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Thread: Cheap (and old) 300mm choices.

  1. #1
    I see in black and white.
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    Cheap (and old) 300mm choices.

    I made the mistake of looking on Ebay. Eek.

    So I'm making a jump in format from 4x5 to 5x7. I have a 210 that will work, but I'm going to be working on portraits (a lot of portraits...) in the near future and I'm going to need something a little longer. I'm thinking 300, but if anyone has an idea that's a little longer I can take that, too. Any suggestions on what to look for? I've seen relatively cheap Tessars and I have to say that I love the look of that type of a lens. I'd prefer something with a shutter, but if it has to be without I can adapt.

  2. #2

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    Re: Cheap (and old) 300mm choices.

    You'd be hard-pressed to find anything better than a Tessar for portraits. That is, unless you are looking for something like a "portrait lens".

    They open wide, making it easy to focus, and a 300mm lens, opened wide, will give considerable blur. Even at f/8 they will be sharp as a tack - on 5x7 especially.

    Make sure your camera can hold one. Because they are fast lenses (by large format standards) they get rather large and heavy.

    Size and weight aside, their main limitation is coverage - so for architecture and landscape images which require a lot of movements, other designs are a better choice. But for portraits, they're my first choice too.

  3. #3
    I see in black and white.
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    Re: Cheap (and old) 300mm choices.

    The only other lens I'm watching is the 12" Wolly Velostigmat that I'm pretty sure more than one of YOU guys is watching. The Series IV? Heh. Probably also a good choice, if a smaller one, but I've seen those go over my cheap-arse budget.

  4. #4

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    Re: Cheap (and old) 300mm choices.

    What sort of 5x7 camera are you shooting with, and what are the dimensions of its lens board? I only ask because some of the older less expensive 300mm lenses are quite large and heavy, and may prove taxing on something like a 5x7 field camera. And when you're searching, remember to also look for lenses marked with focal lengths of 30cm, 305mm, and 12 inches in addition to 300mm.

    In the way of barrel lenses, I'm a big fan of Tessars and old rapid rectilinears (or aplanats). The large aperture 300/4.5 Tessars are quite heavy, but Zeiss also made a 300/6.3 which is considerably smaller (and harder to find). I've also had some luck with a cheap (100$US) Agfa Super-Intergon 305/9 process lens. Actually there are a lot of cheap process lenses with maximum apertures of f/9 or f/10 that might work for you. Some might complain that those lenses aren't bright enough, or have don't shallow enough depth of field for portraiture work, but I find that maybe 80% of my 5x7 portraiture I shoot between f/8 - f/16, so an f/9 lens is fine. It is a little harder to focus than an f/5.6 lens, but if you've a focusing loupe it's not a problem. The above all tend to fall in the 100-250$US range and are quite usable for available light portraiture when used with a packard shutter and exposure times of around 1/2s to a few seconds. I suppose you could go the lenscap shutter route as well, but I don't trust myself to do that without introducing camera vibration.

    If you want something with a more modern shutter, then I'd poke around for one of the Caltar branded lenses. The Caltar-S II 300/5.6 and the Caltar-II N 300/5.6 are excellent (rebranded Schneider and Rodenstock lenses respectively.) Then there's always the classic Kodak Commercial Ektar 12"/6.3. These all tend to fall in the 300-500$US range, but are worthwhile if you need faster more accurate shutter speeds and things like flash sync.

  5. #5

    Re: Cheap (and old) 300mm choices.

    Stephanie,

    none of them are cheap but:

    B&L Special Portrait petzval 6.5 x 8.5" f/5, 300mm, adjustable soft focus rear cell, the front sell alone is a 400mm soft focus meniscus (mine's not for sale). These were very popular and re-badged with a dozen names.
    B&L Unar, nice standard lens with an 'old' look to it, rear cell alone is very soft focus adjustable with stopping down.

    Kodak Commercial Ektar f/6.3, 12" and 14" both work well with 5x7.
    Kodak Ektar f/4.5, up to 12"

    Wollensak Raptars f/4.5, fully the equal of Ektars

    Voightlander Euryscope series 4 f/6, lovely look and convertible to 2X focal length
    Voightlander Heliar and Universal Heliar

    Goerz Dogmar, lovely look complete, triple convertible 1.4X and 1.9X, and 3 different looks.
    Goerz Dagor, studio standard for a century, convertible.

    Rodenstock Ysar, Schnieder Xenar, Zeiss Tessar, usually the equals of Ektar.

    Price and condition count BUT now you're getting into really large, heavy lenses that may no fit your lens board.

    Good luck with it

  6. #6
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: Cheap (and old) 300mm choices.

    There are sooooo many good 12" lenses to choose from, the two big variables are:

    * Different ones are good at different things. There, I think the Series II Velostigmat with the variable diffussion (restraining screw removed) has the most potential for getting very different signatures from the same lens. (But it won't give the same razor-sharp-and-contrasty look you can get from a multicoated plasmat.) If you're lucky, you'll find one in a Betax 5 shutter, but that shutter doesn't have a flash sync.

    * Which particular lens you find a deal on. And as I said, there are so many nice ones (they're all nice in their own way!), that you just need to see what you fall into, and have an idea if it gives the look you want to work with.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  7. #7
    MIke Sherck's Avatar
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    Re: Cheap (and old) 300mm choices.

    Look for an Ilex Paragon, Hugo Meyer, Congo, or one of the earlier Calumet 300mm lenses. All are decent designs but rarely anything "special" so can often be had for less than the big names. One reason is that their quality control was, shall we say, not a selling point. Sometimes that's an advantage with portraits!

    Mike
    Politically, aerodynamically, and fashionably incorrect.

  8. #8

    Re: Cheap (and old) 300mm choices.

    Stephanie,

    "So I'm making a jump in format from 4x5 to 5x7. I have a 210 that will work, but I'm going to be working on portraits "

    what size is your lens board? I do have an extra B&L 8x10 tessar (300 f/4.5) in barrel mount you can have for shipping.

  9. #9
    I see in black and white.
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    Re: Cheap (and old) 300mm choices.

    Sanjay can answer that. He's got the camera at the moment. It looks to be a pretty strong lensboard, though. It's a Burke & James much like the one that was selling (and I couldn't get) a few weeks ago.

  10. #10
    funkadelic
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    Re: Cheap (and old) 300mm choices.

    Stephanie,
    Another thing to consider is bellows length before taking on longer focal lengths.
    If you're interested in the Super Intergon 305/9 mentioned by benrains above, I've got one I can part with for $100. PM me if you're interested.
    Chris

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