to Geronar or not to Geronar???

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jovo

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The photograph I posted yesterday (Doorway and Daisies) was made with a 210mm Rodenstock Geronar lens. I'm new to large format and the Geronar was the lens that came with the camera I bought on ebay. The question is, I'm fascinated with the quality of the larger format negative and consequent print, but not at all satisfied that the lens is anywhere close to the quality of my Pentax 67 kit. Though I see a difference, it's quite subtle compared to the 6x7 negative and not as much 'better' as I expected it to be. So I'm wondering what lens it would take to equal the quality of the P67 lenses (the 105mm is the closest to the 210). There is a Fujinon and Nikon lens for instance that are not too distant in price from the Geronar. Each has more glass (6 in 5, and 6 in 4 respectively) than the Geronar (3 in 3) but I'm not sure what difference that makes or why. I'd like to hear anyone's take on this. Please recommend what you believe is better glass that won't require me to live under a bridge and eat squirrel if I were to buy it.
 

Eric Rose

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I have 210, 150 and 300 Geronar's. All have been very sharp and contrasty. The only thing lacking in the Geronars are extreme movements as the image circle is smaller than the more expensive lenses. Also the corners can be a bit softer but I have not experienced this first hand. I have made 30x40 prints from negs made with the Geronars and they are tack sharp.

The only one I have replaced is the 150 with a Sironar (I think that's what it's called). The person who sold me the 300 bought a Nikon 300 to replace it. He now feels maybe he spent his money unwisely as he can't really see any difference in the prints. He uses an Ebony, good solid tripod, Saunders enlarger and Rodenstock enlarging glass so everything else is first rate. He's also a very careful worker so I know I can trust what he says.

When it comes right down to it I can't really see much difference in print quality between my Blad and my 4x5 (even against the more expensive LF lenses). The only difference is in much reduced grain. Naturally the movements are a big benefit of LF. So if your not seeing a big difference between your 6x7 and your LF this doesn't surprise me.
 
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One can use the Geronar and be perfectly reasonable in expecting sharp, contrasty results. I got nothing but that with my 150mm Geronar. B&W and color transparency, never once felt let down by it. Even used it as an enlarging lens a few times with good result. Some people bash these lenses, but I don't think it's justified.
 

Eric Rose

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I think those that knock them probably spend to much time pouring over MTF charts and spec tables rather than creating images and printing them in the real world.

Go forth and Geronar!
 
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Thanks guys. It's nice to hear some reinforcement for the lens. Eric, if the Geronar is holding its own with the Blad lenses, I have nothing to complain about. I suppose I won't really see the value of large format until I make larger prints than I have so far (11x14). The benefit at this point has been front rise which allows me to keep the camera level when looking up. The coverage has been quite adequate for the work I've done so far. The rest of the system includes an El-Nikkor 150mm lens on a Saunders 4550XLVCCE enlarger so I'm pretty sure there's no weak link there. I'm enjoying the camera immensely and am happy to be restricted to just one lens for the time being. Thanks again.
 

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I use the 150 6.3 and am quite happy with the results. Somewhere I read that it performs comparably with the Sironar once it is stopped down past f/16. The smaller image circle was mentioned but personally outdoors, focused at infinity, I don't have the bellows extension to do a whole lot of movements anyway and indoors, I like to shoot 6x7 negs in a rollfilm back so I can go movement crazy if I need to.
 

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I have the 150mm F6.3. Its a very good lens, lightweight, compact and can fold up inside my Tachihara and Speed Graphic. I used it for most of the shots in the California album on my website (www.samuelportera.com). Having said that, I upgraded to a Nikkor F5.6. The Geronar is a great performer stopped down past F16 and hard to beat for the money but it does tend to get a little soft in the corners. Will this stop me from using it? No I still have it.
 

Eric Rose

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Hey Sportera, you might want to eliminate all the latin gobbeldegook from your website. The intent is you replace the "placeholder" stuff with real content. Just a suggestion.
 
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jovo

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sportera: the california stuff looks very good. the 150 seems to have been adequately contrasty and sharp. (nice site too despite the Latin, which made my hair hurt in high school. not to mention that i got the lowest score on the national Latin test since Og, the Visigoth, failed to impress some Roman centurian in 150 AD. Og and I are about the same age, but Og's dead...and Rome fell like a failed popover. I, however, am doing just fine with English thank you very much.)
 

Tom Stanworth

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The geronar is I think similar to the Schneider xenar, small light and sharp once stopped down, thought the image circle is not too big. My 150 5.6 xenar is very sharp and contrasty. Blow an imagae up to 20x24 and the 5x4 is going to open up a big gap over any 6x6....invariablu cropped to 6x4.5....

The bigger neg really get noticeable with B&W at quite a small size.

Tom
 

zonesys

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Hello,

Does the Geronar 300mm cover 8x10 format ?
zonesys
 

Seele

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Jovo,

The Geronar is a three-element triplet type while the Xenar is a four-element triplet with a cemented doublet at the back, so that the Xenar can have slightly wider coverage and theoretically higher performance, however...

As you said you were a novice at large format, you have to bear in mind that large format lenses are optimised at f/22 as a rule; in fact Rodenstock stated that its large format lenses have to be used at that aperture, to get the best compromise between correction for residual aberrations and diffraction. At this aperture, the inherent performance differences between complex and simpler lenses would be very small, if at all detectable; it is just that newer and more complex lenses can remain useable at larger apertures, but for me I would rather have a simpler (and often much much older) lens for mobility reasons.

When you use the Geronar properly, you should be able to see good performance, but I do not really understand how it falls short compared to the Hasselblad: did you examine negatives side-by-side? I think it would be more realistic to compare finished prints as the large format negatives would be magnified a lot less than the Hasselblad negatives, so using a loupe to look at the negatives means that you are in fact looking at a print out of the 4X5 much much larger than that out of the Hasselblad negative.
 
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Seele said:
Jovo,

When you use the Geronar properly, you should be able to see good performance, but I do not really understand how it falls short compared to the Hasselblad: did you examine negatives side-by-side? I think it would be more realistic to compare finished prints as the large format negatives would be magnified a lot less than the Hasselblad negatives, so using a loupe to look at the negatives means that you are in fact looking at a print out of the 4X5 much much larger than that out of the Hasselblad negative.

Actually, I've long since made peace with my Geronar 210. It's the only other lens I have besides a G Claron 150 and I'm quite happy with both. I was initially comparing prints, not negatives, to those from my P67 lenses...not Hasslebad lenses...which are truly excellent. However the information you offered about Rodenstock's expectations and LF lenses in general is quite interesting and useful. Thanks.
 

Tom Stanworth

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I bumped into this old thread which I contributed to years ago and some further thoughts came to mind in case anyone else bumps into this:

Modest enlargements from 5x4 (such as the 11x14 here) will often look less sharp than those from smaller formats, due to reduced grain and apparent acutance. My Mamiya 7 negs enlarged to 8x10 have more bite than 5x4 at the same print size, but enlarge them both to 20x24 and the 5x4 neg is miles ahead in tonality and, to a lesser extend detail. Only when 5x4 is shot at very small apertures, like f45 does the detail fall apart and the smaller neg actually look better.

For the same reason, a 5x4 400 speed neg developed in a coarse developer will generally look much more impressive at a 8x10 print size than 5x4 Acros/Tmax100. These fine grained emulsions don't generally show much bite until enlarged considerably.
 
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