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Thread: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

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    Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    I am looking at which 90mm lens I am going to get to match my 210mm APO-Symmar f/5.6, and have come up with the following choices:

    1) Schneider 90mm f/5.6 Super Angulon MC

    2) Schneider 90mm f/5.6 Super Angulon XL

    3) Rodenstock 90mm f/4.5 Grandagon-N

    The prices are all okay with me, with the MC Schneider being a little cheaper.

    All of my past experiences tell me that when it comes to wide angle lenses, I should spend a little more and get the better lens, otherwise I will be sorry. Therefore I lean towards the XL or Grandagon-N (what is the Sinaron and Caltar name for this lens?) I prefer a lens which is usably sharp in the corners wide open, even if I do need to pay a little more for it.

    I am wondering how useful the wide open settings are for each of these lenses. From what I have read, the widest setting is sometimes sharp in the middle, for focusing with a bright image, but not so sharp in the corners. What are these three lenses like wide open, in the corners? Are the corners usable wide open for focusing, and for imaging?
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Is the Grandagon-N f/6.8 worth considering here? I understand that the Schneider f/6.8 is not that great compared to the other lenses mentioned?
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Frankly, I'd get one of the f8's -- as sharp, as easy (or difficult) to focus and half the weight. Again, the Schneider 90 f6.8 is an older Tessar design, not a more modern plasmat.
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    Is the Grandagon-N f/6.8 worth considering here?
    Yes, I think so.

    The f/5.6 and faster are huge. The f/8 are a little dark.

    The f/6.8 is the best compromise, imo.

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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Carsten

    I have the Caltar version of the Rody 6.8 lens and it is great once you stop down to at least F8 or better yet F11 though Rodenstock claims the lens is optimized for F16-22. Wide open its worthless for IQ IMO. I doubt many owners use it this way and no doubt not what Rodenstock had in mind when they designed the lens either.

    That said in dim light, ie indoors architectural, dimming of the day, the corners of the Rody 6.8 lens even with a bright screen can be fairly dark making it somewhat more difficult for foreground focus. I once rented the Rody 75 mm f4.5 and found it easier to work with indoors for the architectural project than my 90/6.8. The two lenses were both about the same size, requiring a 67 mm front filter. The 90/4.5 does have a much larger image circle allowing quite a bit more movement but it comes at the cost a lot more weight 700 grams vs 460 and a larger filter mount @ 82 mm.

    Hope this helps.

    Rob

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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    I am only planning on getting two lenses in total (90+210), so the weight really doesn't bother me. If I were buying a whole slew, it would add up, but an extra pound is no problem. On the other hand, the 90/5.6 XL is apparently absolutely huge, so I guess I am less inclined to get that one. Large image circle though.

    The weights are:

    Schneider:
    90/5.6 XL: 665g
    90/5.6: 570g
    90/8: 360g
    Rodenstock:
    90/4.5: 700g
    90/6.8: 470g

    So the max. weight saving would be 340g, or less than a pound. I think I could just cut the chocolate one weekend and save that on my gut, so for a lens it really isn't that relevant

    I am more concerned about focusing performance, since Berlin is relatively far north, the days are short in winter, I often photograph in the shade on overcast days, and even at dusk.
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Thanks Rob, that kinda confirms what I have read about that lens before, i.e. for shooting a bit stopped down, great lens, but not wide open. Since I tend to shoot wide open regularly, I think I would want the option of better performance there, so I will get one of the other lenses.
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    The Grandagon or its Caltar equivalent 6.8 are great lenses with good coverage whereas the Schneider 6.8 is a very small lens whose coverage is barely 4X5. Oft times with LF you pay (in money and weight) for greater coverage. Look at the specs for the XL it may be way more lens that you want in terms of size and coverage. IIRC it has enormous coverage and what you will be paying for is not sharper images but coverage that far exceeds your camera's capacity for movement.

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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Yes, the 90XL is too large for me. I do need to be able to fit in a small suitcase I don't think this lens's rear element would fit through the hole on my camera! The other lenses are more modestly sized, including the Rodenstock G-N 90/4.5, although it is heavy.
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Actually, I was hoping to hear a little about corner sharpness wide open on these fast 90s. Anyone?
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    Actually, I was hoping to hear a little about corner sharpness wide open on these fast 90s. Anyone?
    Any of the fast Plasmats basically suck for resolution wide open, and almost all the fast ones are spec'd for f11 and the slower ones for f16, 16 - 22 being the sweet spot for all of them WRT balance of resolution and aberrations.

    If you want a chance with a fast aperture LF lens, you need to look at a Tessar design -- my favorites were the Schneider Xenars...

    One other thing re focusing fast LF glass, and that's focus shift as you stop down -- and yes, they all do it to some degree. So bottom line, IF you want the best focus you'll get close wide open, then stop down and tweak, so a lot of the time you'll be doing your critical focusing at your shooting aperture anyway...
    Jack
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    I guess it is finally time for me to go look up what Plasmat, Tessar, and so on mean. I have been putting this off Are the mentioned lenses all Plasmats?
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Jack

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Frankly, I'd get one of the f8's -- as sharp, as easy (or difficult) to focus and half the weight.

    interesting comment at a time when I find myself yet again wanting a Nikkor 90mm f8 to replace my Fujinon 90mm f8.

    this image from the weekend was at f8 because I just wanted to see what it looked like (didn't think to take one of the same at f11~16, which is where I normally use the lens ... I wasn't thinking comparison of sharpness then ... am now).



    generally speaking I seem to find it sharper at close focuses than at infinity ... is this a characteristic?

    and should I start this as another thread?

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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    Actually, I was hoping to hear a little about corner sharpness wide open on these fast 90s. Anyone?
    About a year ago I tested several Schneider LF lenses. The Super Angulon XL 90mm was among them. The overall performance of this lens is excellent. However, wide open you'll get all sorts of aberrations the further you go from the center. I only tested this lens at f/8, f/11, f/16 and f/22. Here are the results in lp/mm:
    f/8: center: 80; corner: 45 horizontal, 60 vertical
    f/11: center: 90; corner: 64 horizontal, 71 vertical
    f/16: center: 85; corner: 62 horizontal, 67 vertical
    f/22: center: 72; corner: 58 horizontal, 62 vertical

    The camera I used for this test was a Linhof Technikardan 45 loaded with Kodak Imagelink HQ, a high-contrast microfilm to minimize the loss in resolution from the capturing medium itself. You'll probably get slightly less resolution when used with normal films. The magnification ratio was about 1:19.
    The f/8 center performance is most likely not the best the lens can do. There's always a margin of human error in focusing accuracy. I only took one or two shots on each aperture. On such narrow DOF you'll easily lose resolution on a flat test target when you're slightly off. But when your focus is accurate the center performance of these modern lenses in exceptional.
    Even though the corner resolution at f/8 isn't bad there's some obvious astigmatism visible which is going to be far worse at f/5,6. It's much better at f/11 and gone at f/16.

    What are you planning to shoot wide open with a 90mm?

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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Gravestones And later, perhaps some environmental portraits. I'll have to see. For portraits the corner performance is not likely a hindrance anyway.

    My initial aim was more for being able to focus wide open though. I see that you also live in Berlin, so you know how dark it gets at the moment in the late afternoon, and I need to be able to focus on dark objects in the shade on an overcast day in the late afternoon in the winter... I have been carefully avoiding Jack's advice to get an f/8 lens, since he has loads more light than me most of the time (although I am sure he has tried focusing in darker situations). Is the XL sharp enough to focus on something in a corner, wide open? What about the MC or the Rodenstock? What about focus shift, as mentioned by Jack? I tend to think that it would be easier to focus wide open at f/5,6 and then make a correction at the shooting aperture than focusing directly at the shooting aperture, but I really don't know, having only ever used a Crown Graphic with some old Kodak lens, and not all that much at that.

    If I need to stop down to f/8 to focus, I may as well get an f/8 lens, although I would really much prefer something faster. The XL is really huge, and I am not even sure that the rear element will fit through the opening of the Chamonix 4x5 front standard, so I am thinking more about the Rodenstock at the moment, and perhaps the older MC lens.

    Here are some early shots from my current long-term project:

    http://whimster-photography.com/cemetaries/
    Last edited by carstenw; 1st February 2010 at 10:46.
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Quote Originally Posted by pellicle View Post

    generally speaking I seem to find it sharper at close focuses than at infinity ... is this a characteristic?
    Yes and no... Most manufacturers optimize their lenses for specific image magnifications. For normal "taking" lenses this is usually 1:12, 1:10, or 1:8, though they perform well several steps on either side of that spec. IIRC, Rodenstock determined that 1:10 was ideal for 1:6 through infinity and spec their N lenses to that. However, they realized most taking distances tend to hover closer than infinity, so spec their wider S line to 1:8, where it performs very well from 1:4 through 1:40 -- and the difference at infinity is negligible. (Most manufacturers claim 1:50 and beyond as infinity, though some choose 1:100.) Macro lenses are usually optimized for 1:1 and claimed "usable" from 2:1 through 1:3 or so, though many shooters use them happily at infinity.

    Bottom line for LF resolution is this: The naked human eye can at best discern about 6 lines per mm in a print. This means for a 4x5 neg, all you need to do is lay down 24 LPmm across the frame and a 16x20 print will look sharp. However, if you want a 32x40 to look sharp, you need more like 48 LPmm, and this is where the lesser lenses will show their weaknesses...

    Also, there is a tradeoff in resolution vs aberrations vs DoF. Aberrations diminish as you stop down, while diffraction increases thus you need to experiment a bit to find any particular lenses sweet spot. With most modern Plasmat designs, that is likely going to be near f16 to 22. Next, diffraction may not be critically detrimental until after f45, so now you need to balance desired total DoF against absolute resolution --- often times, having a little less specific resolution in one area of a print in lieu of having better total resolution throughout the print though additional DoF is desired.
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Jack

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Yes and no... Most manufacturers optimize their lenses for specific image magnifications.
    ...

    often times, having a little less specific resolution in one area of a print in lieu of having better total resolution throughout the print though additional DoF is desired.
    thanks for that well thought out answer ... I had blown a few sheets on some subjects back in 2001 when I bought the Fujinon 90mm and back then felt that the sweetspot was somewhere between f11 and f22 .. as it happens that's about the middle of the marked range which seems to work well for me. Sometimes I find myself using f5.6 as I don't want to venture too far into the dark side and wind up with massive reciprocity calculations ...

    For example, looking at this image on flickr the section in square "note" is this:



    the above image also linking to flickr for a 100% crop of a 2400dpi scan from an Epson 3200 (stated because I realise this isn't the pinnacle but wanted to give some data on methods)

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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    You can definitely see the aberrations at work in that shot due to the wider aperture.
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Jack

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    You can definitely see the aberrations at work in that shot due to the wider aperture.
    the slightly worrying thing is, that the above leaf shot is taken at f16

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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Well I guess it could be a scanner artifact... What I am seeing is not really sharp edges anywhere in the image that also have a sort of distorted blur. But I'm also not seeing any grain, and we should, so it could very well be a bad scan.
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Well I guess it could be a scanner artifact...
    Most likely the case. I used to have the 3200 too, but even my 4990 will exhibit some CA's if I scan large enough. Presumably... hopefully the newer V700/V750's don't have this problem.

    Rob

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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Hi

    Quote Originally Posted by routlaw View Post
    Most likely the case. I used to have the 3200 too, but even my 4990 will exhibit some CA's if I scan large enough. Presumably... hopefully the newer V700/V750's don't have this problem.

    Rob
    there are problems with registration of the R G and B sections of scans from the Epson. I have done a little exploring of this and put up a page to explain what I found here. A friend of mine in Japan has confirmed that he has seen similar issues with his V700, although reduced. I see them also on my 4990 (I have 3 Epsons 3200, 4870 and 4990;as a result of upgrading and never selling the older ones).

    sometimes the "RGB walking" can be a result of scanner and sometimes is caused by lens CA ... a quick way to decide this is to use a speck of dust as a reference point. I have seen quite some clean up of scans using PT Lens to manually correct the CA on (say) my Bessa I folders images. They work rather better then.

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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    Gravestones And later, perhaps some environmental portraits. I'll have to see. For portraits the corner performance is not likely a hindrance anyway.

    My initial aim was more for being able to focus wide open though. I see that you also live in Berlin, so you know how dark it gets at the moment in the late afternoon, and I need to be able to focus on dark objects in the shade on an overcast day in the late afternoon in the winter...
    I see your point that focusing in the dark could be an issue. What adds to the problem is that these wide angle lenses show a severe light falloff towards the corners. If you use a lens with a large image circle and your camera allows enough movements you may be able shift the brighter center of the image circle closer to the spot you'd like to focus on.
    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    I have been carefully avoiding Jack's advice to get an f/8 lens, since he has loads more light than me most of the time (although I am sure he has tried focusing in darker situations). Is the XL sharp enough to focus on something in a corner, wide open?
    I haven't tried that myself. In fact I don't own the 90mm XL lens I used for the test. It probably depends on how much light you have in that corner. When it's bright you can to stop down to f/8 to increase the corner contrast for focusing. But if it's too dim you'll welcome the extra stop to see anything at all. But I wouldn't worry too much about it because with 4x5" you're not even near the edge of the image circle. If you really want to focus on something in a far corner of your frame your problem will be getting the loupe there, unless you'd like to recompose after focusing.
    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    What about the MC or the Rodenstock?
    The XL is the latest design of these lenses. It's probably as good as it gets. I haven't used the other 90s. If you look at the MTF of the Rodenstock 90mm f/4.5 it's also close to what is optically possible in the f/11-f/22 range. If focusing in dim light is critical for your work then I'd go for the f/4.5.
    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    What about focus shift, as mentioned by Jack? I tend to think that it would be easier to focus wide open at f/5,6 and then make a correction at the shooting aperture than focusing directly at the shooting aperture, but I really don't know, having only ever used a Crown Graphic with some old Kodak lens, and not all that much at that.

    If I need to stop down to f/8 to focus, I may as well get an f/8 lens, although I would really much prefer something faster.
    I haven't experienced focus shift to be a problem in LF at all. At least I don't have any images where I can pinpoint the technical failure on some small amount of focus shift. I think there are other parameters like film flatness in the holders or the rigidity of the camera when you insert a holder to be kept in check. I don't think focus shift is a problem when you actually shoot at f/16 or f/22 with the DOF gained.
    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    The XL is really huge, and I am not even sure that the rear element will fit through the opening of the Chamonix 4x5 front standard, so I am thinking more about the Rodenstock at the moment, and perhaps the older MC lens.
    If your Chamonix uses Linhof Technika boards then the XL should fit as the Technikardan I had for my tests used the same boards. But I remember reading about these issues with an older Schneider 90mm f/5,6 lens rear element which they redesigned to work with those Technika boards.

    -Dominique

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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Thanks for all that useful information, Dominique. I will keep my eyes open for a good deal on one of these newer lenses.
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    1) Schneider 90mm f/5.6 Super Angulon MC

    2) Schneider 90mm f/5.6 Super Angulon XL

    3) Rodenstock 90mm f/4.5 Grandagon-N
    Carsten - I'm late to this thread, but for my eyes, and UK [read German] light, there's no way I would want an f8 lens. Eye strain from trying to see into a dark on-screen image is unpleasant. My slowest lenses were f5.6, and up to finding a good fresnel screen for my camera, come Autumn I would feel like throwing the camera from the nearest bridge because of difficulties focusing and framing. Across two systems I have three Apo Grandagons and that extra light for setting the image up can be fairly essential. Whilst others are more qualified to give comparison feedback on the three lenses you are considering, I'd choose the Rodenstock f4.5 because it would make the camera more functional for me.

    On 5x4 a 90 mm is still wide, and the 'wides' are harder on the eyes than 'mediums'; grab all the wide-open light you can for 'our' light. Good luck.

    .............. Chris

    EDIT - Oops. I should have read your post more carefully. You are concerned with corner sharpness at wide open. I hope that it will be less of a concern for you in practice, than the ability to see into the corners with sufficient image brightness. It really isn't like the Leica tradition of needing to trust a lens' performance wide open because you will be stopping down your LF lenses. Your focusing won't likely ever be in the corners, you will get to trust the lenses when stopped down, and more likely than not your focusing will be done near the central, brightest part of your screen. 'Wide-open corner sharpness' was never a priority concern for me, but corner darkness was.
    Last edited by Chris C; 3rd February 2010 at 03:54.

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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Chris

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris C View Post
    ...
    there's no way I would want an f8 lens. Eye strain from trying to see into a dark on-screen image is unpleasant. My slowest lenses were f5.6, and up to finding a good fresnel screen for my camera, come Autumn I would feel like throwing the camera from the nearest bridge because of difficulties focusing and framing.
    at the risk of telling anyone how to suck eggs, I find that I rarely have such critical issues framing a wide lens, even without looking at the ground glass. I guess that you know that you can see what's in by looking at the ground glass (without the lens cloth or even the lens open) and lining up whats in and whats not by looking at the line through the lens and to the edge of the glass (same goes for top to bottom as well as side to side). That said even under the ground glass I find that keeping further back (better for my eyes anyway as I'm getting older) and moving my head around as if I was trying to look through straight through the glass and the lens at the subject that its all lots brighter. I think this is down to the incident angle of the light on the ground glass.

    Actually my 180mm is much brighter on the glass even stopped down to f11 than my 90 is at 8, which I think reflects the above issue

    my massey furgeson shot above was done with a Fujinon 90mm in a dim shed on a 5 second exposure at f8

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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    I guess I cannot know all factors in advance, and have to make the best educated decision I can and just try it. The Chamonix 45N-1/2 does come with a Fresnel, so maybe the problem is mitigated by this. I wish I knew a Chamonix user with one of these lenses, working under similar conditions.
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    I wish I knew a Chamonix user with one of these lenses, working under similar conditions.
    Carsten,

    You have had several of us who have used all ranges of lenses on cameras with fresnels, and in my case used them on a Chamonix, telling you there is not a huge difference in f5.6 and f8 on the GG in a practical field situation. Bottom line is all short focals have dark corners and you do have to move your head around to see into them.

    Here is a test for you to try at home with what you already own. Put the 80 on your Contax, set it to f5.6. Now hit the stop-down lever and look through the viewfinder. Without removing your eye, stop the lens down to f8. Voilla, that is the extent of the difference you'll have with a 90 on the Chamonix's GG...

    If you shot dark interiors for a living every day, then yes, maybe the extra stop is worth the extra weight.

    Seriously, what I think you really want for your gravestone project is an older Schneider Xenar, like the 135 f3.8 or maybe 105 f3.5 or the rarer f2.8 "Xenotar" if you can find one. Lots of 150 f4's around too.

    If I were filling out a 4x5 kit again today, I would specifically go for a few Xenar's just because they render so beautifully and can be used wide open -- I'd most likely get one each of the faster 135 and 210's. They are not as clinically sharp as the plasmats, but that's not why I'd use LF if I went back to it -- I have digital for that.

    PS: Just did a quick ebay search -- note that this is a biga$$ lens in a #3 shutter, but then it is an f2.8 150! http://cgi.ebay.com/RARE-SCHNEIDER-X...t_15032wt_1280

    Here's a 135: http://cgi.ebay.com/XENAR-1-3-8-135m...ht_2941wt_1167

    Here's the f4.5 150, LOTS smaller: http://cgi.ebay.com/Linbhof-Technika...ht_2303wt_1167

    BTW, if you hunt for them, you can still find NEW Schneider 150 Xenars!
    Jack
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    These lenses are interesting, and I would love to experiment with some older glass with different rendering, but I thought I would start with a sharp, modern wide and a slight tele, the same setup as I have with my Contax 645: 35, 120. That way I can transition my project into 4x5 without any impact on the look. I do find that I need a wide quite often, although the Contax 35 is a little wider than necessary. Probably a Contax 45 lens would do, so I thought the 90 would be good. I could imagine 105, although I need to make a little diagram to visualize the angle subtended, but 135 is just loads narrower than the 90, and was going to be my in-between lens if I ever found myself with too large a gap from 90 to 210.

    I will try out the f/5.6-f/8 on the Contax 645 and see what I think, but even the 120/4 Makro I find tricky to focus accurately for some of my shots. As mentioned earlier, for me there is no particular reason to go for a smaller lens, since I will only carry two, and initially exclusively for shorter trips. Additionally, although the Grandagon-N and SAXL lenses are more expensive, they are not all that much money, compared to what I am used to for MF and Leica M. If I could just sell my Hartblei, I would be covered for all of this with needing to lay out any more money.

    If this all gets too complicated and I cannot make up my mind, I might just start with the lens I have, the Schneider 210mm f/5.6 APO-Symmar, and see how all of this comes together, before deciding on which wide I want.

    Does anyone have any tips for good places to look for LF lenses, preferably in Europe? I am looking on eBay and also in ffordes and keh, as well as the B&S here and on largeformatphotography. Is there anywhere else I should be browsing on a regular basis?
    Last edited by carstenw; 3rd February 2010 at 07:54.
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Carsten,

    FWIW, a 90 on 4x5 is roughly equal to a 27mm on 35mm... 120 is roughly a 36, a 150 ~~ 45, a 180 ~~ 54, a 210 ~~ 63, 240 a 72 and 300 a 90. 75 is a 22, 65 ~~ a 29, 55 a 16 and 47 a 14. So the 35 on MF is more like a 20 and a 40 is more like a 24. So in 4x5 you probably want a 75 or 80 for the wide end and your MF 120 is probably more like a 240.
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Sorry, I changed my 40 to 45, messing up your post

    I understand from your earlier comments that in spite of calculations, the wides feel wider and the longs feel longer on LF, so I was going to relax my extremes a little. 90/210 seems a nice and popular spacing for 4x5 in any case, and the slight change in view might even be a welcome minor change. I am not worried about that. The 75 gets hard to get significant movement with, and the 240s seem to mostly come in larger shutters, so I chose the 90/210 for more flexibility. A 135 would be a nice lens in the middle, being roughly 1.5x more than the 90 and less than the 210. If I really want to get fiddly, I could add a 110/150 pair instead of the 135, but to be honest, I don't want to carry that much and work with so many focal lengths.

    I find myself using fewer and fewer lenses with time, so I thought that I would start with the duo and see how I get along, leaving a comfortable spot in the middle for a third lens just in case. I can always add a 65/75 and 300 later if I really need more range.
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    I totally agree with that, just didn't want you to be surprised if you started to measure

    If I were getting back into 4x5 LF, my short list for lenses would be a Schneider 75mm f8 SA MC, a Schneider 110 SSXL, 150 APO Symmar L, and a Xenar 210. I would then scout for a Xenar 105 -- hard to find though and I might settle for a 135 or an older 125~135 Tessar just for the different look. I would later add a 305 G-Claron. So 6 lenses total, and I know I'd use the 4 middle ones all regularly and why I'd recommend going for the f8 wide to begin with .
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    No, don't worry, I am going into this eyes wide open. I did do a little diagram to see if 4x5 were cropped to 645 or 135 format, what would be the equivalent lenses, and then relaxed slightly. 75/240 would have been what I should have taken, I suppose, but I rarely need the full width of the Contax 35, and on the long end I can walk, with my current subject matter. So you see, I took that part of your message to heart.

    The damn thing about discussing these things with you is that in the end, you are pretty much always right I am going to play stubborn a little longer on the issue of a fast 90 and see where that gets me, but down the line, who knows, I might sell and pick up an f/8
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    The damn thing about discussing these things with you is that in the end, you are pretty much always right
    I think it's more a case of any typical advanced user migrating to the same position after several months of trial and error. We pretty much all want the same thing -- an appropriate spread of focals that get the job done in the most convenient and cost-efficient fashion.

    From that, you'd be amazed how similar the contents of experienced shooter's gear bags are. Guy and I inadvertently grabbed each other's packs on the Florida workshop and shot for an entire morning. It wasn't until I went looking for my spare battery and found it in a different compartment than where I normally put it that we realized the swap. Ken Doo and I have had several laughs together when discussing the nearly identical contents of our primary gear bags, and that's with the Phase kit and the Canon kit, and honestly, pretty soon to be the GF1 kit!
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Jack

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    If I were getting back into 4x5 LF
    I guess this means you're not using it now

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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Guy and I inadvertently grabbed each other's packs on the Florida workshop and shot for an entire morning. It wasn't until I went looking for my spare battery and found it in a different compartment than where I normally put it that we realized the swap.
    Haha, that is hilarious Maybe you might also have noticed when you used each other's iPhones to call home and got the wrong wife/partner
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Quote Originally Posted by pellicle View Post
    Jack

    I guess this means you're not using it now
    Not for a few years now since I went MF digital...
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    Haha, that is hilarious Maybe you might also have noticed when you used each other's iPhones to call home and got the wrong wife/partner
    Nope -- mine's in a very different case and I keep it my pocket (And in both of our cases it is wives and kids.)
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    As I do architectural photography the 90 has been one of my mainstays. I've used many of the available 90's, including the Schneiders, Nikkors, Rodagons and Fuji's.

    Of the faster ones, the best one in my opinion is the 90XL. It has by far the largest image circle and its ultimate performance is the highest. But it's rather big and filters are a problem.

    The f/4.5's from Rodenstock and Nikon are really not that good. The performance at f/4.5 is far enough off the optimum that even focussing and composing can lead to misinformation. They really have to be used at f/16 thru 32. The f/5.6's from Schneider and Fuji are a bit better, but still not that good. They're best set to f/8 for viewing and composing. Their performance at f11 through 32 is then very good. The f/6.8 Rodenstock is just about the poorest; it's just not a modern formula and it shows. Most of the f/8's are similar, but have somewhat better performance than the f/6.8 Rodenstock.

    The only one that's different, and in my opinion one of the most overlooked lenses is the f/8 Nikkor. Nikon was the only manufacturer to produce an f/8 lens with the same coverage as its own f/4.5 and other's f/4.5 and f/5.6 lenses. It (and the f/8 120 and 150 Nikkor wides) use essentially the same formula as was used by other's for the faster lenses, but it's slightly better corrected.

    So in the f/8 Nikkor you get one of the best performing lenses which is quite useable already at f/11, has the coverage of the faster lenses, has excellent overall performance across the field between f/11 thru 32 and is relatively light weight.

    So my choice would be between the Schneider 90XL (if you need the maximum coverage) or the Nikkor f/8 if you want something less expensive and a lot smaller. Those two are the class of the field.

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    Henning
    Last edited by henningw; 3rd February 2010 at 20:26.

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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    I'd agree with almost all of that, except that I sold my f8 Nikkor when I finally found a Sinar-branded 09 SA MC. Many chalk it up to urban legend that the Sinar and Linhof (Technika) branded versions of the Schnieder and Rodenstock lens line were superior performers due to being hand-selected at the factory. In my case, I owned three such lenses and they were all my top performers of all time in their respective focal ranges -- 65, 75 and 90 SA MC's.
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    I'd agree with almost all of that, except that I sold my f8 Nikkor when I finally found a Sinar-branded 09 SA MC. Many chalk it up to urban legend that the Sinar and Linhof (Technika) branded versions of the Schnieder and Rodenstock lens line were superior performers due to being hand-selected at the factory. In my case, I owned three such lenses and they were all my top performers of all time in their respective focal ranges -- 65, 75 and 90 SA MC's.
    That's true; the Sinar and Linhof branded lenses are all high performers of their line. At least those companies made sure the lenses were mounted correctly. I still have a couple of old Linhof lenses that are very good.

    With respect to the Nikkor, although it's an f/8 lens at f/11 it's quite useable, and it's image circle at f/11 and its ultimate image circle at f/22 is considerably larger than that of the other f/8 lenses. It's also a newer and more complex design than that of the other f/8 lenses and that also is evident in the performance.

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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Quote Originally Posted by henningw View Post

    With respect to the Nikkor, although it's an f/8 lens at f/11 it's quite useable, and it's image circle at f/11 and its ultimate image circle at f/22 is considerably larger than that of the other f/8 lenses. It's also a newer and more complex design than that of the other f/8 lenses and that also is evident in the performance.
    Agreed, it is a stellar optic, especially when you look at the used prices!
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Quote Originally Posted by henningw View Post
    The f/4.5's from Rodenstock and Nikon are really not that good. The performance at f/4.5 is far enough off the optimum that even focussing and composing can lead to misinformation. They really have to be used at f/16 thru 32.
    Henning, could you confirm that you have experience with the Rodenstock Grandagon-N 90mm f/4.5? Everything I have read about this lens elsewhere says that it is usable even wide open, that the falloff is good and so on. This is the first post I have seen which questioned its sharpness.
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Carsten, I don't want this to sound flippant, but have you considered a flashlight? I mention this totally seriously, because I had this exact problem of how to focus when its dark -- I do a lot of night photography, and I find that a simple flashlight will allow you to focus properly when the light is too dim, even if your lenses are slow. This of course does not work at infinity, but for something inside 20-30m, a good flashlight will give you enough light to work with. Since your concern with the lens speed is not so much for shooting, but rather for composing and focusing, I think this could actually work for you. Especially if your main subject is going to be gravestones which are only 2-3 meters away I would guess.
    My photos are here: http://www.stuartrichardson.com and more recent work here: http://stuartrichardson.tumblr.com/ Please have a look at my book!
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Interesting idea. I will throw a flashlight into my bag, but I must admit that I would see that as a last-ditch procedure, not a routine measure. I would still prefer a fast enough lens to do most of my work without.
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher
    I think you really want for your gravestone project is an older Schneider Xenar, like the 135 f3.8 or maybe 105 f3.5 or the rarer f2.8 "Xenotar" if you can find one.
    Is the 135 f/3.8 preferable to other 135 Xenars, like the 4.5?
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    It is *very* hard to find good information on these lenses. I found a single comment that the 135/4.5 was not spectacular, but without knowing the author of that comment, it is hard to know what to read into that. I found a couple of comments that the 3.8 made nice portraits but had no room for movements.

    Anyway, I picked up that 135/3.8 Xenar from Canada you pointed out, Jack. It was cheap, and I am curious. In the end, if I don't like it, I will sell it. I guess I am about to find out how a decent classic Tessar renders
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    Anyway, I picked up that 135/3.8 Xenar from Canada you pointed out, Jack. It was cheap, and I am curious. In the end, if I don't like it, I will sell it. I guess I am about to find out how a decent classic Tessar renders
    Carsten if this one does not work out, I can absolutely guarantee the Rodenstock Sironar S 135 will be superb. Everyone I know who has this lens including myself swear by it. Its probably the sharpest LF lens I have.

    Hope this helps.

    Rob

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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    Cardten:

    I had a 135/3.8 before and while I would agree it wasn't stellar, especially when compared to a modern plasmat like the Rodie 135 APO S (one of the sharpest LF lenses i ever owned), but you could shoot at f3.8 with the Xenar! (Which is very difficult to do with a Rodie or Schneider or Nikkor or Fuji plasmat ) Moreover, it renders a much creamier bokeh than the plasmats. I think you'll like it for your project.

    One other thing about buying older, used LF lenses. For whatever reason, old gen LF lenses tend to grow fungus, so make sure you check all used purchases out very carefully. I recommend shining a good light through both ends and inspecting each surface carefully.
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    Re: Which 90mm f/4.5 or f/5.6?

    I couldn't find a Nikkor f8 when I was looking for a 90mm......so I ended up with a fairly new Schneider SA f8. Is it worth keeping or should I continue looking for a Nikkor 90/8?

    Gary

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