Focotar enlarging lenses.

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gainer

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Does Leitz make the enlarging lenses that bear its name? Can anyone tell me from experience how a 50 mm Focotar 2 compares with the 50 mm APO Rodagon? Thanks in advance.
 

Tom Hoskinson

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Hi Pat, were you by any chance, looking at this thread:

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Seems there is a difference of opinion in the Leica User Community about this subject. Some state that all of the Focotars were made by Schneider, others say Schneider made many of them, but that Leitz made the Focotar 2 lenses themselves.

Regardless of who made them, I would expect them to perform very well indeed at their optimum aperture and magnification ratio. Precise focusing at the using aperture is critical, of course.

As to which 50mm enlarging lens is the best, I would like to see a well controlled test performed.
 
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From hearsay the original Focotar is considered a underperforming lens (compared to the competition pricewise).
The Focotar 2 is considered among the best.

Jorge O
 
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gainer

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The Focotar 2 was recommended to me by a very opinionated person. I have an APO Rodagon with which I am pleased. I was curious as to whether it could be that much worse than the focotar.

It occurred to me that, in the same way we learn about other dynamic systems, we could not use the response to a step inout to learn a good bit about the enlarging lenses. It is quite possible for a lens to show edge effects. I am thinking of getting some thin brass shim stock, blackening it (polysulfide toner should work) and using the edge of it as a step input. My reasoning is that I have noticed that my eye shows "edge effects" in the form of fringes at sharply defined edges. This is not diffraction, because there are no color fringes, only a brighter line on the white side of the dark edge. This is in fact a well known characteristic of the human visual system. We tend to think that the edge effects we see in photographs are actually part of the object space, but I have seen them disappear when I look at the edges through a low powered high quality magnifier. Anyway, I'm thinking. At my age, that's a blessing. Mostly what I remember these days is that I used to be able to remember things.
 

Tom Hoskinson

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Back in the days when my beard was black and I was doing comparison testing of enlarging lenses, I tested a couple of 50mm Focotars (not Focotar 2s) and concluded that they were the equivalent of the 50mm Schneider Componons with a possibly a little lower variability (couldn't say with a statistical sample of 2 Focotars - but we had a sample size of about 200 Componons). That meant to me that the Focotars were very good lenses indeed, but not worth the additional cost over a Componon. I have never tested a Focotar 2.
 

edz

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gainer said:
Does Leitz make the enlarging lenses that bear its name? Can anyone tell me from experience how a 50 mm Focotar 2 compares with the 50 mm APO Rodagon? Thanks in advance.

The Focotar-2 is very good. In a condensor enlarger like the Focomat (or my Durst with the condensers in it) its as good as I think it can get. While the Focotars are indeed "good" early Componons, the difference between it and the Focotar-2 did surprize me... I expected the Focotar-2 to be good but, given their age (they are mid-1970s designs), rarity and Wetzlar drunken aura... I expected a somewhat better Rodagon class lens... subtle and not spectacular.. and it seemed to be the right "thing" to put in my Focomat 1c.. but the Focotar-2 proved to really be **that good**.. rare among the Leica crowd.. and compared to the Rodenstocks (which I do like so don't get me wrong).. the Focotar-2 seems to even have better colour correction than the APO Rodagon--- which is not an APO objective afterall.
 

Emile de Leon

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The focotar 2's are stunning lenses. I have the 50mm and the 100mm. Both Focotar 2's. The 50mm can be used wide open.... Ralph Gibson does this. F5.6 might be best for the 50mm but not by much over wide open. The 100mm at f8 is great.These are the sharpest corners you will find if you use either a Valoy-2 or a 1C. Amazing!
 

ruilourosa

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focotar 40 seems ok.... apo componon hm 40mm a bit better...
 
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I love the b.s. surrounding Leica. I had a Focotar 2 and sold it. Why? Because it wasn't any better than the other lenses I have and it was worth more money. I also have an Orthoplanar, so I've seen what can be achieved with a good lens. If you are limited to a 50mm like I am on the Focomat I use, the best lens I have found is the Minolta C.E. Rokkor, but honestly there isn't much difference on 8x10s with any good enlarging lens. They don't really show differences in sharpness until you hit bigger sizes. At least for black and white. There are some slight differences in tonality.

The other thing to note is that a lot of lenses are "APO" even if they aren't labeled as such. For example, the Computar DL lenses weren't labeled as APO Computars until later when APO became a marketing term. The 135 Computar DL even has Low Dispersion glass in it. The 65mm Computar gives my Orthoplanar a run for it's money.

I am surprised you bumped this thread Chip. Don't you have like a million enlarging lenses?
 

chip j

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WHY SURE!!! I have the Focotar 2, the Minolta CE Rokkor, a 55mm 1.9 Computar DL, and an original version APO Rodagon (which I haven't tried yet). I can pick out big differences between them w/ease! I'm shocked that other people can't. Just searching for some fellow-travelers. AND I have an Agnenieux 48mm G 10, which may beat them ALL for how the print "looks', but isn't the sharpest tool in the box. I find the Focotar 2 & the 50mm 3.5 Komuranon S totally wicked (I feel guilty using them)! AND I make 6 inch X 9 inch prints!
 
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jjphoto

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...
The other thing to note is that a lot of lenses are "APO" even if they aren't labeled as such. For example, the Computar DL lenses weren't labeled as APO Computars until later when APO became a marketing term....

Computar did use the 'APO' designation for a very short period with the dL 1.9/55. I've only ever seen the odd one listed on ebay so they seem even less common than the normal dL 1.9/55 (without the apo designation). There's no reason to think they are two different versions, only different label.

...
... The 135 Computar DL even has Low Dispersion glass in it. The 65mm Computar gives my Orthoplanar a run for it's money...

I'm not sure about the performance of the dL 5.6/135 even though I've had two of them. Sadly they've succumbed to separation which is common with some models of the dL's (105, 135 and 55 seem the worst, not sure about the 30's). The separation issue with the Comuptar dL's is a significant problem which effectively takes away any reasonable opportunity to use one in optimum condition. For example, the 1.9/55's commonly suffer separation (I have two and both have separation) so unless you actually have one repaired, which is possible but is a costly and uncertain exercise, then this lens is simply not to be considered an option. chip j had his repaired (IIRC) so is presumably still in excellent condition. The same is really the case for the dL 105 and 135's.

As for the dL 65, I have one but haven't used it much, maybe I should have another go based on your comments.
 

ruilourosa

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i am afraid of this conversation is being a bit off... 6x9 prints? really?
 

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ruilourosa

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checking lens atributes in 15x22cm in such high quality lenses and seeing the differences i think is misticism...

i have difficulties in spitting apart anarets (meopta 3 and 4 elements) from nikkors, leicas, schneiders or rodenstocks... apo or not apo... in low enlargement ratios...

i think enlargement alignment and correct focus have a lot to do with conclusions made by some forum elements...

i have around 30 enlarging lenses... some are better than others... but there aren´t any dramatic differences in 6 element lenses... inseide their advised enlargement ratios..
 

AgX

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In the linked examples I do see the lesser quality of the Focotar 1 lens.
Would I have seen it at a single sample instead of a comparison? Likely not.
 

ruilourosa

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You sent images of a macro / photographic use of an enlarger lens in a aps-c camera...
is that a way to confirm that an enlarger lens is better than the other... in enlarging... likely not..

probably focotar 1 is worst than most current apo lenses but probably not that much inside the enlargement ratio of the leitz enlarger that usually carried it and probably not in enlarging BW..

i had good results in macro with enlarger lenses but that´s a different story...
 

Lachlan Young

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WHY SURE!!! I have the Focotar 2, the Minolta CE Rokkor, a 55mm 1.9 Computar DL, and an original version APO Rodagon (which I haven't tried yet). I can pick out big differences between them w/ease! I'm shocked that other people can't. Just searching for some fellow-travelers. AND I have an Agnenieux 48mm G 10, which may beat them ALL for how the print "looks', but isn't the sharpest tool in the box. I find the Focotar 2 & the 50mm 3.5 Komuranon S totally wicked (I feel guilty using them)! AND I make 6 inch X 9 inch prints!

What are you seeing as 'differences'? I've carried out a test at 10x enlargement with a random selection of the major 6-element 50mm lenses which were able to be sufficiently well matched for contrast etc as to be indiscernible by a blind test, though a 50/4.5 Minolta was slightly less good - not surprising as it's 4-element & presumably outwith its optimisation range. Interestingly, a 75/4 EL-Nikkor was matchable to the 50's at 10x, despite the 4-element design. That's not to say there are subtle differences between lens makes - however those differences seem to really only matter in a printer's head & make no real perceptible difference to the final print. The optimisation ranges do make a difference however - if you're making a 2-3x enlargement or a very big enlargement - say, 15x or greater off 35mm, then choosing an appropriate lens can make a useful difference to apparent sharpness.
 

AgX

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You sent images of a macro / photographic use of an enlarger lens in a aps-c camera...
is that a way to confirm that an enlarger lens is better than the other... in enlarging... likely not..


-) the smaller format only shows the center image. Typically the outer image will be worse.

-) Macro taking and enlarging is the same as long the lens is orientated the same way in both instances.

-) Use of an enlarging lens at small scale could be considered out-of range.
However, if one assumes that lenses are designed with same objectives in mind (here 2 enlarging lenses by same manufacturer, from same lens family) the relative performance is telling.
However, use of an old-design enlarging lens for taking is even more standing to reason than using it for enlarging
 

ruilourosa

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wides concentrate their optimization in being wides...

although the differences in 6x4,5 from 60 wa and 80 from rodenstock exist, the 60mm is a fine lens...
 
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