Pls help to choose 50mm enlarger lens

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by awaken77, Feb 13, 2008.

  1. awaken77

    awaken77 Member

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    I have choice of :
    Rogonar 2.8/50 - 100 EUR
    Rogonar-S 2.8/50 - 200 EUR
    Componon-S 2.8/50 - 250 EUR
    and also Rodagon , which is similar in price to Componon-S
    there is 2x difference in price between Rogonar-S and Rogonar - does it means it's twice better?
    I'm going to print BW only , and up to 30x40cm (11x16" )
    but I'd like to have occasional (very rare) possibility to print 50x60cm with floor projection, although never tried that and I think it's a complicated job
     
  2. Barry S

    Barry S Member

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    I guess those prices are for new lenses, but these days, you'd have to be nuts to buy a new enlarging lens--especially 50mm. You can get a top quality used Componon-S, Rodagon, or Nikkor lens for a small fraction of those prices.
     
  3. Uhner

    Uhner Member

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  4. Deckled Edge

    Deckled Edge Member

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    Last week on fee-bay I noted at least 5 50mm El-Nikkor f2.8 lenses for auction. I have one, and it's a gem. You could probably get two for 250 EUR.
    I also own a Rodagon and a Componon-S (210mm and 150mm, respectively) and they're both fine lenses. I wouldn't hesitate to use either brand, but the 50mm El-Nikkor is famous for being a tack-sharp lens at wide apertures.
     
  5. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Many (but not all) manufacturers name their 4-element lenses with "-ar" suffixes and their 6-element lenses with "-on" suffixes -- so the Rogonar lenses are 4-element designs and the Rodagon and Componon lenses are 6-element designs. Nikon doesn't follow this practice, but the Nikon 50mm f/2.8 that's been mentioned is a 6-element lens, whereas the Nikon 50mm f/4 is a 4-element lens. There can also be differences within each line based on coating quality and other factors, but the number of elements is probably the most important determinant of quality. Based on what I've read and seen in the half dozen lenses I've tested myself, brand-to-brand differences are much less than those based on number of elements, or even on sample-to-sample differences within a single model.

    Whether a 6-element lens produces results that are "twice better" than a 4-element lens depends on how you quantify print quality. You'll get plenty of opinions, but really, the only way to know is to judge it yourself, since calibrating your standard of quality against mine or anybody else's is almost impossible, at least without having actual prints to compare -- and if you've got actual prints, you can judge the matter yourself.

    I do agree with some others that used lenses offer far more value for the money than new ones, at least in today's market. You can get an excellent 6-element lens on eBay for US$50 or less (I'm not sure about the European eBay markets, but given the value of the US dollar, a European can shop on the US eBay and get good value, even with shipping). Even if you get a dud the first go, the cost of two or three used lenses will be less than the cost of a single new one.
     
  6. panastasia

    panastasia Member

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    I own a 50mm EL Nikkor f4.0 (no half stop clicks), 30+ years old and tack sharp right into the corners of the frame and no noticeable light fall off at wide apertures. Seems to have more contrast than my 100mm Componon-S f5.6, (for MF) - Japanese lenses generally have more contrast - I'm not sure that's a plus. I'm happy with both brands.
     
  7. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    FWIW, I own both the f/4 (4-element) and f/2.8 (6-element) 50mm EL Nikkor lenses. The 4-element lens is the worst of the 50mm lenses I own, including a couple other 4-element lenses, whereas the 6-element lens is the best of my 50mm lenses. I've seen others say that the Nikon 4-element lens is pretty good, so either I happen to have some extraordinary 4-element lenses (a Durst Neotaron and an Industar-96U) or my Nkon f/4 is in bad shape.

    Prices on eBay are such that if you're buying a used lens, the cost difference between 4- and 6-element lenses is tiny. Thus, I see little reason to buy a 4-element enlarger lens, at least on the used market. If you must have new, then the cost difference is bigger, but I'd rather have a used 6-element lens than a new 4-element lens.
     
  8. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    I've owned a 4-element bargain lens and an older 6-element el nikkor 50mm f2.8. The nikkor was sharper all around. Go used if you can, it's really not worth it buying new.
     
  9. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    I still use older six element Rodagons and Companons. I believe my best lens for 35mm is my 60 (sixty) mm 5.6 Rodagon. I also have a 105 5.6 Nikkor for MF. In ye oldene dayz having a bit more focal length than needed for proper coverage was considered a good thing. I use a grain focuser, so the dimmer image from the slower lenses is not too much of a problem.
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA
     
  10. Martin Aislabie

    Martin Aislabie Subscriber

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    Remember, this is the most important lens you own.
    All your prints are made with this lens.
    There is no point having fancy expensive glass on the front of your camera and a poor enlarger lens.
    I would always go for a 6 element/4 group lens - every time
    Nikon, Schneider & Rodenstock - they are all good
    If you are prepared to be adventurous and money is tight try e-bay.
    If you can afford it - buy a new Componon-S or Rodagon and have a great lens for the rest of your distinguished photographic career - after all 250E is not that much realy when you look at the cost of most peoples photographic kit
    The other choice is to find a shop (physicaly go, phone or e-mail) which sells second-hand darkroom equipment and pick one for yourself. The cost will be about half way between e-bay and new - that way you can pick up a great lens at sensible money without risk of picking up something that has suffered years of misuse and neglect.
    You have more come back with a shop - Second Hand Darkrooms are worth a browse - http://www.secondhanddarkroom.co.uk/
    Its a choice we all go through from time to time - only you know what is the right choice for you and what you can afford
    Good luck
    Martin
     
  11. nze

    nze Member

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    My favorite is the Meogon 5.6 as good as an apo rodagon . I even one I don't use in my lab.if you ever interested.
     
  12. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    If you are going to do a lot of enlarging beyond 8x10 then consider a high magnification lens like the Schneider APO-HM. My experience has been that many 50mm lenses have a flat field up to magnification for an 8x10, but the field becomes more curved as the magnification increases. I have a nice Nikkor 50mm 2.8 that can only focus the edges or center of a 16x20, but is fine up to 8x10. Literature on the lens confirms that it is "good for high magnification up to 8x10." I had a Schneider COMPONON-S with nearly idenical performance.

    My APO COMPONON HM is a different beast. The field flatness at a magnification for 16x20 is much better than the Componon-S but still not perfect (this is with a glass carrier). You can check the MTF papers on the two lenses here: http://www.schneideroptics.com/pdfs/photo/datasheets/componon-s/componon-s_28_50_2.pdf and here: http://www.schneideroptics.com/pdfs/photo/datasheets/apo-componon/apo-componon_40_45_2.pdf

    The Componon-S is even tested at lower levels of magnification. Schneider does not give practical limits on the web site (just the curves), so I am giving you the practical information. That is, the HM lens is much better and almost required, if you want the corners sharp on a 16x20.

    If you are not going to do a lot beyond 8x10, there are many, many fine lenes. My personal experience with the Nikkor 50/2.8 and Schneider Componon-S is that they are excellent at that magnification (not much difference than the APO-HM) Although the sharpness and contrast of the grain with the APO-HM almost blows you away the first time you see it under the magnifier, once you stop down 2-3 stops and examine the prints side by side, the grain is nearly identical.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 15, 2008
  13. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    The usual advice is get a 6 element lens from Nikon, Schneider, or Rodenstock and that "Apo" lenses are probably a little better if you are very particular or do color and that there is still variation lens to lens so send it back if you are not happy. I have a Schneider Apo Componon 50 mm lens which seems very good.
     
  14. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Go for either an El-Nikkor f2.8N (they sell for 40$ on ebay!), a Componon-S or a good Rodagon. At this point in history, there are no reasons not to use the best lenses because they are so cheap.

    If you are lucky like me, try to find a Minolta C.E. Rokkor-X 50mm f2.8. It's such an outstanding lens, and it's beautiful for color as well.

    Bear in mind that your enlarger alignment matters as much as the quality of your lens. My old beater was never really straight, and I saw all the difference when I got a new, sturdier enlarger.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 15, 2008
  15. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I'll second this comment. I saw more difference moving from a Durst C35 (a bottom-of-the-line enlarger) to a Philips PCS130 (a much more capable enlarger) than I saw going from my worst 4-element lens to my 6-element Nikon f/2.8, both on the Philips enlarger.
     
  16. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Yep, there is a little difference between a 4- and a 6-element lens, but without proper alignment, it's meaningless.
     
  17. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    I've had similar experiences with three or four samples of the El-Nikkor 50/2.8, but found that astigmatism was the greater limiting factor at high magnification. One instance was with an Omega D5-XL cranked to full height (enlargement factor of 24X) and printing the corner of a negative. The sagittal and tangential stretching of the grain made it impossible to even focus correctly at that magnification. I found a Focotar 50/4.5 in a drawer that allowed me to finish the job. Most of the printing on that job was 8x10 or smaller, and the Nikkor lens did OK there.

    Lee
     
  18. haris

    haris Guest

    Buy Leica Focomat V35 enlarger with Leica Focotar 40mm f2,8 lens, and you will have what some people (especially Leica lovers) consider as maybe the best 35mm enlarger/lens ever :smile: And it is autofocus :smile:

    I personally use Rodagon 50mm/f4
     
  19. RobC

    RobC Member

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    Rogonar and rogonar s are optimised for 4X enlargement and 10X is at the extreme limit for those lenses so forget rogonar lenses for your 11x16 prints.

    Rodagon is optimised for 10X enlargement upto max of 15X so that would be suitable for you.
    I beleive componon S is optimised for similar range as Rodagon but is perhaps a slightly higher spec lense which really only means it will work well over a wider range of enlargements. So either should be fine and at 10X enlargement you wouldn't be able to tell them apart.

    However, like all lenses, it depends how well they were assembled and the rodagon may out perform the componon or vice versa. Serious printers will try several of the same model to find which one is best.

    p.s. you will notice that none of the previous posters seems to know that all enlarging lenses are optimised for a certain range of enlargement with the optimum being approx 2/3 the way up the range. I would rather use a 4 element lense at its optimum enlargement factor over any 6 element lense designed for a much larger enlargement factor. I'd put money on those saying 4 element lenses are poorer quality, not having a clue what enlargement factor it was designed for and were using it for 8x10 or bigger enlargments.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 21, 2008