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Thread: Rodenstock Geronar 210mm, f6.8 lens evaluation

  1. #1

    Rodenstock Geronar 210mm, f6.8 lens evaluation

    I have recently purchased a Toyo 45C camera outfit with a 210mm, f6.8 Rodenstock Geronar lens. The 45C has seen more than moderate usage judging by the paint m issing from the back of the front vertical geared rails, but the outfit did incl ude a Polaroid 545 back, and Graflex 23 roll film holder plus five film holders and hard shell case. I needed a system for an impending job and wanted to get a s much capability as possible for the money I spent ($850).

    My question concerns the quality (or lack of it) of this Rodenstock lens and wha t are the limitations on camera movements imposed by it. Also how does it rate for edge to edge sharpness?

    I purchased the outfit/lens for portrait and table-top studio work. After readi ng several negative comments on the lens on this website I am beginning to doubt the wisdom of my purchase.

    This is an outstanding website and I feel very fortunate to have discovered it. I would be very grateful for any comments buy your experts as I am new to 4X5 st udio/location photography and need advice on lenses etc. I also photograph build ing interiors.

    Thank you!


    Jim (

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Nov 1998

    Rodenstock Geronar 210mm, f6.8 lens evaluation

    The Geronar has somewhat less coverage than many other 210mm lenses; whether tha t's a factor in your work only you can decide.

    Since you already have the equipment all you need to do is try it out in your intended usage. You'll quickly learn about its coverage limits and image quality . If you find it satisfactory then someone else's negative opinion will be of no importance, or otoh if you find serious insufficiencies in your usage then some one else's positive opinion wouldn't matter either.

    FWIW, I've used a 210 Geronar and found it to be fine, but that was in landsca pe use with pretty much no movement other than rear tilt, so that may have no be aring on your intended usage.

    If you try your lens and decide you don't like it, I highly recommend the Rode nstock 210 f5.6 Apo Sironar-S as a replacement.

  3. #3

    Rodenstock Geronar 210mm, f6.8 lens evaluation

    The Geronar is not the finest lens in the world, but you should try it. Many times LF doesn't require the best of lesnes, since the enlargement ratios for the finished prints isn't very high.

    As far as image circle, when you use the lens at closer distances, the circle gets larger, so you may find it very adequate for portrait & close-up shots. Portraits don't usually use much in the way of movements, and close-up table-top shots have the lens racked out so far that I would doubt this will become a limitation.

    In short, try it. If you find it lacking, and the rest of the equipment that came with it is in serviceable condition you still got a bargain even if you replace the lens.

  4. #4

    Rodenstock Geronar 210mm, f6.8 lens evaluation

    That 210 6.8 lens is the same as the Calumet one bundled with their starter 4x5's. It's a dandy lens which covers a full 5x7 and still has movements. And it's tack-sharp in the middle f-stops.

    I've used one cranked out to life-size macro and for unforgiving architecture shots, and found it to be great. Yes, you can buy a 210 with even bigger movements and even sharper, but you could also use this lens for a professional lifetime and no one could ever tell from your photos that you didn't have the finest lens available.

    That said, I upgraded my 210 to one which cost as much as your entire package, but only after 12 years of shooting catalogues, ads, and portraits with that Geronar. I see no difference in the photos taken with my newer lens (and I kept the Geronar too).

  5. #5
    Tin Can's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Re: Rodenstock Geronar 210mm, f6.8 lens evaluation

    I like the two Geronar 210 I have

    Should be very clean and cheap with a VGC OE shutter as nobody keeps them

    I do

  6. #6
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    SF Bay area, CA

    Re: Rodenstock Geronar 210mm, f6.8 lens evaluation

    I can only find hard specifications (actual graphs, that is) in my own literature pile for the 150 Geronar, which pretty much crashes at f/22 anywhere beyond the strict diagonal of 4x5. A 210 will obviously have a much more generous circle; but that still would be about 25% less usable image circle than their contemporaneous Sironar N. Officially, they rate the 210 Geronar as a 60 degree lens with a 242mm image circle at f/22, versus the 210 Sironar N as 72 degree and a 301 circle.

    Not an issue where movements are not significantly used, like much of portraiture. Geronar is a basic triplet, whereas the other budget 210 marketed under the Caltar label was a Xenar of 4/3 tessar design. These lower cost options were real popular back when my older brother was in an expensive pro photo academy (Brooks Institute). But he was able to manage the more highly recommended 210/5.6 Symmar S; and Sironar N would soon be the new kid on the block. The only camera I personally had way back then was if I borrowed my mom's old box Brownie.

  7. #7
    Nicholas O. Lindan
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Cleveland, Ohio

    Re: Rodenstock Geronar 210mm, f6.8 lens evaluation

    I have a 300mm f9 Geronar that I upgraded to a 300mm f9 Nikkor-M. I can't say there was any sort of 'oh-wow' improvement. The two lenses have about the same coverage. I keep the Geronar with the 8x10 where all I make is contact prints (a landscape meniscus would probably suffice). I keep the Nikkor with the 4x5 outfit.

    The Geronar is a triplet and is thus very sensitive to manufacturing tolerances, some will be very sharp, others will be rather fuzzy. If everything is to spec a triplet is capable of excellent results when stopped down two stops or so.

    Now in going from a 150mm f5.6 Xenar to an Apo-Sironar S there was a decided improvement.
    Darkroom Automation / Cleveland Engineering Design, LLC
    f-Stop Timers & Enlarging meters

  8. #8
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    SF Bay area, CA

    Re: Rodenstock Geronar 210mm, f6.8 lens evaluation

    Well, a 300M has just a tiny amount of surplus coverage for 8x10 before corners start to show issues. But it is an exceptionally well color-corrected lens and of very high contrast, a truly nice 4x5 lens.
    But the real test is the quality of enlargements from even smaller roll film, since this has to be enlarged more in equivalent sized prints. I happen to get even better enlargements from roll film backs and a 300M than dedicated high-end MF SLR teles. I can't compare lenses like Geronars in that respect. I do have some old Xenar roll film shots inherited from my brother; but the Calumet back he used with his Technika was far less than ideal, so it wouldn't be a fair comparison.

  9. #9

    Re: Rodenstock Geronar 210mm, f6.8 lens evaluation

    I had a 210 Geronar in my Busch Pressman kit and was very pleased with it. It was small, multi-coated, and probably the latest computation of a triplet lens. Used in the f/8, 11, 16 range it did everything I asked of it. Some folks like to dish it just because it was inexpensive and a triplet but I think it would, except for extreme movements (not sure I ever had the need for that), produce results hardly discernible from my 210 Sironar on my Technika.

  10. #10
    Vaughn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Humboldt County, CA

    Re: Rodenstock Geronar 210mm, f6.8 lens evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by Wellesley Browning View Post
    That 210 6.8 lens is the same as the Calumet one bundled with their starter 4x5's. It's a dandy lens which covers a full 5x7 and still has movements. ...
    When I bought my Caltar II N (150/5.6 -- $220 new) decades ago, there was a Caltar II N 210/5.6. Both the next step up from the Geronar in the Rodenstock line. The Geronar version was available as the Caltar II E (f/6.8) -- E as in economy line I suppose.

    We had Caltar II N 180/5.6 lenses on our 4x5s when I started as the photo tech at the university, and I suppose I could have saved a few dollars for the State of California University System by going with the II E lenses for the new cameras, but I wrote the budget proposal for the II N lenses anyway and got them. Students still managed to work beyond the image circle in any case.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

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