens, mounting a filter on the rear element is a way to solve the problem.

    Using a Graduated Neutral Density Filter

    I don’t make rural landscape photographs and I use a graduated neutral density filter for urban photography infrequently. If I want to use one with this lens, the cost-effective option is to forego the centre filter and compose with light falloff in mind, or try to reduce falloff during processing. My Lee100 filter holder for 100mm filters, and Lee100 graduated NDs, will fit the lens’s native 95mm filter thread. This option, while not ideal, may work adequately for me because I use negative film. I would not consider this an option if I used reversal film.

    My second option for graduated NDs is to purchase Lee’s SW150 filter holder, or similar, and 150mm (6”) graduated ND filters. However, Lee and other makers of 150mm filter systems don’t make adapters for filter threads larger than 105mm in diameter. Consequently, I’d have to pay someone to make a 112mm adapter, perhaps S.K. Grimes, perhaps someone who does 3D printing. I’ll try the first option before deciding whether to go to the expense of the second.

    MORE TO COME WHEN THE LENS IS DELIVERED


    Depth of Field Chart, 8x10, 150mm, 20/20 Vision

    This chart is in metric. The distance column on the left includes feet at 5m and 10m and then at 10m intervals. “HD” in the column headings stands for hyperfocal distance.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by r.e.; 1-Jan-2022 at 10:45.

  2. #2
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Using Schneider Kreuznach’s Super-Symmar XL 150mm Lens

    I'd be interested in how much movement you will be expecting (44mm?) and if will require a bag bellows.

  3. #3

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    Re: Using Schneider Kreuznach’s Super-Symmar XL 150mm Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    I'd be interested in how much movement you will be expecting (44mm?) and if will require a bag bellows.
    I have my Arca-Swiss camera set up with a bag bellows for 4x5 but not 8x10. As mentioned above, DHL is being very slow on delivery of the lens. If it isn't here in the next couple of days, maybe I'll do a dry run - mount one of my current lenses on the camera, extend the bellows 150mm and see how much rise and shift I have.

    These are Schneider Kreuznach's specifications for 8x10 landscape orientation at f/22, focused on infinity:

    Vertical Rise: up to 52mm (2.05”)
    Horizontal Shift: up to 44mm (1.73”)
    Last edited by r.e.; 2-Jan-2022 at 06:04.

  4. #4

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    Re: Using Schneider Kreuznach’s Super-Symmar XL 150mm Lens

    You got a 141mm square lens board. If the lens board can be placed in any direction you might consider a slightly off-centre hole to avoid the bag bellows.
    Here is mine on a 6x6" original Wehman, 21mm off.


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    Re: Using Schneider Kreuznach’s Super-Symmar XL 150mm Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslolens View Post
    You got a 141mm square lens board. If the lens board can be placed in any direction you might consider a slightly off-centre hole to avoid the bag bellows.
    Here is mine on a 6x6" original Wehman, 21mm off.
    Thanks, I've never thought about lens offset before, but there are a few threads on the forum that touch on it. Let's see if I understand your suggestion.

    My Arca-Swiss uses 171mm (6.7") square boards, not 141mm. However, I gather that what matters is that the board is square and can be mounted to the front standard in four orientations. Offsetting the lens from the board's centre creates 21mm presets for rise, fall, left shift and right shift. It's hard to be certain from the photo, but your lens appears to be 21mm from the centre of the board, not from the side of the board. Is that correct? Why 21mm in particular?

  6. #6

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    Re: Using Schneider Kreuznach’s Super-Symmar XL 150mm Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by r.e. View Post
    your lens appears to be 21mm from the centre of the board, not from the side of the board. Is that correct? Why 21mm in particular?
    Yes, 21mm from centre.
    If too much, the bellows might come between, if too little there is no meaning.
    I can not remember how I came to this number, but room for mounting the lens board with lens might have been the biggest concern, you see in the photo there is not much wiggle room after mounting, 2-3mm at most.
    Anything from 15-20mm could be enough.
    My data on the Wehman says 100mm of rise and 75mm fall, but the stability will be a bit better with less rise.
    One good thing about this lens is the possibility to use Technica lens board, and lens board hole. The offset hole make me loose this advantage compared to Nikkor-SW or 155 Grandagon. On the other side, the bigger lenses would not be possible to mount off-centre by much.

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  7. #7

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    Re: Using Schneider Kreuznach’s Super-Symmar XL 150mm Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by r.e. View Post
    I have my Arca-Swiss camera set up with a bag bellows for 4x5 but not 8x10. As mentioned above, DHL is being very slow on delivery of the lens. If it isn't here in the next couple of days, maybe I'll do a dry run - mount one of my current lenses on the camera, extend the bellows 150mm and see how much rise and shift I have.

    These are Schneider Kreuznach's specifications for 8x10 landscape orientation at f/22, focused on infinity:

    Vertical Rise: up to 52mm (2.05”)
    Horizontal Shift: up to 44mm (1.73”)
    The lens arrived in New York this afternoon, so I should receive it within the next couple of days. I did a very rough check of rise/fall and shift with another lens mounted on the camera. I'm using Arca-Swiss's standard 8x10 500mm bellows. At 150mm of bellows, I comfortably get about 30mm (1.2") each of rise, fall and left/right shift, no stress on the bellows. At 180mm/190mm I get Schneider Kreuznach's full specification (see quote above).

    When I receive the lens, I'll do this more carefully, with the XL 150mm mounted and focused. I want to see the effect of increasing amounts of rise, fall and shift, and also try out tilt and swing.
    Last edited by r.e.; 3-Jan-2022 at 20:23.

  8. #8

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    Re: Using Schneider Kreuznach’s Super-Symmar XL 150mm Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslolens View Post
    Yes, 21mm from centre.
    If too much, the bellows might come between, if too little there is no meaning.
    I can not remember how I came to this number, but room for mounting the lens board with lens might have been the biggest concern, you see in the photo there is not much wiggle room after mounting, 2-3mm at most.
    Anything from 15-20mm could be enough.
    My data on the Wehman says 100mm of rise and 75mm fall, but the stability will be a bit better with less rise.
    One good thing about this lens is the possibility to use Technica lens board, and lens board hole. The offset hole make me loose this advantage compared to Nikkor-SW or 155 Grandagon. On the other side, the bigger lenses would not be possible to mount off-centre by much.
    Hi Oslolens (and other readers),

    Let's see if I've got the arithmetic right.

    From Schneider Kreuznach's specs, landscape orientation (reverse for portrait orientation):

    available rise/fall: 52mm
    available left/right shift: 44mm

    Diameter of the Super-Symmar XL 150mm Rear Barrel: 65mm
    Front Element : 95mm
    Front Element with Centre Filter: 112mm

    Dimensions of my Arca-Swiss lens board: 171mm x 171mm (Oslolens's Wehman board is about 150mm x 150mm)
    Amount of vertical and lateral movement that my standard bellows gives me at 150mm: 30mm, but let's say 26mm to be conservative (see post #7 above)

    Where to centre the Copal #1 hole: 26mm from the centre of the lens board
    Distance from the centre of the Copal #1 hole to the edge of the lens board: 59.5mm (exceeds the half-diameter of the lens's rear barrel, front element and front element with centre filter)

    Result for rise/fall: With my front standard zeroed, I'd have 26mm of rise or fall. I could use my rise/fall control to increase rise/fall to as much as 52mm (Schneider's maximum) or decrease it to 0.
    Result for left/right shift: Zeroed, I'd have 26mm of left or right shift. I could use my shift control to increase shift to as much as 44mm (Schneider's maximum) or decrease it to 0.

    If this is correct, are there any downsides to doing this?

    I would note that this is probably inconsistent with using an Arca-Swiss recessed lens board. The Arca recessed boards that I've seen are partially pre-milled on the back for Copal sizes, which means that the Copal hole has to be centred on the board. See photo below.


    Arca-Swiss Recessed 171mm Lens Board, Rear

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by r.e.; 3-Jan-2022 at 09:12.

  9. #9

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    Re: Using Schneider Kreuznach’s Super-Symmar XL 150mm Lens

    The main thing is to have the camera work with lens straight on.
    Picture show my Wehman with 150mm XL on a 21mm off-centre lens board. Any more decenter and the back lens group would touch.
    I have probably lifted the front a tiny bit in to dark corner, as I did not check corners stopped down to working aperture, only f5.6

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  10. #10

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    Re: Using Schneider Kreuznach’s Super-Symmar XL 150mm Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslolens View Post
    The main thing is to have the camera work with lens straight on.
    Picture show my Wehman with 150mm XL on a 21mm off-centre lens board. Any more decenter and the back lens group would touch.
    I have probably lifted the front a tiny bit in to dark corner, as I did not check corners stopped down to working aperture, only f5.6
    Thanks very much. As you said in a message to me, something else to pay attention to is ensuring that the inside walls of the bellows don't overlap the lens image.

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