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Thread: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

  1. #1
    Senior Member etrump's Avatar
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    Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    In preparation for finishing my physical gallery I have visited several this summer. I visited two of the Rodney Lough Jr galleries who is a large format film guy. He recently shot a few images with the P65+ on an alpa 12 max using an 80mm super symmar xl lens.

    The image circle on that lens is more than 200mm making it ideal for Pano stitching which I do a lot of.

    The interesting thing was his images were shot at f/32 giving incredible depth of field. Looking at a couple of 45x80 prints the detail is extremely sharp. Sharp enough to see blades of grass for a good 50 yards.

    I have the digitar 72mm which is phenomal at f/8 and f/11 but degrades substantially by f/16 and is not usable (IMO) by f/22. In addition the image circle is marginal with the p65 for wide panos.

    I can pick up a used 80mm for less than $1000 and was wondering if anyone has experience with the super symmar xl 80mm. I have the 150mm and it is very sharp at f/22.

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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    Hi Ed,

    this is an interesting question indeed. I actually talked to a Schneider-Kreuznach optical engineer in this regard a few weeks back because I had heard that Andreas Gursky had his Super Angulon 72 XL retrofitted for the Alpa camera. Gursky apparently uses an Alpa XY and p65+ amongst many other setups.

    The engineer said that he wouldn't recommend this for MFDB backs because the analog lenses weren't engineered to achieve the resolution that new backs can resolve. He said that you would definitely see a difference in quality, especially with the newer designs that reach 80 line pairs in the center of the image circle.

    So ... this comes directly from someone who should know it ...

    On the other hand it speaks volumes in my view, that the commercially most succesful and arguably most renown contemporary photographer uses such a setup.

    Possibly the analog lenses reach their maximum potential at higher f-stops like you said which makes them really practical only for static subject matter. Maybe when used at f32 those lenses become quite useable but not under this f-stop ... but I don't know really, since I've never seen such a print as you have.

    If you take the plunge and try it, I'd be very interested in hearing your findings.

    Finally, if you want to use the whole image cirlce you would need an alpa XY right?

    Here's an image of Gursky working with the Alpa btw:

    http://www.gettyimages.de/detail/853...-Entertainment

    Kind regards

    Paul

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    Senior Member etrump's Avatar
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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    I had read the same thing Paul so I dropped it until I saw a much larger print this week. As I understand the super symmar XL is supposed to cut the CA in half of what is typical with the Angulon which is the main culprit of the softness found.

    The sharpness of the digitar glass (especially in the center 2/3rds) is nothing short of stunning. My concern is primarily with the softness at the edges when stitching and the DOF. I would trade off some sharpness if I could get a more consistent look across the whole image when stitching.

    I'll check into the retrofit cost to adapt it to my cambo and probably take the leap if it is not excessive. I know they have other 80mm so it might not b&w a big deal.

    I know I can't use the whole ic without a 4x5 config but I would be happy with 20mm in each direction. Should be using the sweet spot of that lens with no vignette or sharpness drop off.

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    Subscriber Member jotloob's Avatar
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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    I have the SUPER ANGULON XL 72mm lens adapted for my ALPA12SWA .
    Unfortunately , I have no experience with that lens and my CFV-39 back yet and momentarily I am far away from home and can't post any results .
    Of course you can not use the full image circle of that lens with an ALPA , but I would not do that anyway .
    But I have used the RODENSTOCK APO GRANDAGON 45mm , which was designed for LF as well and get stunning images with that lens . (also digital) . Using f11 and f16 only .

    The CFV-39 has a pixel size of 6,8 micron . I believe , this will be about the limit which the known good LF lenses can handle when used for digital .
    I do believe , that with the smaller pixel sizes of the bigger sensors
    (bigger than 37x49mm) you will have a loss of image quality , especially at the edges .

    Looking at the APO-MACRO SIRONAR (film) and APO-MACRO SIRONAR (digital)
    120mm (I have both lenses) I can not see any difference . That makes me believe , that I wasted quite some money here .

    Fact is , that the super lens for all purposes and all digital backs is not available yet and will never be . Horses for courses .

    Jürgen

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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    Ed,

    The other year I was having custom make a digital back sliding adapter for my 4x5, with adapter having only about 0.07mm tolerance for sliding. That aside I upgraded my Nikkor 75/4.5 due to diffraction to a 72 SA XL per recommendation by Schneider. I asked them of the 80 XL vs. 72 XL and they said the 80 was more for hiking and provided lesser image quality. Schneider's large format lens catalogue is in link below. If you compare the weight between the two, I believe you have the answer, at near twice the weight indeed the 72 XL should be sharper. What I found with my Aptus 65 with above set up was that the 72 XL was sharper than my Mamiya lenses, except for perhaps the 28mm, because I was not certain based on the set up I had. Indeed image circle is slight larger for the 72 XL and I believe it is one of the sharpest lenses that Schneider designed for film. I also have a 150mm Rodenstock Sironar-N which cost about 400 USD on eBay. Indeed that is also one very sharp lens. I hope the info helps

    https://www.schneideroptics.com/pdfs...mat_lenses.pdf

    Regards
    Anders

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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    I'd be interested to hear about and see results from others using this set up too. I'm about to trial my SS80 XL, 58XL and 110XL film lenses on a Linhof Techno with a P45+ in the next week or so, depending on availability of a demo camera and sliding back.

    Comparison will be made with the 645DF using my 80mm Schneider LS lens. I kept these lenses after selling my Ebony hoping that they would suffice with the P45+ without having to go exclusively digital for lenses to get proper performance.

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    Senior Member etrump's Avatar
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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    Well it may be a mute point. It appears cambo cannot provide a mount for the ss80xl which seems strange. When I purchased it I was assured they could retrofit almost any LF lens.

    Makes me wonder if I should have gone with the alpa 12 max...

    I would love to see your comps Baxter.

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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    I've been told the Techno will be with me for the second week of my holiday. So ought to have some file but not print comparison by 9 Aug. Please don't expect me to do masses of pixel peeping analysis.

  9. #9
    Ben Norton
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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    Does anyone have a list of lenses that Cambo can retro fit for the WDS/RS etc?

    I would ask Rene but they are away for vacation.

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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    i've compared my 80XL to my rod 90 digital...
    The main problem wasn't resolution but contrast !
    The 80XL was too contrasty... for digital use, i've sold it !

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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Norton View Post
    Does anyone have a list of lenses that Cambo can retro fit for the WDS/RS etc?

    I would ask Rene but they are away for vacation.



    Ben:

    I have had experience in getting these lenses and getting them retrofitted at the Cambo factory. All others would need to be confirmed. Like the 150mm requires a lens extention to allow it to focus at infinity.

    Wide DS Retrofitting customer's Digitar 24XL
    Wide DS Retrofitting customer's Digitar 35XL
    Wide DS Retrofitting customer's Digitar 47XL
    Wide DS Retrofitting customer's Schneider 72/5.6 Apo-Digitar
    Wide DS Retrofitting customer's Schneider 150/5.6 Apo-Digitar

    Price varies from $890 to $1,480 so need to know exactly what lens you are looking to get converted and I can tell you how much.



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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    Quote Originally Posted by archivue View Post
    i've compared my 80XL to my rod 90 digital...
    The main problem wasn't resolution but contrast !
    The 80XL was too contrasty... for digital use, i've sold it !
    But isn't this a non-issue in post??? Resolution can't be brought back, contrast on the other hand can be toned down ... there must be enough info in those 16bit files ... ?!

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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    Any findings guys?

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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    Quote Originally Posted by archivue View Post
    i've compared my 80XL to my rod 90 digital...
    The main problem wasn't resolution but contrast !
    The 80XL was too contrasty... for digital use, i've sold it !
    This is an interesting observation. Perhaps the visual system expects a certain balance in the rendering of high and low spatial fequencies. To my eyes loss of MTF in high detail areas leads to increased perceived contrast in the lower spatial frequencies. This looks unnatural.

    What I notice with the Digarons is not just good detail rendition, but that the rendering is balanced across the spatial fequency range. It looks "right".

    I continue to hope someone will point out a large IC lens that renders naturally on a 60MP back. However, if the above is true the best nondigital lenses might be those that fuzz up everything. Hmm, what did I do with that Dagor?

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    Senior Member etrump's Avatar
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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    I picked up a 4x5 on eBay and will use it to test some of the 4x5 glass with the P65+ but it will be some time before I have much in the way of examples.

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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    I didn't manage to do any tests in the week which I had the Linhof Techno. The weather wasn't great and I was having to concentrate on getting familiar with the Techno, predominantly the much smaller ground glass than the 5x4 I am used to.

    Images made with the 110mm XL and also the 80mm XL lens are fine. User error meant that the 58mmXL shot was pretty soft across much of the image, but quite sharp in focus zone. Whether they are better or not than Phase LS 80mm and 110mm lenses could not be made on the strength of my pictures.

    I've been busy having to buy a car, so haven't managed to finish off adjusting the image files.

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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Spinnler View Post
    contrast on the other hand can be toned down ... there must be enough info in those 16bit files ... ?!
    yes, but you are loosing latitude...

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    Senior Member etrump's Avatar
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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    I realized after Paul sent me a message that I didn't follow-up on my testing:

    Thanks to generous help provided by Steve Hendrix at Capture Integration and a partner in crime locally I did test several 4x5 lens with the P65+. The resolution was not up to the digitar XL and digaron HR glass made specifically for hires backs. I could have lived with the quality and got very usable images with a touch of sharpening in capture one and stitching several exposures together. At 100% the difference was quite noticeable but stitched together I had plenty of resolution to create quality prints.

    The problem (other than lugging a suitcase around) was I simply couldn't reliably focus in low-light situations where I do most of my shooting. I tried with a loupe several times but if it wasn't full daylight I could not get reliable results. Could have been my total lack of experience with the 4x5 but it was clear that it was not going to be feasible for me long term.

    The real solution for my problems was that both my P65+ and my 72XL were out of focus. Phase One re-focused my back and I re-calibrated the 72XL and it made a world of difference. I know get consistently good results with the 72XL which I was never able to do before the double calibration. I owe a huge thank you to Paul Slotboom at Optechs Digital for helping me figure out the problems with the 72XL. Also, thomas on this forum was also very helpful with directions on calibrating the 72XL which I used to recalibrate all of my cambo lens. My other lenses were very close but the 72XL was not even close.

    On a not so related note, I am upgrading the digitar 24XL and 35XL to rodenstock 23HR and 32HR. The 23HR which I just received is at least as sharp (if not slightly sharper) than the 24XL and has full coverage for the P65+. With the 24XL I had to crop every shot due to the small image circle. Both the 24XL and 35XL have banding issues due to the light angle on the P65 micro-lenses. On the P45 they both worked without issues even when shifting left and right 15mm on the 35XL.

    Thanks to all for the input on my 72XL problems. I'm now a happy camper with it.

    Ed
    ______

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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    Thanks Ed, for all the follow-up info!

    So the main take-away is this, if I get it right?:

    - Late modern analog lens designs such as the super symmar XL or the Sironar S lenses are probably quite useable up to 39 MPix sensors but start to show their limitations when going in the direction of a p65+/H4D-60/Aptus II 12;

    They need to be perfectly aligned and calibrated;

    There's a tradeoff between stitching capability and sharpness - newesr digital lenses such as the 35XL, 43XL, 28 Super digitar, 90HR, 23HR, 32HR will resolve the highest sensors but have limited stitching capability whereas a retrofitted 72XL or 80XL permits - given such systems as an ALPA XY for example, even higher resolution stitched imagery but at the price of less sharpness, thus to some extend limiting the advantages of the large image circles.

    The question arises thus: Will one be able to create higher-resolution imagery with a 200 mm IC lens that's non-digital vs. a 90mm IC lens that's optimized for digital?

    ...

    Crazy stuff, I know ...

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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Spinnler View Post
    - Late modern analog lens designs such as the super symmar XL or the Sironar S lenses are probably quite useable up to 39 MPix sensors but start to show their limitations when going in the direction of a p65+/H4D-60/Aptus II 12;
    Regardless if of analog or digital design, the quality from large format lenses is not possible to generalize and seems vary based on lens design, focal, when was designed, and for what purpose. It is important to research. As examples, further to my post #5 above;

    1) My email question to Schneider from July 2009 "How is the 72 compare to your 80 XL?"

    Their reply: "it’s a different design.

    The XL aspheric design was made for field photographers and gives the quality of a standard taking lens and coverage of a wide angle lens, but both moderate.

    If you are going for a wide angle lens with best performance and best resolution with minimum distortion you should use the 72mm lens.

    If you are looking for general purpose the 80mm is more convenient for you."


    2) My experiment was trying my Aptus 65 on a custom made sliding adapter which turned out was not my thing, too complex and difficult to get swings and tilts zeroed on my Shen Hao. However, my Rodenstock 150mm Sironar-N is older and seem same sharp on on my back as the Schneider 72 XL non digitar, and more so than my Mamiya non D 645 lenses. Here is where I researched of sharp analog lenses http://www.thalmann.com/largeformat/lenses.htm
    For modern lenses it is worthwhile to contact Schneider and Rodenstock and search in these forums, LuLa and www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/

    However, above said digital lenses in general assumably should be sharper, but pends on which individual lens.

    Regards
    Anders

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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    Quote Originally Posted by etrump View Post
    Thanks to all for the input on my 72XL problems. I'm now a happy camper with it.
    good to hear that the problems are solved - have fun

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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    Very late in the day but having read the thread I can say if it's an argument between the techs and a photographer, believe the photographer - they get their hands mucky!
    Chris

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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    Althought its an old thread, perhaps a bit of info would help breathe some life:

    Like Torger, I've liked using some of the older lenses on the view camera setup, using a 33mp Leaf back. Initially started with Schenider 58XL and 90, and found that in the center, the sharpness was there (maybe a bit less than optimal in color rendition, but looked good to me. However, when shifting for stitching, say 15-20mm, the edge of the lens was too soft.

    Changed to 55 Apo Sironar and 90 HRW (older version) and all is good. Very good. Also using a 47XL, and while perhaps not quite as crisp, there is something analog-like in its rendition. Past 15mm shirt, you can see some softness, but its ease of use (small size, no CF, and in many cases, LCC not needed up to 10mm shift…. ) makes it attractive.

    Alls to say that the push to the "best and latest" isn't always necessary. There are some good ledges along the way, where usability, lens size, reduced cost and good enough combine in ways that are not often discussed.
    www.gigi-photos.com
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    Re: Super Symmar XL compared to Digitar

    Has anyone here tried the Schneider 110 super Symmar XL on a full frame back? This was such a great 4X5 lens and would be e very use focal length with these backs.

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