Congo large format lenses

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Mark O'Neill, May 12, 2008.

  1. Mark O'Neill

    Mark O'Neill Member

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    I have just for the first time heard about "Congo" large format camera lenses from japan. Apparently they have been in production since the 1920's but why don't they show up in books or in the market place? Have any of you LF users had any thing to do with them? Are they worth buying? Would like to hear from anyone who may have experienced these lenses?
     
  2. David Grenet

    David Grenet Member

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    I have one, but I'm afraid I don't really have anything to compare it to so I probably can't help there...

    The one I have is a 300/5.6 telephoto lens mounted in a copal 1.
     
  3. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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  4. mmcclellan

    mmcclellan Subscriber

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  5. munz6869

    munz6869 Subscriber

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    I just got one in the post today (coincidentally). It's a cute little 90mm/3.5 in a Copal 0 - clean and bright, and now the 2nd "modern" lens I own. I read some Congos are dogs, but at least on the groundglass this looks snappy - can't wait to try it out!!

    Marc
     
  6. Laurent

    Laurent Subscriber

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    I'd be interested about your feedback about using it for 4/5 ? I own a Tachihara and would love to get a long lens for it, so the light weight of these seems interesting.
     
  7. Tomf2468

    Tomf2468 Member

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    I have an Osaka (believed to be same as Congo) 120 and 210. Very light, coated, modern shutter. All around great lens. Won't beat a brand new modern Rodenstock wide open, but will come $%#@* close to matching it at F16 to F64
     
  8. Trevor Crone

    Trevor Crone Member

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    I have a 240mm Tele-Congo in Copal Press No.1 shutter. Certainly sharp with plenty of movement on 5x4. Got it on Ebay a few years back, as new.
     
  9. David Grenet

    David Grenet Member

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    This lens is not particularly light weight (and definitely not compact) - it measures 5.5cm out from the front of the shutter and has a filter thread of (I think) 62mm!

    As for using it, it covers 4x5 wide open with some movements and (without anything to compare it with) certainly seems sharp enough.

    As far as I can tell, they don't make this one any more...
     
  10. Maris

    Maris Member

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    I have and use the Commercial Congo 210 f6.3 and the Commercial Congo 360 f6.8 on 4x5 and 8x10 formats. The 210 covers 8x10 but with NO movements. The 360 actually has a maximum image circle of 510mm; much more than the published spec of 415mm.

    Back in the 1990's I used to sell the Congo range of lenses and still have the old price lists and specification sheets.
     
  11. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    To my understanding the Commercial Congo is a multicoated version of the venerable Kodak Commercial Ektars. Good stuff :smile:
     
  12. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    I've a 135mm f4.5 Yamasaki Congo lens in a Seiko shutter. It's a good 'press type' lens and I use it handheld on a 4x5 crown. It's sharp and has great contrast. I've a shot of a lake focused at infinity and the very edges of the negative are a little soft however. I received the lens for free and am happy with it. If I were paying for a new lens I might go for something else (and probably not a 135mm..)

    The commercial-ektar type ones do look very nice though. And the soft focus lens is interesting..
     
  13. Laurent

    Laurent Subscriber

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    Re : Congo lareg format lenses

    My mistake... I was thinking of the 300/8 and 400/8 ones, advertised for about 400 grams. The 300 does seem to barely cover 4/5 but the 400 seems OK and is still light.

    Anyone uses these ?
     
  14. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The sales approach from Congo is rather laid back and relaxed, no push, no real marketing. The website is hardly ever updated. The News page is still 1997 !!!! OK other pages are 2004 or 2005.

    Congo are a sleeper. They could play a very valuable role in LF photography, making the lens types no longer made by other larger companies.

    Suggestions would be:

    Wide Angle Protars, the Ross & Zeiss Patents lapsed years ago, it would be wonderful to be able to buy a small multi-coated modern version.

    Hypergon's, the Goerz wide angle with the propeller, again a MC version.

    Dagor's, it's unlikely Schneider will make them again

    Ian
     
  15. highpeak

    highpeak Member

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    I have a commercial congo 210mm F6.3 and I am very happy with it's performance. It's also my smallest 210mm lens, even smaller than my 150mm caltar IIN. I carry these two lenses when ever I go hiking with my 4X5 camera.
     
  16. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Hypergons: Nice, but virtually impossible and would be very expensive, even from Congo. The deep curvature in thin material makes it one of the most expensive lenses it's possible to produce.

    Dagors: Why? Besides, Schneider still makes one: The 550XXL.

    WA Protars: Not as easy as it seems, and they would still be f:18. But maybe there is a market for them? In most cases I'd rather have - no, forget that: Congo already is making a small, lightweight double-Gauss moderate WA. Maybe I could wish for a new edition of the last version of the Angulon, preferrably complete with a suitable center filter. :wink:
     
  17. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I'd rather have a newer version of the f16 Ross Protar, the patented Zeiss f18 version was based on the earlier Ross patent, their licensing agreements must have been very complex.

    Ian
     
  18. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Ian, the Ross lens was made under licence from Zeiss. Ross made them f:16, but Zeiss were not willing to accept the quality loss caused by increasing the maximum aperture from f:18 to f:16. Besides, the 4,5 - 6,3 - 9 - 12 - 18 - 25 aperture scale was "standard" in Germany at the time (one of many "standards", but at least that's what Zeiss used).
     
  19. NavyMoose

    NavyMoose Member

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    Osaka Lenses

    After reading this thread, I started looking online for Osaka lenses, specifically the 120mm. The coverage looks pretty good, especially for 4X5. The price is half what the Nikkor-SW 120mm is. Can you please post some photos taken with this lens?

    What kind of movements are you capable of using this lens with a 4X5? I have a Toyo 45C, which I use for landscapes.

    Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    Navy Moose
     
  20. Mark O'Neill

    Mark O'Neill Member

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    thanks for the congo replies

    Now I am a ware that congo is a reputable manufacturer I will seriously consider a purchase.The 400/f8 tele is looking good at around $700 from the congo web site price list. Thanks to all respondants. The only problem is finding a retailer in Australia, or do I trust purchasing directly from Japan?
    I'll keep you posted about what transpires.
     
  21. Tomf2468

    Tomf2468 Member

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    Osaka

    Some 120 Osaka examples:
    http://www.ferguson-photo-design.com/buttons.html
    http://www.ferguson-photo-design.com/art/inside.html
    http://www.ferguson-photo-design.com/art/lily-bud.html
    http://www.ferguson-photo-design.com/art/wormwood.html

    I bought mine many years ago. At that time (assuming my 50 year old memory is working) Bromwell had a ?30? day return policy if you didn't like the lens http://www.bromwellmarketing.com/

    After reading this thread, I now doubt that Congo and Osaka are the same lenses. They may come from the same plant, but the maximum f/stops are different between the two lines.


     
  22. NavyMoose

    NavyMoose Member

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    Wonderful photos!

    I'm going to keep thinking about this, when I get my kiss in the mail from the IRS I will make my decision.

    Thank you for the links.

    Navy Moose
     
  23. ReallyBigCameras

    ReallyBigCameras Advertiser Advertiser

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    The Osaka lenses from Bromwell are definitely made by Congo. The only difference is the name on the lenses, who sells them and who provides the warranty.

    Congo makes multiple designs in some focal lengths. So, that might explain any differences in max. aperture, but the 120mm Wide Angles are both f6.3 max. Also, what Bromwell sells is a subset of what Congo offers. If you look at the tables here you will find everything Bromwell sells under the Osaka name in one of the tables.

    I still have and use my little multicoated 90mm f6.3 Congo Wide Angle I bought several years ago. I actually tested five of the Congo Wide Angles, three 90s and two 120s, and kept the best of the 90s. The coverage is a bit tight on 4x5, but as long as I remember to check the corners of the ground glass for mechanical vignetting, it's not a problem.

    Prior to getting the little 90mm Congo wide angle, I'd used a Linhof select 90mm Angulon as my wide angle for backpacking. The Angulon was plenty sharp (as long as I didn't push the movements), but on color transparency film it had a much cooler color cast than my modern multicoated lenses. The color rendition of the Congo was much more pleasing to my eye and a better match to my other lenses. So, I kept it and sold the Angulon and have never regretted that decision. It's so tiny that there's never an excuse not to take it wherever I go - and it's been on many long backpacking trips with me over the years and has been used to make some of my favorite images on many of those trips.

    Kerry Thalmann
    Really Big Cameras
     
  24. alanrockwood

    alanrockwood Member

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    Any more comments about Congo large format lenses?
     
  25. werra

    werra Subscriber

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    Well, I have 300/5.6. Barely covers 5x7, so quite a lot of room for movements in 4x5.
    Not the sharpest lens in the pack tho, center is ok, edges fall a bit apart even on 4x5. But it certainly is lightweight (aluminium elements, 370g without shutter) and compact for the focal length and aperture. And pricewise it is much cheaper than, say Schneider tele-xenar 270, or alike, without compromising image quality that much.

    4x5: http://www.flickr.com/photos/werra/4753820938/
    5x7: http://www.flickr.com/photos/werra/4649579256/

    Vignette on both images is caused by moderate tele shade, not by lens limits.