Schneider vs. Nikon

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by mtnman, Dec 28, 2004.

  1. mtnman

    mtnman Member

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    I would appreciate any thoughts/recommendations on Schneider vs. Nikon enlarging lenses. Is one that superior to the other? Also, any explanations about the differences in the Schneider Componar & Componon designations. Thanks.
     
  2. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    It's really a personal preference. Nikon or Schneider both give a good bang for the buck but the componar was more of an entry level lens & left something to be desired. I'm sure as more replies come back you'll find support for both marques.
     
  3. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    My impression is that lenses of the same generation and comparable product line from Nikon, Rodenstock and Schnieder are of similar optical quality. Schneider and Rodenstock have been pretty clear about which models were intended as "entry-level" versus "professional grade". The Nikkor model designations, by comparison, have seemed less clear to me.

    I strongly recommend consideration of the most-current APO designs from any of the three, however. It's an investment that will allow you to get the most from your negatives.
     
  4. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Apo-Rodenstock line. By far and away the best for your money. Spend your time making prints not replacing equipment. I do have a 210 El-nikkor that is quite nice but the 150mm Apo-Rodenstock is the killer.
    Peter
     
  5. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    If you have a friendly dealer near you try to persuade him to allow you to try compare several lens and then decide. I did that some years ago and ended up with Nikor for 35mm and medium format but Schneider for 5 x 4.
     
  6. tomishakishi2

    tomishakishi2 Member

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    There are too many good lenses to list. Some Meopta and Durst labelled lenses are also reputedly great. If you are unable to get to compare them, buy used and sell the ones that underwhelm you. I have Schneider and Rodenstock and all including older ones are super sharp. I can clearly see crisp grain at large right print sizes, so they cannot be bad. It comes down to individual lenses as factors such as being dropped etc may come into play! You will hear of one person moan about how their XXmm Nirodscron is rubbish compared to their XYZ and then the next person says the opposite! Try to buy at a bargain price and be prepared to sell and buy again if unhappy.

    Tom
     
  7. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    For my $ spent in lenses I would agree with Peter

    Apo Rodagon 150 -is a really beautiful lens
    Apo Rodagon 90 - I prefer this lens over the 80apo - maybe more coverage
    Apo Rodagon 50 - beautiful lens to work with

    As Les stated if you can test the lenses under your working set-up it is of great advantage.

    I am not sure if Rodagon makes an apo 300, I do like the rodagon360
     
  8. Glenn Mathison

    Glenn Mathison Member

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    I am a darkroom beginner and have an old Meopta Opemus 5 from around 1980. It came with an EL Nikkor 50 and I picked up a Schneider componon-s 80mm for my 120 negs. Both work quite well.

    My question is: For these *recommended* lenses, like the APO Rodagon's, how serious and well configured must your enlarger be to see a real difference?
     
  9. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    My experience in switching from a 50mm Schneider Componon (top end in its day) to a 40mm/2.8 Schneider APO Componon HM was immediate and dramatic, with no additional adjustments to the enlarger (Omega D2V, purchased back in the '60s). I would, however, recommend removing your shoes. No sense in ruining a good pair when your socks get blown off by the new prints. :wink:

    I'd assume the difference with APO Rodagons over non-APO lenses would be similar.
     
  10. Glenn Mathison

    Glenn Mathison Member

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    OK Ralph, thanks for the warning. Will start to investigate these new lens options seriously.....

    Glenn
    Sydney
     
  11. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    Four years ago I replaced all of my lenses with APO rodagons (50, 80, 150, 300) with the exception of one el nikkor my eight year old uses. It was the best money I ever spent on my darkroom. They have actualy paid for themselves in what I have sold.
     
  12. tomishakishi2

    tomishakishi2 Member

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    I am not at all convinced that the difference between a decent Componon S/ Rodagon and their new APO variants would be that great if at all noticeable at in Mono. I am especially suspiscious for the larger film formats or at any neg size if the enlarged image is a relatively small enlargement factor (as the resolution on print may still be greater than you can actually see). I have discovered that for 5x4 taking lenses, it takes a print of 16x12 at a minimum to differentiate between the (visually) worst (65 f8 S Angulon) lens I had and the sharpest and according to Perez's lens test data (assuming mine were similar) the better one (90mm Nikkor f8) was very significantly sharper. While there are no new 5x4 lenses out there that produce better performance (tested rather than anecdotal) than the 90mm F8 Nikkor, which dates back to the eighties, I see no reson why it would be different for enlargement. Why if nobody has produced sharper taking lenses (they have produced smaller, lighter, faster asymmetric lenses which are as sharp as the older bigger slower f8 lenses ) would their enlarger lenses suddenly get better? I was under the impression that the latest APO lenses held their benefits in the realm of colour where the APO bit matters? For Petes sake, 20 plus year old 35mm prime lenses are just as sharp as those today - lens testing bears this out!

    I would suggest that before spending the large sums required for APO lenses, that you try something mroe modest first - I doubt you will be disappointed.
     
  13. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    One thing I've noticed about my Rodagons is that when the front element is removed (happened accidentally - the element unscrewed instead of the filter) there is a shim controlling the front element spacing. If this shim is missing, or replaced with another, I am as nearly certain as I can be about anything, that the lens performance will degrade beyond belief.

    The best course of action would be to contact the Rodenstock or Schneider, or Nikon - or whoever - Reps and discuss the problem. Rodenstock offers a lifetime guarantee on their later enlarging lenses - I am *sure* they would be available to correct any problem with them - including replacing shims.

    I've tested a few lenses in the "caveman" days - on an optical bench. It is really *rare* to find a clinker from new stock. I would suspect that someone, somewhere - fiddled with any reputable lens to get it to the deplorable states mentioned here.

    Sometime ago, I experienced a flood where my Olympus equipment went under water. I found *the* repair facility to go to (knock on the door and ask for Joe). They would NOT work on one lens - a Zuiko 75 - 150 Zoom (15 elements in 11 groups - one of the first Zoom lenses available for a 35mm camera), but sent it to Olympus Repair instead.
    The effect in image improvement was remarkable. I originally bought that one used, and I had assumed "that's the way all zoom lenses are". Most noticeable was pincushion distortion.
    Repaired - it is the sharpest, most contrasty, distortion free - at any focal length - lens I own.

    The point I'm trying to make here is that communication is very helpful. The manufacturers have a great deal at stake - their reputation.
     
  14. Thilo Schmid

    Thilo Schmid Member

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    If the EL-Nikkor might be slightly better in contrast if it is multicoated (usually is) and the Schneider is not (usually only single coated, except for the Apo-Componon). The flange focal distance of the two is also different. This may affect edge illumination on condenser enlargers and higher mag-ratios. Check this, if you have a condenser enlarger and can make a direct comparison. But no comparison makes sense, if your enlarger is not properly aligned.

    The Schneider BLV-L barrel (the one with the lever) has preset aperture control, which is most convenient.

    The Componar(-S) series is a four element "entry level" design. The Componon(-S) series is a six element "professional" design.
     
  15. tomishakishi2

    tomishakishi2 Member

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    Enlarger alignment and focus finder adjustment are extremely important. You only have to be a little out with your focus finder and you will be a long way from producing the best from your lenses. There have been many posts on enlarger alignment with many methods touted. This is a seriously important step, which makes everything else fall into place. It is no good just levelling the baseboard relative to the neg and lens. In the case of my RRB 20x16 easel, it does not lie perfectly flat due to uneveness in thickness of the foam strips it rests on. With everything permanently level, I level my easel with a spirit level and use card shims achieve this. As it is a 2 blade easel it moves about the baseboard loads as I go from small to large prints. Takes about 30 seconds to level, thats all.

    Tom

    Tom
     
  16. rjr

    rjr Member

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    Thilo,

    "The Componar(-S) series is a four element "entry level" design. The Componon(-S) series is a six element "professional" design."

    <nitpick>
    There are a few Componon-S out there with 5 elements... 50mm, from mid-1970s to 1980s.
    </nitpick>

    No the 6 element-types are not superior to the 5 elements.
     
  17. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Tom - while I'd agree that, by definition, APO designs are highly corrected for color convergence, it seems to me that B&W prints would benefit as much as color. The only difference being that color fringing that might be apparent in a color print would become grey fringing in a B&W print. But, as noted, my experience was limited to switching from an older 50mm Componon to the new 40mm APO Compnon HM. The difference in sharpness and local contrast with negs that I had previously printed with the old lens was quite striking - rather like moving from a Holga to a Hassy.
     
  18. tomishakishi2

    tomishakishi2 Member

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    Ralph,

    You may be right. However, the light emitted from under the neg may already be less than full spectrum, maybe...guessing? It would certainly be the case that a graded paper would only be sensitive to the bluish bit and a VC paper yellow and magenta. I'm out of my depth here.

    If there was a Holga/Hassy difference, I would question the proper function of the older lens rather than the 'new level' performance of the APO, tho I have no doubt that it would perform supremely well. Tho some later designs may have greater contrast, this is nothing that a wee bit more contrast under the enlarger could not fix (mono). Barry Thornton reckoned that the sharpest 50mm enlarger lens he ever had was a 50mm f4.5 Minolta....which in a moment of madness he always regretted, he sold. I have one too, however, perversely, it does not come close to covering 35mm (must be faulty) - ouch, cost me £5!....My most expensive lens was £50 80mm F4 Rodagon (new, in clear out). This was £2 more than my 240 Componon S, which not having used it yet, I hope is a good'un. There are tons of cheap bargains on ebay if getting started!

    Tom

    Tom
     
  19. 127

    127 Member

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    Check the articles - I posted a test of a Schneider Vs a Nikon Vs a minolta.

    The schneider was old and in poor condition, so I wouldn't base your descision purely on my findings, but it DOES make a difference, and pick a lens based on it's performance, rather than assuming that a big brand name will perform better.

    Ian
     
  20. Thilo Schmid

    Thilo Schmid Member

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    I'm with you. Based on experience with over 50 EL-lenses that “accumulated” in my darkroom over the past 15 years, I can say:
    • The differences you might be able to recognize on prints are inverse proportional to film size. Part of that is because larger formats have higher tolerances in every step. Small Format on the other hand requires actually micro meter precision form picture taking to the print.
    • Enlarger alignment is crucial, especially for Small Format. A correct alignment has to include all three planes (carrier, lens and easel) and should be checked regularly and verified for each serious test print (i.e. lens and head position). This usually requires special tools like Zig-Align or “The Parallel”. IMO, it makes no sense to spend huge amounts for the best EL-Lenses and dispense with such tools.
    • Always do blind or better double-blind tests. Apply only codes to the prints and use different people to print and judge). Otherwise you will be inclined to give a "bonus" to more expensive lenses.
    • There is an individual optimum range for each lens (type). This includes aperture, magnification ratio and the thickness of the glass in the carrier. This implies that a statement like “lens A is better than lens B” can hardly be a universal truth.
    • It is usually easy to spot a bad performing lens (which e.g. includes an Apo-Rodagon at 40x magnification), but very hard to articulate differences between good results. Up to now, I’ve encountered only one case where an out-performer was noticeable at first glance, which besides was a rather subjective judgment. Even a comparison between an Apo-El-Nikkor (a $4k lens) and a much simpler Rogonar-S (a $100 lens) required closer inspection within “normal” parameters (e.g. 5x and f8). With “closer inspection“, I do not mean the use of a loupe (which is IMO a questionable procedure). I rather mean “direct comparison” of some image details.
    • Within their optimum parameters, almost all EL-Lenses, even the most simple 3-element designs, do have a fairly good performance around the center of the image. Better lenses do have primarily a better edge performance and their evaluation makes high demands on cameras, taking lenses and subjects. And only a few applications do really require such perfection (e.g. architecture) and the final degree of comparison costs a fortune. The best EL-Lenses ever built have not been designed with photographic applications in mind. Their use was micro-documentation, circuit printing and printing plate production. Therefore they carry the price-tags of industry capital goods.
    • IMO, whether a lens is better than another one depends also on convenience factors in practice. It is, e.g., usually more convenient to work with a faster lens. In this sense, a Rodagon 5.6/210 is actually better than an Apo-Gerogon 9/210, although you cannot tell the difference between the prints they make from a 5x7 neg. IMO, this is the main advantage of the Apo-Versions, which are usually one stop faster than their counterparts. For 99% of your prints , a lens that does not require a recessed lens board for your enlarger is better than a lens that requires one. A lens with a device to switch between open- and working-aperture is better than even the same lens type without such a device (some lenses come in different barrels). Etc.
    • Beyond 20x mag-ratio the air is getting thin (for EL-lenses as well as for taking lenses, film material, shutters and tripods). It is most likely that a good taking lens will also be a good EL-Lens for this case. Better than your “normal” (Apo-)EL-Lenses, anyhow
    • Last but not least: a good picture hardly gets worse if printed with a poor EL-lens. But no bad picture gets better if printed with the best lens on earth. The technical quality of your work, however, gives an outlook on you as well. Every photographer has a his value on the scale between Craftsmen and Artists :wink: