Monday, November 10, 2008

My Favourite Lens

Colin left a reply to my recent "Gone Fishing" post, I thought I would I make a blog post out of it , Colin asks :

" I notice you use the 120mm lens a lot -- I myself have the 150mm lens as my 'normal'.

Do you see a big difference between the two? It seems yours is just a tad wider but I wonder if there's an appreciable difference? "

I use the 120mm Schneider Symmar-S lens a lot, its my favourite lens for 4 x 5, so its my normal lens for myself. I do think there is difference between the 120mm and 150mm lenses, not huge but enough where I feel more comfortable with the 120mm lens. I started out with a 150mm lens years ago ( more than twenty ) when I bought my first 4 x 5 view camera, I traded it in on the 120mm after about a year later. I would say the differences between the 150mm and 120mm lens would be something like a 45mm lens and a 35mm lens on a 35mm film format camera ( or what some refer to as full frame digital today ) so I would say yes I think there is an appreciable difference between the two lenses.

I have always liked the "view" that the 120mm lens has provided me and I would say that about 90 % of my entire body of personal work has been done with this one lens. I also carry with me a 270mm Schneider G-Clarion which would be a medium telephoto on my 4 x 5 view camera.

I have somewhat of an minimalist approach when it comes to my own personal work unlike my day to day work as a newspaper photographer where I usually carry an extensive amount of equipment for my job. I have always enjoyed shooting on my days off and holidays even before I shot with large format cameras, I didn't feel I needed to take my full range of lenses and motor driven cameras and so forth with me, so what I would do is to take only the 35mm lens and my 105mm lens ( Nikon ) also with my old Nikon FM2's camera bodies I would take the motor drives off so I would not be tempted to blast away at my subjects, I wanted to be more thoughtful and try for the famous "decisive moment".

The picture posted was taken at East Sooke Park showing my 4 x 5 Tachihara with my favourite lens - 120mm Schneider Symmar-S.


Paul Butzi said...

Hmm. My favorite lens for 4x5: 135mm Apo Sironar-S.

I guess I split the difference.

Colin said...

Interesting answer, Gary!

Geez, now I'm wondering if I need to switch from my Schneider 150mm!

I kind of envy you, for obviously settling on what is truly 'your' lens and your vision. I don't think I've shot nearly enough to really know -- I'm veering off into panoramic work quite a lot, and am interested in pursuing Petzval lenses.

It's important to know, and there are obviously no shortcuts to something seemingly so simple.

Thanks again for another thought-provoking post.

Gary Nylander said...


Stay with your 150mm lens, that is until you have enough of your "vison" worked out...... then you will know what you really want !

I love panoramic photographs, its something I would llike to tinker with myself, I might try stitching together in photoshop.


Gary Nylander said...


I guess everyone has their favourite lens !


eolake said...

If I have to use a fixed lens, 35mm (equivalent) is my favorite. I feel the "normal" lens does not really take in a scene, but nor is it selective really.

Gary Nylander said...


I have long favoured the 35mm fixed lens as one of my most desirable lenses and the equivalent on my 4 x 5 view camera would be the 120mm lens.