Lens Comparisons/Tests wide open?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by bart feliciano, Apr 28, 2006.

  1. I've spotted a few lens test sites for 4x5 and larger lenses on the internet,
    but they all seems to compare at apertures of f11 or smaller.

    Are there any sites that compare large format lenses wide open?

    I tend to want to handhold, so....

  2. Large format lenses are not designed to be used wide open but for f11 and smaller, as that is when they start having a large enough field for movements. The only purpose for the wider aperatures that they carry is for focusing. That doesn't mean that you can't shoot them at the larger f stops but the only part that will be sharp is the center area.

    That's why no one tests them wide open except the manufacture, and that data is avaliable from the manufacture, at least in Schneider and Rodenstock's case.
  3. Grrr, people test cars above the speed limit...

    Trial and error time again...
  4. Where in the world did the idea that LF lenses aren't designed to be used wide open come from? References? Any modern lens, and many that aren't, will be quite usable wide open, and you use whatever aperture suits your intents and vision. Obviously the laws of physics still apply, and optical performance may not be as good as f/11, but this is true of any and all photographic lenses except for speciallized scientific and process lenses that work at a fixed aperture.
  5. I suppose the ball bearing factories during WW2 were tested with Aero Ektar lenses wide open, with P51's sometimes. At F2.5 the 178mm is still "acceptable wide open at infinity" ; with this minutes long scan, the "target" is about 2km away across the lake; after sunset




    BR>AT F11 and during the day; the 63 year old 178mm F2.5 ektar performs abit better.




    With LF; non press photographers are obsessed with angular coverage; where most lenses are spec'ed at F22 for coverage. For astro photography and press work in LF, faster lenses tend to be used, like my 210mm F3.5 Xenar in barrel for my speed graphic; or a 135mm F2.8 Xenotar in shutter. There is also alot of slop in LF film holders; sometimes an ancient spec of +/- 0.007 inch spec is used. With a digital scan back; or a calibrated press camera for fast lenses; one usually strives to get better focuse wide open than the swing/tilt chaps. Lets face it; press and fast LF work is stepchild in LF; where folks all want a Sinar or an Ebony and a 7 thousand dollar lens, a tripod and F22. :)
  6. the tyranny of f22...
  7. There is nothing as far as I know on the web about LF wide open. I have done quite a bit of
    testing and can tell you that if you are looking for sharp and fast, your best bet is a
    Xenotar or a Planar. Both the f2.8 and the f3.5 versions are acceptably sharp wide open.
    Aerial lenses, like the AeroEktar as Kelly mentions and the Dallmeyer Pentac don't do as
    well as the Xenotar or Planar. Perhaps this is a function of age or that these lenses were
    not designed for less than infinity. Neither, in my experience are as sharp.

    There are a few odd speed lenses around which are best off avoided; notibly the Dallmeyer
    series X (AKA Lee Speedic) and the various Carl Meyer (not Hugo!) Speed Anastigmats.

    Modern Plasmats all do fine at f/5.6. They are nice and sharp as you would expect. They
    just aren't that fast.

    Tessar types at f4.5 and the occasional f3.5 (and even more occasion f2.7) are ok open
    wide, but nothing spectacular. They have some pretty fierce sharpness fall off. Still they
    are often quite cheap and a good place to start.

    Some triplets are good performers wide open. I played with a Hugo Meyer Trioplan (not
    Carl!) 210/3.5 which seemed to be quite nice.

    I have heard that the Zeiss Biogon 75/4.5 is a great performer open wide. Never used one
    though. Might be worth trying some more modern wide angle glass, say a 75 or 90 f4.5
    Nikon or Rodenstock.

    I have settled on a 150/2.8 Xenotar for 4x5 and a 240/3.5 Xenar for 5x7 for my fast
    lenses. They do just fine.

    One last suggestion is to look to old portrait lenses; Petzval types are often found as fast
    as f3. I have a Dallmeyer Patent 3B, 11" f3 which, in the center of its image, is as sharp as
    my Xenotar.
  8. d_g


    having used only modern lens, i will go with an apo sironar S for wide open shots !
    look at the alpa site, they used large format type lens for their alpa 12... and some times
    their lenses are specific for that application : less coverage but better wide open (helvetar)
    from alpa : "One of the most interesting facts concerning the Apo-Helvetar, based on the
    legendary Schneider Super-Angulon's design, is that it can be really used at f 5.6 - in any
    case it is MUCH better at f 5.6 than all large-format lenses (which are optimized for
    enhanced image circles and for f stops of f 11 and more) .

    With wide-angle lenses and at e.g. f 5.6 you can easily see tolerances of 2/10 mm or 3/10
    mm concerning the flange focal distance (with a 180 mm and at f 22 'anything' works...)
    within the combination lens/lensboard/body, back adapter/back. The combination counts.
    In other words: This is the critical moment when you discover whether your camera comes
    up to your high expectations.
  9. I've used quite a few of the older "fast" lenses. The Cooke Speedic lenses can be quite nice, depending on the sample you find. I have some of the Series X I believe, f2.5 lenses, in a 6 1/2" version and a 10" version and they are pretty sharp wide open. But that's really beside the point. What these lenses offer go beyond sharpness. They have such a beautiful look when shot wide open. Modern lenses don't really compare. I have a tessar 190mm f3.5 on one of my many graflexes that is sharp enough to count pores on a face when shot wide open, and again with the most appealing falloff of focus and illumination. Since shooting fast lenses wide open is antithetical to most LF practice these days, I'm afraid the only option you have is the one I faced two or three years ago...Read the old texts, find fast old glass and start shooting. Eventually, you will begin to find the lens formulas and makers that appeal to you. Good luck. W.
  10. Another snapshot. This one with the Tessar 190mm f3.5
  11. Zeiss Planar 135mm f3.5 - stopped down 1.5 stops it reaches the 'wide open' aperture of contemporary f5.6 lens, and is way better than even the best of them at this point - I did a direct comparison to Apo Sironar S and the Zeiss easily won at every aperture. very surprising.

    Be sure to get one of the later ones with the 67mm front filter though, not the earlier 58mm version.
  12. Thank you!

    Looks like I have a bit of hunting to do.

    If anyone knows a good place to look for them besides KEH and Lens&Repro (didn't see any) let me know.

    I don't see many Xenotars, Planars, etc on the auction site or Keh and L&R very often.
  13. MPEX has a cheap (poor condition?) f3.5 Xenotar and a more expensive (but in line with eBay
    prices) f2.8
  14. MIKE: "Large format lenses are not designed to be used wide open but for f11 and smaller,"

    Bull. There is nothing in the metrics of LF optics that show any such requisite. In fact, the opposite is true for many LF lenses, in particular the Biogons and Planars you enjoy today satisifed the requsites that the MUST BE evaluated WIDE OPEN for certain aerial applications. There's no difference between those lenses then, and the same today, except the later are often better!
  15. "Be sure to get one of the later ones with the 67mm front filter though, not the earlier 58mm version."

    That's a myth.

    duh. sometimes there is such disinformation on here.

    I own one AND there is one for sale on EBay right now. (only a few hours left though)


    its nothing to do with me at all, but will be a great lens. easily worth the 'buy it now' price.
    The 67mm one is a real improvement on the older 58mm version.
    its the one to seek out.
  17. for Zeiss Planar 135mm the order of quality is:

    regular 58mm version (common ,1960's)

    linhof selected 58mm version (around)

    later 67mm version (rare, 1970's)

    then equal:

    67mm version Linhof selected (Chrome, coated but not T* late 70's) and,
    67mm version multicoated T* (Black finish, early 80's)

    the black T* one perhaps only 600 were made. expect to pay $4000+ if you ever find one. The Linhof selected 67mm there are perhaps 30-50? in the world. their price is hard to value, but probably about the same.

    some people like T*, others think Zeiss finest moment was the late 70's chrome Coated but not T* lenses. (e.g. many prefer the chrome hasselblad lenses over the black T* ones for performance)

    The late 70's ones appear to have more than one coating on them, but nobody is really sure, and they are not T* branded coating.

    either way any 67mm one is worth getting

    good luck.
  18. Thank you all for your advice.<br><br>

    I am now eagerly waiting on a 135/3.5 Planar.<br><br>

    Now to replace my Focus-Spot bulb with a high output LED...<br><br>
  19. Trioplan 3.5/210 slighly stoped @f4
  20. If you go to Rodenstock's web site on the Qioptiq home site (Rodenstock Precision Optical's parent company) and download
    You will get the MTF curves at either end of the optimization range for their lenses. These will not be at wide open but the first MTF will be closer to wide open.

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