Apo-Nikkor process lens question

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MTGseattle

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I've been through a thread or 2 on the largeformatphotography forum, I've seen that really nice page of data that's linked here and there, but I am still confused. My confusion is mostly regarding the 360mm f9 lens options.

Some of the info seems to say that if the min aperture is 128 then that is one of the W.A Apo lenses. I have now seen pictures of more than one with "W.A. Apo" engraved on the barrel face.

Are all of the W.A Apo lenses engraved? That larger degree of view and larger image circle is enticing, but it triples the price of the lens. I feel like we're either in Fujinon territory where there are many slight variations of some of the lenses both cosmetically and functionally, or Nikon made it clear and I'm making it complicated.
 

Lachlan Young

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The difference is pretty simple: the WA Apo 360 is twice the weight of the Dialyte Apo 360 and quite a bit bigger (90mm mount vs 72mm). The WA Apo Nikkor, the Schneider G-Claron and the Rodenstock Apo Gerogon were (to the best of my recall) designed for the same purpose.
 

Ian C

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See the PDF of the standard APO Nikkor process lenses. They all have a minimum aperture of f/128. This is listed on the tables on page 13.

https://www.savazzi.net/download/manuals/Apo-Nikkor.pdf

From Post #1: "Some of the info seems to say that if the min aperture is 128 then that is one of the W.A Apo lenses."

My 305/9 has minimum aperture of f/128. Minimum aperture of f/128 is NOT a defining characteristic of the WA version. Nikon made it clear. The wide-angle versions are marked “WA” on the name ring surrounding the front glass.

The following link shows a table of the four WA versions: 150/8~128, 210/9~128, 300/9~128, 360/9~128. Each is listed as 6-element, 4-group design. The coverage angles are given as well.

https://www.galerie-photo.com/apo-process-nikkors-en.html

The following link shows a photo of a 360/9 WA Apo Nikkor lens. The front name ring is clearly marked “W.A. Apo-NIKKOR 1:9 f = 360 mm”

https://www.photo.net/forums/topic/67600-nikkor-apo-lens-information-360mm-required/
 
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MTGseattle

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Thanks for the clarification. In simply looking through auction site listings, the mount size and overall size differences are hard to judge from pictures.

It was the galerie-photo link that had me confused. Part 3 regarding the WA Apo lenses is where I zeroed in on the f128 characteristic, and there is no mention of the engraving. The link within that heading took me on a spiral that was inconclusive.

I'm up to speed now though.
 

DREW WILEY

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Lachlan - you should have designated the G-Claron itself as the now rare WA variety. All those WA process lenses were typical of old compact "Stat Cameras" - at the budget end of prepress equipment. But there are other technical reasons for the Nikkor variations, in relation to what best reproduced Western Aphabetic text versus Oriental word characters. Then there were different aperture options: round iris, adjustable square, Waterhouse stops, and combinations of these.

MT - If you're looking for one of to use on an enlarging lens, skip all of those WA options, and go to the superior 4-element dialtye-style f/9 Apo Nikkors. They're better corrected than any official enlarging lenses of comparable focal length. The 305 and 360 will easily cover 8x10 film, and even the 240/9 will, though it ideally needs to be stopped down a little more than the other two for best results.
 
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MTGseattle

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Drew, I've been thinking about getting 1 barrel lens to mess around with. Obviously, there are some that have achieved a cult following and the associated prices.
The Apo Nikkors seemed like a good balance of ; Barrel, modern optics and price. Until I discovered the ones with the greater coverage at least, that's where the price jumps a lot.

Since I own a 300mm and a 450mm, I was thinking a 360mm might be a good focal length. No specific goal in mind, just another tool in the belt so to speak.
 

DREW WILEY

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Just keep in mind that the rated coverage in the Apo Nikkor spec sheets is relative to very stringent apo dot color repro standards exceeding those for typical photo applications.
For example, if you chose to use a 4-element Apo Nikkor 360/9 on a view camera, it would easily cover 8x10 film format at infinity with movements, reasonably stopped down. Head-on, in enlarging applications, its will be fully corrected for 8X10 by f/11.
 

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G-Claron itself as the now rare WA variety. All those WA process lenses were typical of old compact "Stat Cameras"

No, the regular 6/4 G-Clarons, the WA Apo Nikkors and the Apo Gerogons all fulfilled the same effective purpose for compact repro cameras. The WA-Clarons were a further product from Schneider beyond that.

The Repro-Claron/ Apo Artar was the Apo Nikkor & Apo Ronar equivalent. Which ones were chosen will have been largely down to the camera system being bought & the credulity of the buyer for a sales pitch about mythical properties of lenses vs how much the system would cost.

The truth of the matter is that there were printers in Hamburg and elsewhere in Europe very successfully printing Chinese/ Japanese characters in photogravure (and right across east Asia) long before Nikon ever existed. The various aperture shapes relate to halftone dot characteristics and all repro lenses in the relevant barrels have slots for them.
 

DREW WILEY

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You sound like a Europhile for sure. My main set of Apo Nikkors was cannibalized from a process camera 22 feet long that probably cost over $200,000 when it was new - a LOT of money back then. With that kind of budget they could have bought any brand of process lens they wanted. They sure as heck knew about them. There were plenty of Goerz lenses around. But Apo Nikkors were the top dog preference in this area for both high graphics reproduction and photolab mural enlargement too. "Apo" Gerogons were all over the place too, but only as entry level stat camera lenses. Those are still sold as student level enlarging lenses, often private-labeled. I have a lot of experience with G-Clarons. They're really good general taking lenses up to near-macro, but nowhere near in the same league as Apo Nikkors when it comes to acute repro and enlarging applications. I've done comparison tests.

I'm being a bit nitpicky. That is important when doing critical lab tasks like precision duplicate chromes, internegs, and color separation negatives. But with respect to general photography, many of these barrel graphics lenses are going to give stellar performance optically if they have sufficient coverage. Of course, some of them were offered in shutter too.
 
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Lachlan Young

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My main set of Apo Nikkors was cannibalized from a process camera 22 feet long that probably cost over $200,000 when it was new - a LOT of money back then. With that kind of budget they could have bought any brand of process lens they wanted.

The lenses differed depending on whose process camera you bought. I really doubt you could tell apart offset or gravure separations done with an Apo Nikkor from an Apo Ronar or a Repro Claron (those are the direct equivalents) - the factors that influenced what they bought will have had little to do with end quality - to even be considered, they all had to be above a certain qualitative level. It will have been more like choosing between a KBA or a Heidelberg or Komori press - things like ease of use for the range of jobs the prospective buyer did, reliability, how quickly the machine could be repaired when it went wrong etc. The lens brands will have been almost incidental by the 1970s.

That various Apo process lenses wound up in photographic labs was either because they happened to have been on the process camera(s) belonging to the lab - yes, plenty of labs had these machines for all sorts of boring day-to-day uses (often on R-3 process materials), or they became available as surplus/ depreciated kit from various operations whenever process cameras were replaced. Either way, until the explicitly branded 'Apo' enlarging lenses with special glass start to appear in the 70s/80's, repurposing a convenient repro lens was going to be the fastest/ easiest way to guarantee that you weren't going to run into problems, compared to some of the optics still in widespread use then. That's different today. And as others considerably more knowledgeable have pointed out, the longer Rodagons are effectively Apo-enough anyway for the sort of purposes you'd need in a darkroom.
 

DREW WILEY

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I have regular Rodagons too. I use them for enlarging purposes when their apo counterparts (either Apo Rodagon N's or Apo Nikkors) are a bit over the top in terms of contrast. But again, don't confuse my own usage of Apo Nikkors for any kind of routine darkroom or even commercial lab purposes. What is nice about them as enlarging lenses per se is their compact size. Even a 360/9 will fit into an ordinary Durst L series turret ring.

But vintage-wise, no, the photo labs weren't jerry-rigging, but outright buying Apo Nikkors for special applications back when they were top dollar. The local big graphics suppliers per se were more likely to carry Goerz process lenses. But the centralized full provider lab commercial model started falling apart right around the time big process cameras were becoming obsolete due to the new technology tsunami. That's when the bargain hunting vultures like me moved in; and the price I was accustomed to was, "free; just bring your own truck."
 
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MTGseattle

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Man. I missed out on process lenses being relatively cheap by a few years I guess. Anything being suspected of 8x10 or larger coverage is hitting close to $500 in longer than 500mm focal lengths. I thought the Apo-Nikkor 610mm was going to be a winner for me until I read that it weighs 3.19 pounds. All of this is just leaning me towards the Fujinon C 600. What's another $2500-3k towards a lens in the grand scheme I guess? Good grief.

I know I started this as an Apo Nikkor thread, but any other clues for something 500-600 or equivalent for 8x10? I think a 19" lens is only approximately 480mm right?
 

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Dan Fromm

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Man. I missed out on process lenses being relatively cheap by a few years I guess. Anything being suspected of 8x10 or larger coverage is hitting close to $500 in longer than 500mm focal lengths. I thought the Apo-Nikkor 610mm was going to be a winner for me until I read that it weighs 3.19 pounds. All of this is just leaning me towards the Fujinon C 600. What's another $2500-3k towards a lens in the grand scheme I guess? Good grief.

I know I started this as an Apo Nikkor thread, but any other clues for something 500-600 or equivalent for 8x10? I think a 19" lens is only approximately 480mm right?

Hmm. Mine, with front cap, weighs only 3.04 pounds. Now, there's a highly significant difference.

More seriously, here https://web.archive.org/web/20240102022110/https://www.ebay.fr/itm/404714794097 is an apochromatic distortion free 4/4 dialyte. By the s/n it was made in the early 1950s so should be coated. No idea about weight or mounting threads, sorry. Arnaud Saudax, who used to post on galerie-photo.info had a Berthiot process lens catalog that covers it.

And here's a somewhat more expensive 600 Apo-Germinar: https://web.archive.org/web/20240102024954/https://www.ebay.com/itm/266569612472

I archived the listings, which were up 1/1/2024, because the moderators strongly discourage posting eBay listings here. Too ephemeral, they say. Have no lasting value, they say.

Also more seriously, why does the 610/9 Apo-Nikkor's weight bother you? That question asked, if the Fuji 600 C is significantly lighter -- think in terms of your 8x10 kit's total weight, not just the lens' -- and you can spare the money just get one and be happy.

Cheers,

Dan
 

Steve Goldstein

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Just as a point of reference, my kitchen scale says my 600mm Fujinon-C weighs 614 grams (1.35 US pounds) with caps and retaining ring.
 
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MTGseattle

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I mean, if I'm already toting 35-40 pounds, adding another 4 pounds isn't really that significant. My other issues with venturing far with the 8x10 kit are discussed elsewhere. I could figure out a lighter pack and zero out that weight.
Dan, I wonder if I quoted the weight for the wrong lens? The gallerie photo link has the 610mm f9 at 1450 grams. Although the 600mm f9 is listed at 775. Hmmm, smaller angle of view, but half of the weight. For what I "want" the lens for, this could be just fine I think.
 

DREW WILEY

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Excess weight at that kind of bellows extension can potentially leverage the front standard of some camera to the effect of risking more vibration. It all depends on the specific camera and overall support system underneath, of course. But some field cameras are lightly built in that respect. You also have to think of the added weight if a large shutter is retrofitted onto the lens. By contrast, with a Fuji 600C you not only have compactness, but a relatively light device replete with shutter. And the longer the lens itself, the more torque leverage there is to the front end, combined with the weight issue itself. But it's already evident that I'm a fan of Apo Nikkors as well, but don't have one of those in my 8x10 kit per se.

As an aside, going with a lighter pack per se is often a poor tradeoff, especially if it make the pack harder to load and unload, and less comfortable to carry.
Think of conserving weight by ditching the redundant tripod head instead, and going headless. You can also substitute lightweight ordinary bubble wrap for the heavy foam rubber linings typical of official "camera packs" - things like that.
 

xkaes

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As an aside, going with a lighter pack per se is often a poor tradeoff, especially if it make the pack harder to load and unload, and less comfortable to carry.

Along the same line, my boots are super heavy, but at the end of a long hike my feet feel SO much better than with lightweight boots.
 

Dan Fromm

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I mean, if I'm already toting 35-40 pounds, adding another 4 pounds isn't really that significant. My other issues with venturing far with the 8x10 kit are discussed elsewhere. I could figure out a lighter pack and zero out that weight.
Dan, I wonder if I quoted the weight for the wrong lens? The gallerie photo link has the 610mm f9 at 1450 grams. Although the 600mm f9 is listed at 775. Hmmm, smaller angle of view, but half of the weight. For what I "want" the lens for, this could be just fine I think.
Hmm. I wrote the Apo-Nikkor article on galerie-photo. My 610 must not read the catalog. Or my kitchen scale is off calibration.

The 600 Apo-Nikkor should do. If you're thinking along those lines, since it is an Apo-Tessar clone, think about them too.

By the way, you're not looking a saving 4 pounds by choosing a lighter 600 over a 610 Apo-Nikkor. You're looking at saving the difference between the two lenses weights.
 

DREW WILEY

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The real world image circle of the Apo Tessar version might be distinctly smaller than the airspaced 4-element dialyte style. Another thing to think about. But you can't go with the published spec image circle, which follows tight graphic apo requirements and is standardized at f/22. The circles get considerably larger for general photography purposes and at smaller f/stops. But don't look at the 1:1 specs to begin with, but rather infinity.
 

DREW WILEY

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xkaes - my first set of real mountain boots were true Swiss leather double boots, super heavy too; but I could post-hole in deep snow all day long without getting my feet wet or cold. I got around 15,000 miles out of them before someone stole them! But I have badly deformed flat feet, which were in terrible pain all the time. Now I wear true custom boots which are much lighter and fit better, but real moose hide too, which will probably last the rest of my life. They better - at today's rates they'd cost over $3000 dollars to replace, and take at least six months to get made. But I didn't pay anywhere near that when I bought them. And they can be hypothetically resoled many times. My last custom pair was resoled 8 times, and lasted me 30 years of hard mountain use. Over the long run, good boots are price bargain. There were people I refused to backpack with if they showed up wearing glorified tennis shoes like REI and such places sell. A single modest snowstorm and they're either stuck or frostbitten in those things.
 
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MTGseattle

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My 4 pound switcheroo statement was regarding the 610mm. For what I want ; I was at a local beach on the 31st, and looking West, my 450mm didn't bring the Olympic mountains quite as "close" on my ground glass as I would have liked. So, a bit more reach for infinity type subject matter.
@DREW WILEY I scored an original style Canham wood 8x10. It takes the big 158mm by 158mm lens boards. I've also done a fairly deep dive into the large format thread archive and have noted that I may need to help the front standard out a bit. (opinions vary on this)
The Fuji 600c is an awesome lens given its size and capabilities, but I really can't spend that amount of money right now. If I'm willing to give up a complete kit of waterhouse stops and filters, the Apo-Nikkor is almost a "budget" lens.
 

Dan Fromm

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OP, if you get a 610 AN, how will you time exposures?
 

DREW WILEY

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Canham makes some nice cameras. I've always coveted his wooden 5X7, but couldn't justify the expense of yet another format. It takes a bit of practice to perfect the lens-cap method of time exposures, plus a lot of attention to what the wind is doing. But I have done it that way with crisp results. You need to slow down the exposure to several seconds to make it realistic. Another option would be a front-mounted Packard shutter; they're still being made.
 
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MTGseattle

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Yes. My thought for now was lens cap method. I'll do some reading up again regarding he more common process lenses that get mounted in shutters (24" Apo Artar comes to mind), If I need to start factoring in a shutter search and/or custom mounting I'll likely end up back in Fujinon C land.

As far as really cheap options to test the waters, it looks like I also missed the boat on the Lomo and Industar lenses by a bit too. I saw a few forum threads where folks picked up the lomo 0-2 60cm for under $50. Not so much these days.

@Dan Fromm I also stumbled into an old LFforums thread of yours where someone was trying to emulate a process where they were projecting a large image onto Cibachrome or Ilfochrome. Some of the really crazy (to me anyway) focal lengths were discussed; 1000, 1200mm, etc. Kerry Thalmann was in that one too. Interesting stuff.
 
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