Hello from Norwich Norfolk

Tom Gamble

New Member
Registered User
Hi guys, thanks for letting me join. As a early retirement present for myself I have decided to purchase a new lightweight camera outfit (4x5)to complement my 8x10 Lotus Rapid View. The lenses I’m looking at are 90mm f8 Nikon, Schneider 150mm f5.6 apo-symmar-L, Rodenstock 210mm f5.6 apo-sironar-S & Fuji c300mm f8.5. What are the forum’s thoughts,eg experience with these lenses. Should I consider anything else? These will be used with a Chamonix 045f2 mainly for walking in the lakes etc or where the Lotus 8x10 isn’t practical. Thanks.
 

David M

Well-Known Member
Registered User
Welcome.
90, 150, 210 and 300 is a classic combination. The manufacturers hardly matter. They are all excellent.
Some photographers like to match manufacturers for very, very critical colour working transparency film. Food photography might be one such area where the actual differences between mashed potato, ice cream, whipped cream, meringue and mayonnaise are very small but very significant to the human eye. Almost certainly, this is folklore or marketing rather than fact although different lenses can be warmer or cooler. For walking and landscapes, it will be insignificant.
Walking brings us to weight. A four-lens outfit, plus a spare fleece and an anorak, a tripod, sandwiches and a Thermos, is quite heavy. How many dark slides will you be carrying? Presumably, you’ve had experience of weight, from using the 10x8, but it’s worth thinking about. Weight will be more significant in Cumbria than in Norfolk.
Looking forward to seeing your results.
 

mpirie

Member
Registered User
Welcome Tom.

Like David, i suggest the 4 big manufacturers of LF lenses (Schneider, Nikon, Rodenstock, Fuji) are all good so price and image circle may be more relevant for you.

I normally carry the same 90/150/210/300mm set, but with 6DDS, focus cloth, filters, meter, loupe AND a tripod AND a camera, it quickly becomes too heavy to carry far. If you've a background in 10x8, then it may be worth considering looking at your previous work and decide which focal length you found yourself using most and applying that to your 5x4 setup?

When I apply the same logic to my setup, i find that 150 & 210 are the most heavily used. Of course, if i leave the 90 and/or 300 behind, i immediately find wide or long subjects that i can't do justice to! :)

Mike
 

David M

Well-Known Member
Registered User
Mother Nature can see inside camera bags. It’s a well-known fact.
I have found that after my first click, I begin to see mostly images that fit that lens. This is when carrying the assembled kit over the shoulder. Putting it away breaks the cycle.
I’d like to mention the effect of a sharp edged tripod leg in the selection of viewpoint. Quite why the trapezium should be so sensitive to composition is beyond me, as I’m not medically trained.
 

thronobulax

Member
Registered User
Hi guys, thanks for letting me join. As a early retirement present for myself I have decided to purchase a new lightweight camera outfit (4x5)to complement my 8x10 Lotus Rapid View. The lenses I’m looking at are 90mm f8 Nikon, Schneider 150mm f5.6 apo-symmar-L, Rodenstock 210mm f5.6 apo-sironar-S & Fuji c300mm f8.5. What are the forum’s thoughts,eg experience with these lenses. Should I consider anything else? These will be used with a Chamonix 045f2 mainly for walking in the lakes etc or where the Lotus 8x10 isn’t practical. Thanks.
I have a similar lens lineup, though my superwide is 72mm Super Angulon XL and my 14" and 19" lenses are Artars (Red Dot and APO respectively), because my camera will focus at infinity with a 19" lens. Some thoughts that may help:

  • I love the 150mm APO Symmar .. it's an amazing lens that performs superbly.
  • Interestingly, I most often reach from my "kit" lens - a 210mm f/6.8 Caltar-II that I got as part of a Calumet 4x5 package. I wouldn't hesitate to buy one of these. They are relatively inexpensive, tack sharp, and contrasty. The story is that Calumet bought these as rebadged Rodenstock Grandagons.
  • Another unsung here is the old Kodak 127mm f/4.7 Ektar that was quite common on the Speed Graphic. I have probably shot more sheet film with this lens than any of the rest of them. Again, it is just a superb performer and can be had for relatively small sums of money. Very highly recommended.

    Just make sure you get a clean one with a decent shutter. Mostly what happens with old shutters is that they are dirty and slow. When I got mine, I removed the lens elements (and made sure I kept the shims in order where they belonged), opened the iris all the way, and VERY carefully dripped a small amount of naptha into the shutter gear and regulation assembly visible when the shutter is open. It's critical this be done without getting naptha on the shutter or iris blades. One or two drops of this along with working the shutter, made it right as rain - it tests fine on a shutter tester. In fact, I did the exact same thing for a 101mm Ektar I have for my Baby 2x3 Speed Graphic - with the same good results.

    People often forget that modern zoom lenses are much better than in the past, but fixed prime lenses of the sort we use on LF cameras, and for that matter, even smaller format systems, have been VERY good for a long time. I doubt most modern fixed focal length lenses are much superior to these older Ektars and Rodenstocks in any practical shooting environment.
 
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David M

Well-Known Member
Registered User
Older lenses may have more flare and smaller usable image circles, with a bit more aberration in the corners. They might now be sharper, but lenses generally outpace ordinary films in resolution. There do seem to be enough differences in some older lenses for some photographers to choose them for a particular look. Out-of-focus effects can be quite different on different lenses, if this is important to the image.
As you say, “...very good for a long time.” I suspect that improvements in smaller formats are due to post-click in-camera digital wizardry as well as the usual incremental progress in optical design.
Older shutters might be a different matter.
 
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thronobulax

Member
Registered User
I think it probably depends on "how old is 'old'"? I have an uncoated 50mm Elmar I use on an older Leica body. The lens is tack sharp and every bit the equal of a modern lens (I've actually compared scenes side-by-side) except - as you suggest - its flare and contrast performance is inferior to today's lenses.

But - to my eye, at least - the coated Ektars are every bit as good as modern glass, noting, of course, that they don't have the circle of coverage a new lens might. But for every day LF shooting, they are just great lenses that can be had for a fraction of their modern descendants. This assumes that you don't need huge camera movements. The Ektars would not be my choice for tabletop shooting or any other circumstance where you need large movements and best corner sharpness.

But I'm a little biased. The 4x5 Speed Graphic I resurrected from the dead has such an Ektar on it, and it's my goto shooter when I want quick, light, and portable field access to large format.
 

Tom Gamble

New Member
Registered User
Welcome.
90, 150, 210 and 300 is a classic combination. The manufacturers hardly matter. They are all excellent.
Some photographers like to match manufacturers for very, very critical colour working transparency film. Food photography might be one such area where the actual differences between mashed potato, ice cream, whipped cream, meringue and mayonnaise are very small but very significant to the human eye. Almost certainly, this is folklore or marketing rather than fact although different lenses can be warmer or cooler. For walking and landscapes, it will be insignificant.
Walking brings us to weight. A four-lens outfit, plus a spare fleece and an anorak, a tripod, sandwiches and a Thermos, is quite heavy. How many dark slides will you be carrying? Presumably, you’ve had experience of weight, from using the 10x8, but it’s worth thinking about. Weight will be more significant in Cumbria than in Norfolk.
Looking forward to seeing your results.
Hi David,
Thanks for the comments, I did think about the weight aspect. I tend now to mainly use the 8x10 when I don’t stray to far from the car or “wife”. The lotus is quite light but when you factor in the lenses etc it does mount up. I think initially when I go out with the 4x5 I will try lens lens rotation namely 90 & 210 or 150 & 300 to see how I go. I have also given some thought to maybe use only one lens & use my pen f as well. Although I do think the wife is becoming more worried the longer lockdown carries on!!!
 

Tom Gamble

New Member
Registered User
Welcome Tom.

Like David, i suggest the 4 big manufacturers of LF lenses (Schneider, Nikon, Rodenstock, Fuji) are all good so price and image circle may be more relevant for you.

I normally carry the same 90/150/210/300mm set, but with 6DDS, focus cloth, filters, meter, loupe AND a tripod AND a camera, it quickly becomes too heavy to carry far. If you've a background in 10x8, then it may be worth considering looking at your previous work and decide which focal length you found yourself using most and applying that to your 5x4 setup?

When I apply the same logic to my setup, i find that 150 & 210 are the most heavily used. Of course, if i leave the 90 and/or 300 behind, i immediately find wide or long subjects that i can't do justice to! :)

Mike
Hi Mike,
Thanks for the advice I think we’ll give that a go. I tend not to stray to far from the car or the wife with 8x10. The Chamonix is very good weight wise being only about 3lbs the lenses I’ve thought about are compact/light. I know the weight quickly adds up. Hence not using possibly selling my 8x10. I think initially I might just two & backed up with the pen f.
 

Tom Gamble

New Member
Registered User
I think it probably depends on "how old is 'old'"? I have an uncoated 50mm Elmar I use on an older Leica body. The lens is tack sharp and every bit the equal of a modern lens (I've actually compared scenes side-by-side) except - as you suggest - its flare and contrast performance is inferior to today's lenses.

But - to my eye, at least - the coated Ektars are every bit as good as modern glass, noting, of course, that they don't have the circle of coverage a new lens might. But for every day LF shooting, they are just great lenses that can be had for a fraction of their modern descendants. This assumes that you don't need huge camera movements. The Ektars would not be my choice for tabletop shooting or any other circumstance where you need large movements and best corner sharpness.

But I'm a little biased. The 4x5 Speed Graphic I resurrected from the dead has such an Ektar on it, and it's my goto shooter when I want quick, light, and portable field access to large format.
Hi thronobulax
Thanks for the advice I also like ektars, I have one it’s a 8.5” commercial ektar in it’s box with all the papers. Just waiting for SK Grimes to make a mounting flange for it.
 

Tom Gamble

New Member
Registered User
Mother Nature can see inside camera bags. It’s a well-known fact.
I have found that after my first click, I begin to see mostly images that fit that lens. This is when carrying the assembled kit over the shoulder. Putting it away breaks the cycle.
I’d like to mention the effect of a sharp edged tripod leg in the selection of viewpoint. Quite why the trapezium should be so sensitive to composition is beyond me, as I’m not medically trained.
Hi David m
She can indeed. And put rocks in your bag when you’re not looking!!!
 

thronobulax

Member
Registered User
Hi thronobulax
Thanks for the advice I also like ektars, I have one it’s a 8.5” commercial ektar in it’s box with all the papers. Just waiting for SK Grimes to make a mounting flange for it.
Grimes does great work. I was fortunate to have find out about Steve prior to his untimely passing. He reshuttered my 14" Red Dot Artar and 19" APO Artar in new Copals for me. The work was flawless.
 
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