enlarger lenses: the best.

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Woolliscroft, Nov 11, 2006.

  1. chip j

    chip j Subscriber

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    I have a 55mm 1.9 Computar that I'll be testing against a 50mm APO Rodagon, but I don't see how the Rodagon can possibly be sharper. The Computar is already sharper than my Focotar 2.
     
  2. jjphoto

    jjphoto Member

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    Did you mean to revive a 12 year old thread? Im not complaining, and maybe it's even a record of some kind.

    More importantly, is that the latest APO componon N or the older version APO componon?

    I have two dL 1.9/55's, both with separation but both are still quite good, just not at their best. You had the separation fixed in yours iirc?
     
  3. chip j

    chip j Subscriber

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    Yes, I had the separation fixed: it is an older APO Rodagon.
     
  4. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    Useful info even in an old thread!:

    In the Rodenstock and Schneider enlarger lens lines, there is a cheaper line and a more expensive line.
    If ithe name ends in -AR (Rogonar, Componar), it is the cheaper lens
    If the name ends in -ON (Roganon, Componon), it is the more expensive line
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2018
  5. jjphoto

    jjphoto Member

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    Thanks. My bad, I wrote 'componon', meant rodagon in the previous post.
     
  6. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    Some years back, I came into a surprise(!) box within a large stash of gear I purchased from an employee who hadn't been paid by a large, defunct pro lab he had worked for. He was awarded a bunch of equipment from the agent settling things once the smoke cleared.... One box held 20+ enlarging lenses, carefully packed and all were pristine. All were 6 element or APO versions of Nikon, Rodenstock, Schneider and Fuji. I had the perfect chance to do comparisons. It seemed like lots of glass and perhaps not sufficient for a true, scientific study but I learned some unexpected things while doing the testing. In this particular batch of lenses I recall a pattern: The Nikkors were a hair-splitting less crisp (a couple of the newer 50's, a 63 and a 75) but I'm certain most people would be very pleased with the performance and another random sampling could certainly be different. The Componon S, Fuji EX and Rodagon differences were indiscernible to my eyes. The APO's (Comp 40 & 45 & 90 and the Rodagon 50(2) & 90) were all great but until I played with some higher magnifications, they didn't jump out as radically better than the 6 element non-APO glass. I was doing black & white and my guess is that color work might benefit more clearly. The enlarger was well-aligned with a Versalab laser rig (all stages) so I felt I had a pretty good handle on those variables.

    A negative I was using had some sky behind a lighthouse that was the subject of the shot. The rendition of the subtle details in the sky varied with some lenses, even though the lighthouse was printing consistently. The Rodagon 60 WA was markedly different in the sky. It seemed that this sort of detail was lost more easily with the more contrasty glass. I picked this shot as I happened to have taken a 35mm and a medium format shot that day of the same scene, which is not the norm for me. I kept the Schneider 45 and 90 APO's and the 50 APO Rodagon as my main optics since then (some use of a 100 Comp S and a Rodagon 60 WA). I had a number of LF glass in there (no APO's) and didn't ever wring them out and go happily along with a 150 Rodagon. I sold most everything off or donated a few things to good causes (fledgling school startup projects, etc). Need that cash flow to support my GAS habits, you know. I made prints on my little project as I was more concerned with actual photo duties and behaviors. I've used grain magnifiers to check sharp USAF test target negatives from long ago and really couldn't easily pick up differences between some of these optics but I've mostly expended my testing energies from some of those long projects and leave it to others with more curiosity.
     
  7. M Carter

    M Carter Member

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    Well, that was a (sorta)interesting thread. All these posts about theoretical sharpness make me thing "why not just test your damn lens at each aperture"?

    I do a lot of lith printing, and when I print big, wide open is nice with those long exposures. Dodging or burning for 60 seconds kind of sucks. I've found - when I do the rare 35mm print to 16x20 - the EL Nikkor 50mm is pretty fab wide open (and the 80 for 6x7 as well) - if the enlarger is perfectly aligned (thanks, Versalab, you rock). With lith, I'm going for the odd things that happen with contrast, so YMMV with straight printing I suppose, but straught test prints look good.

    And the "The best lenses are APO" guys - does it really make a difference to the many posters here who are doing 8x10 B&W with small enlargers? I dunno - I think the best lens is a slave to good alignment.

    Waiting to test out my Rodagon-G though... need some very big paper!
     
  8. chris77

    chris77 Subscriber

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    i have been there too. looking for the perfect enlarger lens. as i print rather big b&w i have to say, it does make a difference. the apo componon hm outperforms the componon-s by far. 10x enlarging from MF that is.
    better contrast, sharper throughout wide open.
    is it worth the extra money (apo componon costs 5 times the money) depends on each individual situation.
     
  9. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    It'll blow your mind. Razor sharp grain at 25x. You do need a serious enlarger - floor standing DeVere or Durst or a rail mounted mural machine. A wall mount might work if you have long arms & can solidly mount the enlarger at a sensible set-off from the wall.

    99.9% of people really don't need one - it's a solution to a very specific problem.
     
  10. M Carter

    M Carter Member

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    I have a specific problem though! (Well, many if you ask my wife...) Very large images on emulsion-coated canvas. I need to do some serious darkroom tearin' up though, brace the hell out of a wall, wall-mount the MXT, brace the top, and I've thought out a sliding mount that can come a few extra inches from the wall, and a table surface that drops down out of the way. I really want to go to something like 5-6'.

    I will likely experiment with using flash to expose; I did that successfully in the 90s, duping slides onto Velvia sheet film with a condenser enlarger, I did it for the daylight temp but it worked quite well. I'm thinking adapting a lamp housing to hold a strobe and a diffuser, with a full-CTO gel for color temp, and ND, aperture, and flash controls to get exposure right (I'll be printing from 4x5 negs of Bromoil prints, so I shouldn't need any manipulations as far as dodging and burning). So hopefully I can get vibration out of the picture, and come up with a way to focus. I use a Versalign and alignable lens boards, I can get corner-to-corner sharpness from 35mm negs to 24", wide open (for lith printing, wide-open is a godsend). I lay awake nights planning this sh*t... and I have a big selection of fan-cooled speedo heads to try.
     
  11. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    I don't want to try to teach you to suck eggs, but I fear you may be about to waste a lot of effort stabilising & fiddling with your enlarger that could be better spent on finding a machine that is naturally much more vibration-free with a 500-1200w dichroic head (more than enough power in the real world). There are very few enlarging lenses I'd trust wide-open, and especially not on mural scale work.

    Do you have a market / potential sales/ collectors for these prints?
     
  12. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    I have an Orthoplanar but rarely use it anymore. Every now and then I will just for the heck of it, but I really don't need it since I don't do huge enlargements, although it is a bit better than the rest of my lenses. I used to use it for everything but since I've been doing 35mm on a Focomat, I am limited to 50mm lenses of which I have plenty. I swear those things multiply in the lens drawer when I'm not looking. My current fav is a Fujinon EX, but that will probably change next week.

    My experience with a lot of different lenses over the years leads me to believe that all six element well constructed lenses are more than good enough, You can nitpick all you want, but generally when a print is up on a wall you won't be able to tell.

    The only lens I have these days that really stands out isn't the Orthoplanar, but the Leitz Elmar! The reason it stands out is because it stinks! It does have its uses though. I made a few prints one day with it for the heck of it and one was a portrait. I was surprised that the portrait looked much nicer with the Elmar. It was sharp enough, but the tonality was pretty dang good due to the lack of micro contrast. Anyway, my point is there is a tool for every job.
     
  13. chip j

    chip j Subscriber

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    Yes, the EX is fabulous. I also have an Elmar but haven't used it yet--but just looking thru it is very seductive.
     
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  15. M Carter

    M Carter Member

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    I'm not too worried, though I offer an un-sarcastic thanks for your concerns. The expense and luck involved in finding a commercial-grade machine - it's just off my radar. At least proof-of-concept wise, I've dialed in strobe exposure and it's worked very well. If it scales up, I'll have something like a 1/800th exposure, so I think vibration shouldn't be an issue with a decently engineered setup. I'll find out via testing though. And in my tests so far (canvas at 30" or so, then tinted with oil glazes and varnished) there's a lot of room to tweak contrast and do retouch and so on. I'm really excited for how its progressed so far.

    With a properly aligned MXT, I'm getting really superb (lith print) results at f 2.8 from a 35mm neg at 16x20 with an EL Nikkor (and man, am I picky) - that's with the head height pretty well maxed out and no ceiling brace (and I have exactly one 35mm neg I want prints from - everything else is 6x7 or 4x5). Total exposure time for that print has been something like 2 minutes (thus the 2.8), and includes swapping negs from a DIY pin registration setup and a glass carrier - I've been really serious about print quality and process and repeatability. And, I shouldn't need to print wide open at mural sizes if my ideas pan out (not lith prints so reasonable exposures); and if I go 60" from 4x5, I may not even need the G lens - it does put things in a range for comparative tests though.

    As far as the market, I've been a free lance marketer for 2 decades plus, and the biggest thing I've learned is that if the product itself is a game changer, desirable, if it doesn't require empty claims vs. the truth, marketing is very easy. The last 6 years or so I've done more and more marketing for fine artists - I've got a guy moving $9k paintings in three markets (but I just helped, his stuff is solid - if I had a 10' wall I'd do a trade out). Certainly no guarantees, but above all, I want the work to exist - I want it out of my head and into the world. If it all works out, it'll should be pretty arresting stuff (but hey, it's easy to arrest people, will it connect with people is the question). But regardless, it's a natural progression from what I'm doing now and also a real leap in theme and technique, and there's a ton of work to be done in designing the shots, models, props, settings, and image merging with no computer. But I'm kind of in that "I have no choice" but to move forward mental state, regardless of market and so on. (and I know, we see kids who haven't unpacked their Craig's List enlarger yet and are asking about doing reversal printing on 72" paper, I'm aware I may sound like that, but I started as a commercial shooter and the last 6 years or so have focused on printing - no guarantees, just a steady progression, and my brain works in strange ways!)
     
  16. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    Good luck with it!
     
  17. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    For LF, you can go with Apo Nikkor 4-element process lenses, though they're hard to find shorter than 240mm. Sharper and better corrected than any official enlarging lens, and a bargain on the used mkt. Need a bit more light. They work best f/11 down.
     
  18. Martin Rickards

    Martin Rickards Member

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    http://leodium.net/35mm/Objectifs agrandisseur.pdf details some French tests on a load of 35mm-6x6 cm lenses then available in France from Angenieux, Leitz, El Nikkor, Rodenstock, Schneider and Meopta. Rather surprisingly the discontinued Meopta Meogon 50mm f5.6 came out as the best of the bunch with its replacement f2.8 equaling the best of the rest. All of the testing was carried out at f8. No doubt other tests would show different results.
     
  19. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Member

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    all six-element name-brand enlarging lenses are very good. I'm very satis find with the EL series from Nikon;for 6x9 ,check into 105mm focal length.
     
  20. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Member

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    Meopta lenses are very good indeed.
     
  21. halfaman

    halfaman Member

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    I read some time ago an answer to this question that I have found quite accurate for most of the situations.

    Which is the best enlarger lens?.... The one you already have! :cool:
     
  22. John Galt

    John Galt Subscriber

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    I worked my way through this thread over several days so I could digest it all. Thank you all who contributed, I learned a lot.

    Just one question, and forgive me if this is considered "common knowledge", but I am the FNG here :wink: . . . what doe "APO" signify in this discussion?
     
  23. jjphoto

    jjphoto Member

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    'APO' is short for 'apochromatic' which simply means that the lens has a higher level of colour correction than normal (non-apochromatic) lenses. The common definition of an apo lens is one where three colours focus simultaneously at the plane of focus, what happens in front or behind this plane is not defined so longitudinal colour aberrations are still common. Typically an apo lens is better corrected overall and usually sharper too.
     
  24. trendland

    trendland Member

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    My very first lens was a cheap type of Schneider-Kreuznach (can't afford a Rodenstock at this time)
    That would also answer your question :
    "R O D E N S T O C K"
    with regards
     
  25. John Galt

    John Galt Subscriber

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    Thanks jjphoto. Are APO lenses marked as such?
     
  26. trendland

    trendland Member

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    He he he Ralph....."Meopta" ?
    You have forgoten to state : In relation of it's price!
    with regards
     
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