Enlarging lens..

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by tossik, Jul 1, 2009.

  1. tossik

    tossik Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I currently have a Nikon f1:4 50mm lens on my Besseler, and want to upgrade to make pictures clearer? what I am looking at are the following:

    - Schneider Componon-S 50mm f2.8
    - RODENSTOCK RODAGON 50mm f2.8

    Which of the two would you take and why? or should I just stay with me Nikon?
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    They are both superb lenses I use Compon-S and Rodgaon lenses in various sizes and they are direct equivalents.

    It really comes down to which is the best deal cost wise.

    Ian
     
  3. Jeff Searust

    Jeff Searust Member

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    I am puzzled by the "clearer" need--- is there a problem with the lens? what size negs on what enlarger to what size enlargement. Are you using a grain focuser? is there an issue with the lens opened or stopped down? Is this a paper issue (flatness?)

    More info needed
     
  4. tossik

    tossik Member

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    Well Jeff I just never used a better lens than what I have so I would not know if there's much difference. I'm shooting 35mm b/w, enlarging on besseler 23II XL with dual dichro head. Print 5x7, 8x10, and largest I went was 11x14. I would like to get some 16x20s in the future with acceptable results. I am using a scoponet 20 power grain focuser. I am happy with results but how much different of a result would I get with a 2.8?

    Thanks.
     
  5. GJA

    GJA Member

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  6. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Jeff makes a good point. Either of the two lenses you've mentioned would be better than good, but I don't think that a replacement lens is the solution to your problem unless the lens you are currently using is damaged. The 50 mm f/4 El-Nikkor is not the best enlarging lens around, but all things considered it's a heck of a lot better than some of the junk I've seen passing for good lenses. I use one on an Omega B-600 for prints up to about 4x to 6x from 35 mm negatives, and it's pretty good. I can't see any difference between that lens and the better f/2.8 version of the lens that I use on my bigger machine. For bigger enlargements, the f/2.8 lens is clearly better.

    So what's the problem? Maybe the enlarger is not properly aligned? Maybe you have a vibration problem? Do you use a grain focuser? Getting sharp focus on the baseboard can be tricky without an aid, especially if you're a little older and need reading glasses.

    My advice? See about addressing any other potential problems first, and see if things don't improve. Until you've eliminated all possible other factors, the likelyhood of a new lens improving things is not good. Then move on to another lens, if you think it is necessary.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 1, 2009
  7. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    There are 50mm APO Rodagons floating through eBay (multiples per week) and with some patience, you can pick one up for very little money. I have one and also a Schneider APO 45 and I cannot tell the results apart. At large magnifications, they show a bit of advantage over the Nikkor 2.8 and similar Rodagon/Schneider 6 element choices. I only do black and white these days and I think that color workers may see some advantage beyond what I am experiencing. The Rodagon's 2.8 aperture is a bit brighter for composition, etc than the ƒ4.5 of the Schneider but other than that, I'd call it a toss up.

    FWIW- I came into a large number of high grade optics as part of a large purchase and had multiple examples of all of the good lenses. I spent some time pondering which to keep and did some testing. One thing I learned beyond these being individual "luck of the draw" advantages is that the APO choices require more care in enlarger alignment. Their sweet spot tends to be more to the open aperture end and depth of field is less apt to cover up any alignment miscues. I played with various systems for this (also fighting with my Beselers to achieve true all-plane alignment) and finally bit the bullet and bought a Versalab which made the process very simple and intuitive.
     
  8. Martin Aislabie

    Martin Aislabie Subscriber

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    They are both great lenses

    There is probably more individual lens to lens variation than there is between the two brands

    As Ian Grant says - take the better offer

    Martin
     
  9. tossik

    tossik Member

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    Okay thanks for the advice guys. I'll stick with what I have till I find a good price :smile:
     
  10. Jeff Searust

    Jeff Searust Member

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    I think the "right price" argument seems pretty fair. The other idea might be to go for a different size rather replacing than what you have-- look for a 65 or 75mm maybe and use it for smaller enlargements (8x10 and less). Then you will have a wider latitude in the enlarger rather than just what you have.

    I agree with the luck of the draw sentiment on enlarger lenses. I have a nikkor that has gone to the junk box while I have a no name 135mm with a wonky blade that I love and use regularly on my Beseler 45mx. Which is the main reason I am a little questioning just about replacing one brand for another.

    Good luck, and look for value rather than the name stamped on the front.
     
  11. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    tossik, You don't say where you are, but it's possible there's an APUG member close to you who would let you try a different lens/see if yours needs replacing.

    I have found that some enlarger lenses age, & deteriorate, all of mine were in a commercial darkroom, I cleaned carefully but other probably didn't, If I can see the differences in prints, those lenses are retired, in fact the lenses I'm using now optically look like new :D

    Ian
     
  12. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    I worked in a photo store in the late 60's and a very finicky customer did some extensive testing comparing the EL Nikkor f/4 (this is before the 2.8 was marketed) against the Componon at 16x20, finally purchasing the Nikkor lens because the Componon was so much more expensive and no better. I bought the EL Nikkor f/4 myself and used it for many, many years. I finally came across a Nikkor 2.8 (a gift), and switched to it for the speed. I can't tell the difference in quality.
    As others have suggested, if you are not satisfied with your prints, maybe you can post a scan or two. You could have other problems, including the lens deterioration.