symmar -S lens ?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by jeff_wolfram, Aug 28, 2003.

  1. Hi all, I'm looking for a 180mm lens for my 4x5, I shoot mostly architecture &
    landscapes. I keep coming across the symmar s lens and have this question.
    Schneider's symmar - S lens what does the S stand for and what where these lenses
    intended to be used as? I've been to schneider's site and can't seem to find the info.
    Thanks in advance for your help. jeff
  2. The Symmar-S was Schneider's general purpose LF lens in the approximately the 1970s and 1980s. A plasmat-type design, it was the sucessor to the Symmar and the predecessor to the Apo-Symmar and the current Apo-Symmar-L. It has wide but not super-wide coverage. It was a popular lens and made for many years, so there are a lot of them out there.
    Early Symmar-S lenses were single-coated, later ones are multicoated: see Schneider's LF Lens FAQ. You can date them from Schneider's serial number table. Schneider also provides information on the Symmar-S lenses
  3. The S in the brand represents a evolutionary improvement from the 65 degree angle of view Symmar lenses before them, to the mostly 72 degree APO Symmar lenses after them. The mostly 70 degree Symmar-S lineup standardized on Copal shutters, from a mix of different shutters in the Symmar line. There exist both multicoated and "single coated" examples of the Symmar-S lenses, so price them accordingly. Look for the word: MULTICOATING on the barrel. Finally, conventional wisdom is that the Symmar-S had some degree of apochromatic correction, but they predated marketing hype over apo characteristics (a trend which can be attributed to Sigma).
  4. View Camera magazine has been running a series of articles about lenses, both current and earlier. The Symmar S is discussed in their January/February 2003 issue which should be available as a back issue from Lenses from other manufacturers that you might want to consider are discussed in recent editions of the same magazine.

    The 180mm Symmar S is a versatile lens. On 4" X 5" its 252mm image circle is large enough for most of the demands of exterior architectural photography and will be quite useful for landscapes. My own preference, though, would be to go one step larger, the 210.
  5. Resolution of the 180mm Symmar-S lens was tested at the following link:
    As you can see, the resolution is excellent for ether the single-coated or later multi-coated version.
  6. WOW thanks for all the info what a great forum. I'm off to the classifieds. thanks
    again jeff
  7. Jeff,

    I have the Symmar-S 5.6/210, and have been very happy with it. My 4X enlargements from shots taken with it are tack sharp. I thought about trading it in for something lighter (I like to backpack), but it's bright, sharp, and has lots of coverage for 4x5 (even covers my 8x10).
  8. I'll throw a wrench in the works and say I've had both a Symmar-S and a Fujinon-W 180. f5.6 Plasmats both. The tiny Fuji 180mm F9A is the keeper though. Perhaps my sharpest lens. And a bigger image circle. Great if you make the move to 5X7 someday.
  9. I believe I was told by a Schneider LF tech, Robert, that the "S" stands for "symmetric". While the symmetry on Symmar-S lenses isn't perfect, the front element being larger than the rear element, I've assumed that it's more symmetric than on the original Symmar lenses.

    I've standardized on these lenses. While they probably aren't quite as good as current lenses, their performance is none the less excellent, and their prices tend to be quite reasonable. Note that the Calumet equivalent to the Symmar-S is the Caltar-S II, which are even more reasonably priced than those with the Symmar-S label.
  10. There were no 150mm or 180mm Caltar-S II lenses. I believe that the Caltar II-N series are identical to the Symmar-S series.
  11. From the lens diagrams I have seen, the original Schneider Symmar was symmetric (as the name implies!)or very close to being symmetric, whereas the later Symmar-S shows a stronger deviation from symmetry with the front cell being larger. Nowadays Schneider apparently uses the "Symmar" name for their standard lenses with a normal to slightly wide coverage regardless of the construction (the Super-Symmars, both HM and XL, are anything but symmetric).

    The Caltar II-N series is made by Rodenstock, not by Schneider, the Caltar S II was the Calumet version of the Symmar S, as mentioned above. In Kerry Thalmanns article on the Caltar history in the May/June edition of View Camera he does list a 150mm and a 210mm Caltar S II, but not a 180mm.
  12. As per the Large Format Optical Reference Manual, Rodenstock made the Caltar-IIN W.A. line. These were limited to wide angle designs from 65mm to 115mm. At least one of these lenses (the 75mm f/4.5) has "Caltar II-N" id'ed on the lens, thus without the W.A. in the name.
    Rodenstock's only other contributions to the Calumet lenses have been the Symmetrical APO, the Compact, and the Caltar HR. Whenever I sell a Calumet Caltar II-N on eBay, someone always brings up this discrepency. However, the cited reference shows a II-N of 135mm to 360mm being a Schneider and one from 115mm to 65mm being a Rodenstock, irrespective of having W.A. in the name or not. Woody Wooden (the author) was the Large Format specialist at Del's in Santa Barbara for nearly 10 years, as well as a former commercial photography instructor here at the Community College of Southern Nevada. Given the amount of research he has done, I defer to him on the issue.
  13. Gary, thanks for the link. Looks like an interesting book. My knowledge came from Kerry's article in the May/June VC edition, where he explicitly states that the normal focal lengths Caltar II N's are identical (except for labeling and warranty) to the Apo-Sironar N/Sironar N lenses. The same point has been made numerous times in discussions in the usenet large.format group ( Bob Salomon, the representative of the Rodenstock distributor in the US, has particpated there (as well as in this forum) and has, AFAIK, never disputed the fact that all Caltar II N's come from the Rodenstock (now Linos Photonics) assembly line. I am pretty sure he would have corrected that, if Schneider had been making part of them. Could it be that in your book the N and S have been mixed up (e.g. printers error), since the names are so close otherwise, Caltar plus the roman numeral II?
  14. I just went to the attic and unearthed a 1998/99 Calumet catalog. It lists the standard Caltar II-N's in 135, 150, 180, 210, 240, 300, and 360mm. It also lists Rodenstocks Apo-Sironar N and Schneiders Apo-Symmar lines. The filter sizes and the flange-focal distances listed are all identical for the Caltar II-Ns and the corresponding Apo-Sironar Ns, but different from the Apo-Symmars.
    (Not that it matters for the user whether the Caltar II-N is Rodenstock or Schneider-made - both are excellent lens lines).
  15. Hi Arne:

    Thanks for unearthing that primary source reference. Hey, maybe we are all correct here. Nothing to keep Calumet from changing suppliers without changing their branding nomenclature. In another words, there could be overlapping Rodenstock and Schneider lenses which are II-N. The book is copyrighted 2000, so I've written the author with your info. He or I will post if there is any information to follow up with.

Share This Page