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Thread: Good affordable lenses?

  1. #1
    jamie123
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    Good affordable lenses?

    I have my name on the waitlist for a new Chamonix 45N-2 which is due in April. Since I have to wait anyways I thought I could take advantage of this time and look for some good lenses at reasonable prices so when I finally get the camera I can start shooting right away.

    Can anyone recommend some decent standard and portrait LF lenses? I think I'd like a 135mm as a standard and maybe a 210 as a portrait lens. Prices should be below $500 including shutter&lensboard and ideally around $300. I know that's not exactly much but I really don't want to go overboard.

    Any help is much appreciated!

  2. #2
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    Re: Good affordable lenses?

    The market is so soft right now that you should easily be able to find excellent major-brand modern plasmats, one or two generations old, toward the low end of your price range. Brands to watch for include Rodenstock Sironar-N (also private-labeled as Caltar II-N), Schneider Symmar-S (also private-labeled as Caltar-S II), Nikkor W and Fujinon W.

    If you're after a more old-fashioned look, there's a wide range of older lenses that should be available for the same or less.

  3. #3
    Super Duper
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    Re: Good affordable lenses?

    1+ for Oren's recommendations. There are currently several 135 Rodenstock-N lenses available from KEH at your $300 price point.
    Carl
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    Re: Good affordable lenses?

    +2

    A good progression in 4x5 (for me at least) is 65, 90, 135, 210, 300. Don't expect to find them all at once, but as Oren noted, any of the big 4 will work equally well. My personal preference is Schneider, but that was driven by one client, who paid well enough for me to toe the line, that wanted all their transparencies to have a consistent look across different photographers. (of course they ignored individual "styles" and such, but it's their dime...)


    erie

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    Re: Good affordable lenses?

    Another vote for the Rodenstock Sironar-N lenses. These are available in FLs from 120mm through 480mm (the 100mm won't cover 4x5).

    These are excellent lenses, of apochromatic design per the Rodenstock literature, without that designation and the excessive price associated therewith.

    Another point to consider when selecting an LF lens is the maximum aperture. I've standardized on f/5.6 for most focal lengths because it provides a nice bright image on the ground glass.

    You want to check the flange focal length (flange focal distance) for any lens to be sure your bellows will focus at infinity and close up.

    My current lens kit includes 75mm, 90mm, 150mm, 180mm, and 210mm. I need to add one or two longer ones.

    A 65mm would be nice for wide-angle work, but the image circle on most models is so small there's no room for movements.

    - Leigh
    Last edited by Leigh; 28th January 2011 at 21:00.

  6. #6
    jamie123
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    Re: Good affordable lenses?

    Thanks guys, all great suggestions! Interestingly, it didn't even occur to me to check Keh for LF lenses although I use them for MF equipment all the time. They definitely have some nice affordable lenses available. A 135mm or 150mm Sironar-N seems like a good idea for a first lens.

  7. #7
    jamie123
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    Re: Good affordable lenses?

    By the way, idiot that I am, a few days ago I placed a $60 bid on a local auction site for a Schneider Symmar 150mm f5.6 on a Linhof board and only after the bid I noticed that it said the shutter was defective. Auction ends tomorrow and no one else has placed another bid so far. Oh well, worse comes to worst I'll at least be able to use the lens board!

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    Re: Good affordable lenses?

    or, quite likely, for not a lot of money, you can have the shutter CLA'd and you'll be far, far ahead of the "what went wrong" learning curve we all have when we start in LF.

    I'd go so far as to say that whatever other lenses you buy, budget in a CLA and you'll be better off in the long run.

  9. #9
    jamie123
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    Re: Good affordable lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by epatsellis View Post
    or, quite likely, for not a lot of money, you can have the shutter CLA'd and you'll be far, far ahead of the "what went wrong" learning curve we all have when we start in LF.

    I'd go so far as to say that whatever other lenses you buy, budget in a CLA and you'll be better off in the long run.
    If I end up having to buy the lens (i.e. winning the auction at my current bid) I will defninitely look into having it CLA'd. However, camera technicians around here are rather expensive so it would likely cost around $150-200 to fix the shutter in which case it's probably better to just get a new shutter.

  10. #10
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    Re: Good affordable lenses?

    Flutot's (who isn't taking any new work right now, other than a waiting list) and Paul Ebel both would be far less than 1/2 of that amount. There are others, should you win it, I can point you to a few besides those two. While SK Grimes does great work, since Steve died, the prices have risen to the point of being impractical for me.

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