4x5 neg enlarging lens - potential focal length change

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by michael_r, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I currently use a 150mm Rodagon. However since I most often enlarge 4x5 negatives to 8x10, and more rarely 11x14, I'm thinking about a shorter focal length. I don't think a 135mm would make much of a difference but maybe a 120mm would be nice. I'm thinking about a Schneider 120mm HM.

    I have zero complaints about sharpness or anything like that. Just wondering if falloff will become more of a noticeable nuisance with a 120 stopped down say one to two stops vs the 150.

    Thanks.
     
  2. ac12

    ac12 Member

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    I seem to recall that 135 was the alternate focal length for 4x5.
    120 might be a bit short and vignett the corners.
    That is unless the 120 is a 4x5 wide angle lens, designed to cover 4x5 film.

    Do you have a vertical height limit that is driving you to want a shorter lens rather than just raising the head?
    I my case, I cannot use the XL chassis because of a vertical height limit, which is the floor joists of the floor above.
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Actually a 135mm makes a significant difference, I've used them in preference to a 150mm for 5x4 negs for nearly 40 years. Originally it was because of height restrictions but I like the quality/sharpness of the lenses so see no reason to chnage. (They are as sharp as my 150mm).

    Ian
     
  4. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    I mostly enlarge my 4x5's to 11x14 and do it with a 135mm rodagon. I wouldn't make a switch unless I thought the results would be better.
     
  5. moto-uno

    moto-uno Subscriber

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    I have both a 135mm and a 150mm lens on my Omega D3, anything over 11 x 14 makes the 135mm a necessity due to ceiling rafters.
    Peter
     
  6. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I tested both a 135mm and a 150mm when I was starting to print 4x5 and chose the 150mm. I still have both (why get rid of anything :whistling: ). I've printed 16x20 with no issues and use a Beseler 45MX. I would suggest finding one that you think you want and print the same neg with both and see which you like. If you want to sell it, you can probably turn the unwanted one around for what you paid if it was used when you bought it.
     
  7. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I don't have two decent enlarging lenses for 4x5, one 135mm Omegaron that came with the turret of the 4x5 Pro-Lab Omega enlarger I bought many years ago. I have a Nikor 150mm lens too, which is probably technically better, but like so many others ceiling height is limited in my darkroom, so I just continue using the 135. I think the prints are definitely good enough, since I never go more than 4X enlargement anyway, so I haven't even considered replacing the standard enlarger lens.
    Sometimes when I print small from medium format I use the 135 in order to get the column up high enough where I can practically do all of the dodging and burning required.

    Image quality wise I can't say that I see much difference if any, but I haven't really looked either. I guess my summary boils down to the 135mm Omegaron being good enough, and not giving me any reason to try to improve print quality.
     
  8. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    Why would you want a shorter lens for 8x10 or 11x14? I have both 150 and 135mm Nikons from the same vintage. Both are excellent, but I found the 135mm more useful for bigger enlargements where it was hard to reach the focus knob on my D5 (or when the enlarger head hits the ceiling in the new darkroom). Other than that I found the longer lens got used more often.
     
  9. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Afternoon, Michael,

    I've used a 135 Componon on my Beseler MCR-X for around forty years with no problem. Several years ago, I bought a 150 Rodagon, thinking that using it would mean more of a given image would be projected by the center of the lens, supposedly the best for quality. Somehow, I never got around to mounting the 150 in a board! Maybe someday I will; maybe I'll notice greater image sharpness--but somehow I doubt that it will make a significant difference.

    Konical
     
  10. Rafal Lukawiecki

    Rafal Lukawiecki Subscriber

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    I've used and own 4 different 150 mms: old and new El-Nikkor, old and new Rodagon. None of them Apo. There was not much difference between the two old ones, the new Rodagon was slightly better (sharper and more contrast) but the new El Nikkor (new=without the knurled ring design) beats the rest very visibly, being more contrasty, less fall-off, and sharper at the f8. Tested only with diffusion using a Ilford 500H light. YMMV...
     
  11. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    My preferred 4x5 enlarging lens is the 135mm unless I am making an 8x10 print, then the 150mm gets used. I don't know if you have a 120mm taking lens but if you do give it a try and see how you like the focal length.
     
  12. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    I am another 135mm Componon user. My Beselers will (just) extend fully without hitting the ceiling, but if I wanted to use a 150mm I would have to either drop the bench or use a step - I'm not that tall. Even if the 150mm offered better overall performance, I would have to temper that with ergonomics. I like to have a good working environment for the 'bread and butter' sizes between 10x8 and 11x14. If I was routinely working larger I might make a different choice.

    I also work in other formats - 75mm for 6x4.5 or 6x6, and 105mm for 6x9 - so the general setup needs to respect that.
     
  13. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Thanks everyone for the responses. Seems like quite a few of you like the 135mm focal length. I really have no complaints using the 150 from an image quality perspective. It's just kind of a pain having the enlarger head up so high and the bellows nearly fully extended to focus. So I was thinking a shorter focal length would be nice - as long as it doesn't cause me noticeable falloff issues (which obviously are not currently a problem with the 150). I thought maybe the 120 would be nice but not sure. On the other hand maybe I should just follow my own advice and leave well enough alone.
     
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  15. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    The data is on the Schneider site. The 120 has more light falloff than the 150 when compared at the same magnification and aperture.
     
  16. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    No doubt. It would have to. But I was wondering it the difference is noticeable. Actually as I write this I guess I've answered my own question.
     
  17. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    By the way, off topic but noticed yesterday with an empty carrier inserted, if I look at the projected blank white light rectangle on the enlarger baseboard, I can see what looks like a faint projection of the bellows pattern outside the image rectangle. Strange.
     
  18. Ian C

    Ian C Member

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  19. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Right - I'm just wondering if the focal length of the lens/image circle/bellows extension changes this. That is, in the context of my original question, is this "bellows reflection" more likely to appear with a 150mm than with a shorter focal length?

    Just trying to wrap my mind around it.
     
  20. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    You get more illumination falloff with a shorter lens. Often this can be accommodated by using more edge and corner burning, or by grinding a
    custom diffuser to be fit in the head. I rarely use a 150 lens for 4x5 work - nearly always something longer, like a 180 or even 240. I sold my
    135 Rodagon, which was a good lens, but not in the same league as my other lenses. I don't see any sense using a short focal length unless
    your simply don't have enough headroom to raise the negative stage sufficiently high. There is no optical advantage, and really, a distinct
    disadvantage. I apply the same philosophy to all my other formats, whether 8X10 or MF or even 35mm. The notable exception is when I deliberately want to introduce a bit of excessive illumination falloff into the print.
     
  21. AndreasT

    AndreasT Member

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    With prints in those sizes which you mentioned the differnce will be so slight. Not really a bother I would say. I have only really had a problem making large prints where the image circle is near the end. There I had to burn in the edges with a harder grade. Not only were the edges lighter but also softer, lacking in contrast.
     
  22. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    I have the same enlarger you do (LPL 4550XLG) and use my Rodenstock 150 F4 APO-N for everything up to 20x24 non-cropped. For a cropped 20x24 I use my 135 Rodagon. I find the 150 to be a good bit better in overall image quality and a ton brighter, more than a stop actually.

    If I were using a 150mm 5.6 I might be less likely to be biased to a 150 over a 135 for most things. I do use the focus extension when cranking up the height.
     
  23. randyB

    randyB Member

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    Using a shorter FL lens to make 8x10's means the lamphouse is closer to the paper which means the exposure times are shorter, maybe too short for effective dodging and burning. I would look at a longer FL (180-190mm) and raise the lamphouse. You would also be using more of the center of the lens which will have less distortion and more even light projection.
     
  24. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    The 150 Apo Rodagon N does have more illumination falloff than the ordinary 180 Rodagon, but less than the 135. All are excellent lenses,
    but the Apo Rodagons do have an ability to render a crispness to microtonality and fine detail that certainly justifies their extra expense,
    if you're lucky enough to find one.
     
  25. Rafal Lukawiecki

    Rafal Lukawiecki Subscriber

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    Drew, have you compared that 150 Apo Rodagon to the non-Apo, newer-design El Nikkor 150? The newer one is the one with the aperture ring that does not have the heavy knurled design. I only have direct comparison to the older and newer non-Apo Rodagons and to the older El Nikkor.
     
  26. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I have several El Nikkors, though not a 150. They are nice lenses too, but I wouldn't place them in the same league as the Apo Rodagons.
    My sharpest, best corrected enlarging lenses are actually Apo Nikkors, which are f/9 process lenses, so not as fast as general enlarging lenses,
    but certainly optically superior. If you want speed in that league, you'd have to acquire one of the extremely expensive Apo EL Nikkors, which
    are in fact rather big and heavy and might actually deflect the mount on many typical enlargers, and are really overkill for typical applications.
    I just can't see spending ten times as much for just an extra f-stop of printing speed. Normally I use the 150 Apo Rodagon for 6x7 or 6x9
    film - even wide open the center part of the field is going to perform superbly with this size of film, and just a stop down, do exceptionally
    well with 4x5 film, though with a bit higher contrast than a conventional enlarging lens. But I've also got a 105 Apo-Rodagon, which does a
    superb job up to 6x9 (with a tad of corner burning necessary for minor illumination falloff), or as a superb 35mm option. I also have a fast 75mm f/4 ordinary El Nikkor which is a cheap lousy lens for MF, certainly compared to the better-corrected 5.6 version, but actually does very
    fine work with 35mm. It cost next to nothing.