The particular copy that I am getting has some ills, like slight haze somewhere, and slower shutter speeds which may not be accurate, but if I do end up liking it, I will send it for a CLA. Does anyone have a recommendation for a good LF service place in Europe/Germany? Has anyone used Batchvarov & Thiel?
Careful on haze -- haze can = fungus, especially if it's "spotty" or "in one area only." Slow speeds in older shutters that have sat unused for lengthy periods are common and a good CLA will spiff them right back up.
Hmm. I suppose I will do a CLA then regardless... I have read other users' accounts of cleaning up fungus with bleach, so there is at least some hope for a clean lens after a CLA?
If I understood correctly, the interesting thing about the Nikon is the larger image circle?
Nikkor LF lenses arguably have the highest contrast. High contrast is often mistaken for superior resolution in an image because you can distinguish the edges better. However, in reality, the Schnider lenses I tested on my Air force resolution target with the Betterlight scanning back showed that the Schneiders out-resolved almost everything else. Rodenstock generally falls next after Nikkor in favoring contrast, but changed the bias on their APO S lenses toward resolution -- more in a minute*. Fuji is sort of next, or may be even lower contrast than most Schneiders depending on specific lens.
*With the Rodie APO S design they really pulled the stops out and figured out a way to maintain almost as high a contrast high contrast and get excellent resolution. But then Schneider figured it out pretty quickly too after that and released their newer APO L designs. At the end of the day, you'd be hard-pressed to distinguish a Rodie APO S shot from a Schnieder APO L shot, though IMO there remains a slight bit of smoothness advantage to the Schneider APO L and a bit more contrast in the Rodie APO S, but we are really splitting hairs at 100% pixel view when compared side-by-side and you'll never ever ever see these subtleties in a print of any size...
So we are talking about the same basic lens design with subtle biases between manufacturers that make a difference in how the lenses render -- but that difference remains pretty subtle, so at the end of the day, ANY of these modern plasmats if not damaged by some user in the chain of custody will all render quite well.
I would say the *only* reason to consider a switch is to get a uniform rendering of color, contrast and edge characteristics across your focal range -- and that is the precise reason I ended up with mostly Schneiders. But I could have been just as happy with a selection of Rodies. Nikkors in general I found too harsh in contrast, but like the color (my preference only). I found Fujis in general a bit to variable in color rendering, but liked the other characteristics. Rodies were cooler than Schneiders and a bit harsher on contrast, so why I ultimately ended up with Schneiders. But YMMV based on which criteria strike you...
Hope that helps!
BTW, here is an online chart that lists manufacturer specs for many 4x5 LF lenses: http://www.largeformatphotography.in...s/LF4x5in.html
Here is a broader link to other LF format choices: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/lenses/
Thanks for that very informative post, Jack!
When you tested those lenses for absolute resolving power with the Betterlight back were you able to see that the lenses actually limited the resolution?
AFAIK these scanning backs have a rather large pixel pitch that only allows resolving up to 70 lp/mm at most which is easily within reach of most modern LF lenses at the IC center.
The other manufacturers used a simpler formula for their f/8 lenses, and that resulted in a smaller image circle.
Nikon and Fuji have at times issued claims for image circles which were, to put it gently, optimistic. This is particularly true for Nikon's 'M' lenses and Fuji's 'A' lenses. However, in the case of the 90/8 the claims are true and the image circle is the same as that of the 90/4.5 Grandagon and Schneider 90/5.6SA. I've owned and used all three extensively.
The Schneider regular SA f5.6 has an identical spec IC to the Nikkor f8 and f4.5 at 235mm. The 90 XL spec is 24mm larger at 259. The regular Schneider SA f8 90 is specd at 216, 19mm less. Nikon specs their f8 lens at f22, while they spec their f4.5 lens at f16 -- a significant difference and why they spec the same total (smaller apertures generate larger IC's).
Now note you need 154mm IC to fully cover the 4x5 frame. So with the regular Schneider f8 SA, I can shift a total of (216-154)/2 or 31mm; the Nikkor can theoretically go (235-154)/2 or 40mm -- a 9mm difference if the spec isn't overly optimistic. At the end of the day, I never shifted more than maybe 15mm tops with my 90, so never even came close to running out of IC on my Schneider, but YMMV... Personally, if I knew I was going to need gobs of shift, I'd consider the XL to insure I never ran out! (Actually, I'd buy the 72 XL instead if I needed that kind of movement, but that's another story .) Seriously now, the 90 XL will generously cover 5x7 with about 30mm of rise capability, and 5x7 is where this particular set of lenses is going to be challenged on IC, not at 4x5...
The Kodak Imagelink HQ microfilm I used for my own tests has an MTF of 100% at 50 lp/mm, 80% at 100 lp/mm and 45% at 200 lp/mm according to its data sheet. I used a high res drum scanner to analyse my results at 8900 ppi and from all the lenses I tested I could get more than 80 lp/mm at some aperture with some like the 110 XL close to 100 lp/mm. When I had the chance to look at some of the negs under a microscope I found that even my drum scanner wasn't able to resolve all the detail on the film. In fact the resolution of the 110 XL at f/8 was between 118 and 139 lp/mm with the lower value being clearly resolved and the higher value barely showing contrast when enlarged x100. When I tested my scanner with a high contrast lith target it was able to resolve more than 160 lp/mm. But the actual contrast on film from LF lenses at their limiting resolution is simply too low for the scanner to resolve.
Dr. Hubert Nasse from Zeiss told me that the resolving power of a lens is always limited by diffraction. The difference between a so-called diffraction limited lens and a lesser lens is that the aberrations of the latter already reduce the contrast at lower spatial frequencies in a way that their contrast modulation becomes so low that it becomes impossible to detect detail at higher frequencies by most image recording media, thus limiting their effective resolution often far before the theoretical diffraction limit.
In the end all these tests are more of an academic nature than having a serious impact on real world photography. But the process helped me a lot to understand the subject and optimize my own imaging chain where it mattered.
My test was far less formal. My USAF test target has K, R, B and Y resolution targets oriented vertically, horizontally and tangentially, so I could measure all aspects. I could also easily measure center, mid and edge performance of the lenses. The BL scanning software has live focus, so I could confirm focus electronically, and actually can see slightly differing focus point for the R, G and B channels on most lenses, including the better APO lenses(!) I tested my lenses at f8, 11, 16 and 22, and not further because I could detect diffraction with this system kicking in usually between f11 and f16, certainly by f22. I did not use a Koran target or software and had to judge resolution to my best guess at around 20% contrast, which is certainly flawed. And yes, contrast is an issue in my format of test as was my visual measurement.
Anyway, my system was resolution limited to about 56 LPmm in the best case, though the best lenses I mentioned I hit that clearly, where the others did not, hitting the ranges I indicated. Moreover, I could easily see the resolution falloff from center to edge for all lenses.
I did test my lenses shifted as well (amount varied with focal), but found that most under 150mm lost resolution pretty quickly, though longer focals held longer (obviously).
FWIW, Mike Collette, the owner of Betterlight, also tested lenses for his backs. He found that extremely few LF lenses were capable of meeting, let alone outresolving his Super 12K scanning back. And his results supported my own findings, in that only a few Schneider APO L and Rodenstock APO S lenses delivered the goods -- specifically the 135 Rod APO S and the Schneider 120 APO L exceeded it, and the 150's from both were very close. Also, they only made it at f8 as you could see the effects of diffraction affecting results by f11. The 110 SS XL did not come close for him either, hitting the 50 or so LPmm I found.
I would imagine that the camera and shooting conditions are more important than the lens, assuming you are using a good modern lens. Most 4x5 cameras are not nearly as rigid as smaller format cameras...even the very good cameras tend to have some flex and play in them. It's just a fact of life in the materials used and the desire for camera movements, portability etc. In the real world when you are out in the landscape with a field camera and a even slightly breezy day, the vibrations from the wind and the flex are going to equalize a lot of lenses.
But isn't the point of large format that you don't need to pixel peep? You can use the lens that fits your criteria (focal length, size, coverage, aperture etc) and be reasonably sure that you will be able to print very large even if you are not using the latest, greatest lens ever. Technique and execution is more likely to matter in LF than in most of the smaller formats where the cameras do so much more for you (like stay plane parallel, focus automatically etc.).
I do use the 72XL a lot, and find that an outstanding lens for my work. The older 75/4.5's and 5.6's didn't have quite enough movement but I really don't run out of room with the 72. The 90 Nikkor has just enough movement for anything I want to do with a 90 whereas the 90XL has more than I need (and is huge, which causes problems with filters).
None of my clients are willing to have me shoot larger than 4x5 anymore, so I sold my bigger stuff a while ago.
Well, the decision is made. I noticed that Jack had a 90mm f/5.6 Super Angulon Sinar select at some point, and I read a bunch of old/modern lens comparisons for LF, and decided that getting an XL or a 4.5 Grandagon-N was just not necessary. I am not in this game for the absolute last drop of resolution, almost the opposite. I want to move beyond all this tech, and just shoot, not worrying too much beyond my careful initial purchases. I will get a nice, simple, good kit, and then stop worrying.
I found a 90mm f/5.6 Super Angulon MC Linhof select running at around 360 Euro in the last minutes, and made my bid of 419 Euro in the last seconds of the auction. It went for 420 Euro... I was quite frustrated, but my current situation with my hands full of unsold equipment doesn't allow me to bid higher than that. Grumbling to myself, wondering if I would have gotten it had I bid 429 or 439, I distracted myself by reading through eBay's "perhaps you are interested in one of these other auctions" page, displayed after an auction is over. I looked through them, and spotted another 90/5.6 SA MC with a Compur #1 shutter (#1? I thought these were built with #0 shutters?). Grumbling about the Linhof select I just missed, I clicked on it. 399 Euro Buy Now, good condition, everything seemed hunky dory. Then I spotted it: clearly visible on the front lip, although unmentioned in the auction description, was the script Linhof! 0.1 seconds later it belonged to me
After the auction, I did notice something I am not familiar with. On the board on which the lens is mounted, there is a Prontor Professional shutter. What is that, and can I just remove it?
Although I will certainly use it wide open in situations where I want small DoF and where the corners don't matter too much, I would still like to know how far I have to stop it down to get very sharp corners. Anyone?
Last edited by carstenw; 8th February 2010 at 09:17.
On film even with a good scan, you should be able to use up to f32 without seriously degrading the image due to diffraction. Bottom line is there is a curve of tradeoffs between the added DOF and the added diffraction -- heck, you may even like the slight veiling, glowy diffraction effect from f45, so possibly worth a try!
Thanks for the info, Jack. About stopping down, I was more looking for what my minimum aperture should be before the corners sharpen up. f/8? f/11?
I presume that the Compur-1 is just mounted instead of the usual 0 due to the Prontor shutter?
Now I just have to decide if I spring for a Linhof Technika (IV/V/MT/MT2k), or wait for the Chamonix 45N-2. I will go read documentation for the Technika to get a better feel for what I might be giving up. Superficially, it has a lot less movements, but it looks like it is cleverly enough done that with a bit of swing or tilt on the back, one can actually get most things done regardless.
I don't anticipate a huge need for movements, but since this is partly a learning experience, I was interested in having them regardless. Most of the time, I can probably get away with a little front rise-n-fall, and a little rear swing-n-tilt, with the occasional front tilt also coming in handy. The Technika can handle all this.
I'd get an Ebony before the Tech. Heck, I'd buy a Shen Hao before a tech, but that's me ...
I'd go 110mm SSXL and 210 Apo Symmar.
Doug, I guess you are coming from a more well-fed wallet state than I I am quite happy with the two lenses I have bought. Both have good reputations, neither is going to be beat easily by any lens, including the two you mentioned, unless you really get out the high-powered magnifying glass...
Jack, I love the Ebonies (Ebonys?) but they are very pricy, and hard to find second-hand. I would also need new lens boards, yet another additional cost.
Ah, I thought that Ebony had their own. There aren't that many different (relatively modern) 4x5 boards that I can tell. I thought it was Technika, Ebony and Toyo, but apparently I mixed something up.
I know you are keeping the budget down, but I would agree with Doug. I have two lenses -- 110mm SS XL, and 210 APO Symmar L. Both are fantastic. My camera is an ebony SV45Ti, which is also great to use. I think monorail cameras are much more pleasant to work with in the studio, but the ebony is so great to use out in the field and it is so small and light when all folded up.
However, I think you will really enjoy the lenses you got. That 90 looks fantastic!
Look everyone, I looooove the Ebony cameras, and would loooooove to buy one, but the Technika is expensive, and the Ebonys are twice as much, so there is no chance in hell. Unless someone sells me theirs cheap
And yes, no matter which lens you get, there is something better out there, but honestly, there are strict limits to how much better a lens can be than "great". Here is food for thought, and keep in mind that my lens is sharper, has more coverage, and is faster than the 90 Angulon:
Sorry if my post came off as trying to convince you to buy the Ebony and the 110 + 210, rereading it, it sounds like that. What I was really trying to say was that I love what I have, but I think you will also love what you are getting. I agree that a lot of times the differences between the super high-end and the very good is not so great as it is made out to be. Especially in the largest formats like 4x5.
Yeah, after reading a few comparisons like the one above, I started realizing that going for an XL or Grandagon-N 90 was really not necessary, and after having read many reviews of the Chamonix (and the Technika), it really isn't necessary to get an Ebony. Sure, the Ebony is nice, but the difference is really not that great in the end. This stuff is *all* great.
I love high-end equipment as much as anyone else, but I really need to focus my money elsewhere at the moment, like debt-clearing and saving for retirement. I am trying to swap out some unused stuff for some stuff I will use more, and if possible, get some money into the bank at the same time. The damn thing is that no one is buying my unused stuff Bad economy to sell in. Anyone want a great chrome M6?
I've got 50 sheets of Adox CHS 50 and 50 sheets of Tri-X 320 ($$$) waiting on my shelf I even have the chemicals to develop them, but no tanks yet. I have to figure out what I want to do there. I also need film holders, but it looks like I can get nice Fidelity holders for somewhere between 10 and 20 Euro a piece, second-hand. I'll probably want 5 or so. I also need a focusing loupe. I am still not in the home stretch, I am afraid.
Congratulations on the Linhof 90...it looks like a beauty! You can absolutely have a great time learning and get terrific photos with less expensive equipment. I started out with a Graphic monorail view camera and Ilex lens...the whole works (with case, film holders etc) cost less than $300 (in the mid-80s) and one of my best ever 4x5 photos was taken with that camera.
Whatever you get, I'm sure you'll enjoy it and years down the road, if you still enjoy LF, you may yet find the right time to buy one of those beautiful Ebony's. Couldn't afford mine until I was 50+ years old.
I sure hope I will like LF enough to stay. If I do, an Ebony may well be in my future, but maybe a 5x7.
I am still thinking about that Prontor Prof. shutter, since it does look like it might interfere with the front standard on the Chamonix, and almost certainly would interfere with the Master Technika. Would it make sense to keep an eye open for a Copal-0 shutter to replace it with? What are these worth on the second-hand market? The only difference between this shutter on different lenses is the aperture scale, if I understand correctly. Where could I get a correct scale, if I bought a Copal-0 with the wrong scale?
Thanks for all hints.
Now that I have actually committed to a Chamonix 45N-2 and bought two used Rodenstock lenses (90mm 6.8, and 210 4.5 APO Sironar-S), I'm hard pressed to decide on the next focal length. I'm leaning towards a 75mm Rodie.
Here is my preference, but understanding everybody's needs are different. If I could only have 2 lenses, it would probably be a 90 and 150 -- I seriously made 85% of my best LF images with those two lenses. If three, probably a 90, 150 and a 210. A four lens lineup, I'd go 75, 110, 150 and a compact 240. Of course at the end of the day, this is why LF shooters often end up with a bunch of lenses.
And don't forget the Nikkor 120 SW! Or the Nikkor 300 M.
And if you have multiple 4x5 cameras with different size lens boards, you don't want to be messing around screwing and unscrewing the lenses from each lens board.....it's a slippery slope. I'm still thinking I need a second Nikkor 120SW for my Sinar P. That focal length is one of my favorites.
Most of my shots were with a 28mm, and a 85mm. It was either I couldn't get close enough with the wide angle, or I couldn't get close enough to pull in a distant subject. A bit frustrating but I made due with what I had and put together a nice portfolio for the class.
This is a useful page for comparing focal lengths with respect to 35mm cameras:
I wouldn't think twice about owning both a 24mm or 28mm lens and a 35mm lens for a 35mm camera, so the 90/120/150/210/300mm range that I have for 4x5 works for me.
Like many folks, I started out with just one lens and built up my collection over a period of years.
As far as the 75mm goes, I was thinking I would need it if I wanted to do interior shots. I didn't think the 90 would give me enough wiggle room.
I am happy with my 90/210 first set (and throw in the 135 Xenar). I know that 90/150/210 is more popular, but the multiplication factor from 90 to 135 is 1.5, and from 135 to 210 is almost 1.5, so I think the 135 is the better lens in the middle. 300 would be the next step in this progression.
Anyway, my 135/3.8 Xenar got there, and in general, it is in fantastic condition. The very slowest shutter speeds (1s, 1/2s) sound like they might be a tad slow, and the turning of the shutter speed ring gets stiff towards 1/400s, almost as if there is an extra spring for that shutter speed only, but all speeds run smoothly, so I think if I just used it a little, everything would work fine pretty soon. I think it might just be stiff from disuse.
There is a little squeeze-type shutter-open lever, but when operated, it is a little stiff, and when released, the shutter returns sluggishly. I suppose T could also serve that function. In addition to the the shutter-open lever, aperture ring, shutter speed ring, shutter cocking lever and the shutter release, there is a little green knob which seems to be the flash sync setting (M or X), and then there is a little extra knobbie which I cannot determine the function of, about 8 O'Clock in the first photo, next to the shutter open lever. It slides perpendicular to the shutter speed ring, and I see a little lever running alongside the shutter speed ring move, when I slide the knobbie. It appears to serve as a lock or release to the shutter speed ring or the shutter itself, except that it doesn't actually do this. Anyone?
The one question mark is the "stuff" on one of the lens elements. I have taken some snaps to try to show what it looks like. The lens doesn't actually get foggy as it looks like in the third photo, that is just something to do with the angle and the light reflected off the table behind. In general, it looks a little like there is some dense dust in there, especially around the edges, but no spider webs. I am wondering if it might be the early stages of fungus.
Last edited by carstenw; 13th February 2010 at 08:09.
I forgot to mention: the covers are not original, and the rear cover is the wrong size. Does anyone know where I can get original, or at least Schneider, covers for this lens, in the right sizes? They outer diameters of the front and rear are 50.8mm and 37.3mm, respectively.
Last edited by carstenw; 13th February 2010 at 08:20.
Looks great Carsten. From what I remember of the SK Grimes website on compur shutters, there actually IS another spring for 1/400th, and it is difficult to turn to, so that behavior is normal. I don't know about the covers, but frankly, I don't think you will have much luck. You are best off trying to find modern snap in caps at around that size if you can (if the lens has threads on the front and back).
One more thing I forgot: is the Synchro-Compur the same size as a Copal 1? It is too large for my extra Copal 0 board.
Stuart, I think I will be able to find a Schneider 51mm front cover. I found one with my first hit in a search. I don't know about the 37/38mm rear cover though. I might fire off an email to Schneider and ask them directly.
Well, my email to Schneider was in vain. The first sentence in the reply was "your lens is 55 years old"... They have apparently washed their hands of lenses this old. I will need to find someone else to service it. I have found a gentleman who will overhaul the shutter, but the lens itself might be more difficult. I will do the shutter first, and then see.
My Schneider 90mm f/5.6 Super-Angulon MC, Linhof select, has arrived, and it is a beauty! Really nice condition.
The one catch is the Prontor Professional 01 shutter. It runs beautifully, nicer than my Copal 1, I would say, and the Copal is as new. The Copal feels like a refugee from the past, but the Prontor Prof feels modern. There is a mechanism which allows one to set the aperture from behind, and there is a little lever which allows to open the shutter, also operable from behind. The cable release both cocks and releases the shutter, and every aspect of the shutter is a work of precision, a Zeiss item. Not a mark on it. However, it won't fit on the Master Technika I am going to buy...
What to do, what to do. Apparently there is a thriving market of people looking for these, even people who collect them for every lens they own. Is there anyone here who knows such a person? I might offer it to the gentleman who is fixing up my Synchro-Compur shutter on my 135 Xenar, and who is also going to re-mount the 90/5.6 on a Copal 0 shutter, on a Linhof Technika 0 board. Perhaps he could re-sell it to a studio photographer, and that would help offset, or even exceed, the cost of the Copal 0.
Does anyone have an idea of the value of such a shutter?
Last edited by carstenw; 15th February 2010 at 10:55.