Unique and/or Legendary lenses

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Clemtography, Apr 27, 2013.

  1. Clemtography

    Clemtography Member

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    What are the large format Unique or legendary you know, heard of, interested, modern, old, shot with, or seen with a hefty ridiculously expensive (or cheap) lenses?

    Discussing actual use of these lenses and why are they legendary.
     
  2. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

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    oh - where to begin....
     
  3. jp498

    jp498 Member

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  4. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Do you mean truly legendary, or urban legendary?
     
  5. Clemtography

    Clemtography Member

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    I'm interested in both :tongue:
     
  6. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Clem, nearly the only reason to get a "legendary" lens is to have braggin' rights. If you're willing to spend money for that, well, its your money ...

    Thing is, many "legendary" lenses are no better than similar lenses that aren't legendary. There are a couple of exceptions. A class of lenses, soft focus types. They're not all functionally equivalent and if that's what you want you'll have to pay the price. The Goerz Hypergon. Again, there's no functional equivalent.

    Coupla examples of legendary lenses for which there are substitutes, possibly superior:

    Goerz Serie III Doppel Anastigmat, later sold as Dagor. Legendary as can be. Other makers sold equally good dagor types that can often be had for much less money than the equivalent Dagor.

    Goerz Apo-Artar, a four elements in four groups process lens. Also legendary as can be. Thing is, uncoated ones aren't that wonderful because of flare. And Nikon (symmetrical type Apo-Nikkors) and Rodenstock (Apo-Ronars) made functionally equivalent, possibly slightly better, 4/4 dialyte type process lenses, all coated, that generally sell for less than the equivalent Apo-Artar.
     
  7. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I'm interested in this subject too, though as an obligate contact printer I don't quite know *why* I care, given that I could probably get away with using meniscus lenses ground from expired bologna.

    Petzvals I think I understand; people seem to use them for shallow DOF with that appealing "swirly" look and a low-contrast "looks like a really old photo" character. But there are other lenses where I know the name but don't know what's special about them.

    As one example, what's the big exciting thing about "red dot" Artars?

    -NT
     
  8. HTF III

    HTF III Member

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    What a refreshing answer. Atta boy.
     
  9. chrisaisenbrey

    chrisaisenbrey Member

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    A really good overview of the milestones in lens development (and glass industry) is the book:

    A History of the Photographic Lens
    by Rudolf Kingslake
     
  10. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The two lenses that came across as legendary when I began taking an interest in older equipment were the Dagor and the Hypergon, the latter being the most desired in terms of wanting to try using but harder to find.

    I didn't go out of my way to buy a Dagor but was lucky to get one with a camera that lives up to the hbype, it is very sharp, great tonality, excellent coverage, and luckily it's coated.

    Heliars are supposedly very desirable but I guess I'm happy with what I have already :D

    Ian
     
  11. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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  12. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    I consider lens to be unique and/or legendary between other reasons also is when you can get result that other lenses can not give you. I don't do large format (yet – but will do), but looking at many LF photos – no lens in medium or small format can give similar prints.
    So from my perspective all large format lenses are unique :smile:
     
  13. premortho

    premortho Member

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    Hmmm, unique---well on the big buck side are the Pinkham and Smith, the Portland and the Struss. On the relatively cheap side are the Turner-Reich and Wollensak Raptars. In those days every lens grinding company had their own idea of what a lens should do, So we have many different signatures in the rendering of a picture.
     
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  15. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member

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    But.....

    A lot of legendary work has been produced using non-legendary lenses.
    The magic ingredient is NOT a particular piece of glass, but rather the eye and execution by the shooter.
    I will confess to a little "Optical Snobbery, I own and use some Konica Hexanons that produce razor sharp
    images. And, I am conducting some tests using high dollar enlarging lenses on a Speed Graphic.
     
  16. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    In the soft focus range - Verito, Vesta, Vitax, Cooke, Plasticca, Kodak Portrait, Dallmeyer, really too many to concisely list.

    Then there's Heliars, Kodak Commercial Ektars, Goerz Dagors, Zeiss Protars...
     
  17. Jim Rice

    Jim Rice Member

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    I ADORED my 16.5" RD Apo-Artar. I don't think it was on account of the hype. Narrow coverage, though.
     
  18. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    "Red Dot" means it's coated, the earlier (1904 to mid/late 1940s) were not coated. There were some coated Artars without the dot, too. With 6 internal surfaces, they need coatings. A coated Artar is very sharp, has excellent tonality, and is apochromatically corrected - meaning it brings the three colors red, green, and blue to the same plane of focus. They were made in focal lengths up to 70". But, they're slow and cover less than many other lenses, Goerz said that an 8 1/4" was the shortest to cover 4x5, and that without movements.
     
  19. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    "Raptar" was what Wollensak called their coated lenses after WWII, they are of many types and some were identical to the prewar (uncoated) Velostigmats. The Turner-Reich lenses were designed around the turn of the last century, primarily to get around the patents covering the Protar convertibles.
     
  20. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Eh? Wot? Many of them are as the proverbial peas in the proverbial pods.

    For example, quality control issues aside, an f/6.3 tessar type is an f/6.3 tessar type is an f/6.3 tessar type. None of them is in any of the lists of legendary lenses I've seen. Best tessar type, perhaps too common.

    Lists of legendary lenses can be very strange. For example, include Apo-Artars, exclude Apo-Nikkors (symmetrical type), Apo-Ronars and Repro-Clarons. All peas in a pod. Makes no sense.
     
  21. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Yes, there's a huge amount of B.S. regarding Goerz lenses, the Dagor in particular but it spills over onto the Artars. I have an uncoated Eastman process lens, it's every bit the equal of an uncoated Artar - not much coverage, very very sharp, and a veritable flare machine.:wink:
     
  22. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Nobody said "legendary" status had to be rational or logical. The mythology benefits those who know better, as it keeps quite excellent lenses off the radar. What is known about the Dagors though is that they do have very substantial image circles for their focal length - not quite Hypergon or Protar, but nonetheless, impressive.
     
  23. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Based on my experience enlarging negatives made by six different Dagors of different focal lengths from 6 to 14 inches, Dagors cover about 65 to 70 degrees, just like your average Plasmat. That huge coverage is one of the legends.:wink: "Coverage" and "Illumination" are two separate concepts.
     
  24. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    +1

    My friend Eric Beltrando (visit his site www.dioptrique.info to see the results of his calculations) insists that Boyer Beryls (Dagor clones, and very like Dagors; Beryls, Beryl Ss, and Emeraudes all have the same prescription) cover 70 degrees and can be counted on for only 55 degrees in stringent applications, e.g., photoengraving.

    People tend to see what they want to see, whether it is there or not.

    Other makers' dagor clones are much the same. Between ~ 1912 and ~ 1950 Berthiot's coverage claims for their f/6.8 Perigraphe Ser. VIb shrank remarkably, from 95 degrees to 65 degrees. Same lens, different films and criteria of acceptable image quality. Coverage is a sometime thing but fantasy goes on forever.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2013
  25. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    Legendary?? What makes a lens legendary. If I need to sell it on Ebay . . . it's legendary. I don't really give a crap about legendary lenses. I want to make some legendary pictures.
     
  26. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Jimbo, legendary lenses command legendary money. I thought you could spell Pinkham & Smith.