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Thread: Lens recommendations

  1. #1

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    Lens recommendations

    I'm trying to put together a nice lens "library" for my Sinar F2. Currently, I only shoot 4x5, however, in the future (the distant future), I plan on shooting 8x10. I currently have a Schneider Symmar-S 180mm F/5.6 lens. I want to buy a 90mm and a 30mm lens. I want to get into portraiture, but there are other things I want to do. The three lenses I plan on having, I hope, will give me nice coverage to do a variety of things to try out and see what I really like (yes, I'm a beginner; I've only been doing this, in earnest, a couple of years). What do you guys recommend I get?
    --Mario

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    C. D. Keth's Avatar
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    Are you interested in shooting architecture? That is important because architecture more or less requires large lenses with large coverage. If you don't have much interest there, the selections can be significantly cheaper while still being high quality.
    -Chris

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    Re: Lens recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by macandal View Post
    I'm trying to put together a nice lens "library" for my Sinar F2. Currently, I only shoot 4x5, however, in the future (the distant future), I plan on shooting 8x10. I currently have a Schneider Symmar-S 180mm F/5.6 lens. I want to buy a 90mm and a 30mm lens. I want to get into portraiture, but there are other things I want to do. The three lenses I plan on having, I hope, will give me nice coverage to do a variety of things to try out and see what I really like (yes, I'm a beginner; I've only been doing this, in earnest, a couple of years). What do you guys recommend I get?
    In photography you've done in the past, what sorts of pictures did you make, what lenses did you use, and what was your usual format?

    You could just buy one of everything, but that's not an efficient path to meeting your objectives.

    Rick "hoping '30mm' is a typo" Denney

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    Re: Lens recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher D. Keth View Post
    Are you interested in shooting architecture?
    Yes, I am, Christopher.
    --Mario

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    Re: Lens recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by rdenney View Post
    In photography you've done in the past, what sorts of pictures did you make, what lenses did you use, and what was your usual format?

    You could just buy one of everything, but that's not an efficient path to meeting your objectives.

    Rick "hoping '30mm' is a typo" Denney
    Rick, I've tried to do a bit of everything. Landscapes, architecture, abstract, etc. Portraiture is something I've always liked and I would say is my main interest at this very early stage in my LF history.

    Oh, and yes, 30 is a typo. I meant 300mm.

    Thanks.
    --Mario

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    Re: Lens recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by rdenney View Post
    ... what lenses did you use, and what was your usual format?

    Rick "hoping '30mm' is a typo" Denney
    Sorry, Rick, forgot to address the whole question.

    Basically, I started with a dSLR. Rebel xTI with an amazing Sigma 30mm/1.4. I did everything with that lens. Nature, landscape, portraiture, etc. It's what I had, so that's what I used.
    --Mario

  7. #7
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    Re: Lens recommendations

    So, you already have that focal length covered effectively with the Symmar-S. Nothing wrong with a Symmar-S!

    That lens, or another plasmat just like would also work fine at 300mm. And it would make a great normal lens for 8x10. But it will be a bit more expensive. It will behave more like a 55 or 60 on that Digital Rebel. There are lots of lenses at that focal length, because that's what is used as a normal lens on 8x10. If you want a more traditional rendering in the lens, but a lens still capable of very strong performance, another option is a Kodak Commercial Ektar in 12", or the Ilex copy, which is an Ilex-Caltar 12". Both are f/6.3 lenses that are very good tessar implementations. Both will come in an Ilex shutter which is a bit more old-school than a modern Compur or Copal. They are big and heavy like all the faster lenses of that length, but they are not as bulky as the plasmats like the Schneider Symmar and Rodenstock Sironar.

    If you need small and light, there are process lenses which will have an f/9 maximum aperture. These are not for razor-thin depth of field, but stopped down the are extremely sharp.

    Avoid telephoto designs, such as the 270mm Tele-whatevers. These will not have sufficient coverage for 8x10, and they tend not to be quite as sharp. They help for people who are bellows limited, which is certainly not the case with your Sinar F2.

    For 90mm, which is about like an 18 on your DSLR, you'll need lots of coverage, especially for architecture work. Get something in the double-retrofocus design, which includes the Schneider Super Angulon, the Rodenstock Grandagon, the Fujinon SWD, and the Nikkor SW. They are all superb. The faster versions (f/5.6 or f/4.5) have wider coverage but cost more. The slower versions (f/8 or f/6.8) are not quite as bulky, but all these are bulky. Get something multicoated if you can find it, though these designs do quite well even when just single-coated. These lenses are made from a pair of retrofocus lenses (like the short lenses on an SLR) but one turned in opposition to the other with the shutter in the middle. The near-symmetrical design eliminates many aberrations and geometric distortion, and these lenses are without par for architectural work.

    But none of the 90's will have enough coverage for 8x10, so that will be a 4x5 lens only. At 120mm, there are options in this design that can marginally cover 8x10, but that focal length is often not wide enough for architectural work in tight quarters. It's a great short lens for landscapes, however. My 121mm f/8 Super Angulon gets as much use as my 90/5.6 Super Angulon.

    You can get excellent examples of the above for less than a grand for the pair in great condition, and with used lenses, condition is important, especially with respect to the shutters.

    Rick "stick with the modern designs for now, with the Commercial Ektar being an allowed exception" Denney

  8. #8

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    Re: Lens recommendations

    The tricky decision, if you are contemplating an 8x10 camera, is deciding on a 300mm lens. Have a look at the 300mm lenses on this chart: http://www.largeformatphotography.in.../LF8x10in.html

    Note in particular the maximum aperture, image circle size, filter size, weight and whether the lens is a Copal 1 or 3, the latter affecting the minimum shutter speed.

  9. #9

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    Re: Lens recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by rdenney View Post
    So, you already have that focal length covered effectively with the Symmar-S. Nothing wrong with a Symmar-S!

    That lens, or another plasmat just like would also work fine at 300mm. And it would make a great normal lens for 8x10. But it will be a bit more expensive. It will behave more like a 55 or 60 on that Digital Rebel. There are lots of lenses at that focal length, because that's what is used as a normal lens on 8x10. If you want a more traditional rendering in the lens, but a lens still capable of very strong performance, another option is a Kodak Commercial Ektar in 12", or the Ilex copy, which is an Ilex-Caltar 12". Both are f/6.3 lenses that are very good tessar implementations. Both will come in an Ilex shutter which is a bit more old-school than a modern Compur or Copal. They are big and heavy like all the faster lenses of that length, but they are not as bulky as the plasmats like the Schneider Symmar and Rodenstock Sironar.

    If you need small and light, there are process lenses which will have an f/9 maximum aperture. These are not for razor-thin depth of field, but stopped down the are extremely sharp.

    Avoid telephoto designs, such as the 270mm Tele-whatevers. These will not have sufficient coverage for 8x10, and they tend not to be quite as sharp. They help for people who are bellows limited, which is certainly not the case with your Sinar F2.

    For 90mm, which is about like an 18 on your DSLR, you'll need lots of coverage, especially for architecture work. Get something in the double-retrofocus design, which includes the Schneider Super Angulon, the Rodenstock Grandagon, the Fujinon SWD, and the Nikkor SW. They are all superb. The faster versions (f/5.6 or f/4.5) have wider coverage but cost more. The slower versions (f/8 or f/6.8) are not quite as bulky, but all these are bulky. Get something multicoated if you can find it, though these designs do quite well even when just single-coated. These lenses are made from a pair of retrofocus lenses (like the short lenses on an SLR) but one turned in opposition to the other with the shutter in the middle. The near-symmetrical design eliminates many aberrations and geometric distortion, and these lenses are without par for architectural work.

    But none of the 90's will have enough coverage for 8x10, so that will be a 4x5 lens only. At 120mm, there are options in this design that can marginally cover 8x10, but that focal length is often not wide enough for architectural work in tight quarters. It's a great short lens for landscapes, however. My 121mm f/8 Super Angulon gets as much use as my 90/5.6 Super Angulon.

    You can get excellent examples of the above for less than a grand for the pair in great condition, and with used lenses, condition is important, especially with respect to the shutters.

    Rick "stick with the modern designs for now, with the Commercial Ektar being an allowed exception" Denney
    Rick, thanks. For a 90, I had that Fujinon SWD already in mind. Could you please clarify which 300 you recommend? I know you're making an exception and recommending an old lens, but which new one would you recommend? Thanks.
    --Mario

  10. #10

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    Re: Lens recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by r.e. View Post
    The tricky decision, if you are contemplating an 8x10 camera, is deciding on a 300mm lens. Have a look at the 300mm lenses on this chart: http://www.largeformatphotography.in.../LF8x10in.html
    Yes, there it is. There's that fujinon CM-W f/5.6-90. That's the one I had in mind.

    Ok. Question about "copals". I can use any copal on my Sinar, right? As long as I have a board that fits it, right? Right now, my one and only lens (180mm Symmar-S) is on a copal 1 board.
    --Mario

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