Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lightweight large format view camera lenses

Another page from my old website...


Large Format Lens Field Kits

This is where I get to sound so much like the Oracle on the Mount... The following are my suggestions on what to carry into the field when photographing the world using a 4x5 camera. No attempt has been made to recommend lenses for use in a studio. Lenses are grouped into catagories in an attempt to illustrate different priorities. I have ranked these lenses based upon inspection of size, weight, and lens quality. Comments on each lens follow. I hope this proves helpful...

If Used/Very Low Cost/Weight is important

  • Wollensak 3 1/2" f/6.3 - $125 This lens is very reasonably priced and provides adequate preformance and coverage (no movements). These are very light and compact.
  • Schneider Xenar 135mm f/4.5 - $125 These lenses are of a tessar design, provide little movement, but are widely available, inexpensive, and quite sharp
  • Schneider Xenar 150mm f/4.5 - $150 These lenses are of a tessar design, provide a little movement, are widely available, inexpensive, and sharp
  • Schneider Symmar Convertable 150mm f/4.5 - $250 If you had room for only one lens to carry this might be the one. It converts into a 265mm long lens and provides adequate performance as a 150mm lens.
  • Kodak 203mm Anastigmat f/7.7 (uncoated) - $125 For an uncoated lens these test very well indeed! These are very light and compact. Not too much to fear for the lack of coating as this lens has only four elements that are air-spaced. So flair will not be too apparent. It's certainly not like having to coat a multi-element modern lens...
  • Kodak 203mm Ektar f/7.7 (coated) - $200 The quality of this lens is truely amazing when one considers that it started life as one of Kodak's Anastigmat lenses. The engineers did their job right. Mounted in a small Supermatic shutter, these lenses are a joy to carry into the field.
  • Rodenstock 210mm Geronar f/6.8 - $250 For a three element design that comes coated it'll provide adequate performance. The size is good for carrying into the field as well.
  • Schneider 210mm Symmar Convertable f/5.6 - $400 If you have to have a plasmat-design lens this one is adequate for the price and performance needed to properly render an image in the field.

If Used/Performance/Weight is important

  • Schneider 90mm Angulon f/6.8 - $200 Search for a Linhof shuttered example if you purchase one made in the 1950's. It's manufacturing quality was improved into the 1960's. Find one mounted in a Compur shutter that provides a focusing pre-view lever (there's lots that don't have this option, so shop carefully) to help make life easier. Shoot straight on as these have practically no coverage for 4x5
  • 1970's Schneider 90mm Angulon f/6.8 - $300 The last of the Angulons were probably the nicest as quality control was at it's peak for this series. Too bad these aren't made anymore... they are light and sharp.
  • Kodak 100mm Wide Field Ektar f/6.3 - $150/$275 This is a good lens. This lens has very nice coverage for 4x5, and allows a bit of movement where a 90mm Angulon does not. Search for good clean examples and have loads of fun!
  • Kodak 135mm Wide Field Ektar f/6.3 - $200/$375 This is a surprisingly good lens. Kodak had some of the best quality control/production control mechanisms in the industry. This lens has absolutely huge coverage for 4x5, and can be used straight on for 5x7. Search for good clean examples and enjoy the quality.
  • Fujinon 135mm W/EBC f/5.6 - $250 This lens has the quality of German lenses. F/11 and f/16 performance is good. F/22 performs right at diffraction limits. Just make sure you pick one up that has the multicoating. To know this look for the engraving on the outside of the front element rim and bright green highlights reflecting off the glass
  • Fuji 150mm W or WS f/6.3 - $350 These lenses should be more highly touted! Excellent optics with very reasonable coverage. Illumination circle is reported to be around 290mm. The usable area will be something less than this as this lens is most likely of Tessar design, but still providing 57 to 62 degrees of area to work in.
  • Rodenstock 150mm N f/5.6 - $350 This lens is small, light and provides outstanding quality. Resolution performance was outstanding in the one example we tested. Look for a recently manufactured lens as construction quality improved greatly during the 1980's.
  • Schneider 150mm Symmar-S/MC f/5.6 - $375 For a used lens you will find nothing finer. Simply excellent performance at a good price. Matches Rodenstock's Sironar-S most excellent 75 degree plasmat at half the cost used!!!
  • Nikon 200mm M f/8 - $450 These are not widely available, though they should be. These are very small, and very light. It's worth looking for as they are also very sharp. Keep your eyes open and launch that boat anchor-Plasmat design in favor of really great optics.
  • Fuji 240mm A f/9 - $500 If you're looking for the longest non-telephoto 4x5 lens mounted in a #0 shutter which is, at the same time, very highly regarded for it's outstanding image qualities (even at infinity), then look no further. Unfortunately you might pay a premium for one, even on the used market (Robert White sells new 240mm Schneider GClarons for less - thought that lens is only single coated and mounted in a #1 shutter). Kerry Thalmann considers this lens a Future Classic.
  • Nikon 300mm M f/9 - $450 These are widely available and are very small, and very light. It's worth looking for as they are also nice and sharp. Kerry Thalmann considers this lens a Future Classic.

If New/Low Cost/Weight is important

  • Congo 90mm Wide Field f/6.3 - $275 Want something that's multi-coated, in a new shutter, and light? This is worth considering. I've heard that quality control is non-existant at the factory, but for a peice of glass costing not much more than a new shutter, what can one expect? Well, for starters you can expect quality on par with the old Wollensak 3 1/2 inch wide field lenses... and that ain't 1/2 bad...
  • Congo 120mm Wide Field f/6.3 - $295 Still want something that's multi-coated, in a new shutter, and light? This is also worth considering. Think of this lens as a new 120mm Angulon, but without the quality control. So test before using, and you could come out very happy...
  • Schneider 150mm Xenar f/5.6 - $375 I was surprised to find this lens is still made. It's very small, light, and would make a great traveling companion to a Nikon 200mm M.
  • Congo 210mm tessar f/6.3 - $325 ? You roll your dice and take your chances. If you buy one test it. I think you'll find that it's performance is real similar to the Wollensak lenses of 40 years ago. That is to say, adequate for the job.
  • Schneider 210mm Xenar f/6.1 - $500 Here too I was very surprised to learn that this lens is still being made. It's mounted in a #1 shutter so is larger to haul around than an Ektar or Nikkor. But if you have to have new and like the way tessar-formula lenses render images then here it is.

If New/Performance is important

  • Schneider 80mm f/4.5 Super Symmar XL - $1300 from Badger Graphic (no idea yet what Schnieder USA will be charging). I guess I should have been surprised by the addition of more aspheric lenses from this company. This may seem a rather odd focal length but it neatly replaces two lenses at once - a 75mm and 90mm and it's smaller and lighter than either of them. Coupled with the next lens on this list and you'll have the short end of your lens collection covered.
  • Schneider 110mm f/5.6 Super Symmar XL - $1200 from Badger Graphic Give me the option of carrying only two lenses, and money no object! This would be right in the running for providing the shorter focal length. Words cannot describe the image quality of this lens. You can see it on the test negatives standing three feet away (well, if a Wollensak 108mm negaive shot at wide open is hanging literally next to it :-). It's reasonably small, fairly light, and would be worth selling one's first born for if you had to make your living in photography. Or maybe just a limb or two. Badger Graphic brings these into the US apparently straight from the factory and offers this wonderful lens at 1/2 the street price of equipment coming through other distribution channels. Kerry Thalmann considers this lens a Future Classic.
  • Schneider 120mm f/5.6 Super Symmar HM - $900 from Badger Graphic I used to poo-poo these lenses as too expensive. That was until Schneider came out with it's 110XL. If I had nearly unlimited budget I'd seriously consider purchasing this lens. When combined with a new APO 210mm lens one's field kit could accept the small weight gain and launch the 75, 90, and 150mm lenses in favor of a two lens kit. This lens is a super performer in every way. And it's cheaper now in the US by buying directly from a reputable supplier!
  • Fuji 125mm f/5.6 CM-W - $600 Don't have the money to spend on the Super Symmar? The Fuji lens continues to support their highly regarded reputation for constructing great lenses. At over half the price of a Schneider this lens provides decent coverage and excellent preformance. This is an outstanding value.
  • Rodenstock 150mm f/5.6 APO Sironar-S - $700 Need a little extra coverage for movements? This 75 degree plasmat is truley surprising. It matched an outstanding 72 degree plasmat in the Schneider 150mm APO Symmar in terms of size, weight, image quality. These guys have done their homework! Combine this lens with nice 90 and 210mm lenses and you'd have one rightous field kit.
  • Nikon 200mm M f/8 - $625 Small and sharp are the right words to describe this beauty. If you need new and want the latest coatings but need to romp the hills of Easter Island this is a great lens. In fact it should be the cornerstone of any light/portable field kit. Too bad everyone thinks they need the image circle of a nearly 8x10 lens and end up carrying those boat anchor 210mm plasmats... this is the only modern lens in my kit that fits into the folded body of an old Linhof Super Technika III.
  • Schneider 210mm APO Symmar f/5.6 - $1000 As expected this is a truely wonderful lens. It's sharp beyond sharp. If weight didn't matter this is the one lens I'd pair with that incredible 110XL or 120 Super Symmar HM. But I'd do it only if I could stand the weight. Maybe this is why God gave us mini-vans... to carry all this wonderful stuff... just don't stumble too far from home as the weight might become important.
  • Fuji 240mm A f/9 - $655 This is the longest new lens a person can buy that's mounted in a #0 shutter. And it's wonderful. Use this lens as the cornerstone of a 90/150/240 three lens field kit and you'd have a truely outstanding combination. You'll find nothing finer. And if you buy one from Badger it's also very reasonably priced.
  • Nikon 300mm M f/9 - $900 If you have enough bellows this lens is small, light, and sharp. Like it's less well known sister, the 200mm M Nikkor, this is a great performer.
  • Fuji 300mm C f/8 - $650 If you have enough bellows this lens is small, light, and sharp. Like it's well known cousin, the 240mm A Fuji, this should be a great performer.

A modest proposal - from back in the day of film

Yet another page recovered from my old website...


A Modest Proposal - or how to calculate the value of one's photographic system

I have been trying to come up with a way that I can evaluate lens and system costs vs. performance. I think I've hit upon one useful mechanism. Hence this Modest Proposal for evaluating the relative costs of performance for Large Format lenses and Medium Format systems. I believe _one_ way to evaluate performance vs cost can be described by:

{cost of item} / {max. resolution of item to film } = {cost of one line per mm of

Here are several examples of what falls out of this calculation:

90mm Angulon - $200(used) / 67 l/mm       = $2.98 / line / mm

3 1/2" WARaptar - $125(used) / 60 l/mm    = $2.08 / line / mm

90mm SW Nikkor - $750(used) / 80 l/mm     = $9.30 / line / mm

90mm SW Nikkor - $1350(new) / 80 l/mm     = $16.80 / line / mm

110mm Schneider XL - $2300(new) / 80 l/mm = $28.75 / line / mm

135mm WF Ektar - $375(used) / 76 l/mm     = $4.90  / line / mm

150 mm APO Sironar S - $750(new) / 85 l/mm = $8.80 / line / mm

150mm Symmar Convertable - $300(used) / 64 l/mm = $4.60 / line / mm

200mm M-Nikkor - $450(used) / 67 l/mm     = $6.70 / line / mm

203mm Kodak Ektar - $200(used) / 67 l/mm  = $2.98 / line / mm

210 APO Symmar - $750(used) / 76 l/mm     = $9.80 / line / mm

210 APO Symmar - $1000(new) / 76 l/mm     = $13.10 / line / mm

Bronica SQA w/ 80mm - $800(used) / 67 l/mm        = $11.90 / line / mm

Fuji GW690III w/ 90mm - $1000(used) / 67 l/mm     = $1492 / line / mm

Fuji GW690III w/90mm - $1300(new) / 67 l/mm       = $19.40 / line / mm

Kodak 620 Special w/100mm = $15(used) / 63 l/mm   = $0.23 / line / mm

Mamiya C220Pro w/80mm - $225(used) / 67 l/mm      = $3.35 / line / mm

Mamiya 6 MF w/80mm - $2800(new) / 95 l/mm         = $29.47 / line / mm

Mamiya 6 MF w/80mm - $1800(used) / 95 l/mm        = $18.95 / line / mm

A couple things fall from this.

  • It could be argued _based purely on these numbers_ that the best value per line of resolution in LF is an old 3 1/2" WA Raptar or the 203mm Ektar. They'll both cost a person less than $3.00 per line per mm of resolution.
  • In MF the winner, hands down, is an old Kodak Special Six20 with 100mm f/4.5 Kodak Anastigmat. It wins by costing only $0.23 per line of mm of resolution!!! More reasonably the Mamiya C220 Pro comes out costing a person only $3.35 per line of resolution. So my modest proposal is: When newbies ask what the best value for their money is, simply take it's cost, divide it by the number of lines per mm of resolution it's capable of returning, and evaluate competing systems based on the lowest cost per line of mm of resolution...
    I hope this spins a few thought wheels... :-)
    - Chris
  • I used to go through a LOT of equpiment...

    Searching for the ultimate camera and lens used to be a game I played.  It was a convenient way of avoiding having to make a nice image.  That's all changed since I've moved to digital.  Now it's all about the image and I could nearly care less what equipment I use to achieve it.  Cameras and lenses are only a means to an end.  But it took me decades to realize that.


    Last Updated: 05/07/03
    Equipment Bought, Used, then Sold...
    This page presents a list of equipment I've purchased, used, and discarded. I include reasons for the original purchase and final sale. I hope you find it fun. Gosh, have I really used all this stuff...?
    Large Format Cameras Reason purchased/notes on use Reason sold
    Sinar F 4x5 First large format camera.  Great Swiss quality.  Simple to use, large to carry in the field.  Expensive lensboards. Traded straight for an early Linhof Technica III. No lasting regrets.
    Linhof Technica III 4x5 (early) Traded into for use in the field.  Had all the movements I thought I could ever use.  Small lens boards precluded using #3 shutters.  Built like a German tank Sold to get a lighter 4x5 field camera.  No regrets.
    Tachihara 4x5 wood field camera Bought to help the kit weigh less into the field.  Had plenty of good movements.  Bright ground glass - was one of the nicest surprises in using this camera.  Wista lensboards were cheap from MidWest Photo Sold to pay for another 4x5 camera.  No regrets. But I miss the light weight. In fact, I've been thinking of toying with a Gowland super-lite 4x5 for those occasions when I want the big image size, but don't want the weight of a German Tank!
    Speed Graphic 4x5 It was too cheap. I couldn't pass it up. Such is the price for visiting a local photo swap. The focal plane shutter worked. I even mounted up a 7inch f/2.5 AeroEktar for the heck of it. This would have worked out GREAT in the field. These are wonderful cameras. Stupidity.
    Burke and James 8x10 wood field camera Was a buy of the century.  Came with a mint 12" Commercial Ektar.  Fairly light for the format.  Was a pain to haul away from the car.  Contract prints were fabulous though.  Some of my most pleasing images from a technical standpoint were taken using this camera. Too heavy, too difficult to use (or so I thought at the time :)
    Seneca 11x14 wood field camera Was a good buy.  But needed work.  I never completed the project. Sold to make room for a 12x20 Folmer and Schwing that required less work. Talk about going from the frying pan into the fire!!!
    Folmer and Schwing 12x20 field camera Was a very good buy. But needed a small army to operate. Sold to make room for a brand new Mamiya 7 (go figure!). The size and weight of the F&S was simply too much to deal with in the field. Any my 4x5 equipment fit my ability and needs, and the new Mamiya has some of the sharpest optics I've ever tested. Besides, the smaller equipment is easier to travel with and I'm just a hobbiest, not a pro...

    Large Format Lenses Reason purchased/notes on use Reason sold
    Fujinon 240 A f/9 This was my recent madness to procure and use Fuji LF optics. This was a wonderfully small, light lens and it was very sharp. Sold due to it's very close proximity to my 200mm Nikkor M f/8, and due to the fact that I never used it, even on 8x10. OK, so I used it once in four years. But that was it. Time to liberate the money and buy something else. The proceeds were used to buy a Mamiya RZ camera kit (complete with 110mm Z lens and 220 film back). No regrets yet.
    Fujinon 450 A f/9 This was another of my recent madnesses to procure and use Fuji LF optics. This was a very small, light lens and it was very sharp for it's focal length. Sold due to the fact that I never used it, even on 8x10. It was time to liberate the money and buy something else. The proceeds were used to buy film backs, a new screen, a 180mm W-N lens, and a 65mm L-A lens for my Mamiya RZ system. No regrets yet.
    Kodak 100mm Wide Field Ektar f/6.3 This was my last attempt to press small, light lenses into use in the field. This was a wonderful lens and was sharp. Sold the make way for a fabulous new Schneider 110mm Super Symmar XL lens of greater coverage. No regrets, particularly since the Super Symmar is such an incredible piece of glass!
    Kodak 135mm Wide Field Ektar f/6.3 This was my second lens to press small, light, great coverage lenses into use in the field. This was a wonderful lens and was very sharp. Sold to help finance the purchase of a fabulous new Schneider 110mm Super Symmar XL. No regrets, particularly since the Super Symmar is such an incredible piece of glass!
    Schneider 150mm Xenar f/5.6 This was a find! I didn't realize that Schneider continued to make small, light, sharp large format lens. It was wonderfully light, sharp, and fun to use. This is highly recommended to anyone who might be on a tight budget. I paid $375 new for this one. Sold the make way for a mint Fujinon W/EBC 135mm lens.
    Kodak 200mm Ektar f/7.7 This was my first attempt to press small, light, decent coverage lenses into use in the field. This was a wonderful lens and was very sharp. Sold to help finance the purchase of a fabulous new Fuji 240mm A No regrets, particularly since the Fujinon 240 A is such an incredible piece of glass!
    Schneider 210mm f/5.6 Symmar S/MC This was my first large format lens. It was sharp, contrasty, had tons of coverage. Beautiful. But it was also a heavy lens. Sold to pay for a Kodak 203mm Ektar f/7.7 Occasional regrets.
    Schneider 90mm f/5.6 Super Angulon This was my second large format lens. It was huge and heavy. It had plenty of coverage. Sold to avoid the weight and single coating on all those elements! Eventually replaced by a Kodak 100mm Wide Field Ektar f/6.3. No regrets.
    Schneider 150mm Xenar f/4.5 Linhof This was my third large format lens. It was very light, sharp, and was fun to use. This is highly recommended to anyone who might be on a limited budget. I paid $125 for mine and it was mint! Sold the make way for a lens of far greater coverage: Kodak 135mm Wide Field Ektar f/6.3. No regrets, particularly since I found out that Schneider still makes this Xenar, and I bought one. :)
    Schneider Angulon 90mm f/6.8 Bought to replace the 90mm f/5.6 Super Angulon boat-anchor. This example was very sharp, light, and was mounted in a modern Compur shutter. Sold to make way for a wonderful Kodak 100mm Wide Field Ektar f/6.3. No regrets, particularly since the Kodak 100mm lens provides a bit of coverage over the Angulon
    Schneider Angulon 65mm f/6.8 Bought to use for 4x5 work. This example was very sharp, light, mounted in a modern Compur shutter, and extremely small. Sold out of lunacy... Regrets.
    Kodak Commercial Ektar 12inch f/6.3 This lens came on the Burke and James 8x10 view camera. This is one of the world's greatest lenses (he says ever so humbly). It was sharp, contrasty, and the Ilex shutter even worked reliably. Stupidity. Particularly since I've gone off and bought a Deardorff 8x10 and needed lenses for it... oh well... Regrets. Though I did recently pick up a 300mm G-Claron f/9 that's as sharp as any shorter lens I've ever tested! This new lens will work on the Deardorff.
    Goerz Red Dot Artar 45cm f/11 In barrel, this was a very cheap lens. I think I paid something like $89 from Midwest Photo. The coating on the rear element was coming off. It had bad marks on that element. But one would never know it from the images it produced. Along with the 12" Commercial Ektar, this was one of the sharpest lenses used in 8x10 format. Sold when I 'got out' of 8x10. No regrets.
    14inch Goerz Doppel Anastigmat Series III In barrel, this was a very beautiful uncoated lens. Easily covers 12x20 and was very very sharp. Great inexpensive way to get lenses for very large format equipment. I'd heard that they were getting harder to find. Sold when I 'got out' of 12x20. No regrets, except from a 'historic' standpoint.
    Rodenstock 24inch f/9 Ronar In barrel, this was an inexpensive and very heavy lens. The coating on the front element was coming off. Sold when I 'got out' of 12x20. No regrets.
    Medium Format Equipment Reason purchased/notes on use Reason sold
    Hasselblad 500CM system I bought this camera after testing a friends Hasselblad SWC. I thought that Zeiss lenses might be very good and that there would be no problems with reliability. I was thinking it might be nice to have a camera with interchangable backs that might also be light enough to travel with. Strange things happened with this camera. A light trap failed and I lost a few vacation images. The front and rear plates were out of alignment (who ever heard of such a thing?). The mirror was mis-aligned and caused the focus to be off by 1 foot at a focusing distance of 5 feet. One of the rear barn doors spring bent and I lost an entire shoot. So before anything else broke on it or was found to be out of alignment, I sold it. The kit was replaced with a Mamiya RZ kit. For what was paid for the 500CM, 80mm lens, and two film backs, I bought a Mamiya RZ, 65L-A, 110Z, 180W-N, 360Z, two film backs, and several odds and ends. If my experience with the Hasselblad is any indication of reliability, then it's a very overrated camera system. In contrast, my Mamiya has not failed. Ever.
    Graflex Crown Graphic 23 I was given this camera and film back by a very kind friend. I bought a 100mm Schneider Symmar Convertable for it after the 101 Ektar that it came with died in it's shutter (800 Supermatic). Due to the size being so so close to my 4x5 Linhof SuperTechIII, and the fact that the knob wind was so close to the back of the camera that my knuckles hurt, I decided I would sell this wonderful thing and buy a pair of old folder cameras. So now I have a Bessa I 6x9 and a Zeiss Ikonta 532/16 6x6. Only mild regrets.
    Rolleiflex 3.5F 6x6 I was still hoping to find the full Rolleiflexes had sharper lenses than my Mamiya C220 Pro. The optics were supposed to be world renowned. The second camera I owned turned out to be only marginally better than other equipment I already owned. And it failed to come anywhere close to matching the sharpness of my new Mamiya 7. No regrets. For the second time.
    Balda Baldix 6x6 I went crazy. The promise of light, portable 120 format cameras drove my buying for several months. I looked at everything. Or so it seemed. And I bought lots of equipment. This camera was a keeper. The lens was small, light, and sharp. The entire system was simple to use and smooth in operation. It was fun. Sold to pay for a Ricoh Point and Shoot No regrets.
    Kodak Special 620 I thought I wanted as large a negative as I could reasonably stuff into a super compact camera. This camera's optics were outstanding, even though they were uncoated! This camera's operation was even smoother than the aforementioned Balda's. Kodak did their job right with this little wonder Sold to help pay for a Ricoh Point and Shoot Moderate regrets.
    Rolleiflex MX 6x6 I was hoping to find a lighter, sharper camera than my current Mamiya C220 Pro. Rollei has a good reputation. The optics are world renowned. The camera turned out to be the same size and weight as my Mamiya. The lens wasn't any sharper than the Mamiya. It felt 'old'. No regrets, though there is still lust in my heart for someday affording a new Rollei Gx or Fx TLR...

    Working with an old Burke and James 8x10inch view camera

    Recovering yet another page off my old old website... c.1990's

    Recovered: Lost images... Around a decade ago, I purchased a Burke and James 8x10 view camera outfit. I found it at a local photo swap. It came with a few film holders, a case, a darkcloth, and a like new mint 12 inch Kodak Commercial Ektar f/6.3 lens. I quickly scrounged a tripod to hold the camera and headed out for a few shoots.

    At the time I rode motorcycles. Lots of them. Being in the community of riders, I had access to some pretty sweet machines. So I lined my friends up and started taking photos of them with their scoots.

    The images here were recovered recently. I moved to a new home and mislaid a bunch of things that I wanted to reprint. Rummaging through boxes I found some of what I was looking for. The prints here were made prior to the move. They look great. The contact 8x10 inch prints gleam and glow. There's nothing like a little film, a big camera, and subject matter. Oh, and that Ducati was mine. I later sold it to pay the mortgage off on the old place.

    Ducati 750GT (redone in the style of a Sport)

    Vincent Rapide and the owner of Langlitz Leathers

    Norton 850 Commando and a good friend  
    BSA Gold Star 500cc and it's owner/restorer
    Norton Manx 500cc and a good friend


    Ultra Large Format - info from my original website

    Here is some potentially useful information, for shooters of ultra large format film.  It's an old page that I maintained on my old web site (which is now defunct).
    Last Updated: 06/15/05
    Ultra Large Format re-entry...
    This page documents my experiences with 10x12, 11x14, and 7x17inch Ultra Large Format photography.
    I recently traded a lens for a 11x14 Century ultra large format view camera. The camera came with a 10 3/4inch Dagor that should cover the format. Also with the camera came a 10x12inch Korona film back. There are film holders for both formats. The condition was fairly good. The bellows are intact and the wood is in decent condition. The camera has obviously been used. I needed to cement wood shims onto the main mounting block to keep the rear section from flopping about. From years of use, the aluminum cleat had rubbed the guide channels wider than the original design allowed for. Once in place, the shims work very well and the back is now rigid. Additionally, I built an adapter for the 10x12 back to mount onto the 11x14 rear frame. Everything is now ready to go.
    Prior to this I picked up a 7x17 Korona ultra large format view camera. Its in fabulous condition. The wood looks like its new. Over the 2004 end of year holiday season I was able to take it out and try my hand at making super large negatives. The camera was very light and useful. In fact, it was a pleasure to use. I more recently took the camera down to the local roundhouse for a few images of old steam locomotives. I can't wait to process the film to see what I have.
    The bulk of what follows regards lenses, coverage, and my observations and disappointments in using various lenses on the 10x12, 11x14, and 7x17 inch view cameras.
    Optical image circle requirements
    Various ULF cameras require lenses that cover the following:
    • 11X14 - 450mm
    • 7X17 - 466mm
    • 8X20 - 540mm
    • 12X20 - 585mm
    Lenses that cover 11x14 and 7x17
    Looking at photo.net and other resources, here's a list of small light shorter lenses that have been reported to cover 7x17 with sharpness corner to corner. In increasing focal length:
    • 18cm/183mm Zeiss Protar f/18
    • 18cm/183mm Bausch and Lomb Protar Series V f/18 (built under license to Zeiss)
    • 240mm Computar f/9
    • 240mm Germinar-W f/9 (maybe, the corners might get lopped just a little)
    • some 240mm Kowa Graphics
    • 240mm Zeiss Dagor (not the Goerz version)
    • 250mm Kodak Wide Field Ektar f/6.3
    • 270mm Computar f/9
    • 270mm Goerz Dagor
    • 300mm Computar f/9
    • 305mm Schneider GClaron f/9
    • 355mm Schneider GClaron f/9
    • 360mm Fuji A f/10
    • 450mm Fuji C f/12.5
    • 450mm Nikkor M f/9
    Here is a list of potentially expensive, large, heavy, hard to find, or old lenses that reportedly cover the 7x17 format:
    • 210mm Schneider Super Angulon
    • 210mm Schneider SuperSymmar XL
    • 300mm Goerz Dagor
    • 300mm Fujinon-A
    • 305mm Germinar-W f/9 (not the APO Germinar version)
    • 355mm Schneider Symmar
    • 360mm Fujinon-W
    • 360mm Germinar-W f/9 (not the APO Germinar version)
    Calculations on 7x17 lens coverage The 7x17 format is 178 x 432 mm. A full diagonal is 18.38 inches or 466mm. Here is what various focal length lenses must cover to adequately shoot 7x17 with a usable image circle of 466mm.
    • 300mm lens - 74 degrees
    • 250mm lens - 85 degrees
    • 150mm lens - 114 degrees
    Example: If I've done the math correctly, here's the calculation for 150mm coverage on 7x17.
    9.19inches (diagonal from center of the format to the corner) divided by 5.9inches (150mm lens length) equals 1.55. The atan of 1.55 is 57 degrees. 2 times 57 degrees to get the full angle equals 114 degrees. I use a 110SS-XL on 8x10. To accomplish this, the lens needs to cover 112degrees. It does this with ease. Its probably a stretch to think the 150SS-Xl mightjust reach 114degrees. Anyways, I will never know. I sold the 150SS-XL.
    Obervations on 7x17 lens coverage
    There is some question whether an 80 degree lens like the Fujinon 250mm f/6.7 would work or not. One person on the 'net suggested that it would cover. Others said no, it wouldn't. But I purchased the lens anyway in hope that I could use a small modern 250mm lens and avoid having to deal with size and weight of an older optic.
    The gent who originally owned my camera used a 250mm Kodak Wide Field Ektar f/6.3. The WFEktar is rated at 80 degrees and is not a wide angle lens. Its a wide field lens. I didn't buy it at first due to a somewhat non-working shutter (Ilex #5) and due to its overall size and weight. But I made a deal for the optic later and it was quickly delivered.
    Over a holiday week I took the Korona into the field and tried the Fuji 250mm W f/6.7 lens. I shot at f/45 and focused somewhat near infinity. The subject was probably 50 feet away. After processing the negatives, I can say with direct personal experience that the Fuji does not cover 7x17. There is an arc about one inch from the neg edges where the light falls completely off. This is a little sad as I really like the focal length for the kinds of things I "saw" in 7x17. Well, its back to trying the old Kodak 250mm Wide Field Ektar.
    I also picked up a Fuji 250mm SF f/4.5 (soft focus) on rumors that it covered 7x17. Over the same holiday weekend I tried the SF optic too. While it "covers" the format, it "pulls" the image in very unpleasing ways around the edges. It does this to the degree that I doubt I'll use the soft focus lens for anything on 7x17 other than close ups. For soft focus work at subjects around infinity, a person will need to consider a different/longer optic.
    Computar Coverage
    The coverage of Computar f/9 lenses has been widely discussed. Some people say they cover 95degrees. Is it too good to be true? Seems like it. Here is the reported coverage at f/22:
    • 210mm Computar - 456mm (though some people have tested this at a more realistic 390mm when mounted in a #1Copal shutter, and others have told me that the lens "works on 7x17, but the corners do go soft)
    • 240mm Computar - 523mm
    • 300mm Computar - 655mm
    Further information on the camera or images using this format are found at: