Kodak 50mm Enlarging Ektar image quality..

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Robbie Bedell, Jun 16, 2017.

  1. Robbie Bedell

    Robbie Bedell Subscriber

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    Well, today I made prints to compare to image quality between my 'new' Kodak 50mm 4.5 Enlarging Ektar and my Leica 50mm 4.5 Focotar 2. I made 11x14-inch prints of an older image I made in France back in the 1980s. This is a print from a negative I have made many times so I am familiar with it. This is not scientific, but subjective. I will not scan them as they are too big for my scanner. If there were noticeable differences you would not see them on a computer screen. The fact is that I am having a very difficult time telling one from the other. Truthfully the Ektar is that good. This is an excellent example of the Ektar...the glass is like new. I keep going back to the two prints and looking at the little bits which might be a giveaway to which is 'better' or I should even say 'different.' They are remarkably the same. The folks at Kodak really knew their stuff back then!
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2017
  2. Johnkpap

    Johnkpap Member

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    That does't surprise me......

    I Bought a Kodak Ektar 161mm lens for Under $10......I compared 11x14 prints done with my Super Duper Rodenstock Rodagon lens and I am having trouble telling them apart

    May be if I went to 24x20 I might just see something.....Maybe not.

    Johnkpap
     
  3. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    If I am not mistaken they are the same 5 element Heliar design.

    Personally after all the lenses I have tested I have found there to be very little difference between them. I think the Leitz lenses have that "it is Leica so it is better" reputation which makes people see things. I have a Durst Neonon on my Focomat right now. Faster than the Focotar 2 and just as good. Heresy! The Neonon is supposedly a Pentax lens. Who knows.

    Anyway, I am not surprised by your findings.
     
  4. chip j

    chip j Subscriber

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    Yes, the Neonon was made by Pentax--I have 2--fabulous Glow!
     
  5. Martin Rickards

    Martin Rickards Member

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    I've often wondered why lenses were not supplied with minimum numeric specifications for resolution, centre/corner luminosity etc. It would at least put an end to numerous internet discussions:wink:
     
  6. Dali

    Dali Member

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    Well, I don't think it would be enough to stop endless and meaningless conversations. As you certainly noticed, those fueling these threads often make reference to subjective values *tone, micro-contrast, you name it) as a smoke screen. Difficult to get a rational conversation at such irrational level...
     
  7. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    If lens makers attempted to provide detailed performance tests on each lens, there would be a madhouse of buyers competing for the best despite no perceptible difference in practical enlarging.
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Over the years I've used a lot of different enlarger lenses, Ross, TTH (Cooke), Dallmeyer, Minolta, Schneider, Rodenstock, Nikon, Vivitar (Schneider), Durst (Pentax), all highly capable lenses and you'd only spot slight differences when used at their wider apertures.

    I've also used cheaper enlarger lenses and the differences are quite obvious and they aren't worth using at all.

    So despite its age I'm not surprised the OP's Ektar performs well, the 6" Dallmeyer that came with my first 5x4 enlarger was very sharp but lacked contrast compared to modern lenses however I bought a mint Dalcoated version for £1o ($16) about 3 years ago and what a difference, as good as a Componon S or Rodenstock.

    Ian
     
  9. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I have Schneider, Wallensake and Kodak Ektar 50mm, up to 11X14 stopped down to 5.6 or 8 I cannot see any differences. The only advantage to the Schneider 2.8 is easer to focus when printing dense negatives. If I was printing color I could the see the benefit of using an APO lens, for B&W not worth the money. Maybe at 16 X 20?
     
  10. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    By the way, my reference to "very little difference between them" refers to five/six element lenses. There seem to be some lenses that are good that aren't six elements, but I haven't tested/used them. I do have an Elmar which is a four element lens but no one would accuse it of being sharp. Still, I find it to be a good lens for portraits. It also lends an older look to the print. For those of you who want that old look, not a bad lens to have around. Keep in mind all the old prints you see from the old masters were printed without the benefit of modern APO glass. The Elmar holds it own on smaller prints for tonality, just doesn't have the salt and pepper look of a modern lens.

    Anyway, just throwing that out there if it helps someone.
     
  11. jimjm

    jimjm Subscriber

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    I have a 3" (about 75mm) Enlarging Ektar from '54 that gives great results. It's a coated heliar design with 5 elements. Hard to distinguish prints from this or my modern 80mm Componon-S, although the Schneider lens has more convenience features. In it's day, Kodak made some of the best lenses in the world.
     
  12. OP
    Robbie Bedell

    Robbie Bedell Subscriber

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    Thank you everyone. I neglected to say that the prints were each made with the same #2 Ilford Multigrade filter at f8 on Oriental fiber-based glossy paper. Also, the lens was made in 1955.
     
  13. jjphoto

    jjphoto Member

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    Please correct me if I'm wrong (and supply pics and info if available) but I don't think there is any such lens as an 'Ektar 161mm' enlarging lens. I think you may be referring to the 'Ektanon 161mm', from the cheaper/lesser line of EL's from Kodak, which is a 4 element/3 group lens, ie a Tessar.
     
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  15. jjphoto

    jjphoto Member

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    Lots of comments/opinions that the Neonon is made by Pentax yet no proof or even evidence that this is so. Does anyone have any actual evidence to support the Pentax link, articles in old magazines, advertising material etc? I'm not trying to disprove it, rather I am trying to actually prove the link however I think that a personal view, ie 'they look like Pentax lenses', doesn't really cut it as proof, or even evidence.
     
  16. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    I don't really care who made them since they are good lenses. But, they are made in Japan, don't look like Fujis, Computars, Hoyas... And I have read that people who have lived in Japan said you could get a Pentax branded one (only in Japan), they have a silver rim like Pentax-M lenses of the same vintage and the aperture font looks the same. So it is a pretty decent assumption that Pentax made them.
     
  17. greg zinselmeier

    greg zinselmeier Member

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    I wonder who will win ? inquiring minds want to know !
     
  18. chip j

    chip j Subscriber

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    You have to buy a National Photo Enquirer.
     
  19. Johnkpap

    Johnkpap Member

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    "think you may be referring to the 'Ektanon 161mm"

    Sorry you are correct JJphoto

    It Sill prints as good as a Rodagon


    The only time I ever noticed a Really big difference in my prints was long a go when I was a Poor underfunded Photography student in the early 1990's,

    I went from a Crappy Astron (3 element lens that comes free with a enlarger) 50mm F3.5 lens to a El Nikkor 50mm F2.8 I noticed that my 8x10 prints had better corner sharpness, and I did'nt have to Stop down to F11 to get a good print.

    Johnkpap xxxxx
     
  20. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Not all Durst Neonons were made by Pentax, the two I have were and Durst made no secret of their sourcing the opticsat the time, it was in the BJP. For professional uses Durst selected Schneider lenses, in the same way Linhof would select LF lenses, these carry the Durst name as well as Schneider.

    It's worth noting that the early Vivitar 150mm VhE lens I have was in a composite barrel before Schneider began using non metal barrels themselves, it's possible the barrel was made by Meopta, they worked with Schneider on composite lens barrels.

    Ian
     
  21. jjphoto

    jjphoto Member

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    I have Minolta, Fujinon, Osawa/Hoya/Yasica, Kowa/Computar, Nikon, Komura and other Japanese lenses and they do share some similarities with the Durst lenses, depending on which parts you wish to compare, however overall I'd agree they don't really seem to look like other Japanese lenses. In any case, this probably only suggests the lenses were not made by those other brands but it doesn't therefore mean that Pentax did make them. I'm not a Pentax collector so am not thoroughly familiar with their cosmetic treatment from this period but I do see some similarity between the Durst EL's and some Pentax camera lenses.

    This is an interesting point. I have tried to find such lenses, simply by Googling and searching on Ebay, and couldn't find any 'Pentax enlarging lens' (I've tried this in the past too with no luck). If you come across pics of such lenses please let me know (pm me here or email via 'contact' on Photocornucopia.com). My own Durst lenses, below, have the chrome rim you seem to refer to.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I've only seen Japanese made 'Neonon' lenses (which all look to be by the same maker) so not sure which other 'Neonon' lenses you mean. Can you shed any more light or do you mean the 'Neotaron' made by Rodenstock?

    Thanks for the info about the BJP. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any info online, they are copyright so generally not scanned and hosted online, so if you have a copy of the relevant article I'd really appreciate a bit more info about it or even a picture or link of the article if possible. If you let me know which issue then I can try to follow up further. A reference from such a publication would clear this up once and for all.

    Thanks in advance
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  22. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    There's a thread on APUG somewhere re stating other sources of Neonon lenses, we have to take their word for it, I've only seen and bought - actually I think mine came with a Durst enlarger and both are the Pentax ones. As far as I can recall Pentax made the optics and perhaps not the barrels.

    The BJP was once a weekly magazine, I've only a few left with relevant articles or the odd special editions. The yearly Annuals wouldn't have that sort of information, unlike the 1963 and earlier BJP Almanacs which list the major new products of the preceding year.

    Ian
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
  23. OP
    Robbie Bedell

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    Ian, Does the Durst Neonon have click stops? I am sure it does, but I ask because I saw one for sale that where seller mentioned that the one he was selling did not. I am assuming that his example has a problem, but I want to be sure! Thank you!
     
  24. Dali

    Dali Member

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    Yes, Neonon lenses have click stops.
     
  25. OP
    Robbie Bedell

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    Thank you!!
     
  26. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    My 50 has click stops, and the aperture ring clicks up to adjust the aperture freely giving you whatever you want. That is why I use it on my Focomat. I use a cheap Ilford meter to dial the aperture to a known value on the meter, and as a result, can make small proof prints quickly without having to do any tests. It saves me a lot of time.

    They don't sell for much Robbie. Get one. It isn't much different than other lenses though, but the extra light is worth it.

    Hope that helps you.