My experience with Fujinon lenses and their capability, especially when compared to the two big brands from Germany, has been that they are able to stand alongside the German lenses as reasonable competitors. Not equals, they are different, sometimes better, sometimes worse. I am talking of a time that was 25 to 30 years ago when I was involved from a work environment mainly in the lab but on a regular basis in the studio; usually about three or so times a week.
With regard to 4x5” and 8x10” cameras and lenses in a studio environment where I sometimes worked doing photocopying work, which was mostly photographing original artwork of the painting type, sometimes, although rarely, original artwork of the photographic type.
Whenever one was the first into the studio, the first thing you did was to see if there were any Apo lenses available. I seem to remember we had three Apo lenses all Schneider Symmar a 150mm, 300mm and 480mm. I think the 480mm was used on the 11x14” camera as a standard lens and on the 8x10” as a long focal length lens.
I never got to use the 480 as there was nothing I needed it for, but I did more than once look through the GG of the big camera at what was being composed, then hurried back to my little 8x10” or tiny 4x5” Toyo monorail camera. When absolute accuracy of colour reproduction was required, one of the Schneider Apo lenses was used.
The rest of the large format lenses were a mix of Schneider Kreuznach, Rodenstock and a couple of Fujinon lenses. Fujinon was considered the also ran lens range by the established photographers, as I was the least experienced and not really a photographer but in fact a lab rat, Fujinon was generally the lens I found I was using. Usually in conjunction with a Toyo 45 monorail. When compared to the Sinar P camera and Schneider lens combination being used on the other side of the studio, it certainly looked different, but not out of place.
I came to like and understand the two Fujinon lenses I used, 150 and 300, but rather frustratingly, whenever the Fujinon rep called, he never knew anything about the lenses, nor did he ever get back to me with regard to any question I asked about the lenses he was supposedly representing.
The Schneider and Rodenstock people were almost falling over each other as they tried to flog their product, plus they always had technical stuff to hand, which invariably was the latest brochure, but they, as far as I remember, always got back to us whenever we had a request.
Toyo cameras and Sinar cameras were a similar situation. If you called the Sinar rep, he was outside your door almost before you hung the phone up. Make an enquiry about a Toyo camera, you would use a calendar instead of a watch to time their arrival.
I do think the Fujinon range of large format lenses did suffer from under servicing of their product in this country; this is my experience. It would seem from my observations of Fujinon gleaned through forums like this one, this is a worldwide norm for Fujinon lenses.
Recently I finished acquiring a range of lenses for my 4x5” cameras, all Fujinon. The price was more than right, the quality of the lenses was more than right. As for the output by the owner; the jury is still out on that one.
Ps: Maris, that picture of your retired fella, is still a ripper! (Just attempting to stay on topic)