Kodak Ektar Large Format Lenses?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by SPS731, Jul 26, 2007.

  1. SPS731

    SPS731 Member

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    Does anyone have experience with Kodak Ektar large format lenses? Specifically the Wide Field 250mm f6.3 and the Commercial Ektar 14" lenses? How do they compare to modern day lenses?

    Thanks for your help in advance.
     
  2. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    That particular lens isn't featured, but you might find this interesting. In general, the Ektars have a very good reputation.
     
  3. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I have a 14" Commercial Ektar, and have used it extensively. It is an excellent lens. For sharpness, it is the equal of any modern day lens. Same with color rendition. It is not quite as contrasty, but in my book that is a plus. It also has a more pleasing bokeh (out of focus area rendition), in part due to the multi-bladed iris in the Ilex #5 shutter.
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Karsh used the 14" Commercial Ektar quite a bit, and Ansel Adams was partial to the 10" WF Ektar, so it is certainly possible to make excellent photographs with these lenses.

    I have a 10" WF Ektar. It's not quite as sharp or contrasty as a modern lens, but the coverage is huge (enough for 11x14" or 7x17"), so it can be something of a problem solver for 8x10", even if you also have a modern 250mm lens that covers 8x10".
     
  5. photobum

    photobum Member

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    I agree 100% with Flying Camera. I too have the 14" in a #5 Universal. Anyone who thinks that the lens is not up to their standards is a legend in their own mind.
     
  6. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    Ektars are great lenses, but the Ilex shutters aren't as nice or reliable as Wollensak, Copal, Compur or Prontor. Oh yeah, and the filter thread sizes are unusual. These aren't big issues, but you should be aware of them if you're looking to buy an ektar. For years I used a 203 ektar. It was as sharp as anything I've owned.
     
  7. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    2 or 3 14" Ektars have come and gone at my house. One problem for me was the f45 max aperture. In that size it seemed like a host of problems could have been solved with one more stop. I bumped up against that often enough that it caused me to move on. I think Dagor's are better solutions. I've not owned a 250 but I have owned the 190 WF Ektar. It didn't become a permanent piece either.
     
  8. mmcclellan

    mmcclellan Subscriber

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    I've used several Ektars over the years with 8x10 and loved them! The "atmosphere" and contrast were outstanding, and they were certainly very sharp -- especially given that I was only doing contact prints, anyway. And they're good value now, too. Pity they're not still made using the old formulas . . . .
     
  9. SPS731

    SPS731 Member

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    Peter, what do you mean when you state the filter thread sizes are unusual? Will modern screw-in filters work on these lenses? If not, are there good work-around solutions for filtering?
     
  10. SPS731

    SPS731 Member

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    Has anyone else found the maximum aperature of f45 an issue with these lenses for general pictorial photography?

    While we are discussing older lenses, I once read that older process type lenses like Red Dot Artars do not increase the depth of field as they are stopped down. Is this correct?
     
  11. vet173

    vet173 Member

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    I've had a 10" wide field and am sorry I ever sold it. It's now going to cost me double to get one back. I also have a 240 G-claron. It's sharper, but more contrasty. Definitely a different flavor to each. Not as sharp as does not mean it's not sharp. When shooting chrome in uncontrolled light sources, the WFE will kick the modern multi coated lenses' ass. The Ektar Commercial lenses are extremely sharp.
     
  12. JG Motamedi

    JG Motamedi Member

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    No, you probably read that process dialytes like the Artar or the Ronar do not increase in coverage stopped down.

    I have been using a 135mm WF Ektar for the past few weeks and have been very happy with it. Sharp coverage at f32 is about 235mm, just enough for a bit of movements with 5x7 and huge movements with 4x5. Like Jim I have been a bit dissapointed with the Ektars' limited aperture; f32 with the 135mm WF Ektar. However, this hasn't really affected me, just a theoretical limit.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2007
  13. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I have had a handful of Kodak lenses. The 203 and the 12" have been my favorites. The 12" needs a shade bad as the lens's image circle is very large and the coating less developed than modern lenses. Images on 4x5 can lack contrast or worse. The 12" has a very pleasing out of focus area and works well as a slightly long portrait lens. The 203 is really a wonder lens, big image circle, very sharp, good contrast,and it works very well with colour films. All in a very small little package. The lack of a threaded filter ring is very annoying. The price of these lenses can cure many annoyances
     
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  15. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    All lenses increase DOF as you stop down. Artars are no exception.

    If f:45 isn't a small enough minimum aperture for you in some circumstances, you could always make a smaller aperture disk like Weston did and insert it in the lens as needed. I haven't found a need to do so with my 10" WF Ektar.
     
  16. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Allegedly the Fuji L lenses are modern copies of the Kodak Ektars. If you can find a Fuji L 300mm I doubt it'll be any more money but will be in a #3 shutter. I'm not sure if thats a plus or minus :rolleyes:
     
  17. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Ektars

    have owned a 152mm Ektar for as long as I can remember. there is something exquisite about the way it works with polaroid film. spent quite a while working this combo when I did not have darkroom. VERY underrated lens....
    Best, Peter
     
  18. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    I have and use both the 250mm 10" Wide Field Ektar and the 14" Commercial Ektar on my 8x10. I love 'em both. They are two different designs as "Ektar" is a a "brand" (you'll find tessar, double gauss and dialyte "Ektars" for example) rather than a single design (like a "Dagor"=double anastigmat.) The Wide Field is a double gauss and the Commercial is a tessar.

    The only real downside is they'll sometimes command collector prices which can up the ante so much that newer optics make more economic sense---but newer optics are rarely as fast (if thats an important consideration to you.) Of course they are also larger and heavier and live in #5 Universal shutters but compared to something like a 165mm f8 Super Angulon these Ektars begin to look like Twiggy :wink: OK maybe not Twiggy, more like Sophia Loren :smile:

    The Universal shutters require some finesse and a sense of humor helps. If you tend toward the ubermensch mentality they will likely drive you farther off the deep end. OTOH, I have learned to love them.

    With both a 14" Commmercial Ektar and a 10" Wide Field Ektar you've got 8x10well covered. Over the years I've added a 19" Artar as my "long" lens and a 159mm Wollensak Yellow Dot as an "ultra wide" and a 240 G Claron and 12" Dagor as "back ups" to my kit (either the Wolly, the Dagor or the G-Claron fit nicely inside my folded camera with the lens board reversed, which is nice for hiking while the thought of the Ektars being carried that way just don't jive with my 'comfort zone') but if they were all to dissolve into wishful thoughts tomorrow I could get on with 8x10 life quite nicely with just the Ektars.
     
  19. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    I might as well refer back to your original question! Both these lenses are single coated, not MC. They do perform nicely with color film---the Commercial Ektars were, after all, commercial studio "standards" before and during the 50's and early 60's. With B&W performance is legendary and IMHO the equal to any modern lens and in some ways better, if you happen to enjoy creamy skin tones (think Yousef Karsh) and contrasty intimate landscapes (think Ansel Adams) these lenses have been long famous for.
     
  20. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    One more thought. Slip-on series filter adapters are nearly impossible to find in the sizes these lenses require. I use the Lee rubberband thingy with 4x4 filters in Calumet cardboard holders with excellent results. The Wide Field really needs a lens shade most of the time and a hat works fine for that job.
     
  21. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    Somehow I just never thought Sophia Loren and a Kodak Ektar would be compared.....LOL Eleanor Roosevelt maybe?
     
  22. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I also used the Lee Gel-Snap until I found a Series 9 4" gel holder that looks like it was made for my 10" WF Ektar. It came with some other equipment, and another thing that came with it were three barn doors that looked like they had been removed from a studio light and three clips so I can attach them to the front standard of the camera as an adjustable shade.

    If you wanted to use glass filters, you could order them in Ser. 9, or get a step-up ring to a more common size, like 105mm, but those are expensive filters in glass.
     
  23. highpeak

    highpeak Member

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    Hope this won't drive up the price on those Ektar lenses:smile:
     
  24. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    Speaking as a studio product photographer for over 35 years, I have Commercial Ektars in 8", 10", 12" and 14". I also have more modern lenses in these focal lengths such as Nikkor, Schneider, Rodenstock and Fuji. I use my "modern" lenses for location work and outside where the newer coatings help diminish lens flare, for the studio work I exclusively use the Ektars. Primarily on 4x5, used to use the 12 and 14" on 8x10. They have never let me down. In the last week I have exposed about 86 sheets of 4x5 Ektachrome EPP. The images are great, as always. The downside (but not for inside studio work with strobes) is the older shutters that are somewhat cantankerous. I know how to disassemble and clean these old Ilex/Acme shutters though, so I can keep mine running. For studio work with strobes, as long as the shutter has X-sync, and some sort of instantaneous shutter speed, I am good to go.
     
  25. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    I have both the 8" and 12" Commercial Ektars and they are the primary lenses I have used since going to LF in 2003. Most of the photos in my gallery were taken with the 12 inch on either 8x10 or 4x5 film. No one has ever told me that I need a better lens. I'm completely happy with them. The f/45 stop limit has never caused a problem. I mostly shoot at f/22 of f/32.
     
  26. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    Jim,

    I was trying to be charitable to the ol' gal. Ever since I had to clean her up with vodka (purely as a field expedient---who carries lens cleaning fluid in the mountains?) I figure I owed her that extra kindness:D