Are there any good lenses from 'unclean' brands?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Lachlan Young, May 13, 2006.

  1. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    As the title says does anyone know if there are any good lenses from manufacturers that would be regarded as 'unclean'? I am particularly looking for LF lenses to cover 5x4 of between 100mm and 210mm. The reason for looking for 'unclean' brands is so that the prices may be lower - unfortunately everything seems to be suffering from acute Gallitis with prices soaring up up and away out of my price range. The absolute maximum I would be willing to pay is £100-£120. The specific focal lengths I am interested in are 150mm-210mm. I am looking for a general purpose lens with a 'look' similar to that obtained with heliar type lenses. I am also looking for a tessar type lens of about 200mm focal length.

    All help much appreciated,

    Lachlan
     
  2. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Lachlan, LF lens bargains are still available. There are a lot of apochromatic process lenses out there (nearly all in barrel mounts) and in various focal lengths. Examples include Apo Nikkors, Rodenstock Apo Ronars, Wrays, Agfa Repro Camera lenses and Apo Raptars. Economical Tessar type lenses include the Wollensak Raptars and the Russian LF Industars, etc.
     
  3. JG Motamedi

    JG Motamedi Member

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    Unclean? Been reading Leviticus?
     
  4. cdholden

    cdholden Member

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    lenses with the cloven hoof? sorry. only kosher optics discussed here.
    chris
     
  5. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    No, I was meaning lenses from brands like Wollensak, Ilex etc as compared to Nikon, Schneider etc. The thread title was inspired by a thread started by Andy K about your favourite 'unclean' makes of cameras.

    Hope this helps,

    Lachlan
     
  6. JG Motamedi

    JG Motamedi Member

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    Ilex is an abomination!

    Well, I picked up a 90mm f/8 Ilex Acu-Veriwide for $200 a few weeks ago for a particular job. I was surprised to find that the lens actually covers 5x7 with a respectable amount of movement and very nice sharpness and color rendition.
     
  7. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Lachlan, be very careful when you slander Wollensak and Ilex. Both made some world-beaters. For example, Wolly's 160/5.6 and 210/5.6 Pro Raptars. And Ilex Acugons (the longest is 90/8) and late Paragon/Acutars.

    Its a shame that you posed your question as you did. You really should have asked which lenses fit your budget and are good enough to use. And you should have told us whether you can use lenses in barrel or must have lenses in shutter.

    Someone suggested the 210/4.5 Industar-51. They're all in barrel. Mine isn't particularly sharp centrally. Since I've shot it only on 2x3 that's all I can say about it.

    If you must have the Heliar look, whatever that means, save your new p until you can afford to buy a real Heliar. You'd do better to concentrate on the basics of lens performance -- sharp enough for your purposes to the corners, low flare -- than to worry about fine points. Many of the fine points the local lunatics go on about ad nauseam are a consequence of lens abuse, i.e., asking a lens to cover a larger format than its maker intended.

    If you want a good affordable lens, focal length 6" - 8.25", look for a Kodak #3a or #4 Special with a B&L-made Tessar IIb in Compound or Ilex. The lens will likely be engraved Zeiss Kodak No. 4. I have one of these in barrel, made in 1914 or so, that shoots beautifully. These cameras aren't expensive, your hundred quid or so should easily buy one and a CLA for the shutter and a board with hole for your 4x5 camera. Also look in eBay.de for nice post-WWII f/6.3 Tessars from CZJ. One of my neighbors has several, doesn't complain about them.

    Yours in bottom-fishing,

    Dan

    Thinking of fishing, I killed two little trout this morning. How'd you do?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 13, 2006
  8. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Jason, I have a 65/8 Ilex, middle sib of yours. There's also a 47/8, baby sib. By all accounts, these are no worse than, possibly a little better than, the equivalent f/8 Super Angulons. I'm as delighted with my 65/8 Ilex as I am with my 47/5.6 SA, i.e., very.

    If we're lucky the kid will stick around long enough to lose a little of his ignorance.
     
  9. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    Sorry, if you got the wrong end of the stick - what I was trying to ask was: are there any good lenses at reasonable prices from brands like Wollensak/ Ilex - brands which in my view have had a very unfair press recently - that offer good perfomance?
    How common are the Pro Raptars and are they significantly more pricey than ordinary raptars?

    What is a reasonable price for a Heliar - I'd be looking for something relatively recent and coated?
    The east German lenses seem to have a good reputation, however in Europe at least, they can often go for quite high prices. As to the Industar one Ukrainian seller on Ebay has commented that 'the quality sanction on these lenses was not very high' - so it is not surprising that there are a lot of dogs out there - mind you someone has found out that the problem with many of these lenses was that two of the elemnts seem to have been interchanged wrecking their performance! I will have a look out for the B&L/Zeiss Kodak Tessar - what is a reasonable price? Don't worry about converting $ to £.

    Your help is much appreciated,

    Lachlan
     
  10. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Go to ebay and check out completed auctions for a price guide. Then look at large format items for sale.
     
  11. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    Oi! :smile: I already thought that some of the Wollensaks were hugely underrated - it was just the Ilexes I was less sure about. How rare are these Ilex wides anyway?

    Lachlan
     
  12. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    Many of the Ilex lenses made during the Caltar era of the late 1960's are stellar. I particularly like the little 165mm Caltar f6.3 that turns up in the early Copal 0 shutter. Nice as pie. Here's a 190 - 300 convertible (re-shuttered) that is a modern plasmat VERY much like Schneiders Symmar of the same era. This was also an Ilex product. When I think Wolly, I'm usually thinking earlier soft on purpose stuff. I confess to not paying much attention to their late offerings. Kodak Commercial Ektar's are well loved of course. A favorite of mine is a diminutive Kodak Anastigmat f7.7 170mm that started life on some UK product of the '50's. It is in a nasty Ibsor shutter but the glass is beautifully single coated. I shot it next to a Zeiss Protarlinse Serie VII of the same combined length as a comparison once upon a time just knowing the pricey Zeiss would blow the Kodak away. Kodak won hands down. I think I paid all of $38 for that lens. Still need to fix the shutter though.
     
  13. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    What size shutter would it require to be allowed to breathe freely? :smile:
    It seems that Kodak, despite not being especially adventurous with lens designs, refined already existing designs into world beaters - just look at the commercial Ektars - certainly one of the Kodak f7.7s is on my list and I may end up buying one if I can find a nice one at a good price.

    Thanks for your help,

    Lachlan
     
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  15. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    Any Copal 1 would do.


    I have a splendid 203 7.7 from about 1963 I would sell but the neat little 170 is kind of scarce and I think I'll keep it. Figure a $ a mm for the 203 but that includes shipping to UK. jg
     
  16. joneil

    joneil Member

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    Ilex Paragon Anastigmat series of lenses are basically very good tessars. I use a 6 1/2 inch version myself (about 163mm?), covers 4x5 with room for movements. Probally would cover close to 5x7 straight on if stopped down to F22.

    Wollensak 15 inch (about 380mm) Tele-Raptar is also a very good lens. Big, heavy, not really highly portable if backpacking for long periods, but a good, surpizingly sharp lens. I use one of these too.

    Last - in enlarging lenses - Wollensak 161mm enlarging raptar is a very nice lens for 4x5 work in the darkroom

    Last one - Wollensak 90mm wide angle raptar. I long since sold mine. A dim lens, but very smalla nd lightweight. Only drawback was almost no room for movements on 4x5, but a very sharp lens.

    joe
     
  17. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    Jim, I have one of those little buggers in a Supermatic shutter, it is a dandy!
    Got it in the late fifties on a trade, let it bounce around in a drawer for a couple years, then finally mounted and played with it. Wow, mine is not for sale.

    Charlie........................
    BTW, I have made some very good negatives with a Russian Industar of about 250mm, glass is excellent, but the barrel it is mounted in is pretty
    poor.
     
  18. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    There are probably more execllent lense out there with old or lesser known names than there are Schneiders, Nikkors and Rodenstocks.

    There were an awful lot of beautiful and sharp images made prior to 1950, and even prior to 1920.
    Jim
     
  19. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    65 and 90 Ilexes are around, often badged Caltar, but unless you make a lucky find both are on or above the upper end of your price range and the shutters will probably need CLAd. 47s are too short for you and quite uncommon. Come to think of it, the 65 just barely covers 4x5, you'd be better off with a 90. Use Google, search for Acugon to learn more about them.

    Use Google more, search eBay completed auctions more. Part of the LF way of being, especially among those of us with inadequate budgets for what we hope to do, is DIY. This goes for information as well as for gear.

    If you don't have a decent normal lens yet for your 4x5, concentrate on getting one before going farther.

    You asked about Heliars. Heliar is a Voigtlaender trade name. Before Cosina bought the right to use V's trade names Heliar usually meant a 5/3 very nearly symmetrical lens. Few other makers used the formula. Dallmeyer Pentacs are f/2.9 Heliar types. EKCo made a handful: 50/4.5 & 75/4.5 Enlarging Ektars;, 63/8 Microfile Ektar; 100/3.5 & 105/3.7 Ektar. There are some heliar formula process lenses, all f/9 or thereabouts, quite narrow angle, and nearly always found in barrel. Sounds odd, but Voigtlaender's Apo Skopar process lenses are heliar types.

    If you want a Heliar that will cover 4x5, you'll have to buy a Voigtlaender Heliar. Or an Apo Lanthar. Out of your price range and way out of your price range, respectively.

    This will sound odd coming from me, since I have a bad case of it (not with respect to 35 mm gear, though), but acquiring lenses solves little. Get what you can afford, go shoot and be happy. Most of all, go shoot.

    If you must buy lenses, pay bottom dollar or don't buy. Don't try to keep up with the Gallis of this world unless you can wheel and deal as Jim does.

    There's a pretty little 165/6.3 CZJ Tessar closing tomorrow on eBay. Too exensive for me (to give you an idea, the last /6.3 Tessar I bought was a 150 CZJ in barrel, 1912 vintage, that cost 16.05 euros plus postage, the one before was a 5 3/8" B&L in Compound, also 1912 vintage, that cost $25 at a camera show) but it might do for you IF you have a shutter you can hang it in front of. If not, don't buy it.

    Yours in bottom fishing,

    Dan
     
  20. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    Lots of great Wollys and Ilex lenses out there. Out of production, yes but unclean? Hardly. If you're looking for soft portrait lenses, Wollensak made a slew of them that are considered classics (Verito & Vitax to name a few).Ilex also took the ball that Kodak dropped when they discontinued the Commercial Ektar and stood toe to toe with Schneider until they (Ilex) went out of business(but it wasn't because of inferior products) The Commercial Ektar is still with us but now its Congo and made in Japan(and multi-coated)

    Karsh reputedly used a 375mm Ilex, Hurrell used a Wollensak Verito. These 'togs could and often did use any lens they wanted, and Ilex and Wollensak were up there with the rest with no apologies.

    Fear not the Ilexs and Wollys in good condition....most of them offer good value for the money (and considerably less money at that)
     
  21. Len Robertson

    Len Robertson Member

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    Lachlan - You seem to be getting some excellent answers to your question. Nothing worthwhile I can add, but I wanted you to know I found your "unclean" brands phrase very amusing. Given way the Big Name lenses seem to have an almost religious following, I'm sure you wouldn't have to look too hard to find people who would consider the Lesser Brands to be "unclean" or close to it. I'm glad this opinion isn't shared by all, since someone is sending me an Ilex Paragon of some sort. Just to be on the safe side, I think I will start taking my darkroom chem gloves when I go to the post office.
     
  22. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Sigh. The only lenses made in the past decades have been chosen for economy of manufacture, not potential quality.

    Roll back the clock, you'll find Rochester the hub of the finest optical work the world has seen, Kodak at the center. It will be an interesting bit of research: look into the interesting career of Ruldoph Kingslake.

    Despite the needs of marketing, not much worth mentioning has been done in LF lenses since Kodak farmed out the end of their lens making to to Germany, to help get the optical firms back on their feet after WW2.

    Folks are eager to be snobs: jump at heliars, manufacture romance. Goodness knows nothing good can come from rochester.
     
  23. John Z.

    John Z. Member

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    My most expensive lens, a 19 inch Dagor, is by no means my favorite lens, although I bought it because I had to see if there was any 'magic' in this particular lens and focal length. I tend to prefer my 600mm Fuji over it as far as the image it makes, and it is more compact.
    My favorite lenses for 11x14 currently include an old 265mm French barrel lens, maker unknown (?Protar derivative), 300mm Wollensak wide field raptar, and 360 Goerz process lens with a blue dot (Trigor type?). These lenses are all found by trial and error, but comparing a lot of lenses leads one to find these very special but relatively unkown types of lenses.
     
  24. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Most of the lenses I own fall in that price range, or below.

    Oddly enough most of my "modernish" lenses are Schneiders!

    But it's still easy to find a cheap 121mm Leitmeyr Wide Angle Anastigmat (Angulon clone) in shutter, lots of different barrel lenses, or even good uncoated Heliars for less than $200. The trick with Heliars is to buy a Voigtlander Bergheil camera with it - my 150mm and 120mm both came with cameras, both at around $100...
     
  25. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    I already have an Ektar 127mm f4.7 which came with the camera and is aligned with the ragefinder.

    Better go Bergheil hunting then...

    The Jena tessars seem to have a good reputation - will look into the one you recommended. I have also found an ektar 203mm in good condition for less than £100 so I might just buy it instead!

    Thanks,

    Lachlan
     
  26. acroell

    acroell Member

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    Since you asked for Heliar-types...here is another unusual option: If barrel lenses are ok for you, the "Meopar" enlarging lenses from Meopta (Czech Republic) were Heliar (Dynar, to be exact) types and were made in focal lengths up to at least 210mm. These often go dirt cheap, since old enlarging lenses that are not six element types are frowned upon. For completeness, the Belar and Anaret lenses from Meopta are Tessar types, and the Meogon is a six-element Plasmat or double Gauss. According to Meopta, the "Correctar" lenses are also Heliar types, but I could not check that myself.