What to choose as macro and/or tele lens for 4x5?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by janko_belaj, Nov 2, 2002.

  1. Again me with clumsy English and lenses to find.
    During my search for wide angle lens I have found one tele lens in my neighbourhood: old Schneider 360mm Tele-Xenar f1:5.5, but have no idea what kind of lens is that and how much it might cost. Owner is willing to came to my studio so I can test it, he would like to sell it but is waiting for my offer... ouch.
    What I would like to have is some moderate tele lens (would that be 200-300mm on 4x5"?) which may work as macro lens as well. The proffesional purpose for such lens will once be shots of some gold/silver plates and glasses (have no idea what the name for that church stuff is on English) and some baroque sculptures. I think I will once (in some unknown future) buy Apo-Sinaron 240 or maybe 300, but now I would like to buy an old lens to play with. (In next 7-8 months I will have no work for such lens).
    O.K. question is: is that Tele-Xenar worth of investing, and how much to offer? Will that lens suit my needs or am I on wrong trail?
    Tnx. Janko
  2. Hi Janko,

    Do you mean 'stained glass windows' in churches?

    Have a look at the Schneider website so you can work out the date and optical details :


    This is from the excellent schneider website giving ibfo on 'classic' lenses.

    I have the 270mm f/5.5 version of this lens. It works pretty well. However I use it because my camera has a limited bellows draw so a Tele lens makes longer lenses possible. In your case (Sinar??) you will probably not be so restricted so it might be better to go for the non tele type such as the Apo-Ronar. This would be sharper than the Tele Xenar but with a dimmer image as it is f/9.

    You can check out the date of the Tele Xenar from the Schneider website. The value depends to some extent on the age and type of shutter. I would not personally buy one with a Compound as they are difficult to get fixed. Also the newer the better. I tend to look for examples made no earlier than the 60's. You could also have a look at US ebay 'completed items' on Tele Xenar to get an idea of how much you would have to pay online.

    good luck
  3. Tnx Colin on fast answer.
    1: No, that are not windows (I don't do windows, I'm on mac ;)) here is example what that is...
    2: I have seen details on vintage-lens Schneider's page they help but confuse also (what that shutter is?)
    And sure, tnx on tip for ebay closed auctions.
    Tnx. Janko
  4. Janko, You need to specify the desired distance from the lens to
    the subject to help you determine what will work. Sure - any lens
    can deliver an image onto your ground glass - but in true macro
    (makro) work, where that distance is less than ten times the
    focal length of the lens you are using, many of the large format
    lens manufacturers (Nikkor, Rodenstock, Schneider) offer macro
    lenses specially optimized for close work. My understanding ,
    also, is that figuring bellows draw compensation (light fall-off
    caused by extending the lens to film-plane distance neccessary
    to bring the subject into focus means you have to adjust the lens
    aperture, say, from f/32 to f/11) with a tele lens can be a bit of a
    hassle. This sounds like a cost- versus- results problem, but
    there may be many other options for you out there than going the
    tele route. Assuming, once again, that true macro work is an
    issue here.
  5. First, you don't have to excuse yourself about your English. You make yourself perfectly clear. (Well, apart from the word "cup", but you provided an excellent picture instead.)
    As for your macro work, I think that either of your 135 mm lenses will do very nice. Working in, or close to macro, means that there will be a lot of bellows draw, so using a relatively short focal length will help you. The Symmar (and the Sirionar) are almost symmetrical and even though they are corrected for best performance close to infinity, they perform well at close range as well.
    If you will work a lot with macro (and get paid for it!!!) it might be worth paying the extra money for a dedicated macro lens, but the question is whether you really need it. (A macro lens is better in the macro area, but not by much.)
  6. Janko, I would expect that you would be using your view camera adjustments a fair amount of the time for the kind of photography you are doing, and a tele lense is not the easiest to use in that type of situation. I think you would find it very frustrating.

  7. Janko,

    Shutters : There is info about various shutters in


    You will find pictures and some history on this website:


    I have found Compound shutters (the earliest by the German shutter maker Friedrich Deckel) to be difficult to get repaired. The later (Deckel) Compurs are fine. The Japanese shutter now found on most new LF lenses is the Copal.
  8. If you're buying a lens to just play with wouldn't some sort of process lens be good enough? Rig up a packard shutter. Between lens and shutter likely less then $150US and the shutter would usefull for other barrel lens. If you're using slow film in low light might not even need the shutter-)
  9. I think it is covered above, pretty well. But, you didn;t mentioned the bellows draw you have available -- if 12-14 iches, you will have macro trouble if you go long lenses. As a "rule", the telephoto design needs 2/3 its focal length for infinity, and then closer focussing stil needs the amoutn of extension as for the same focal length non-tele. So, a 360 might need 240 mm bellows for infinity, leaving only 3 inches on a 12 inch draw. And, as hinted above, the real lens plane (needed for dof of field Schlemflug type stuff) is sticking out another 120 mm from the physical lens plane, which is what makes adjustments a bit more finicky. I would also bet that lens is big, though I don;t know.

    I would agree with most of above, stick to 210 or less (unless you have a lot of bellows draw), use a process lens or similar. Finally, as I suppose you know, the G-Clarons and the Ronars are supposed to be great for this sort of thing.
  10. If you don't need it, don't buy it.
  11. O.K... (opffffffff) Tnx on suggestions and links...
    my grandfather have told me many times "think twice before you tell/write".</ p>
    And I didn't. Now.
    As 1st, what I need isn't true macro, rather close up up to 1:1, maybe 2:1 (in "worst" scenario), but mostly 2:1. So something like G- Clarion would cover most of jobs. Or my 135mm Symmar may do the job?
    What I really wanted to know, but didn't ask, is what are *really* differences between shooting 1:1 with macro optimized lens and with normal lens? In which part of picture will I see the difference? How optimized are those lenses? I know the difference between macro and normal lenses in smaller formats (6x6x and leica) where (now came my clumsy english) steps from XXmm to 1m are larger on macro optimized lens then on normal (where you have bigger steps on the "other side": from 1m to infinity). What is the catch on LF lenses?
    btw, that Tele-Xenar came to me... ugly and dirty. I didn't even test it - lens without covers for maybe more than a century... seams that whole family left fingerprints on it and that kids had that lens as toy in years when their teeth came out...
    I can't tell why I wrote that I want moderate tele to use as macro on LF, maybe becaouse the last lens I'w got on my job is nikkor 85mm PC/macro lens... maybe? Sorry for misleading you in my questions.
    and Tnx
  12. I have the same lens and really like it! It is in a compound shutter and they are so easy to clean and lube! As I recall, I paid around $400. USD for mine a number of years ago and it is in perfect condition. Knowing that it is, at best, single coated, always use a good lens shade... I have never had any degradation and side by side it is very sharp compared to modern Teles.

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