Links to large format lens information

Large format lenses are virtually confined to the second hand market now; and manufacturers have either dropped out completely or have begun to remove data on old products from their web sites. Schneider immediately springs to mind, as until recently they carried information on their old lenses on their web site. It’s now gone.

With other formats, lens information may be interesting – how many elements, how many groups, size, weight etc. – but isn’t essential for use. Large format is a different kettle of fish. Lenses are designed to project an image circle. With 35mm and medium format cameras, the lenses are designed around a fixed format size. Large format on the other hand can run from 5″x4″ (or smaller – quarter plate at 3.5″ x 4.5″ is smaller and was used until comparatively recently, as our local paper has a negative archive of quarter plate plates) right up to 20″x24″. Whether a given lens will cover the format you use should be given in the data sheets.

Coverage is complicated by the difference, particularly in older lenses, between the circle of acceptable sharpness, and the circle of illumination. With landscapes, it may not matter if the sky in the corner isn’t sharp, but with architecture it does matter. And some manufacturers may be more cautious about what “acceptable sharpness” is. Having more coverage than the bare minimum allows more in the way of camera movements, which are a large part of what makes large format cameras such flexible tools. Finally, some lens designs allow coverage to increase as the lens is stopped down, so this should be kept in mind.

Now on to the annotated links.

Bruce Barrett’s lens coverage and other specs

Apo-Nikkor and Process Nikkor large format lenses

Large Format Lenses for Portraits

Rodenstock lenses for large format cameras

List of older view camera lenses

Large Format Lens Specifications

Allen Rumme’s data

Large Format Lens Specification at

Chris Perez’ Test results for LF lenses

Christopher’s Odds and Sods lens testing comparisons and comments

S.K. Grimes Shutter information

Compound shutter sizes

Roger Hyam’s Schneider Vintage Lens Data

Kenko Lens data and usable lens list

Information on shutter sizes and measurements: