Enlarging Lens advice needed for 4x5...

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Jim17x, Aug 23, 2012.

  1. Jim17x

    Jim17x Member

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    I just pick up a 4x5 camera and need advice on an enlarging lens.. I have used El-Nikkors for medium format and 35mm and was wondering how the larger El-Nikkors are? Can i use a 135mm for a 4x5 neg or do i have to go larger?
     
  2. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    Better to use 150 than 135mm for 4x5. Large coverage circle, more even coverage....assuming that you do not have an issue of sufficient distance to print the enlargement size that you need to.
    But I would choose a Schneider Componon-S 150mm f/5.6 for absolutely the best contrast performance, and the 135mm El-Nikkor last.
     
  3. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    That is certainly a fine lens, but I think the Apo-Componon HM 150mm f/4 will beat it, and it's a stop faster.

    I use the HM and get extraordinarily good prints from it.

    - Leigh
     
  4. voceumana

    voceumana Member

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    Ctein's tests in Post Exposure 2 tested El Nikkor 135mm, Rodagon 135mm, Rodagon 150mm, and Componon S 150mm. Conclusion: all 4 lenses had very similar contrast and resolution; the Componon S 150 mm had the best contrast of 4x5 lenses, but wasn't quite as sharp as the 135mm Rodagon. You can download a free copy of the book on his web site: http://ctein.com/booksmpl.htm

    I suspect their is more variation sample-to-sample among the best lenses than there is brand-to-brand. Enlarging/process lenses have among the most stringent requirements, and I doubt of the major manufacturer's there isn't anything they don't all know.

    For smaller formats, I have El Nikkors, that I am very happy with; I have a Comparon 150 mm that is very sharp, and I like--even though it's only 4 elements. Comparons are optimized for a 4x enlargement ration (Componon's are optimized for a higher enlargement) and this might play into it. I've also bought a 135mm El Nikkor, and a 150mm Rodagon (they were cheap), but haven't tested them yet. I got the 135 in case I want to make bigger enlargements than the 150 allows.

    One thing to keep in mind is the mounting size: lensboards have become very expensive, so it might be worth it to get a lens that you can mount on your existing lensboard.

    Charlie Strack
     
  5. Jim17x

    Jim17x Member

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    Thanks for the info.. I have always used the El-Nikkors and was very happy with the contrast but i have never tried a Componon..
     
  6. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Any of the big-name (Schneider, Rodenstock, Nikon, Fuji) 135mm or 150mm lenses are fine. Or even a 180mm, but you won't be able to print very large. The point voceumana makes about lensboards is important, you want to get a lens with an M39 mounting because that's pretty universally supported and while a 150/4 lens is surely lovely, I don't think you're going to see any difference in a print and you'll need a custom lensboard with a ~50mm hole in it.

    In terms of quality and resolution: all of the big-name lenses can resolve the grain in your film wide open. Contrast improves slightly when closed down one or two stops, but they're all spectacularly good lenses. Cleaning your lens will make a much larger difference to print quality than any differences between the good ones. They're all much much sharper than what your eyes can perceive, even when shoved right up against a large (30") print.

    An APO lens may be of some benefit if printing in colour, but only if you operate the lens wide-open. At -2 stops, they're all diffraction limited.

    I have a cheap 135/5.6 EL-Nikkor and while I have no doubt that an APO-Componon is measurably better and would snap one up in an instant if I found an affordable copy, I'd put money on you not being able to tell the difference in print quality side-by-side. I have both Componon-S and Rodagons for use in medium format and have used an 80mm APO-Componon; the print quality is in all cases limited by the negative quality. If you want sharper prints, use a sharper film and/or objective lens and/or camera technique.
     
  7. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Apo lenses have distinct advantages when using additive (RGB) rather than subtractive (CMY) heads.

    After all, variable-contrast paper relies on both blue and green light to form the image.

    I used to print Cibachromes and also used an RGB additive head, thus getting optimum results from the enlarger system.
    Did that really improve the quality of the prints? I don't know, since I had no CMY head or non-APO lenses for comparison.
    Yet I was sufficiently confident of the advantage that I spent a whole bunch of my own money on the system. The prints look great.

    - Leigh
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 23, 2012
  8. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    The rule is that you must use a lens of focal length at least as great as the diagonal of the negative expressed in millemeters to get complete covereage. This would be 150 mm but a 180 mm is probably a better choice.
     
  9. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    Personally I would put the Computars above the normal lenses and approaching the APO lenses. They are difficult to find though and most of them have horrible separation these days. In the end though all that matters is that you make beautiful pictures. The only people that will critique what lens you use are other photographers, and they don't buy prints....
     
  10. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Sorry, but the blue and green coming from the CMY head are focused just as well as that coming from the RGB head by an APO lens.
     
  11. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    The makers of 135mm enlarging lenses for 4x5 film have not heard of your rule.
     
  12. SkipA

    SkipA Member

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    What enlarger do you have? There are plenty of cheap used 39mm lens boards available for Beseler 45 enlargers. A 150mm lens will need a board with a 50mm hole. It is less common used, but not that hard to find. Both the 39mm and 50mm Beseler boards are available new, but they are pricey.
     
  13. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Oddly, after trying several enlarging lenses for 4x5, I ended up liking the 135 EL- Nikkor the best. It is a fine lens.

    The 150mm enlarging lenses are all good but as you already noted, a 150mm enlarging lens needs more column height than a 135mm lens for the same size enlargement.

    I think everybody needs to try a few and find what works best for them. It is, after all, a matter of some subjectivity.
     
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  15. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    One would need an impressively tall enlarger column to make an use of the 180mm enlarging lens - no?
     
  16. Jim17x

    Jim17x Member

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    I have a Beseler MCRX 45.. I have several boards including a board that came from a 150mm lens so i wont have any issues with having a board.
     
  17. SkipA

    SkipA Member

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    I have an MCRX also. You can make a 16x20 with either a 135mm or 150mm lens on that enlarger. But you need less headroom with the 135mm, no matter what enlargement size. If you want to go bigger than 16x20, the 135mm will be the better option unless you have or build a drop-table.

    Of course, the MCRX has the bracket to allow you to shoot horizontally, but from all accounts, it's difficult to achieve good enough alignment to manage a sharp print corner to corner that way. I've never tried it.

    I mainly use an EL-NIkkor 135mm on my MCRX for 4x5. I have no problems with coverage.
     
  18. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Perhaps I should have said rule of thumb. The same rule applies to taking lenses. Yes you're right but you have to be careful in making a choice. As with most things in photography there are tradeoffs. There are 135 mm lens which will cover a 4x5 negative but they contain more elements and are more expensive. The cheaper ones may cause distortion, lower contrast, or light dropoff at the corners of the print.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 24, 2012
  19. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    I would never consider an enlarger lens with fewer than six elements; some APO designs have eight elements.

    The el-cheapo four-element lenses (i.e. all four-element lenses) are low hobbyist grade... Think kid in the closet stuff.

    - Leigh
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 24, 2012
  20. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    I would agree with you if we were discussing lenses for 35mm. But when dealing with 4x5 negatives there is not that much magnification. A 16x20 print is only a 4X linear magnification. A good four element 150 mm may produce results indistinguishable from a six element 135 mm.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 24, 2012
  21. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    I have used the 135mm EL-Nikkor for years and had no issue at all with fall off or lack of sharpness with 5x4.
     
  22. darkroom_rookie

    darkroom_rookie Member

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    Rodagon-WA 120mm. If/when you see one, grab it.
     
  23. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    My lens of choice for 4x5 is a 1960's vintage Wollensak 135mm. It performs as good as my Rodagon 150, means I don't have to stretch to focus making 20x24's.
     
  24. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    The Schneider and Rodenstock 135 and 150 all are available as six element lenses. Both Schneider Componon-S (135mm and 150mm) have excellent MTF for moderate 4x5 enlargements and have similar image illumination at the corners.

    The Rodenstock Rodagon 135mm is $614.95 and the 150mm is $799.95 at B&H.


    [​IMG]
    RED= Schneider Componon-S 150mm
    GREEN = Schneider Componon-S 135mm
     
  25. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Note to the OP; the Rodenstock Rodagon 135mm available from B&H comes in a 39mm mount.
     
  26. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    A 180 will give a more even field of illumination than 150, and 150 than 135. But you can obviously
    balance this out with either a custom-ground diffuser above, or by careful dodging/burning of the
    corners of the image during printing (easier in b&w work than in color). It also depends on how big
    you need to enlarge, combined with how tall the enlarger is. I have sucessfully used all these focal
    lengths for 4x5, as well as even longer lenses. Most modern lenses by the major manufacturers will
    be excellent for typical applications (Fuji, Nikkor, Schneider, Rodenstock).