Reccommendations for Large Format, Landscape lenses...

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by vincent_alpino, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. Hello Everyone,

    New to the forum. Just wanted to hear some preferences for large format lenses (4x5) for landscape
    photography. I shoot a Technika IV that currently has a Schneider Symmar 150 (came with it) on it, and am
    wanting to replace the lens. I, probably like everyone, am trying to get maximum sharpness, clarity,
    definition, and depth of field in large landscape and architectual situations. A friend of mine has
    reccommended the Artars by Goerz, or simular Apochomat lenses, and I'd really like to hear what vintage
    lenses, or contemporary ones people are using. Thanks,

  2. I shoot color transparencies so all of my lenses are modern multicoated lenses. I use all of my lenses for "landscapes", but will list them - more or less - in the order of frequency of use for that application:

    90mm Nikon f8, Schneider 110mm, Fuji 300mm f8.5 C, Rodenstock 150mm Apo-Sironar-S, Fuji 240mm f9 A.

    All are hard to beat on 4x5!

    Of course the 90mm has the greatest depth of field and is most suitable for most "architectural" applications.
  3. Don't replace the lens. Use it! If you do not get sharp results, then it's your fault. And it's
    likely that if you are new to LF, you will make plenty of mistakes.

    So keep your money in your pocket and spend it on film.
  4. I have to agree with Pico here - there is little difference between many of the more well performing lenses, and what you have is a perfectly good lens. I also suggest that you spend your time learning technique rather than your money chasing a 'magic bullet' lens. I've never met anyone who can look at a print and say what was used to make it, unless of course they knew in advance what equipment the photographer favored...

    - Randy
  5. Well, thanks for the advice, but I am not new to LF and am not seeking a magic lens. I simply
    would like to know what people are using with superior results, which are absolutely
    measurable facts. I've read much about superior production runs for specific manufacturers,
    superior element design, etc. All of which can be quantified and attributed to different lenses
    designs, evolutions, quality, solutions for abberation avoidence, etc. It's not that the results
    I'm getting are not sharp, but rather that I'm striving for optimum. Thanks to all for the
    responses, please continue to let me know...

  6. "Well, thanks for the advice, but I am not new to LF and am not seeking a magic lens."

    Well actually that is exactly what you are doing :) You are serious need of reading this:
  7. "Well actually that is exactly what you are doing :) You are serious need of reading this:"

    Ok I read it, and I agree. Having said that, I don't think assessing someone's photographic
    practices can be done by reading a brief question on a forum. Furthermore, having spent
    countless hours refining my practices, I have noticed several improvements (or perhaps
    preferences) over the years by equipment/chemical changes, etc., and I'm certain others
    would agree. So now that we've drifted completely off the original topic of this post, I
    again would like to ask anyone out there who has had noticable improvements with any
    particular lenses in terms of optical clarity to speak. Thank you-

  8. You may find these pages useful if you haven't seen them:

    From what I can tell from others' comments here and elsewhere, the Schneider 110 XL, Rodenstock 150 Sironar-S, and Fuji 240 A are among the most highly regarded LF optics. I have all 3 and they are wonderful. If I had to pick one for landscape photography, the 110 would win hands down.
  9. Thanks for the tip, I've been looking into various "120's" so far, but will have to check out the
    110 for sure.
  10. What's a landscape lens? Some people shoot lanscapes with a wideangle, some with a standard lens, some with a telephoto or long-focus and some with a mixture of lenses. So I don't think there's any one lens that could be labelled purely a "landscape lens".

    With lenses, condition is everything. You can have the best lens in the world, but drop it and decentre it, and it's ruined - and there may not even be a ding in the barrel to show for it. Plus, almost invisible surface scratching, from careless cleaning, can cut the contrast of a lens by a considerable amount. No "cherry-picking" process can guard against that!

    OTOH, I have a Sironar that's showing signs of "Rodenstockitis" (separation of the cementing around the edges of the front element), yet which is still yielding exceptionally good pictures.

    Anyway, IMHO, there is absolutely no point in seeking the ultimate sharpness from a lens for large format use. For three main reasons:

    a)The tolerances of the LF film register don't lend themselves to precision focussing.

    b)A good LF lens should be designed to cover a large field consistently from edge to edge, so that camera movements can be applied. This design philosophy automatically precludes the lens having a very high resolution, and;

    c)because of the large image circle, camera flare will cut down on image contrast, unless a good compendium hood is always used and properly adjusted.

    You should also ponder the fact that most of Ansel Adams's most famous landscapes were taken with lenses that would almost certainly have been rejected by a certain German camera company's quality control department, were made long before ULD glass was available or multi-coating was even dreamed of, and before the prefix "Apo" became fashionably misused.
  11. I would get the 110 XL and use it as a reference for other lens. It is probably the latest and greatest. But expensive.
  12. vincent

    i use a dallmeyer lens.
    it is sharp (as nails) and offers clarity
    and definition when stopped down.

    but it isn't mounted in a shutter.

    is your symmar a convertible?
    converted the symmars aren't as sharp &C as they are
    with both cells.

    good luck!

  13. The apo lenses such as Artars are specifically designed for copy work and won't be as sharp as your Symmar at infinity. The Symmars are excellent lenses but have older coatings. What you are wanting are the newest lenses with the latest coatings designed to maximize contrast. Also the newest designs will cover 4x5 without having to be stopped down as much, hence less softening of the image due to defraction (you'll get a much sharper cleaner looking image at f11 than f22).
  14. I have a favorite lens. It's a Schneider 150mm Xenar f/5.6. Single coated and not much coverage. It's best around f/8 but holds it's sharpness through all f/stops. I have other "better" lenses, multi- coated Plasmats. They are nice shot at their sweet spot but then defraction kicks in.

    The answer is not what works for me or anyone else. The answer is to test each lens, find where it's sharpest and use it as such. Sometimes you find that a beater is a jewel and the brand new XLCH is just OK.
  15. I have used the Schneider Super Symmar HM 120mm for a couple of years and it is an excellent lens. Maybe not quite as good as the XL series but close.
  16. Thanks to everyone for the input. Again, I just wanted to get a feel for what people are
    using with success, in terms of their notice of slight clarity improvements, so that I could
    possibly investigate some specific lenses, i.e. possibly borrow them from friends, rent, etc.
    I understand someone else's favorites might not be best for me, but it helps to narrow
    down the field a bit by reccommendations. I also understand the term "Landscape" lens is
    really a matter of aesthetic/artistic choice, but it again helps to think about how others see

    I agree with the comment on testing, as my current lens seems best at f11. The current
    desire to find an additional lens is based on wanting to shoot at f22 and smaller.

    Any other thoughts on the subject would be great to hear as well, just for sake of
    consideration and expairimentation. For example, hearing a lot about film plane flatness
    and precise allignment with the ground glass position, I looked into Linhof universal
    holders, hearing often that they are unmatched in this area. Yet later I found that by
    taping my sheets down on a run of the mill Toyo holder, I got better results. Again, just
    curious about what has worked well for others.

    Thanks again,

  17. Thanks to everyone for the input. Again, I just wanted to get a feel for what people are using with success,
    Really? I understand the compulsion for wanting to start out with the best.
    My question is how much do you want the best lens in each category? That's MUCH in $$$$$. How about the very best 3" Biogon (no, not the 75mm) ever made, ready and mounted on a Sinar board, with shutter?
    Show us whatcha got. :)
  18. If you're wanting to shoot at f22 and smaller then you might as well stick to your present lens, as defraction limitation will just about make all "decent" lenses equal in quality at that aperture. To notice any real improvement in contrast and/or sharpness you need to shoot at f11. For increased DOF use camera movements. That's what makes shooting with a view camera special in the first place, the ability to have more DOF WITHOUT having to stop down the lens.
  19. 90mm is the most used landscape lens for 4x5. The newer very fast ones, such as the XL, have rear elements too wide to go into the Linhof. I recommend the Schneider f6.8 Classic new. It is a great performer.
  20. I strongly suggest that you not use an Artar for landscape since (4 element all air spaced) it only covers fro 35 to 45 degrees, no swings and tilt until you have a focal length of about 240-250mm which is pretty long for landscapes. You will probably want lenses of 65mm to 150mm. It is extremely rare to need long focal lenngth lenses in landscape.

    If your 150 is a Symmar S either conventionally coated or multi-coated it should be very good. The old Symmars with marked as convertible with green and white fstop markings are so low in contrast that they would be less desirable.

    If you want an apo lens, be sure to get a 6 element plasmat type sucn as Fujinon A or AS or similar lenses by other manufacturers. They cover 70 or more degrees and are great for landscapes and details in the landscape.


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