Schneider 210mm Apo-Symmar or Rodenstock 210mm Apo-Sironar S?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by sacha_brown, Nov 15, 2002.

  1. I'm about to buy my first large format lens and was wondering if
    there was anyone out there who could pass along some wisdom regarding
    these two lenses. Much Thanks, Sacha
  2. Sacha, Schneider are in the process of releasing a new range of "L" lenses that are claimed to be an improvement over the existing range of Apo Symmar. Of the two you mention, some will argue that the Rodenstock is marginally better than the Schneider - though others will argue that the difference will not be seen in "real" use ie outside of the laboratory. It also depends on whether you intend buying new or used. If buying new you can choose any of them - if buying used, you are limited to whatever happens to be available at the time!! Personally I prefer Schneider lenses. But I would not claim them to be "better" than any other modern lens.
  3. Hi Sacha

    In thad focal lenghs 210mm is Schneider always be sharper then the Rodenstocks. Even my single coated 210 Symmar was at thad time the sharper solution then the Rodenstocks N and S but thies is only for the 210mm!!!
    You can see it also here:
    Good light!
  4. There is no way in hell you're going to discern the difference. I'm sure you can find "techo" test charts showing one being better over the other. You'll read posts preferring one over the other. In the end (unless you can rent each and test for yourself) the choice will depend on budget and lens condition. So if you're looking at buying a used one, ensure it's in tip-top shape. Both are excellent. I own the Schneider but used the Rodenstock in the past. If your shooting technique is right, your pics will be as well, with either choice.
  5. Sacha

    Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and a very large host of other great photographers never had these modern lenses, and yet if you look at their actual prints you see marvelous photographs. May I suggest that you maybe look for 2 or 3 good condition used lenses for the price of one of these new lenses and learn to make great photographs first. then if you want to you can buy a new apo lens. for 4 x 5 a 120, 210 and 300 is a good combination.

  6. "Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and a very large host of other great
    photographers never had these modern lenses"

    That's obvious. Today's modern lenses were not available then. They had the
    choice of what was then modern lenses. Fortuantly modern keeps changing.
    None of them had the possibility to correspond the way you are now.

    But then look at waht Sexton, Barnbaum, McGrath and others use today.

    And, before you get to uptight, one uses Nikon, one uses Schneider and one
    uses Rodenstock. But all use modern lenses.
  7. To me there are only two real considereations as the performance of the
    lenses in real life is virtually identical:

    1) Waht is your budget and which lens comes closest to meetin git?

    2) Do you need to additional coverage of the S?
  8. "210mm is Schneider always be sharper then the Rodenstock"

    Nonsense. Take 10 of each and test them all at the same time and you will
    probably find that each brand wins about half of the tests. And then there is
    always the question of are you comparing identical shots taken on the same
    film, at the same time and processed the same, at the same time?

    Or are these of different things at different times on different films?
  9. Hi Bob

    If I test lenses I test it under the same conditions of course!!But I had not 10 lenses! Only one from each.
    And if I look at the MTFs of them then I think I`m still right!
    But as I told it is only for the 210mm.
    Sorry Bob!
  10. Bob Salomon nailed it. Too many variables to make assertive
    proclamations. It appears most modern lenses have technical
    improvements that make the $$$ outlay worthwhile, while some
    very skilled photographers will depend on this or that older lens
    for a unique 'feel', or look, to a picture.
    My personal bias is for new (or used latest model in 10+ shape).
    Within that narrowed down grouping, I tend to select a lens
    based on (1) size of image circle; (2) general reviews of that
    lens within the photographic community; and (3) how much
    money I'm willing to part with to procure it.
    Decisions of course, are not always perfectly logical. There will
    be an emotional layer, cast, or coloration, or whatever you want
    to call it, that will propel the final decision into reality. In my case,
    this is often caused by seeing what appears to be a striking
    photographic possibility - and discovering I don't have the exact
    focal length I feel is neccessary to make the picture work.
    But by this time, for some unexplained reason, (serendipity,
    perhaps), I've already done the technical discovery neccessary to
    make an informed decision.

    I went for the Schneider some few years ago, based partly on the
    above collation. I fully expect the Rodenstock to be equally as
    good. Meanwhile, does anyone know of a really good modern
    manufacture 135 mm with a larger image circle than 214mm? I
    have this photo in mind...:>)
    Best regards,
  11. I happen to have the Schneider (and love it), but you'd probably be just as satisfied by a good example of the Rodenstock. Although I've personally opted to use mostly Schneider lenses for color rendition consistency, both brands are generally excellent from all reports.

    As Bob mentioned, any manufacturer will have variations from lens to lens, so it's a good idea to be sure you can test the specific lens and return it for full credit if you find that particular lens to be less than expected.
  12. Sacha, look at the Midwest Photo Exchange website MPEX.COM. There are several used 210's listed at very reasonable prices. You may want to consider a Nikon 210W f5.6. It's comparable to the other brands, and usually sells for less. If you call, and talk to JIM, he can advise you. He ships worldwide, and offers a full money-back gurantee, if you are not completely satisfied. Tell him you saw the recommendation on this forum, and he will give you a good deal.
  13. Thanks everyone for your input, I'll be starting my first semester at Art Center College of Design in January and from what I've heard, newbies start off doing some fairly technical exercises with the 4x5, will the extra coverage of the Rodenstock be of any advantage?.....and again, thanks to all who have contributed, every ounce of info is of great help at this point! Sacha Brown
  14. Sacha, best of luck on your new endeavor. To answer your last question, probably not. The Schneider, Rodenstock, Nikon, and Fujinon 210's have enough coverage to be used as "normal" lenses on the 5X7 format. They will all cover the 4X5 format with room to spare.
  15. What about 8x10?.....could the Rodenstock with the extra coverage be used as a wide angle?
  16. Are there any more Rodenstock fans out there?.....I'd love to hear a little more from you guys!
  17. Cheers,
    The new lens are great no doubt, but if you want your photographs to look different in the shadow areas try some of the old Dagors, they have huge imagine circles and as long as you don't point them at the sun your shadows will have an open look to them that is just not possible with the new heavily coated lens. Just another view.
  18. "your shadows will have an open look to them that is just not possible with the
    new heavily coated lens. Just another view"


    Have you tried it in a direct comparison with each of the 4 major
    manufacturers with each of their designs?
  19. Bob,
    I really don't do tests per say, every shot I take is a test. Over the years I have shot enough with modern lens and enough with the 4 different dagors I have to know the traits of each lens. For the times of the day and the lenght of my exposures I am quite confident with my assesment. Steve
  20. Steve,

    In other words you have not made any direct comparison but are sure you
    know what the results of such a comparison would be?

    That is not a strong position to make an empirical statement from.
  21. Hi Bob

    Re: Open shadows even Adams speaks in one of hes books about thad point and he talkes about strong conrast situations wich sometimes is better to solve with non coated lenses!
    I also prever to work with my 50 years old single coated 90mm Super Angulon then with my MC Nikkor 90mm in extrem contrasty situation!
    Sacha I`m a Rodenstock fan with 3 exeptions one is the 210mm!
    Good luck!
  22. Bob,
    I would offer that photographers make photographs, scientists make tests and comparisons. Steve
  23. Steve,

    You made a statement regarding performance. You have not explained why.
    Nor have you even indicated a basis for the statement.

    If others, not as experienced, read the claim they might think it factual. It does
    not appear to be so.

    It has nothing to do with science. Just fact.
  24. Bob,
    This entire forum is just opinion, not facts. Any tests you may have made are purely subjective as are my thoughts. As Ansel once said "there are no rules for good photographs, just good photographs"
  25. "your shadows will have an open look to them that is just not possible with the
    new heavily coated lens."

    Seems like you are stating a fact. Instead of your opinion without a factual

    Why don'y you actually do a test and see how right or wrong your opinion is.

    then you can make a statement factually.
  26. Bob,
    I once taught a workshop and explained how to make a zone 1 denisty test to the group. One fellow came back to another workshop 8 months later with a 3 ring notebook full of zone 1 tests with each lens he owned. I asked where were the photographs he made after attending the workshop, he didn't have any. How sad is that, you're not from northern Massachusetts are you?
  27. Steve,

    To be fair, you and Bob are discussing a piece of equipment, not a photograph. Pieces of equipment can be measured and analyzed according to standardized (or at least generally agreed upon) methods and the results can be compared in an objective fashion. I think Bob's point is to try to make sure that others who read this exchange can separate opinion from fact.

    I, for one, tend to simply ignore comments which are some derivative form of "because I said so". Perhaps, if you don't have side-by-side comparative results, you have specific experience with specific lighting situations or contrast situations that you can share so we can all understand better how you arrived at your opinion? Your particular experiences may not be charts and graphs but they would certainly be factual (and helpful!) information.
  28. Poor Sacha! I'll bet you are wondering how you got herself into this situation. Realize that Bob sells Rodenstock lenses, and would love to have you buy one of his lenses. Steve is talking about those "great old lenses" that have a mystique about them. The real reason that they open up the shadows and display such low contrast is because they are not coated and are prone to internal flare. Get a "modern" 210 lens, made by any of the manufacturers that have been mentioned, and enjoy your new learning experience. The answer to your last question is: Not likely that one of these 210's will cover the 8X10 format and serve as a wide angle lens. There won't be much movement capability, and it will vignette. However, Nikon makes a 120 wide angle that just barely covers 8X10, and works great for 4X5 and/or 5X7. Perhaps it should be your second lens purchase in the future. Again, good luck, and hold off asking any more questions on this thread.
  29. unfortunately neither of the lenses mentioned will cover 8x10.

    It's a big gap in the modern lens manufaturers lens sets that they don't seem interesting in covering. A 210 with moderate coverage for 8x10 that doesn't need a mortgage. AND isn't huge

    Otherwise you are into Super Symmar XL 210's or Super Angulon, which tend to have massive image circles - generally, almost more than you normally need

    Apart from hunting out some of the somewhat older lenses in this range, probably the nearest to what you are looking for to cover 8x10 would be a used 210 Sironar W (not made anymore) - which isn't too old a lens. Either that or pay big bucks and take a weight lifting course....

    As for Schneider or Rodenstock (or Nikon or Fuji) - there really is little practical difference between their modern lenses - some claim they find one brand slightly warmer or cooler than another, but overall, in prectical use, I doubt you will ever really notice the differences.
  30. unless of course the image circles have increased in the all new designed Apo-Symmar-L series which replaces the Apo-Symmars....
  31. found it - Apo-Symmar-L 321mm circle @ f22 - so it has increased, but only cover 8x10 without movements
  32. Sacha,

    A short answer to your question is that either Apo-Symmar or Apo-Sironar-S will serve you well. In reality (regarding making photographs), I doubt you can really tell the difference. As Bob mentioned earlier, if you take 10 rodenstock and 10 Schneider and do a "lens test", you will find 5 Rodenstock lenses are better than Schneider, and vice versa. Remember that you will use your lens, either Schneider or Rodenstock, to take pictures, not for counting lines pairs. I personally use a Linhof Select Rodenstock Sironar-N in Compur 1 shutter, and I'm very happy with the results. Wonder how Linhof selects their lenses. I don't think they just pick up lenses from Schneider and Rodenstock and then put on Linhof label. They must do some kind(s) of tests to select lenses to meet their own specs. Maybe Bob can comment on this.

    Regarding Dagor lenses, I have to agree with Mr. Randall. In B&W, Dagor lenses produce more pleasing tonality, especially in shadow areas (modern Schneider and Rodenstock seem "harsh"). This is based on my observations, not sure many other people will agree with me. In this aspect, I don't understand why modern lenses can't beat those old Dagors. Maybe this is how Dagor got its reputation. My favorite Dagor is a 1920s 12" uncoated lens retro-mounted in Copal#3. Cheers,
  33. Correction:

    It should be Steve Sherman, not Mr. Randall. Oh, boy! I'm really getting old. Cheers,
  34. I have both Rodenstock and Schneider lenses. I got them based on their specific qualities such as image circle, flange focal distance, focal length and physical size(compactness, filter size). As to your specific question I would pick the Rodenstock as it is smaller and has a bigger image circle (based on my own needs). I know you are going to a demanding school that probably expects more modern equipment from their students so stick with modern lenses as these are what you will most likely use in the future, especially if you become a commercial photographer in the industry. Now unlike Eugene Singer, I am not going downstairs for my umpteenth cup of coffee( no offense Eugene, I actually like your casual atitude on this forum) but I am going to hear a lecture by John Szarkowski at the CMA in Cleveland, Ohio. It is good to hear from the heavyweights in photography occasionally!
  35. Hi Sacha, Fun huh? Should you buy a Ford or Should you buy a Chevy? A couple of years ago I owned a 210 Sironar N and a 210 Symmar S at the same time. So I took them up in our local historic mining park and did identical pics with both to see which one I'd keep. These are both mid '80's multi-coated lenses but not new. Short answer is I couldn't tell the difference even with a 50 power microscope so I kept the Schneider because I felt it was a tad prettier. They just seem to have a nice finish. Don't have either one now, when I shoot 210, I choose between an 8 1/4" APO Red Dot Artar or a Schneider G-Claron. Both are APO and both excel at the detail shots that seem to please me the most. And by the way, if you think you might gravitate eventually to 8X10 the G-Claron will cover with increasing movements beyond about f22 1/2. It is an economical way to do a whole bunch of things well. Good luck.
  36. "Wonder how Linhof selects their lenses. I don't think they just pick up lenses
    from Schneider and Rodenstock and then put on Linhof label. They must do
    some kind(s) of tests to select lenses to meet their own specs."

    Linhof uses the Rodenstock Siemens Star projector for their tests. This
    essentially duplicates the Rodenstock QC test. Sinar also uses the same
  37. For those of you who stayed with the subject, thanks.....and thanks to those of you who didn't, it has all been informative. I am still doing research on the two lenses, so if anyone wants to put their two cents in, please do! As far as the 8x10 info goes, I probably will be using that format after I garduate for personal, fine art work, so anything and everything is helpful.....speaking of, I am extremely fascinated by Irving Penn's 8x10 studio portraits, is anyone out there familiar with his techniques, equipment, etc.....or for that matter, Joel Meyerowitz's large format techniques, equipment, etc. I know Meyerowitz used an 8x10 deardorff for most of his well known works, do they make those cameras any more.....or anything like it? Does anyone have 8x10 portrait experience? Sorry if I ask too many questions or offend anyone with my ignorance, I'm still learning and actually, hope to never stop. Thanks Everyone
  38. Bob: Are you saying YOU'VE actually done the test?
  39. Yes, We do comparison tests as part of service when one has a problem with
    their lens.

    We have also seen the massive comparison test done by Rod at Photomark.
  40. Bob: You're saying you do test or have tested Dagors against your current offerings with respect to shadow detail, or just one modern sample against another when someone has a complaint?
  41. Haven't tested a Dagor in almost 30 years. It did very well as a copy lens vs
    Sironars and Symmars and very poorl compared to them for product work.
  42. Sacha, I didn't mean that you should stop asking questions. Just start a new thread when you have a question on a new topic. This forum has more of a problem-solving and information-sharing format than a chat-box format. I'm not trying to insult you, only trying to help.
  43. I should have started a new thread.....but then again so shold a few of the others. On the subject though, can anyone tell me why the difference in weight is so important, I understand if you're backpacking, it all certainly adds up.....but even then, the difference is just over two tenths of a pound, if I'm not mistaken. Please feel free to set me straight. Thanks
  44. Also, does anyone have experience using either of these lenses for portraits or fashion?.....any specific characteristics of either with DOF, flesh tones, contrast?
  45. These lenses are optimized for middle to far distances (1:10 to infinity). They do not have to be closed as much as their process lens counterparts (e.g., Schneider G-Claron or Apo Ronar) to attain maximum sharpness and contrast. In contrast, the process lenses are optimized for 1:1 magnification. For portraits (often taken in diffuse lighting), I suspect you will find the f5.6 aperture of the Apo Symmar or Apo-Sironar preferable for easier focussing. Some of the older lenses of the 20's and 30's might even be preferred by you for portraits because of their softness--see any album of portraits by Steiglitz (SP?).

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