Premium 50mm enlarging lenses in the 1950s

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Lachlan Young, Jan 30, 2018.

  1. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member
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    Simple question, largely as per title: apart from the Leitz Focotar, what were the top grade 50mm enlarging lenses in the 1950s? As far as I know, the f2.8's from Nikon/ Schneider/ Rodenstock etc only began to appear well into the 1960's, so I'm intrigued to know what was used before then - when did the slower Componon/ Rodagon designs first appear? Were most lenses still 4/3 ( or 5/3) or had the 6/4 (ie Rodagon/ Componon) designs made significant inroads?
     
  2. Ian Grant

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    TTH Ental, I used a few at school and university supposedly the very best enlarger lenses available. The Ross Resoluxand Dallmeyer enlarger lenses were very good as well, I have a 6" Dallmeyer Enalarging Anastigmat which is coated and have used a 2" Resolux. I don't know how good the Wray Upar was.

    Componons and Componars were available by 1956 in the UK.

    Ian
     
  3. guangong

    guangong Subscriber
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    I possess a Minolta enlarging lens bought in late 1950s, although I use Focotar and Compenon 50mm for 35mm film.
     
  4. Paul Howell

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    Not sure what you mean by premium, here in the in the states Kodak (Extar), and Wallensake (Raptar) had better quality 4 and 5 elements lens lineup. I have both Extar and Raptars from 50 to 162, all are still very good performers, stands up very well to modern designs.
     
  5. ic-racer

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    In the 1941 Bausch and Lomb catalog they list 4-element Tessar Ic and 4 element Process Apochromat as suitable enlarging lenses but shortest is 3.5" (90mm) They also list a group of enlarging condensers, but nothing for 35mm.
    Goerz 1951 lists 4-element Apochromat Artar suitable for enlarging but shortest is 4" and nothing in the 50mm (2") range.
    1950 Wollensak had a separate catalog for enlarging lenses and they list a 4-element coated 50mm Enlarging Raptar. I suspect this was popular in the USA.
    1951 Kodak catalog lists 2" (50mm) 4.5 Enlarging Ektar for 25% more than the Enlarging Raptar. They are 4-element and coated ("Lumenized"), like the Raptar, but made with rare element glass, lanthanum, tungsten and tantalum. This may have been the top of the line USA 50mm lens at that time.
     
  6. jimjm

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    I use a 75mm Ektar from 1954 that is excellent. Resulting prints are almost indistinguishable from those made with a modern 80mm Schneider Componon-S.

    I would think the 50mm Ektars are just as good.
     
  7. chip j

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    W Eugene Smith used a Minolta on his Leitz Valoy enlarger.
     
  8. Fritzthecat

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    I use a Solar 135 for my 4x5 work, it's a rebranded Wollensak, AA used the same . I also have a Wollensak Enlarging Raptar 90 that is optimized for 6x9. Both lenses are from the late 40's to mid 50's era.
     
  9. Arklatexian

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    Believe it or not, one of the best line of enlarger lenses made during that period was made in the USA and maybe in England. I refer to the Kodak enlarging Ektars. I own a a couple in different focal lengths including the 50mm. For B&W, I think they are equal to any on the market today. I don't do color in my darkroom so I won't comment on that. A very good enlarger from that era that was manufactured in England after being discontinued here in the USA was the Kodak Precision A enlarger. With the proper condensers matched to the proper Ektar lens, it was/is a really good combination for up to and including 2 1/4 x 3 1/4" negatives........Regards!
     
  10. chip j

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    The Focotar of that era was not a top performer, from what I've read--it wasn't much good past 5" X 7".
     
  11. OP
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    Lachlan Young

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    I've actually got an Ental lying around somewhere - glass is sadly not in good condition though. You wouldn't happen to know if they were only 4-element designs or more & what magnification they were optimised for? I'd agree that pretty much anything TTH/ Cooke is world class.

    Of course - I'd totally forgotten about the Enlarging Ektars! This is doubly embarrassing as I've been casually beginning to look for some of them (and some of the longer enlarging Ektanons for LF too) over the last short while. The Wollensak Pro Raptars look pretty intriguing too - presumably intended to compete with the increasingly dominant Componon etc designs.

    This isn't the first time I've heard this, but plenty of world-changing work in that era was printed larger than that with those lenses on Focomats. On the other hand, it seems to have been relatively rare to go beyond a 9-11x magnification from 35mm in that era.

    Most likely a C.E. Rokkor 50/2.8, given that the account which states dates from the mid-1970s (Lustrum Press 'Darkroom', the first part of the two, can't be bothered to check pg ref) and likely stemmed from the new Minolta kit he used/ was sponsored with for the Minamata work. He quite specifically states that the lens was corrected for colour work.
     
  12. chip j

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    I believe the picture I saw of him in his darkroom was during hs "Pittsburgh" essay days--the lens sure didn't look like a C.E. Rokkor X or a Rokkor X 50 2.8--I have them both!
     
  13. chip j

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    He said the Minolta was on his enlarger "for no particular reason".
     
  14. jjphoto

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    The late Llyn Jones was involved in the design of Computar dL enlarging lenses in the late 1970's and stated that their team tested all the EL's available at the time in the US and found that the Kodak Ektar 50 and 75 were the superior optics, even in the late 70's.

    Raptars, TTH Ental, Ross Resolux and the vast majority of ELs of the period are 4/3 designs so it's hard to imagine that one could be significantly better than another. I have several of the above lenses, however none in 50mm, and tbh they are pretty similar.

    Wollensak made an Enlarging PRO Raptar in the late 50's which is a 6/4 design. Not sure if they made a 50 but can confirm 90, 101, 114, 162 and 190 (i have the 90 and 101 pro raptars ).
     
  15. Ian Grant

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    Some say the Ental lenses were a Heliar type design, others that the shorter focal length were Tessar type.

    Ian
     
  16. chip j

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    I HAVE a 55mm 1.9 Computar DL--what a super treat--built like a sattelite!
     
  17. Paul Howell

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    I think the 50s and 75s Raptar's were all 4 element, they also made a 3 element 50 and 75, but the longer pro raptars were 5 and 6 element designs. I use the 50 and 75 on a Opemus III, excellent up to 11X14, only down side is that both are 4.5 and a little on the dim side.
     
  18. jjphoto

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    Do 'some' have anything to support their 'Heliar' claims? I've never heard this but you never know. On the other hand Arthur Cox, Optics: The Technique of Definition (London and NewYork: The Focal Press, 1953), 180-184 states that Entals are 4/3.


    To the best of my knowledge all Raptars are all 4/3, if they are 3 element then they you're probably referring to the Wollensak Velostigmat lenses, not Raptars.

    I've only seen one reference ( C. B. Neblette, Photographic Lens Manual and Directory (New York, N.Y.: Morgan and Morgan, Inc., Publishers, 1960), 30 ) stating that Enlarging PRO Raptars are 6/4 designs and nothing to suggest that any of them are 5 element. I'm always looking for more references so if you have any material that confirms that some Enlarging PRO Raptars are 5 element then please let me know (I keep a list of such things).
     
  19. Ian Grant

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    The problem is that there's often speculation.

    I have a Voightlander 135mm f6.8 Anastigmat Avus lens, the Vague Mecum implies it may be a Triplet, but states Kingslake thinks it's a 4/3 so assumption Tessar type, in fact when you search for the DRP no (Patent) you find while it's 4/3 it's not a Tessar but a sort of reverse Tessar.

    Likewise an Elmar isn't a Tessar so we can't assume that despite having 4 elements in 3 groups some of these enlarger lenses are either, and of course they are optimised for enlarging.

    Ian
     
  20. Hilo

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    Not sure about when these were made, but I have printed with them and they're as good (in many but perhaps not all ways) as the later Focotar-2 50mm: Zeiss Orthoplanar 50mm and 60mm and Meopta Meogon 50/5.6 and 60/5.6mm. The first two are terribly expensive, the two Meogons can be totally cheap . . .
     
  21. OP
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    Lachlan Young

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    And also good enough for Leitz in the 1950's to seemingly follow Kodak's work on the Enlarging Ektars in the 1940's when designing the Focotar...

    Does anyone know what magnification the Enlarging Ektars were optimised for?

    Given Smith's habitual pawning of equipment, he may well have used both the E.Rokkor and the C.E.Rokkor at different times! I have an E.Rokkor 50, but haven't used it for years - perhaps should see how it does on a 9-10x enlargement...
     
  22. jjphoto

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    I have Kodak books from this period but no mention of magnification ratio which EL lenses are optimised for.
     
  23. John Wiegerink

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    Yes, but not from the "50's".
     
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