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120 Makro f4 dilema


New Member
To buy or not to buy?

There is one available locally for CAD$950. Looked to be in 8 condition to me.

Reading up on it I see that a lot of people consider it soft when not used as a close up lens. This is a put off for me. I'd like something in between my 80 and 150. As a "macro" the 120 does not have much of a macro ratio to it (1:3). Even with a tube it only attains 1:2.

Comments and alternate suggestions very welcome.

Hi Alan,

I have the 120CFi and find it to be very sharp and at times too sharp. The 120mm was designed as a macro so it has a flat field and a shallower depth of field hence the f32, but it is definitly sharper than the 150mm but has less depth of field even at the same distance and F-stop. I have the 120, 150 and the 180 and almost never use the 150 any more. My favorite is the 180mm but the 120mm is a close second. In the studio it's good for 1 or 2 people but any more I go for the 100mm as it's a super group lens.

Hi Alan, buy it, it is an excellent lens, Hasselblad use it as an ex&le portrait in their lens brochure and Howard Schatz, USA in their 50th Aniversary issue. It would be a lens of my choice if I could get hold of one in this country. All the best, Carl

The 120 Makro Planar is a very good lens that has a real Makro
performance meaning it has been set up to perform best at close range.
If you are planning to use it for objects at larger distances
it will be nessecary to stop down 2-3 stops for good results.
The 135 mm lens that can only be used with bellows will give you 1:1 ratio to infinity.
At infinity it does not give good results as it was not meant to be used at longer distances.

For general purpose the 100 mm is a great performer.
It beats the 80 mm on all counts.
It may not be the perfect gap filler for you as it is only slightly longer than the 80 mm.
To add, the macro ratio is 1:4.5 on its own which can be increased by using extension tubes.
(Hasselblad lenses publication, page 31)

cheers, Carl

Carl is right at this price it is a good deal.
It will not be for sale long at this price.

"less depth of field even at the same distance and F-stop"

Depth of field does not depend on lens design, but on magnification and f-stop only.
So a 120 mm lens used to photograph a subject at a given distance will in fact have more depth of field than a 150 mm lens used to photograph the same subject (shorter focal length at equal focusing distance = smaller magnification = more dof at the same f-stop).
Alan. I don't know if that price is for the latest version - the CFI - it so that seems like a good price.
I have the CFI and it is definitly not a soft lens. Very sharp and very high resolution.
I have taken photos with it attached to the auto-bellows at full extension with a 33Mpix digital back (I think that is 2:1 magnification) and it is beautifully sharp. It is almost the only lens I use in the studio. I am sure you will enjoy it.
All the best.
CF,CFI,CFE it will be virtually impossible to find any difference in performance.
The CFE is best suited for use with 200 series cameras.
"The latest version of 120 Makro is the CFE version. Very sharp lense [...]"

As are the earlier versions of the 120 mm Makro-Planar. They differ only in mount. Not in 'glass'.

Yes, I meant a20 makro is a sharp lens.....not just the cfe version.
Hi QG,

It is my understanding that the 120 is a different design than a 150 hence the planar V sonnar designations. What I have read is that the S-Planar lens is more a flat field lens and therefore best suited for repro and closeup, not to say it's not a sharp lens at any distance it just has different optical characteristics and preforms differently.


You're right, of course: the Makro-Planar and Sonnar designs differ.

But DOF doesn't care about lens designs.
So the 120 mm Makro-Planar being a macro lens says nothing about how much DOF you get.

You do get to stop the 120 mm Makro-Planar lens down more than the 150 mm Sonnar, perhaps because the Makro-Planar is more likely to be used at higher magnifications, where one could want to (but shouldn't) stop down further in chase of non-existing DOF.
But use either lens (or any other lens) at, say, 1:2, or to fill the frame with the same portrait sitter's head, and DOF will be the same at the same f-number. No matter the difference in design and/or focal length.

The 120 mm lens is excellent for long range, low magnification photography also. I too like it a lot, and not just as a macro lens.