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Thread: How fast a 90mm should I start with?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 1999

    How fast a 90mm should I start with?

    I'm getting set up to do some architectural work (exteriors and interiors about equally) and I'm looking around at 90mm lenses. Most of what's on the used marke t are Super Angulon f/8 's and f/5.6 's, Caltar/Rodenstock f/8 's and f/4.5 's, and the occasional Nikkor f/8. These obviously encompass a large range of price s ($300-$1000), and, presumably, a range of quality and flexibility. I read the specs for the lenses on Tuan's site, but they didn't tell me much about how much coverage I might actually need on assignment.

    Basically, what I want to know is: how soon will I run into the limits of a chea per lens? The f/8 's are far more common and cheaper; does that mean most people are using them for landscape and they're not suitable for architecture? How mu ch difference does that extra 20mm make between 215mm and 235mm? Do some need ce nter filters more than others? The extra stop?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Forest Grove, Ore.

    How fast a 90mm should I start with?

    Most definitely for architecture, get the larger aperture lens. Like the S.A. 90mm 5.6, or the corresponding Rodenstock or Nikkor. Personally, I like the S.A.'s, But whichever, you need the additional movement available with the larger aperture.

  3. #3

    How fast a 90mm should I start with?

    There are two different issues to address here. First the f/stop. The extra f/stop you gain from a f/5.6 or even a f/4.5 will make a difference on the groundglass and it will make focusing easier. The other issue is coverage. There is some but not that much difference in between the f/8 and the f/5.6 lenses in terms of coverage. The real choice here is in between a "normal" wideangle and the Schneider XL series of lenses, where the XL really makes a difference. (Along with that goes the price tag of course.) As for image quality, the f/8 is an excellent lens. The more expensive ones, regardless of brand, will probably perform even better, but it is probably hard to tell the difference. If you are shooting slide film and often use shift, a center filter would probably be needed with any of the lenses that you have to choose from in the 90 mm area.

  4. #4

    How fast a 90mm should I start with?

    I have the SA f-8 and it is a wonderful lens, I have prcticed with it indoors, just to practice table top etc, and it was ok to focus with it under incandescent bulbs, if you are using flash with modeling lights you should not have any problems focusing with the lens, plus at f8 you get a little bit more sharpness than when you are at f5.6. OTH if you can afford a 5.6, go for it, you will not be sorry.

  5. #5
    Ted Harris's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    New Hampshire

    How fast a 90mm should I start with?

    I agree thta coverage is more important than speed of the lens. Next would be the correction of the lens. While there is not a great deal of difference in single coating v. multicoating for b&w shooting there is more of a difference for color work in terms of overall color corretion and elimination of flare. If you rae buying used take the single coated/multicotaed issue into consideration.

    Finally, to me there is a significant difference in coverage. The Super Angulon f8 has an image circle/field of view of 181 mm/100 mm v. 198 mm/105 mm for the 5.6 (although the published figures for the f8 are at f16 and for the 5.6 at f22 so the difference may be a little less). You will find similar differences between the 6.8 and 4.5 Grandagons/Caltar II-N's. You can't really compare the Fujinons because the f8 is a discontontinued single coated lens.

    If you don;t need extreme movements I seriously doubt you will see much difference in your ability to focus the lens if you go with an f6.8 (or even an f8) and you shouldn't see any difference in image quality. You are paying for the faster glass.

    I have used a Fujinon SW f8 and had no problems focusing it. I now use a Grandagon f6.8 and find it to be the equal of all my other lenses in terms of sharpness, resolution and color rendition. It is one of my three most used lenses for 4x5 landscape work.

  6. #6
    Beverly Hills, California
    Join Date
    Feb 2000
    Beverly Hills, CA

    How fast a 90mm should I start with?

    Josh, in my limited experience, the Nikkor f8 is definitely usable indoors, but oftentimes you'll need to put a loupe to the ground glass for a satisfactory intial focus.

  7. #7

    How fast a 90mm should I start with?

    Whichever lens you choose, you will find that the Ebony viewing screen for wide angle lenses an enormous help. It fits most backs, but check with an Ebony seller.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jun 1999

    How fast a 90mm should I start with?

    In my limited experience I've found the Ebony wide angle screen to be brighter than most, which makes for easy use of the slower Nikon .

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jul 2001

    How fast a 90mm should I start with?

    The 90SA f8.0 is sharper than the 5.6. When using a tripod, as you undoubtedly are, I'd go with the sharper lens.

  10. #10
    Yes, but why? David R Munson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Saitama, Japan

    How fast a 90mm should I start with?

    IMHO, if you don't need the miles of extra coverage afforded by the bigger 90's, I would go with one of the f/8 versions. I use a SA XL 90/5.6 and while I think it's a great lens for architecture (have yet to run out of coverage- pretty much covers 8x10), it's probably overkill for most general applications. As for f/5.6 vs f/ 4.5, it's probably just a matter of personal opinion. To me, f/5.6 is plenty bright, even when making compositions in low-light situations. There's a pretty big difference between f/5.6 and f/8 in some situations to me, but how much further it would go with f/ 4.5 I don't know. One thing I will say about the SA XL is that, while I own the center filter, I have never really needed to use it when shooting 4x5. When I shoot ultra-wides with it on my 8x10, I use the CF then, but the light falloff in 4x5 is subtle enough that it pretty much negates the need for the CF in most situations. Let us know what you decide.
    So apparently my signature was full of dead links after a few years away...

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