Advice needed re 180mm lens for 4x5

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Rick Russell

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I need advice regarding the purchase of a 180mm lens. I intend to use the lens primarily for landscape work, and shoot both color and black and white. I own a Schneider XL 110mm, and intend to ultimately purchase a wide angle (72, 75 or 80mm) as well as a Nikon 300mm.
My dilemna is as follows: The relative merits of modern lenses in the 180mm length is not addressed often. I have located a demo 180mm Caltar II for a little over $400, which apparently has not been used. I have also located 2 mint Apo-Symmar 180mm which can each be purchased for just under $700. Another retailer has an Apo-Sironar S 180mm for about $750. Finally, I can simply purchase a new Apo-Symmar L or Apo-Sironar S, for just under $1000 and $1050, respectively.

I intend to use the 180mm as my normal lens, along with the SS XL 110mm. Because I shoot color, I prefer lenses of similar color temperature, which is why I am not considering a Nikon or Fuji. Lens sharpness is of paramount concern.

Your advice and thoughts?
 

WarEaglemtn

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You are worrying too much & don't know what it is that you actually want.
I don't think you know enough to tell the difference(from your posting) so buy the cheap one & live with it.
 
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WarEaglemtn said:
You are worrying too much & don't know what it is that you actually want.
I don't think you know enough to tell the difference(from your posting) so buy the cheap one & live with it.
But aside from that, welcome to the forum! :wink:
 

Bob F.

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Can't really help directly, as I also fall in the same not-knowing-enough-to-tell-the-difference category expounded above, but I do have a 180mm Rodenstock Sironar-N...

According to Kerry Thalmann (and he would know) there was no difference in design between the Apo Sironar-N and the version I have - it was just marketing hype. The lens was already apochromatic... You might want to look at Kerry's site (http://www.thalmann.com/largeformat/) where he has a few articles on lenses.

The Caltar IIN lens, if you do not know already, is actually a re-badged Rodenstock Sironar-N (I believe earlier Caltars were Schneider but you had better get that confirmed by others if it is important). That being the case, in terms of quality, there will be no difference between the Caltar and the same Rodenstock lens.

There is more to a lens than lines/mm but this site (http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/testing.html) has a lot of lenses tested for sharpness.


Cheers, Bob.
 

Tom Stanworth

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Welcome,

I would not buy any of the ones you mention, they can be had FAR cheaper. ANY of the Nikkor, Rodenstock, Fuji or Schneider lenses will be superb unless you get a rogue 'dog'. It is that simple. In terms of price, there are Minty 210mm late model lenses going on ebay (US) for $375. 180s will be oa similar price, perhaps a tad more as less common. Many older lenses are great too( My Kodak Ektar 203mm f7,7 is VERY sharp, flare free and tiny) but you need to know what you are buying.........my ancient convertible 135 symmar is also extremely sharp and it would go for about £100. For $1000 you should easily be able to get a superb condition 180/210 and a 75mm or 65mm if you look about. OH, I nearly forgot, I bought as mint Xenar f5.6 for £115. Tiny, razor sharp......CHEAP....

I realised a while ago that rules for 35mm and even MF do not apply. Lenses dont need to work hard to produce a good 20x16 in 5x4. I have had no 'bad' lenses, but coverage can be an issue. Tom
 
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Tom Hoskinson

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Tom Stanworth said:
Welcome,

I would not buy any of the ones you mention, they can be had FAR cheaper. ANY of the Nikkor, Rodenstock, Fuji or Schneider lenses will be superb unless you get a rogue 'dog'. It is that simple...

Tom

I agree, and I would not worry about color rendition differences.

My 4x5 kit includes a Schneider Super Symmar 110mm XL, a 55mm Rodenstock Apo Grandagon, a Nikon 90mm SW and a 180mm F9 Apo Fujinon. I shoot color and B&W with all of them. Some of these lenses are multi-coated and some are not. They all produce superb color transparencies and negs. I defy you to tell them apart on the basis of color rendition.
 

jimgalli

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The Fujinon 180mm f9A is stunningly sharp and can be had quite inexpensively. I've made some landscape photos in 5X7 with this lens that are breathtakingly sharp. Plus it is much tinier than the bigger Plasmats you mention if that is of any value to you. Copal 0 instead of Copal 1. Normally the f9 maximum focus isn't too small out of doors. You could keep $750 of that $1100 and start scheming on your next purchase.
 

Tom Stanworth

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jimgalli said:
The Fujinon 180mm f9A is stunningly sharp and can be had quite inexpensively. . Normally the f9 maximum focus isn't too small out of doors. You could keep $750 of that $1100 and start scheming on your next purchase.

My Ektar f7.7 is easy to focus outdoors as is my 300mm F9 (geronar, which many regard as a 'rubbish' triplet. I will report on how good or bad it is when it stops blowing Gales here in the UK and I get a chance for vibration free images! It was mint, supposedly just covered 10x8 and was cheap!)

What Jim aluded to is application and how this affects your kit. What camera do you own and how heavy is it? Are you intending to hike? If the answer is yes to hiking, then are you fit and built like an ox? I regard myself as very fit but I keep weight down so I can enjoy the experience! I have managed to get light kit and have made no compromises in terms of the final image. My 5x4 hiking lenses (all bought used) were chosen for performance and weight (anc cheapness!).......(65 f 4.5 Grandagon, 90mm F8 Nikkor, 135 5.6 symmar convertible and 203 7.7Ektar). If I were to have gone for lenses that were supposedly the very best, I would be carying another kilo at least into the field and would be £1000 minimum worse off.

To hike or not to hike, that is the question, as the answer will make a difference to your choices. The 180 f9 Fuji would be great, as would the 203 Ektar, as would the 200 F8 Nikkor etc. A 210 Sironar/symmar weighs double what these come in at.....and will be not a sausage sharper at f16, f22 etc. If you want advice on hiking kit, see:

http://www.thalmann.com/largeformat/future.htm

A great site!

Best of luck and do not read into the apparrent frostiness of one or two responses.
 
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