Old Lens Contrast

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by SteveH, Jul 13, 2006.

  1. SteveH

    SteveH Member

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    All,
    I tested an old AGFA Doppel Anastigmatic lens at the beginning of the week, with some very cool results. However, as to be expected, the contrast is lacking. What do you think the best way of boosting this would be ? Longer Development ? I know that a yellow filter can boost contrast slightly, worth a shot perhaps ? Or should I correct this when I print ?

    Thanks !
     
  2. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I am guessing that this is an uncoated lens. A good lenshood should definitely be helpful. As far as having an extra sharp negative you should try a number 12 or 15 filter. Fouc with the lens stopped down and the filter in place. You may wish to try a 20% longer development time..increase your film speed by half a stop..along with your normal development and see which you prefer.
     
  3. medform-norm

    medform-norm Member

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    Did you use a good lens shade or compendium? I found this quite the little helper. You may also need to experiment with different kinds of film/paper combinations. You did not state in your post what you used.
    Cheers,
    Norm
     
  4. SteveH

    SteveH Member

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    Thanks !
    I was using Efke 25 and Fomapan 100 in rodinal. Yes, its an uncoated lens, and no I didn't use a lens shade, but I'll see about rigging up a compendium.
    I will probably just increase the film speed slightly, to make my development times standard.

    Thanks for the help.
     
  5. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    Steve, lens type has more to do with it than anything else. Most old Agfa double Anastigmats are dialyts. 4 glass 4 group. That gives 8 surfaces at 4% each to let image light get away from you and replaced with flare. Old Rapid Rectilinears are 4 glass 2 groups so 30- 35% loss becomes about 15% real quick. Big gains in contrast with that solution. That's also why we love old Dagor's and Protar's.
     
  6. cperez

    cperez Member

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    If you haven't already done so, open the aperture and shutter and look through your optic toward bright light. If there is any haze it will be quite obvious. Making sure there is no haze or other nasties in the lens itself may help you increase contrast.

    The reason I suggest this is that I have a 5 1/2 inch #31 Kodak Anastigmat that is quite contrasty. It's not coated. And before I removed haze between elements on a single coated Symmar Convertible 150mm I was cursing single coated optics. Now that lens too is quite contrasty and really can't show a practical difference between it and my other multi-coated lenses.

    Just a suggestion. :smile:
     
  7. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    But Chris, y'r #31 KA is a tessar. Two fewer air-glass interfaces than a dialyte.

    FWIW, I have a dialyte type 130/6.8 Goerz Doppel Anastigmat that's as cleaned as cleaned can be and it makes low-contrast images. Sometimes an old lens is a silk purse in disguise, sometimes it really is a sow's ear.

    But you're right, Steve should make sure his sow's ear is clean.

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
  8. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I've got two 135mm f:4.5 Eurynars - a typical dialyte. One is sharp, but produces very low contrast. The other one has been coated, and the difference is striking!

    But the low contrast can be used to good effect: It increases exposure in the shadows, just like pre-flashing. So you can expose a little less, and develop a little more and get very similar results to a coated lens. In my case - I use the coated one and keep the "original" in the closet.
     
  9. SteveH

    SteveH Member

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    Hrmm. Thanks for the info yet again Jim, I never thought of it like that before.
     
  10. SteveH

    SteveH Member

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    Thanks. It is, it actually is spottless, and honestly looks 'new' (as does the shutter...its really increadable)...Which is why I decided to mount it up and use it in the first place. I'll learn to deal with the contrast issues in one way or another as you all have suggested. Its not really a lens that I'll be using all the time, but it does give me a really nice effect. On the unfortunate side of things, its really motivating me to plunk down some cash on more old lenses :D .
     
  11. SteveH

    SteveH Member

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    Thanks. It is, it actually is spotless, and honestly looks 'new' (as does the shutter...its really incredible)...Which is why I decided to mount it up and use it in the first place. I'll learn to deal with the contrast issues in one way or another as you all have suggested. Its not really a lens that I'll be using all the time, but it does give me a really nice effect. On the unfortunate side of things, its really motivating me to plunk down some cash on more old lenses :D .
     
  12. cperez

    cperez Member

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    Yes, Dan, you're right.

    To underscore your comments, I have a pair of Heliars which are, as you put it, cleaned as cleaned can be. One is coated, the other uncoated. They both are lower contrast than just about anything else in my kit. Still, the Heliar effect can't be denied.

    Maybe Steve will find a nice film/developer/process-time combo that helps make images from his low contrast lens somewho "sing". :smile:


     
  13. Terence

    Terence Member

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    I own waaaaaay too many old cameras and lenses. I've discovered that I prefer the look when used with at least a yellow filter. So whenever possible I try to use one, if not an orange or red, especially for landscape shots.
     
  14. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    You're on the slippery slope ...

    Given my little sow's ear from Goerz, if I were you I'd be cautious about uncoated dialytes that were the low-cost option. In fact, I'd be cautious about the low-cost option in general. Its time for you to buy a copy of the Vade Mecum so you'll know, for some but not all plate cameras, what the options were.

    I didn't notice a suggestion that if you're shooting b/w you can print on a harder grade of paper. Too obvious, I guess.

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
  15. SteveH

    SteveH Member

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    Thanks Dan.
    I believe that the correction in printing may be best, as I tried the yellow filter yesterday, and it didn't do much (although it did make me waste some film, as I was too busy trying to hold the filter on rather than giving one extra stop of exposure...).
    I ordered a copy of the Lens Vade Mecum on Monday....Hopefully it'll be here today or tomorrow (I ordered it from the source in the US).

    Thanks again,
     
  16. Harrigan

    Harrigan Member

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    Try using a red filter to increase contrast. Read what Ole wrote the man has obviously used many old lenses and what he has written is correct about getting more shadow detail. I recently started shooting seriously with very old uncoated lenses and found the shadow detail to be quite a nice surprise. There are many ways to add contrast including the red filter, increase developement, selenium tone or chromiun intensify the neg, print with hard paper, use high contrast paper developer like dektol etc etc etc. In practive I find myself printing on mg paper using a 4-4.5 filter when I use my oldies.
     
  17. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Contrast in an image infers many things,
    and they way we use the term creates a lot of problems.

    The nature of an old lens is to soften the blacks in a print through a bit of flare, ( flare is most apparent in the low densities of the negative). Increasing the development time, then adjusting the Exposure Index, is the simple way to accomodate this. Using a different paper grade is sometimes needed to complete the process.

    Shooting through colored filters will alter the relationship of some tones within an image, but it doesn't compensate for the 'low contrast' of an old lens.
    .