Classic, Non-Coated Camera Lens for Contact Prints Only?

Discussion in 'Contact Printing' started by ELDAR, Oct 20, 2007.

  1. ELDAR

    ELDAR Member

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    I recall reading somewhere that an uncoated lens (If in fact, one prefers the softer, low contrast quality) should not be used when an enlargement is planned. In other words, would the highly regarded non coated Heliar, for example, lose it's magic when shot in 4x5 and then enlarged? Or, would a coated lens always be preferred for enlargements, leaving non-coated lenses for contact printing only?
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It's not that simple, and coating isn't the only issue or necessarily the main issue. There are some uncoated lenses that have very good contrast and will hold up to enlargement.

    My own sense, though, is that the classic lenses look better in most cases on contact prints, so I use them mostly for 5x7" and larger, which I contact print, and more modern lenses for 4x5" and smaller.

    There are a few exceptions though. I have a 168mm ser. iii Dagor that's fine on 4x5" when I need its extra image circle. It's not as sharp as a modern plasmat, but when I need an approximately normal lens on 4x5" and lots of front rise, it's the right tool for the job. I have an 11.5" Verito that I use mainly on 4x5". I prefer the 14" Verito on 8x10", but it's not always possible to bring the 8x10" camera.
     
  3. ELDAR

    ELDAR Member

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    Thanks, David. That's kind of what I figured. In your opinion, being a Heliar fan that you are, how do you feel about 16 x 20 enlargements from an uncoated Heliar in 4x5? I like enlagements up to 8x10 or so, but I'm wondering if the resolution would fall apart in a big image for exhibition. Naturally, in the final analysis, I have to be the judge, but do you think I'd be better off with a more modern, coated lens. I actually like the Geronars despite what many say. Just a tad soft and less clinical than something like a Sironar-S.
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    You've got to test the lens you have, since Heliars were produced for quite a few years and there is some sample variation. I have one older 24cm Heliar that I use on 6x6 that doesn't hold up well to enlargement at wide apertures, but the later 36cm Heliar that I usually use on 8x10" isn't bad with modest enlargement on 4x5".
     
  5. Anton Lukoszevieze

    Anton Lukoszevieze Subscriber

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    I used to enlarge a lot, but am doing less and less as contacts just have more intensity. Enlarged photos look a bit drab somehow. I use 'classic lenses', a dagor, kodak anastigmat, gundlach triple convertible, etc. and contact print everything from 3x4 up to 8x10. I like the look of these lenses and combined with contact printing the look is beautiful. I am not an expert in these matters!
     
  6. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    Uncoated lenses may be lower in contrast, but certainly lenses from the top manufacturers are not necessarily lower in resolution. Contrast ultimately is controlled by film development and choice of printing paper and paper developer.

    In the days before lens coatings, photographers did outstanding work by being careful to shield their lens from direct sunlight and other reflective sources outside the field of view. Good practices even today.
     
  7. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    There is absolutely no reason not to enlarge from uncoated lenses.

    http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=25717&cat=500&ppuser=124 was shot with an uncoated lens (zeiss Doppel-Amatar 150mm), so was http://www.apug.org/gallery/data/502/thumbs/Senja01.jpg (Angulon 210mm), http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=28122&cat=500&ppuser=124 (WA Rectilinear 3 1/4") and http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=6055&cat=500&ppuser=124 (Heliar 150mm).

    I can assure you that all of these hold up very well under enlarging - and one of them is a crop of less than 1/4 of the film area.
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Under many circumstances an old uncoated lens will perform almost as well as a modern MC lens, it will all most certainly appear to be more tonal, lacking the wiry modern sharpness of Japanes lenses, but that's not a bad thing.

    I have a couple of Tessars, 1919 & mid 30's both are very good, sharp with plenty of contrast, edge sharpness isn't quite up to modern standard but is only noticeable with enlargements. A late 30's Dagor, later factory coated is on a par with modern lenses.

    Where older lenses just can't compete is shooting into the light, I'm just putting some image together for a project and there isn't the slightest hint of flare or degradation shooting straight into stage lighting, or into the sun with the best modern lenses.

    Reality is if you use an old lens, remember how people recommended their use at the time of manufacture.

    Then also think of those wonderful images you've seen that were made with these old lenses when they were first produced. If you can't match the quality there's something wrong with your technique :D

    Ian
     
  9. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    Weston did quite a bit of contact printing and Ansel did quite a bit of enlarging. IMHO both photographers have made some very nice prints suitable for framing:smile:
     
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  10. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    You make a good point there Dave.

    I bought a 10x8 camera with the intention of just making contact prints, one look at my first negatives and I knew I had to enlarge, despite the taking lens being well over 75 years old. It's as good now as the day it was made, so as long as I use it wisely I can't blame the lens for poor quality images.

    Ian
     
  11. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    And a lot of those photos were made with uncoated lenses. Perhaps all or nearly all of Weston's were.