Astron Enlarger lenses

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by hoffy, Feb 19, 2009.

  1. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Hi,

    Today I bought an enlarger of Epay. Its a Durst M301 with a CLS35 Colour Head. As I cannot see myself at this stage going much beyond 35mm and considering the D/room space that I potentially don't have, it sounds about perfect for my needs!

    The Enlarger came with a 55mm (I'm sure its a typo, I think its 50mm) Astron F3.5 lens.

    Now, I have to admit that the lens wasn't too much of a concern (I can upgrade if needed), but I do want to know if this lens is any good?

    Cheers
     
  2. paul ewins

    paul ewins Member

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    Vanbar still sell Astron lenses new, while I have a 4x5 Astron enlarger with 150mm lens that looks to be of 60s vintage so it could be up to 50 years old. Enlarging lenses aren't exactly the cutting edge so I would imagine that yours will be fine. The cost to upgrade to one of the better Rodenstock or Schneider lenses isn't that great (second hand) so if you have any reservations just replace it.
     
  3. Maris

    Maris Member

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    My original 35mm enlarging lens was an Astron 50mm. It was mounted on a Durst 301 enlarger and I used it for years.

    I can't remember enlarging beyond 8x10 and the Astron spent most of its time working at f8 or f11. My experience suggested that the Astron could image every grain in the negative as a grain on the enlarging paper. No enlarging lens can do better. And no one ever said my photographs were "grain unsharp". But....if you are doing 16x20's, running the lens at full aperture, and showing the results to an actual photographer then you need a better lens.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Thanks Guys.

    Maris, sounds like the same enlarger, same lens. Considering that I will more then likely be sticking to 8x10's (for now), I think I should be fine (not sure how 35mm goes @ 16x20!!!!). I have seen a bargain Rodenstock lens over the last few weeks on epay, but its gone now....sigh
     
  5. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    There are plenty of top-quality used enlarging lenses available. As long as you stick to a top brand like Nikkor, Schneider or Rodenstock, and know which within these brands are the top lenses, you can always get one.
     
  6. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I'm pretty sure you will enjoy it. Truth is that most of the time, 35 mm doesn't really hold well at 11 x 14, let alone 16 x 20. It is exceptional to get a really good print at that size from such a small negative. The fact that it can be done ocassionally always gives me a pleasant surprise. Of the thousands of frames of 35 mm I've shot over the years, I can't say that more than a dozen or so were candidates for enlarging to 11 x 14. When you're ready, you may find that 35 mm isn't working for you and you might want to make the move to medium format. Worry about upgrading your enlarger and lens then. Right now, there's a lot to learn with what you've already got. Don't obsess about gear. It's not that important.