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Thread: G Claron Or Symmar S or Sironar?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    G Claron Or Symmar S or Sironar?

    In similar focal lengths, which lens is generally sharper, the f9 G Claron, the Symmar S or the Sironar? I realize that each has some advantage over the other, such as weight, size, coverage etc but I'm primarily interested in sharpness, perceived or real.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Massachusetts USA

    Re: G Claron Or Symmar S or Sironar?

    The G-Claron lenses are optimized for close work, but do fine at distance, if stopped-down adequately. Past f/32, they will all be diffraction-limited and will perform the same.

    My guess is that at normal shooting distances and f/stops, it would require a microscope to tell the difference - and variations between individuals lenses might account for it. And you'd probably have to be shooting resolution targets, scanning with a high-end scanner, or using only the best enlarging lens, to see it.

    There is a reason why we often discuss the "other" attributes of lenses, such as circle of coverage, size, weight, filter size, price, etc. Technology being what it is today, those can often be the sole differentiating factors.

    You might find it interesting to look at the Large Format lens testing done by Christopher Perez and Kerry Thalmann. Chris has also shown that images made by "vintage" lenses, in spite of their age, are surprisingly close to modern designs in terms of resolution. My 1930's 150mm Heliar may not have equivalent coverage or color fidelity (more modern concerns), but it matches or outperforms my 150mm Sironar-S in terms of sharpness.

    We might observe that physicists and optical designers have known a lot, for a long time. Classic lens designs all come from the early 20th century. Einstein's papers on Special Relativity came out in 1905, but my digital camera has a Tessar lens, the first of which was designed in 1902.

    With the advent of computers and advances in manufacturing, progress has been made in coating, coverage, color correction, aspherical and zoom lens design, etc. - but my guess is that much has been to the advantage of the lens makers, in terms of quality control, cost, etc. The end product, may not have changed correspondingly.

    Unless you have a need for extreme wide angle of coverage, macro performance, etc., if any one of those lenses falls into your hands, you can feel fairly confident that you aren't missing out on something finer. And while you're at it, you can add Fujinon and Nikon to the list.

  3. #3

    Re: G Claron Or Symmar S or Sironar?

    Where I have been able to compare them, directly; in general the G-Claron has less weight and bulk, but is softer, particularly in the corners, and slower. The Symmar-S and Sironar-N are comparable and the Sironar-S will have more coverage and be the sharpest. Those are just my impressions and your mileage may vary.

    As a practical matter, for landscapes, a 210mm/f9 G-Claron mounted in a Copal Press shutter is one of my favorites. On the other hand, if I want a highly detailed image of a building, then the APO-Sironar-S will be the one I want.

  4. #4
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    SF Bay area, CA

    Re: G Claron Or Symmar S or Sironar?

    In similar focal lengths, my own experience is that the G-Claron is significantly sharper than the Symmar-S, even at inifinity. At close-range the difference is even greater. The 250 G is outstanding on 4X5; but I have a fairly recent version of the
    lens. Can't say how the Sironar N and S compare; but in the 210-range even the N
    had a reputation for being better corrected than the Symmar-S, which wasn't a bad
    lens at all. In a 20x24 print the impovement in sharpness becomes apparent.

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