Old / classic enlarger lenses - are there any gems I'm missing out on?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Jeff Bannow, Aug 29, 2011.

  1. Jeff Bannow

    Jeff Bannow Member

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    I've got the latest and greatest lenses to enlarge with (well, at least good modern ones), but am curious about the older classics. Is there any good reason to look to some older enlarging glass? Is there a signature or character that could be had, similar to working with older glass in camera lenses?

    I'm perfectly happy with my lenses now, I just wonder if I'm missing something good. Unfortunately, it isn't easy to mount a lot of the older lenses I've seen since they are heavy and need a larger hole than my lens boards provide. Obviously I could have them mounted, but it's not worth the effort if they aren't up to snuff.
     
  2. Zathras

    Zathras Subscriber

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    I like the Kodak Enlarging Ektars. Very sharp, nice tonal rendering. If you're using an Omega D2 lensboards are still possible to find.
     
  3. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    Hi,

    In my understanding long time ago they were using same lens from camera on enlarger (reason: probably lenses were expensive) - that is why you have M39 mount on some enlargers and cameras.

    I have made some prints using old elmar 5cm/3.5 as enlarger lens - unusual look, less perfect than el nikkor, but unusual and worth of trying.

    Regards,
     
  4. Jeff Bannow

    Jeff Bannow Member

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    I'm using a durst l1200, so boards are probably a bit more complicated. I should be able to mount anything up to 55mm diameter or so.
     
  5. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    Wollensak made some very nice 4 element enlaring lens, I have a 50mm, 90mm, 135mm, and 165, just replaced my 50mm Wollensak with a Fuji 50mm 2.8, although much brighter and easier to focus with at F8 or F 11 I dont any differance up to 11X14.
     
  6. semi-ambivalent

    semi-ambivalent Subscriber

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    I've acquired a lot of lenses by thinking like that. :smile:

    s-a
     
  7. Jeff Bannow

    Jeff Bannow Member

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    That's what I'm afraid of. :smile:
     
  8. semi-ambivalent

    semi-ambivalent Subscriber

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    Well, don't look to me for strength... :laugh:

    s-a
     
  9. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    My thoughts on the subject:
    1) lack of resolution in enlarging lenses just makes bad prints. If the grain is not sharp (it won't be with a bad lens) the print looks bad. If the grain is sharp in the center and blurry at the edges it is even worse.
    2) Flare at the time of negative enlargement is totally different than flare when the photogapht was taken. The dark areas bleed to the light areas. For some scenes this is good. I showed a print with some intentional diffusion at one of our last print viewings and Dorothy has used that technique. With portriats the results may be disturbing. I once saw it [flare during the printing process] described as making portriats suitable for the "Munsters" or "Adam's Family."
    3) I think using 'vintage' enlarging lenses for intentional effect when making prints is a wide-open field, but don't expect results similar to a brass lens used to expose the negative. It has its own look that may be only suitable to certain subjects.
     
  10. Jeff Bannow

    Jeff Bannow Member

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    Thanks Dale - that's kind of what I was expecting. I'm probably better off using diffusion and such where wanted.

    I might still dig up an old lens to play with though.
     
  11. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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  12. Jeff Bannow

    Jeff Bannow Member

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    Now, the question is, which lens is funky enough to be worth tracking down?
     
  13. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    Sorry I misread your post, for your purposes you might want to see if you can find a Federal enlarger lens from the 40s, three elements uncoated, will need an adaptor ring to fit to a lens board. At the price of some Federals may be cheaper to just buy an enlarger.
     
  14. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I had a Federal enlarger in the 60's, no condensors and a funky lens, I had lotsa fun learning to enlarge on it. I had a contact printer before that, a Sears DR kit I recieved for Christmas, I was in high cotton.