The Best APO lens?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by davetravis, Oct 26, 2005.

  1. davetravis

    davetravis Member

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    Does anyone have experience with both the Rodenstock and Schneider APO enlarger lens' in any format? I know the Rodagons have more elements than the Componons, but has anyone seen any usefull difference?
    I'm printing 6x7cm up to 20x24.
    Thanks.
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I have 50mm and 90mm Apo-Rodagons and a 150mm Apo-Componon. I think the 150 is probably the best of the lot, but only because it is of the most recent vintage of the three. They are all excellent. They all should have some incremental improvements, so if you have a choice between two used lenses of the same focal length, you might just pick the newest one or the one in better condition.
     
  3. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    I am a broken record I know...

    I doubt you would see any difference between APO and non APO on prints let alone between flagship lenses. I have numerous enlarger lenses and the differences just are not worth worrying about even when I use a 105 for a given size rather than an 80mm for example. Dog lenses are a different matter and I have never had one, thankfully!

    My 2 Cents

    Tom
     
  4. Jerry Thirsty

    Jerry Thirsty Member

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    A couple of years ago I was able to pick up a very nice Omega D5-XL locally and so I decided to sell my other two enlargers on eBay. Since I had three 50mm lenses (Omegaron, Componon-S, and Apo-Rodagon), I tried to test them against each other to decide which one to keep. I printed an 8x10 (B&W) of a scene with a lot of corner detail, with each lens set at around f/11 or so. The Componon-S and Apo-Rodagon were virtually indistinguishable (I actually thought the Componon might have a slight edge, but kept the Rodagon anyway); the bigger surprise was how close the $60 Omegaron came to the others.

    Now the test is kind of moot, because the D5-XL included the three lens turret with a set of El-Nikkors (63,80, and 135). Mostly I just use the 63 for 35mm and rarely bother mounting up the Apo-Rodagon, since I can't tell the difference. The 63 gives a little more clearance between the head and the easel when I'm printing small, which is nice.
     
  5. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    I side with Tom here. I have accumulated about a dozen enlarger lenses both APO and Non-APO of various lengths, and cannot detect any practical differences in my prints.
     
  6. Early Riser

    Early Riser Subscriber

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    If you are using an Apo-rodagon, and I assume in one of the more common focal lengths, like 50 - 150mm, you are defeating their optical advantage by using them at f11. It is my understanding that the APO-Rodagons are optimised at one stop from wide open, which would be f 5.6 for most of them.
    An APO-Rodagon at F11 may not be noticeably better than most other enlarging lenses when all are compared at f11, which is optimum for the non APO-Rodagons but not for the Apo.
     
  7. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    This may be so but will the difference be visible in 6-7x enlargement and relevant when stacked up against other factors such as grain emergence?

    One thing I found interesting was using an old 150 rodagon at f5.6-f16 for a 20x24 print off a 5x4 neg (I realise that this is a smaller enlargement factor). I could see no difference whatsoever....so I cranked up the column and printed a small section (no Idea what the enlargement factor was but print would prob have been 40+" and again I could see no difference. I therefore concluded that I could use whichever aperture I wanted to give the exposure time I wanted for any print size I wanted :smile: The enlarger was wall mounted to a VERY solid wall so I knew I had one hell of a solid mount for this not very scientific test.

    If you were using Fuju acros on 6x7 and shot the neg at optimum camera lens aperture off a tripod ....and then enlarged to a very large size using an APO vs a non APO lens at their optimum apertures (on a very stable and perfectly aligned enalreger) then maybe you would see a tiny difference. However I am pretty confident that this difference would be so small and irrelevant as to be not worth thinking about. I cannot prove this however.

    This might sound weird coming from someone who has just bought a 72XL and a 110XL. However I bought these for 5x4 & 5x7 because they cover so well and in the case of the 110 are small too. I am very confident that my(sadly departed - did not cover 5x7 well enuff) 203 Ektar from the 50's would easily match them image quality wise (as it matched everything else I have ever owned). Enlarger lenses are no different.

    Tom
     
  8. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    I think the only time an APO lens comes into it's own, is with ginormous colour prints. Basically they cut out the colour fringing, compared to a non APO lens.

    I have actually seen a 50 Componon S and a Rodagon APO 50 go head to head. There was a difference that you could detect using a Bestwell grain finder, the image looked snappy as hell on the baseboard and the 20x enlargement prints were different.

    We were enlarging colour negative material, as that is my main enlarging medium.

    The APO was ever so slightly better than the Componon S. However I purchased the said Componon S lens, it resides in my enlarger to this day, almost 16 years after the test.

    If I remember correctly, the Componon was about ½ the price of the APO lens, that was also a mitigating factor!

    Mick.
     
  9. Thilo Schmid

    Thilo Schmid Member

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    davetravis,
    you can find several posts on this issue in this forum.

    I do have APO enlarger lenses from both Schneider and Rodenstock. For what you need, the Computar DL 4.5/90 will give you the best bang for the buck (IMO).
     
  10. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    The difference in using a good example of a first class enlarging lens by any of major manufacturer is almost certain to be less than the difference that one will get between a open frame vs glass negative carrier. Typically, good examples of modern lenses are unlikely to be challenged by the information that a photographer is able to put on a negative when used at optimum aperture.

    I would advise you to procure a professional grade lens made by either Schneider, Rodenstock or Nikon from a source that will allow you some time to test it and to return it should you find fault with it. Buying a extremely clean used enlarging lens these days can make a lot of financial sense. The difference in cost between a new enlarging lens and a used one can buy quite a lot of photo paper. If you find fault with the images projected by the lens make certain that the cause is the lens and not the enlarger's conditiion. If you can get you hands on the book Post Exposure by Ctein he has much to say about lenses, enlargers, light sources etc. Particularly useful to you may be the results from enlarging lens tests he has performed and instructions on how to perform such test on your own. The lens tests, perhaps, maybe somewhat out of date since products are continually evolving and these changes may not always involve a name or model change.

    If your tendency is obsess over having the best than perhaps you will feel some comfort in buying whatever is the most expensive so that you stop
    worrying about it. Then you can concentrate on making some prints to satisfy your spirit.

    The skill displayed in using your enlarger and its lens will be, in my opinion, far more important than the difference in between first rate lenses available from todays marketplace.
     
  11. patrickjames

    patrickjames Member

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    I just thought I would throw in my two cents for anyone who cares. I had a bunch of lenses in my possession several years ago and I thought I would test them for the hell of it. I didn't have the apo glass that this thread is about but I thought that everyone might like to know the results anyway. I tested a Schneider Componon-s, The Rodenstock equivalent (Rodogon I think), EL-Nikkor and a lens from Carl Zeiss that I had purchased on Ebay years ago. My conclusion was that the Schnieder had the least overall contrast, but that resulted in very smooth tonal gradations. This was followed by the Rodenstock which showed a slightly higher micro-contrast. The Nikkor had the most micro contrast of these three which resulted in harsher tonal gradations. The Zeiss lens is an orthoplanar, and when I tested it against the others I was actually shocked. The lens is so sharp that you can see the grain on a 5x7 print from a delta film! So I guess my advice would be to get one of these if you can, but otherwise the best overall lens would be the Rodenstock unless you do a lot of portraits then I would recommend the Schneider. The Nikkor seemed harsh compared to these two.
     
  12. stormbytes

    stormbytes Member

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    Claire,

    Seems you've hit on an infectious notion known as the 'silver bullet syndrome'. I've been bitten once before - now that I'm flat broke, I'm actually producing some decent prints rather then harking over the differences between this lens or that enlarger.

    Edward Weston's "darkroom" would've been upraised today at under $200 bucks total - less the dry mount press.

    Hi-Five from NYC Claire!

    Cheers
    Daniel
     
  13. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Weston used the best enlarging lens of all, of course--no lens (well, I guess when he made 8x10" enlarged negs from smaller negs he used a lens, but all his prints are contact prints).
     
  14. Daniel Lawton

    Daniel Lawton Member

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    I did a little research on this subject when looking into enlarging lenses and came to the same conclusion as many others who have already posted. A supposed Apochromatic (APO) lens is designed to focus all visible wavelengths of light (red, green + blue) to a common point. In his book "Edge of Darkness", Barry Thornton says that even the most expensive modern APO enlarging lenses are only corrected for two, and in fact the only true APO lens is the long discontinued Apo El- Nikkor which you will pay a princely sum for if you can find one. Not without suprise he wasn't able to tell one bit of difference between a modern Apo lens and a high quality non Apo lens. At 1 stop down from maximum aperture the 80mm APO Rodagon was about equal to other high quality non Apo lenses but at other stops it was suprisingly slightly worse. Interestingly enough there seems to be quite a bit of variation of quality among identical makes of lenses even with the most high dollar manufacturers so its best to try the lens out for yourself if possible before you purchase. My opinion would be to save the money for a high quality camera lens.
     
  15. davetravis

    davetravis Member

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    I posted this on another thread, but it seems appropriate here also...
    I needed to know the mag factor so I could decide if I wanted to switch to an APO lens. My Rodagon 80mm is best around 6X. My 16x20's come to around that. My 20x24's are around 9X. The APO Rodagon is best around 10X.
    Since the detail and contrast that I'm getting now printing on Ilfochrome is so fantastic, I have decided that the APO would be a waste of money for my current format. Besides, Ciba doesn't need any more contrast!
    Thanks to all for responding. :smile:
     
  16. Neil Poulsen

    Neil Poulsen Member

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    Based on evaluations done by Chris Burkett, the best enlarging lenses are the Apo El Nikkors, if you can find one. They're no longer made. They occasionally come up for auction on EBay. They always go for high prices.