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Reccommendations for Large Format, Landscape lenses...

Vincent Alpino , Mar 20, 2007; 09:07 p.m.

Hello Everyone,

New to the forum. Just wanted to hear some preferences for large format lenses (4x5) for landscape photography. I shoot a Technika IV that currently has a Schneider Symmar 150 (came with it) on it, and am wanting to replace the lens. I, probably like everyone, am trying to get maximum sharpness, clarity, definition, and depth of field in large landscape and architectual situations. A friend of mine has reccommended the Artars by Goerz, or simular Apochomat lenses, and I'd really like to hear what vintage lenses, or contemporary ones people are using. Thanks,



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Eric James , Mar 20, 2007; 09:35 p.m.

I shoot color transparencies so all of my lenses are modern multicoated lenses. I use all of my lenses for "landscapes", but will list them - more or less - in the order of frequency of use for that application:

90mm Nikon f8, Schneider 110mm, Fuji 300mm f8.5 C, Rodenstock 150mm Apo-Sironar-S, Fuji 240mm f9 A.

All are hard to beat on 4x5!

Of course the 90mm has the greatest depth of field and is most suitable for most "architectural" applications.

pico digoliardi , Mar 20, 2007; 10:07 p.m.

Don't replace the lens. Use it! If you do not get sharp results, then it's your fault. And it's likely that if you are new to LF, you will make plenty of mistakes.

So keep your money in your pocket and spend it on film.

Randall Ellis , Mar 20, 2007; 10:24 p.m.

I have to agree with Pico here - there is little difference between many of the more well performing lenses, and what you have is a perfectly good lens. I also suggest that you spend your time learning technique rather than your money chasing a 'magic bullet' lens. I've never met anyone who can look at a print and say what was used to make it, unless of course they knew in advance what equipment the photographer favored...

- Randy

Vincent Alpino , Mar 20, 2007; 11:37 p.m.

Well, thanks for the advice, but I am not new to LF and am not seeking a magic lens. I simply would like to know what people are using with superior results, which are absolutely measurable facts. I've read much about superior production runs for specific manufacturers, superior element design, etc. All of which can be quantified and attributed to different lenses designs, evolutions, quality, solutions for abberation avoidence, etc. It's not that the results I'm getting are not sharp, but rather that I'm striving for optimum. Thanks to all for the responses, please continue to let me know...


robert edge , Mar 21, 2007; 12:18 a.m.

"Well, thanks for the advice, but I am not new to LF and am not seeking a magic lens."

Well actually that is exactly what you are doing :) You are serious need of reading this: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/chasing-magic-bullet.html

Vincent Alpino , Mar 21, 2007; 12:46 a.m.

"Well actually that is exactly what you are doing :) You are serious need of reading this:"

Ok I read it, and I agree. Having said that, I don't think assessing someone's photographic practices can be done by reading a brief question on a forum. Furthermore, having spent countless hours refining my practices, I have noticed several improvements (or perhaps preferences) over the years by equipment/chemical changes, etc., and I'm certain others would agree. So now that we've drifted completely off the original topic of this post, I again would like to ask anyone out there who has had noticable improvements with any particular lenses in terms of optical clarity to speak. Thank you-


Brett Deacon , Mar 21, 2007; 01:51 a.m.

You may find these pages useful if you haven't seen them:



From what I can tell from others' comments here and elsewhere, the Schneider 110 XL, Rodenstock 150 Sironar-S, and Fuji 240 A are among the most highly regarded LF optics. I have all 3 and they are wonderful. If I had to pick one for landscape photography, the 110 would win hands down.

Vincent Alpino , Mar 21, 2007; 02:22 a.m.

Thanks for the tip, I've been looking into various "120's" so far, but will have to check out the 110 for sure.

Pete Andrews , Mar 21, 2007; 05:30 a.m.

What's a landscape lens? Some people shoot lanscapes with a wideangle, some with a standard lens, some with a telephoto or long-focus and some with a mixture of lenses. So I don't think there's any one lens that could be labelled purely a "landscape lens".

With lenses, condition is everything. You can have the best lens in the world, but drop it and decentre it, and it's ruined - and there may not even be a ding in the barrel to show for it. Plus, almost invisible surface scratching, from careless cleaning, can cut the contrast of a lens by a considerable amount. No "cherry-picking" process can guard against that!

OTOH, I have a Sironar that's showing signs of "Rodenstockitis" (separation of the cementing around the edges of the front element), yet which is still yielding exceptionally good pictures.

Anyway, IMHO, there is absolutely no point in seeking the ultimate sharpness from a lens for large format use. For three main reasons:

a)The tolerances of the LF film register don't lend themselves to precision focussing.

b)A good LF lens should be designed to cover a large field consistently from edge to edge, so that camera movements can be applied. This design philosophy automatically precludes the lens having a very high resolution, and;

c)because of the large image circle, camera flare will cut down on image contrast, unless a good compendium hood is always used and properly adjusted.

You should also ponder the fact that most of Ansel Adams's most famous landscapes were taken with lenses that would almost certainly have been rejected by a certain German camera company's quality control department, were made long before ULD glass was available or multi-coating was even dreamed of, and before the prefix "Apo" became fashionably misused.

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