Which lens would you choose?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by john_campanelli|1, Jul 28, 2003.

  1. I am looking to purchase an 210mm lens from ebay. I have seen the
    sironar, sironar s, caltar II and schneider xenar lenses ranging from
    $250 to $400. Are these prices resonable and should I only consider
    the newer lenses? What would you recommend for a low budget hobbyist?
    Thanks for any responses
  2. John, I have a Nikkor 210W f/5.6 that covers 4x5 very nicely, which I have been using for 12 years and really like. I haven't ever done a side-by-side with the lenses you mentioned, but for about $400 used this is a top-quality lens.

  3. John, A real sleeper is the Kodak f7.7 203mm Ektar. This lens will cover 5x7 which means lots of coverage for 4x5. It is an anastigmat and although a single coated lens, it has near apochromatic performance and makes absolutely wonderful B&W and color photographs. You should be able to pick one up for around $200-$300. It is also very compact and can be often folded into a wooden field camera such as the Wisner traditional.
  4. Excellent recommendation Robert. I have the Kodak lens you made reference to and it is a real winner. Small and a performer. Even when you factor the potential of a shutter CLA from SK Grimes that includes a new set of lens caps, it is still a smoking deal.
  5. The lenses you mention are all good choices for a first or main lens for 4" X 5". They have rather different characteristics, though. The Xenar f4.5's are faster, but have less coverage. Unless portraits will be a large part of your work, coverage is more important.

    There are actually several different Caltar II lenses. The ones that would be best for you, I think, are those with an f5.6 aperture. The one you should consider only at a significantly lower price than the others has an f6.8 aperture. The May/June edition of View Camera has a fine rundown on Caltar lenses.

    I concur that the 203mm f7.7 Ektar could be a fine choice, but this is a much older lens than the others, which brings several factors to mind. Coating is particularly important in this lens because it has eight air to glass surfaces, so eight chances for light to bounce somewhere you don't want it to. The coated ones are marked with an "L" in a circle. They are usually found in a Supermatic shutter which is less convenient than a modern Copal and may be a problem if actual repair, as oppsed to basic CLA, is needed. Some may lack flash synch. I think the 203mm f7.5 Optar may have similar characteristics to the Ektar and is apt to be a lot less expensive. Does anybody know? I may try to get one and find out.
  6. hi john

    great advice ..

    another thing you might think about is comparing the prices you see on ebay past
    auctions to see what they actually go for, and then compare those prices with a place
    like equinoxphotographic.com. they tend to have new and older lenses for large
    format at very good prices. sometimes ebay seems like a "deal" but other times it is
    just inflated and better deals & return policies are found at reputable dealers :)

    good luck!


    ps. i had a optar 203mm and loved it until i found a convertible symmar. still an
    older lens. and i almost forgot -- check out the schneider website under vintage
    lenses or lens data to match up schneider serial #s and to date your perspective
    purchases :)
  7. I've used a Sironar 5.6 (not sure if that's the s or not), it worked execelant, great coverage, and quite sharp. I would cerntainly recomend it. I'd also second the suggestion of a 210 Nikor 5.6 (which is what I'm currently using) which can be had for the price range you mentioned.
  8. I had a 210mm/f:4.5 Voigtländer APO-Lanthar which I sold. I used the money to buy a 210mm/f:4.5 Schneider Xenar - and a few more lenses...

    The Xenar is an exellent lens, even for 5x7". The coverage limits the movements available on 5x7", but not on 4x5". If any other lenses are sharper, you would need an enlargement to 2x2.5 meters before the difference would be visible...

    Yes, the APO-Lanthar was possibly better. But the price is ridiculous!
  9. I recently bought a Rodenstock Sironar-N MC f5.6 210mm on eBay for $255. I have been tracking some Rodenstock (5) an Schneider (6) sales (admittedly small samples) on eBay and report the following: average price for the Sironar-N MC f5.6 210mm is $252; average price for the Schneider Kreuznach Symmar-S f5.6 210mm is $291.

    I have no comments on sharpness. However, on coating: I remember (age 58)what uncoated and single-coated optics were like, and I decided to shop a multi-coated lens.
  10. If you are considering the Kodak 203/7.7 then you might also think about the Schneider Symmar convertable. I recently bought a 210/5.6 Symmar convertable in excellent condition for £120 GBP (about $190 US) from ebay. Symmars of this type in good condition work very well indeed. They are larger and heavier than the Kodak but have a bigger maximum aperture and a bigger image circle. As with all second hand lenses make sure the condition is good throughout.

  11. Get the Apo Sironar S. It is one of the finest lenses made today. That way you won't be wondering 'what if' in the future.
  12. You might find it interesting to have a look at Paul Butzi's web site. According to Paul, "Bob Saloman of HP Marketing sent me copies of the current literature and graciously granted me permission to scan them and post the literature here." As you can see from the data, the Rodenstock APO Sironar lenses are outstanding performers. I agree with Dan's recommendation.
    I have a 150 Sironar-S and adore it. You can see a sample image here, and a detail section from center left here.
  13. What is the difference between the Sironar S and the Sironar N?
  14. For Bob Haight: The differences are mostly in coverage and price. Whether "Apo" or not, the Sironar N series works at a 72 degree angle and the S at 75 (except for the very largest sizes). A 210mm N has a 301mm image circle, while the S circle is 318mm.
  15. John,

    You didn't say what the use of this lens would be. If your doing field work and are looking for a light lens, you might want to look at the Nikkor M 200mm. I don't have one of these for myself, but I've heard good things and they are less than half the weight of the 5.6s and use smaller 52mm filters compared to 67-72mm filters for most of the others. The APO-Sironar N uses a 58mm filter (smallest of the 5.6s) compared to a 72mm for the APO-Sironar S, but the APO-Sironar S has a bigger image circle and might be a tad sharper. The down side for the Nikkor M is a smaller image circle of 210mm.
    Good luck, Ed

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