el nikkor 50mm - 2.8 or 4?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Craig Swensson, Oct 13, 2009.

  1. Craig Swensson

    Craig Swensson Member

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    replacement enlarger arrive today - meopta 6 replacing an old rondo. Within a week i have managed to source the enlarger, glass for neg carriers and a el nikkor 75mm, now i need to get a replacement 50mm lens.
    Bearing in mind that i am someone who does prints for family and friends and my own pleasure - will i really notice any difference with the el nikkor 50mm 2.8 over 4? [referred to as the `cost/benefit ratio']

    Background info, i use ilford C41 BW exclusively at present through minolta auotocord/ Kiev 4/ minolta sr /1.4 lens.
    The prints are done as give aways - no money involved - and the prints out of the rondonar 50mm i have been ok , cheers
     
  2. alexmacphee

    alexmacphee Member

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    I've had the EL Nikkor 50mm f/4 for about thirty years. I've occasionally thought it would be nice to have that extra stop, but I've never got round to getting it, so I reckon the f/4 is good enough or I'd have overcome the inertia by now. Optically, it's a cracking good enlarging lens.
     
  3. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I think of this like a large format lens. The wider aperture may help you focus and compose.
     
  4. werra

    werra Subscriber

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    Meopta 6 as Opemus 6? If the lensboard of Opemus 6 is similar to the one of Opemus 5, 2.8 El-Nikkor will not fit into included reversible lensboard. Diameter of plastic-style, not N, 2.8 is 49,5mm, just below mounting thread. Check if it fits, just to be sure.
     
  5. Craig Swensson

    Craig Swensson Member

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    yes opemus 6, do you use opemus 6?
     
  6. Craig Swensson

    Craig Swensson Member

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    I've had the EL Nikkor 50mm f/4 for about thirty years. I've occasionally thought it would be nice to have that extra stop, but I've never got round to getting it, so I reckon the f/4 is good enough or I'd have overcome the inertia by now. Optically, it's a cracking good enlarging lens.

    30 years, thats a good enough recommendation for me, cheers
     
  7. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I have both the f/4 and the f/2.8 EL-Nikkors, and the f/2.8 lens is clearly better when making prints of 8x10 or larger from 35 mm negatives. With smaller prints, you can't see any difference.
     
  8. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    The extra stop is not the only difference. The f2.8 is a 6 element lens, whereas the f4 is a 4 element. In theory, the 6 element lens is a better lens, and fschifano's experience points to this. Considering that I've seen the 50mm f2.8 go for as little as 10-15 dollars recently, why not?
     
  9. Craig Swensson

    Craig Swensson Member

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    thanx, David, yeah i was aware of the element difference, yes if i got a 2.8 for that kinda money - off course, latest seen is aud 55.00 plus post at aud 15.00, i`m in no hurry but you know how it is, ya see something that fits the deal and think ya better get it before the next guy

    Werra, i think i`ve got a custom lens board with this one as well as original, thanks for info
     
  10. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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    I also have both. I can't perceive any difference up to 10 x 8 and the difference in brightness for focussing is minimal for a correctly exposed negative. My 2.8, however, does have a very slight internal haze, visible when looking at a point light source but with no discernable effect on the finished print - perhaps a penalty of its more complex construction and number of lens element surfaces?
    Steve
     
  11. Chris Nielsen

    Chris Nielsen Member

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    Can't speak for the f/4 but I got my f/2.8 off Trademe for $30 and all I know for sure is it's way better than the no-name thing I had before :smile:
     
  12. ooze

    ooze Member

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    I use an el-nikkor f2.8 with an Opemus6 without any problems.
     
  13. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    I have had both. 11x14 prints from the two lenses can't be accurately sorted into two piles without looking at the notes on the back.

    The 2.8 should have a theoretical advantage as it can be used at wider f-stops with a concomitant reduction in loss of resolution due to diffraction. However, this is offset by a reduced depth of field that requires precise enlarger alignment and possibly the use of glass negative carriers. Top-of-the line APO lenses that are used at or close to wide-open have so little depth of field that glass carriers are a must.

    At a common printing aperture of f-8 or so, a good compromise between depth of field, lens aberrations and diffraction, the results from the lenses will be close to identical.

    The number of elements in a lens, 4 or 6, does not have a direct bearing on lens performance. A better lens doesn't necessarily have more elements.
     
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  15. outwest

    outwest Subscriber

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    Some years ago, one of the photo magazines that did lens tests tested 50mm enlarging lenses from all the makers. The EL-Nikkor f/2.8 came out soundly on top. The f/4 Nikkor was, well, cheap.
     
  16. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    I used both El-Nikkors, and I much prefer the f/2.8. Sharper, more contrasted, and not that expensive. You can find an f/2.8 for 50$ or so in mint condition on the Bay.

    Now I have a Minolta C.E. 50mm, which is everything I can ask from a 50mm enlarger lens.
     
  17. outwest

    outwest Subscriber

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    Nicholas is correct, of course, in that in order to take full advantage of a lens, you have to do your side of the equation. Alignment must be on and glass carriers are required. As for being satisfied with a lens for a long time, I had an 80mm that I was happy with for 10 years before I did my homework and began testing various other lenses against it. Once I saw what I had been missing for 10 years, I wasn't so happy.
     
  18. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I have the f2.8 but not the f4 so can't compare nor comment on factors such as lens groups, test comparisons etc. These may be important but on aperture alone, all I would say is that the light available from an aperture of f4 is plenty good enough for me to focus and I have never needed less than f8 for 8x10 prints with still quite short exposure times of less than 15 secs. If you have to do any dodging I think that times of less than 10 secs will give you problems. At f2.8 my prints would need less than about 3 secs! I cannot think of circumstances in terms of light where f2.8 would be essential and f4 not good enough.

    Your needs and printing circumstances may be different.

    pentaxuser
     
  19. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    All other things being equal, a maximum aperture of f/2.8 vs f/4 simply allows easier composing and more accurate focusing. I've never had to use the lens wide open to make the exposure; but having the extra stop of light, and the narrower depth of focus, on the baseboard sure does come in handy sometimes.
     
  20. alexmacphee

    alexmacphee Member

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    I don't print bigger than about 10x8" from 35mm ; if I need larger, I go to medium format ; so in that respect, I've never really had occasion to exercise the f/4 EL Nikkor beyond that degree of englargement. However, I've been very pleased with its performance, and though if an f/2.8 came my way at a reasonable price, I might try it out, I've found no lack in the f/4 that would cause me to seek to swap it out. The extra stop might be useful for framing up, I'm sure, but I've always used a focussing magnifier, and in B&W at least, focussing on the grain is accurate and easy at f/4. I should add that, though I've been satisfied with this lens for a long time, it wasn't my first, by a good decade. All the same, if the f/2.8 came up at a good price, and bearing in mind the experience of those who've used it, and whose opinions are clearly to be respected, it'd be nuts to pass it up.
     
  21. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    I agree with Nicholas except for the fact that a 6-element should always have an advantage over the 4-element variety at wide-open apertures.

    However, I like to add a thought:

    Why would anyone even think about a compromise in enlarger lens performance?

    They are very cheap (compared to taking lenses and cameras), and they are part of the image system, which is only as good as its weakest link. I think, the best strategy is: Get the best enlarging lens you can afford, because it's the cheapest way to get best technical print quality!

    Everything else is like buying a Porsche and then fit it with wooden spoked wheels. Who would do that?
     
  22. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    I haven't tried the 50/2.8 but our club darkroom has the 50/4. It has visibly soft corners even at f/8 enlarging to 5x7, which caused me to go out and buy myself a Rodagon to use instead (much much better). I can't tell you if maybe theirs was damaged or whether they're all like that, but the one 50/4 I tried was not good at all.

    I think AUD30-50 is pretty typical for the 50/2.8 and you can get other great enlarging lenses (Rodagon, Componon-S) in the AUD50-80 range.
     
  23. randyB

    randyB Member

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    Back in the 70's I used the F/4.0 and was very pleased with the enlargments. I also used it on my Canon FTB with an adapter and a short extension tube as a macro lens and and it performed very well, not as good as the 50/3.5 Micro, but very good needless to say. As others have said, you won't see much difference in print quality up to 8x10 size and as others have also said you can get the 2.8 lens for just a few dollars more, so I would go for the 2.8 model. Which ever version you get be sure to use it at f/8 or f/11 for best sharpness. You might also consider the 63mm f/2.8 el-Nikkor or the Schneider 60mm f/5.6 Componon, both are outstanding lenses, but can get a little expensive.
     
  24. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I have never seen a MTF curve for any Nikkor enlarging lens, but I thought Schneider still had the Comparon (4 element) MTF that I could pull up to compare to the Componon-S (6 element) MTF but I'm unable to locate the Comparon MTF data.
     
  25. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    What Ralph said.

    In the olden days, perhaps it was worth saving 200-300$ dollars and sticking with more modest lenses (insofar as it was within the limits of performance needed), but with the current prices, the only expensive lens that's left is the APO-El-Nikkor!

    One is not throwing money away by going after the best of the bunch at the prices we can have it. Especially an enlarger lens. The features or "defects" of camera lenses can be exploited creatively, but I have yet to see someone do the same at the enlarging stage. Enlarging lenses are strictly practical tools: if your camera is a violin, your enlarger is a wrench.

    By using the best enlarger lens one can find, you're reducing the degradation of the image you worked hard to get on your negative.
     
  26. Craig Swensson

    Craig Swensson Member

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    okay so we got a 50/50 split, solution is that i will buy both, the f4 this week because there are more around, a 2.8 next week/month, then i will sell the one i dont want, easy as that.
    Thank you all for your helpfull replies, i can now weigh up the pros and cons.
    regards.

    Everything else is like buying a Porsche and then fit it with wooden spoked wheels. Who would do that ,
    you may have something here that Porsche would be interested in, there may be carbon credits involved:D: