Fujinon 90mm F/5.6 SWD w/dicey shutter: Good Opportunity?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by bradleycloven, Feb 25, 2018.

  1. I have an opportunity to buy for about $100 a Fujinon 90mm f/5.6 SWD. However, the shutter is known to be an issue:

    "Fujinon 90mm Wide-Angle lens on a lensboard that locks up at some shutter speeds.- $110.00

    The issues with the last two lenses listed here may be minor (cleaning and lube), or they also could be major (replacement of Copal shutter)."

    I know this is a heavy lens, and it will go on a Caltar rail camera that won't be more than 200 yards from the car.

    I am new to Large Format. I have had a great time and some success with my old Caltar, using the 215mm f/6.3 that came with it. I already own the Caltar 90mm f/8 Wide Field, but working inside the recessed lens board is so cramped, I haven't shot with it yet.

    I'm pretty comfortable mucking around inside 35mm cameras. I've resuscitated many a shutter with (increasingly strong as necessary) solvents.

    So, two questions:

    1) Will I ever notice a difference between a modern Fuji SWD and the Caltar?

    2) Is the risk of a difficult / unusable shutter a good risk / reward opportunity given the price?

    I'm probably missing a bunch of other angles. Please let me know your thoughts!
  2. Additional questions:

    What is the Copal shutter with that lens (haven't found a sure link on that)?
    How much would a good working version cost?
    Can I install it myself?
  3. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    In real estate - "location, location, location" - IMO, in collecting (excepting extreme rarities) "condition, condition, condition". It is easy to slip into accumulating.
  4. I have one of these for sale on Ebay at the moment, but MINT, with original caps, at $325 plus shipping.
  5. AJG


    As for lens quality, it depends on which Caltar 90 f/8 you have. If it is the one made by Schneider, I wouldn't expect a massive improvement with the Fuji--they are both good lenses. If it is an older version, then the Fuji would definitely be a step up in quality. The shutter in the Fuji should be a Copal #0, which is about as small a leaf shutter as you are likely to find on a modern lens for use with a recessed lens board. Recessed boards are a pain--one thing I found helpful is a small dentist's mirror to see what you're setting.
  6. For $100 I don't see how you can go wrong. Sticky mechanical shutters are usually an easy fix - simple cleaning usually resolves the problem, but beware of applying lubrication anywhere. It shouldn't be needed except in minute quantities in the slow speed gear train pivots.

    Even if the shutter's a write off, the glassware alone could be worth the money. However, you need to ensure the lens itself is in good condition. No fungus, coating damage, scratches, cement separation, etc.
  7. Got it. Shutter is great, no problems. Just hadn't been worked in a decade, i would guess. Limited internal dust after a proper cleaning.

    One disconcerting ding just off center in the rear glass. Oh well! Pretty good price to try as an improvement over my Caltar Ilex Wide Field 90mm f/8.
  8. Ajg: my Caltar is by Ilex u.s., not German glass. So, more chance of an improvement.
  9. What is a "Caltar" monorail? Calumet CC-40x? Calumet badged Cambo SC?

    If a Cambo, you don't need no steenkin' recessed board with a 90. These cameras are usually set up with the tripod mounting block between the standards. Makes for good balance but limits how close the standards can get to each other. Put the tripod mounting block at the very front of the rail, snug the front standard up against it, and focus with the rear standard.

    The f/8 Ilex wide angle lenses (Acugon, Ilex-Caltar, ...; 47 mm, 65 mm and 90 mm) are equivalent to f/8 Super Angulons. f/5.6ers are a little better and a stop brighter wide open.
  10. A 'trick' for getting the standards closer together, is to fold both front and back standards forward or back by the same degree. Raise/lower the front/back to centre the standards again. Re-aim the camera up/down using your tripod head. Voila! Less space between the two standards. The limiting factor then becomes how much the bellows can be compressed.

    Of course a bag bellows allows scraping the rear lens element on the film. No recessed panel needed.

    PS: A sideways twist and shift of the standards can achieve the same end as well.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2018

  11. I believe it is some sub-flavor of "Calumet CC-40x".

    GREAT IDEA; I've racked the tripod mount toward the front, which will eliminate the chance of getting the front rail in a wide angle shot. The standards close tightly on one another, so I expect I'll get good infinity focus, the key for most of my landscapes. I'm going to test the new Fujinon tonight using my flat lens board that currently holds my 215mm f/6.3 Caltar Ilex. I will be very happy if I can avoid a recessed lens board. Even the smaller Caltar Ilex was essentially unusable inside that tiny box.

    The older lens is an f/8 Caltar Ilex Wide Field. Probably single coated (as opposed to uncoated; it is definitely NOT multi-coated).
  12. Thanks, Dan. It is probably the CC-400. The rail is 20 inches, so I suspect the bellows is the 16" version.

    I have a flat lens-board on order, and I sure hope I can get a focused image at infinity with that 90mm Fuji SWD. I don't see any precise information about that out there, so I know I'm taking a chance. The one recessed lens board I've tried to work with .... didn't work. My fingers are fat and don't fit. Do people use styluses to overcome that? Yuck!
  13. AJG


    Calumet also marketed a wide angle version of your camera that might be worth looking for if you don't want to deal with recessed lens boards and large monorails sticking into your neck when you have moved the standards up to get the monorail out of the picture. One of the things I appreciate most about my Toyo monorail 4x5s is the large opening in the recessed boards, which is possible because the board size over all is big-around 6" or so.
  14. Falling both standards back, as I previously described, and pointing the rail down gets the rail out of shot as well as effectively closing the distance between standards. This may eliminate the need to remount the rail.

    This actually works better with standards that tilt from the base, rather than swivel about the lens axis, but even so the reduction in lens-to-film distance can be significant.

    With a rigid-bodied technical camera it's the only way to use certain lenses.
  15. It works! A Fujinon 90mm f/5.6 SWD on a flat lens board on a Calumet CC-400 focuses at infinity with enough room for movements. Front tilt got things in focus from about 3 feet to infinity wide open at 5.6, much less considering the dof you will get at f/22 or so. That with some room to spare, front to back.

    Ramping the whole setup slightly forward on the rail keeps the front rail out of the shot.

    Thanks for all the help!

    Woo hoo! Cookin with gas....
  16. End result? Works like a champ!
  17. paul ron

    paul ron NYC

    i just got the same lens today. its gorgeous!

    the only thing im not happy about is having to mount the rear cell from the back of my wista. the standard's hole is slightly too small to get it through the front.

    i cant wait to shoot with it.

    love your example shot.

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