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Thread: Schneider Super-Symmar XL 110mm f5.6 v. Nikon Nikkor-SW 120mm f8

  1. #1
    Jeffery Dale Welker
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    Schneider Super-Symmar XL 110mm f5.6 v. Nikon Nikkor-SW 120mm f8

    While I no longer engage in multi-day siege backpack trips with my LF gear, I do regularly hump my 4x5 kit to photograph scenes that exceed Weston's limit of "500 yards from the car". My Nikkor-SW 120mm f8 is a favored lens. Sharp as a tack. Wonderful contrast. A terrific focal length when I'm traversing the grand landscape. All it's superb qualities aside, it is a portly fellow whose presence is felt in both kitbag and on the end of my 4x5. I'm looking at potential svelte substitutes for those times when my L4-L5 segments are not up to the task. The Schneider Super-Symmar XL 110mm f5.6 has caught my eye and I'm looking for input and comment.

    With lensboard, my 120/8 weighs in at nearly 1.5 pounds while the 110/5.6 is listed at 1/2 half pound less. The Schneider has a slightly smaller image circle, but ample coverage for 4x5.

    What the lens data sheets don't tell me are things like sharpness, contrast, rendering, etc... What are the qualities of the 110/5.6?



    Editorial Observation: While perusing eBay, I note that the 110/5.6 has one of the longest descriptive titles I've seen; "Schneider Super Symmar 110mm f5.6 XL 105 Aspheric MC Lens". Is that a marketing strategy?
    "I have this feeling of walking around for days with the wind knocked out of me." - Jim Harrison

  2. #2

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    Re: Schneider Super-Symmar XL 110mm f5.6 v. Nikon Nikkor-SW 120mm f8

    I can’t compare ssxl 110mm with the nikkor as I don’t have the latter, but the ssxl 110mm is the one of the best I have used in past, in terms of contrast and sharpness. For 4x5 use near the center, I don’t feel the need for the IIIb center filter.
    When you buy one, examine a sample before you buy as there are some bad batches with foggy peripheral with internal elements inside and coating issues discussed in the forum too.

  3. #3

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    Re: Schneider Super-Symmar XL 110mm f5.6 v. Nikon Nikkor-SW 120mm f8

    Salmo...I acquired a nice version of the 110XL for the very reasons which you state - with my "other" lens being a 120mm Super Angulon (MC).

    ...and while I generally find the 110XL to be a great performer - there is something about its "personality" which I haven't yet thoroughly warmed up to. At the same time...there is something about "personality" of the 120SA which prevents me from letting it go.

    My advice to you would be to see if you can acquire the 110XL while hanging on to the 120 Nikkor - and use them both for awhile for similar images before finally deciding which one you might choose to let go.

    In my case...no matter what I'm keeping my 120 - figuring that as these seem to be a dime a dozen these days, I might as well (even if the 110XL eventually wins out) keep it if for no other reason than to have as a "sacrificial" lens to take out in conditions which might place it at some risk. Hmmm...sounds a bit cruel to be honest!

  4. #4
    Jeffery Dale Welker
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    Re: Schneider Super-Symmar XL 110mm f5.6 v. Nikon Nikkor-SW 120mm f8

    Quote Originally Posted by John Layton View Post
    In my case...no matter what I'm keeping my 120 - figuring that as these seem to be a dime a dozen these days, I might as well (even if the 110XL eventually wins out) keep it if for no other reason than to have as a "sacrificial" lens to take out in conditions which might place it at some risk. Hmmm...sounds a bit cruel to be honest!
    Your suggestion is my ultimate strategum. The Nikkor SW 120/8 will be with me always. But two back surgeries have me evaluating slender substitutes for those times when avant-garde minimalism rules the day - i.e. my fused L4/L5 is not playing well with others.
    "I have this feeling of walking around for days with the wind knocked out of me." - Jim Harrison

  5. #5
    umop apsidn
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    Re: Schneider Super-Symmar XL 110mm f5.6 v. Nikon Nikkor-SW 120mm f8

    For lighter lenses in the same focal length I propose the Schneider 120 Super Symmar HM or the Schenider 120 Apo Symmar “L”. I have both and can’t find fault with either.

    The “L” is tiny, and I have it on a Horseman FA. The image circle and coverage won’t be near that of the Nikon 120, but the lens is really sharp and I’m not disappointed in the image quality in any way. Here’s an old posting of mine with some photos of the lens: https://www.largeformatphotography.i...=1#post1351818 Image circle of this lens is 189mm at f/22.

    The 120 HM is interesting. Predates the aspheric designs and uses fluorite elements. A bit more coverage for not a lot of weight either. Image circle in my technical info is that it's 211mm at f/22.

    I have a 110 as well and really haven’t meshed with it on 4x5. Very sharp, fantastic contrast…but the focal length just doesn’t work for me there. (I don’t much care for 90mm on the 4x5 either.) Yet I do like the 110 on my 5x7. On that camera however it does need the center filter as it’s very wide and has some noticeable fall off in the corners without the filter.

  6. #6
    Do or do not. There is no try.
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    Re: Schneider Super-Symmar XL 110mm f5.6 v. Nikon Nikkor-SW 120mm f8

    Another lens you might consider is the 120mm Super-Symmar HM. Both the SSHM and SSXL take 67mm filters instead of the Nikkor's 77mm. The SSHM weighs 409gm with caps, the SSXL weighs 425gm, and the Nikkor weighs 610gm. The SSHM is physically longer (80mm) than the SSXL (60mm). The SSXL is in a Copal 1, the other two inhabit Copal 0 shutters. The SSHM's 211mm image circle is much smaller than the SSXL or Nikkor, but it will cover 5x7 straight on so there's plenty of movement available for 4x5.

    I'd love to say I own all three and have done in-depth comparisons of these three, but I'd be lying.

    I use a single-coated 125mm inside-lettering Fujinon-W for this focal length - it has the same coverage as the SSHM at a fraction of the size, weight, and cost. There are later multi-coated Fujinons with similar, though slightly smaller images circles, all more than adequate for general 4x5 use. L3/L4/L5 certainly appreciate my Fujinon!

    The one thing the SSXL will provide over the SSHM or the Fujinons is real usability of 5x7 and (barely) on whole-plate, so that would be a consideration if you use either of those formats.

  7. #7

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    Re: Schneider Super-Symmar XL 110mm f5.6 v. Nikon Nikkor-SW 120mm f8

    Quote Originally Posted by Salmo22 View Post
    I'm looking at potential svelte substitutes for those times when my L4-L5 segments are not up to the task.
    Many years ago I was an avid ultralight backpacker. My camera of choice was either an Olympus XA-4 for shooting 35mm color or an Agfa Isolette for shooting 120 black & white. Back then I was very "ounce" conscious. I no longer backpack but do take one day photo excursion hikes. Until recently I was "pound" conscious but with the mindset of carrying a few extra pounds not really mattering all that much. After an accident seriously affected the hiking abilities of my legs, I made the very hard decision of substituting a FX DSLR for my 4x5 outfit and making digital negatives to print from.... Never looked back. FYI: I still shoot film black & white film up to 11x14 from the back of my car so haven't given up shooting LF or ULF by any means.

  8. #8

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    Re: Schneider Super-Symmar XL 110mm f5.6 v. Nikon Nikkor-SW 120mm f8

    Having owned/used the 110mm f5.6 SSXL from it's introduction back in the late 90's.. it been sitting unused for years these days, replaced with a 115mm f6.8 Grandagon. Yes, the 110mm SSXL is plenty "sharp" snappy contrast and all that.. after many, many, many sheets of film color, B&W, 4x5, 5x7.. got tired of the overly snappy image personality. Yes, it easily covers 5x7 with ample image circle to allow ample camera movements. It's light fall off is a bit worst than the common Biogon type wide angle lens.

    The 110mm SSXL is smaller than the similar focal lenght wide angle, IMO it is not the magical/miracle lens so many project this lens to be. It is more of just another modern LF lens with it's specific personality that meets specific image goals. ... Similar to LF view camera lenses of that era (Schneider's HM series, Fujinon CMW, APO sironar and ...) that were designed and intented to meet the needs of commercial AD contrasty/hard-edged look images in color that was SO fashionable at that time.

    As for similarities of lens personalities, the 115mm f6.8 Grandagon & 120mm f8 Super Angulon are very similar in lens personality given they are of similar production vintage of coatings and in as delivered condition. Have both these lenses currently and have used both for years...

    Used the 120mm f8 SW nikkor in the past, it has a bit higher contrast then the 120mm f8 SA and 115mm f6.8 Grandagon.
    Both the 120mm f8 SW nikkor and 120mm f8 Super Angulon ... just covers... 8x10 direct on at infinity at apertures smaller than f22. The 115mm f6.8 Grandagon, 110mm f5.6 SSXL does NOT cover 8x10 at infinity. This means GOOD optical performace at the absolute edges of 8x10 film, not just lens illumination percieved to be "image circle coverage"..

    Other similar 125mm f8 NSW Fujinon, currently owned, similar to the 120mm f8 SW Nikkor, but does NOT cover 8x10 regardless of what some toot about how it does cover properly 8x10. Makes a good medium wide on 5x7 except this lens is Big and Bulky.


    Highly recommend trying would be a good/proper example of 120mm f6.8 Angulon or 4 3/8" wide angle Dagor.. Both are tiny compared to any of the modern wide angles of similar focal lenght. Optical performance is good stopped down to f16 or smaller. Both have ample image circle for 4x5 with camera movements. IMO, these are absolutey viable alteratives to the modern wide angles.. If size/weight/bulk are a top priority, these older wide angle lenses should be considered.


    Bernice

  9. #9
    http://www.spiritsofsilver.com tgtaylor's Avatar
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    Re: Schneider Super-Symmar XL 110mm f5.6 v. Nikon Nikkor-SW 120mm f8

    I purchased the 120mm Nikkor-SW brand new from B&H for a little over $700 IIRC. This was an "impulse" purchase for me and after I got the lens I was somewhat disappointed to find its FOV almost identical to my 150mm Rodenstock Apo-Sironar-S which I also purchased new for a little over $700. At the time I thought that the Nikkor was a waste of money, but I kept the lens and when I moved into 8x10 mounted it on an 8x10 board and use it exclusively with that and 5x7 format - being equivalent to a 90mm (4x5) on 5x7. The apo-Sironar weighs in at about 250 gms (1/2 lb), takes a 49mm filter, and will fold-up with a 4x5 field camera. Optically it is a superb lens and over the years its used value has more than doubled.

    Thomas

  10. #10

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    Re: Schneider Super-Symmar XL 110mm f5.6 v. Nikon Nikkor-SW 120mm f8

    As a backpacker who loves the 125mm on 4x5, I have an f5.6 Fujinon that weighs 1/2 pound -- and has a 200mm image circle. That's plenty for me. If you want something with a larger image circle -- 300mm -- there is a Fujinon 120mm f8 that comes in at just over a pound.

    http://www.subclub.org/fujinon/byfl.htm

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