PDA

View Full Version : Enlarger Lens Questions



Pages : [1] 2

gr82bart
02-21-2006, 07:38 AM
I saw a question on another site and wanted to pose it here. (My paraphrasing.) It also made me wonder about a few other questions.

1. How can you tell that you are getting a late model enlarger lens?
2. Are there 'pro' versus non-pro models? Basically, what's the differences? In a regular lens line - like Nikon for example - the large aperture lenses are generally the 'pro' line with special glass, coatings, etc... Is it the same thing with enlarger lenses?
3. Does the brand matter? If so, why? Are there tests of enlarger lenses out there?
4. Actually, what makes a good enlarger lens? Large aperture? Special glass? Coatings?
5. Is there such a thing as a 'zoom' enlarger lens?

Enquiring minds want to know....

Thanks in advance, Art.

rbarker
02-21-2006, 10:57 AM
My thoughts:

1. How can you tell that you are getting a late model enlarger lens?

Watch out for the ones with fins, and only use the ones with hand cranks on really old negatives. ;)

I think you have to research each brand, watching the evolution of the different model designations. For example, Schneider Componon lenses evolved to the Componon-S, followed by the APO Componon HM. Occasionally, the size of the mounting thread changed on some lenses over the production cycle, but I've never seen a list showing dates of production for any of the enlarger lenses.

2. Are there 'pro' versus non-pro models? Basically, what's the differences? In a regular lens line - like Nikon for example - the large aperture lenses are generally the 'pro' line with special glass, coatings, etc... Is it the same thing with enlarger lenses?

Sort of. Nikon, Rodenstock, and Schneider have had "consumer-grade" or less-expensive entry-level lenses along with more expensive models. F-stops are less of a "signal" with enlarger lenses, though. The price is a better indicator, with the higher prices typically being for the better 6-element designs. "APO" is another signal of better design.


3. Does the brand matter? If so, why? Are there tests of enlarger lenses out there?

Not really - at least among the "big three" - Nikon, Rodenstock, and Schneider. The corresponding models of the same gnerations from all three will be of about the same quality.


4. Actually, what makes a good enlarger lens? Large aperture? Special glass? Coatings?

The better lenses are typically 6-element designs. The APO lenses from Rodenstock and Schneider are also more highly-corrected. The HM (high magnification) lenses from Schneider are usually of shorter-than-usual focal length for the format, allowing larger prints to be made at normal head heights.


5. Is there such a thing as a 'zoom' enlarger lens?


Not that I'm aware of. Enlarger lenses are, to the best of my knowledge, fixed focal length, designed to cover a specific film format.

Jim Jones
02-21-2006, 12:07 PM
Ralph has covered the subject quite well. You may read fiercely partisian arguments about which of the top brands is best, but all make fine lenses. Even old enlarging lenses can be quite good. An El-Nikkor has proved little better in practical enlarging than the original lens on my 60-year-old 4x5 DeJUR enlarger. There are also very poor enlarging lenses on the market, including some that were originally supplied by reputable enlarger makers. As long as any enlarging lens shows crisp grain edge to edge, and no vignetting when stopped down a stop, it should be good enough.

davetravis
02-21-2006, 12:47 PM
Generally the more you spend, the more you get.
I set out to get the most sharpness and best contrast from my 6x7 slides up to 20x24 as possible. I wanted the prints to come close to those from 4x5 inch slides. I started with the EL-Nikor, but soon got the Rodagon. After much research I recently got the APO Rodagon on Ebay for 1/2 retail. I don't see any useful difference until I go 20x24, but then the APO really shines. I guess it's all about how critical you are going to be about your work!
Good luck.

MattKing
02-21-2006, 01:53 PM
5. Is there such a thing as a 'zoom' enlarger lens?

Enquiring minds want to know....

Thanks in advance, Art.

There may be such a thing (but I am not sure):

See: Ebay item 2911241255 (http://cgi.ebay.ca/Schneider-Betavaron-Zoom-Enlarger-Lens-3-10_W0QQitemZ2911241255QQcategoryZ29986QQssPageName ZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem)

I have no idea whether this is an accurate descrition of the item, and I certainly have no connection with the auction.

Matt

Paul Sorensen
02-21-2006, 02:19 PM
2. Are there 'pro' versus non-pro models? Basically, what's the differences? In a regular lens line - like Nikon for example - the large aperture lenses are generally the 'pro' line with special glass, coatings, etc... Is it the same thing with enlarger lenses?

Sort of. Nikon, Rodenstock, and Schneider have had "consumer-grade" or less-expensive entry-level lenses along with more expensive models. F-stops are less of a "signal" with enlarger lenses, though. The price is a better indicator, with the higher prices typically being for the better 6-element designs. "APO" is another signal of better design.
I would add that with Schneider you want some version of the Componon, with Rodenstock, a Rodagon, and with Nikkor there is not quite as clear a delineation. If you are looking for a medium format lens, don't bother with the Nikkor 75mm, if you want a lens for 35mm, stay away from the Nikkor 50mm f/4. Other than that, check with folks here or do a Google search and you can find our more. Fujinon has a specific name for their 6 element lenses, but I don't know what it is.


3. Does the brand matter? If so, why? Are there tests of enlarger lenses out there?

Not really - at least among the "big three" - Nikon, Rodenstock, and Schneider. The corresponding models of the same gnerations from all three will be of about the same quality.
I would add the better Fujinons and even the good (Rokkor X) Minoltas. I have used both with very good results.

df cardwell
02-21-2006, 02:25 PM
A couple examples: for years there were 3 Schneider enlarging lenses. They differed in design, being optimized for different magnification ratios. Say you only made 4x prints from 6x7, you could save a few bucks by not buying the one made for 10x enlargements. But at spec'd level, they were the same. But that was too logical.

Rodenstock offered 3 lenses, a super lens, a super-duper lens, and a great lens for really big prints. Again, if you only made 10x prints from 35mm, any one of the three were as good. Well, that isn't true. The one for HUGE prints didn't really come into it's own until 20x. Then, it's performance was equal to the intermediate range lens, at a much greater price. It's never been a conspiracy.

Nikon offered two levels, the El Nikkors which were the gold standard in the darkroom. Some lenses were sometimes a little better ( in a lab test ) but never better AND cheaper.

And they offered the APO El Nikkors. For several thousand dollars, you could buy a lens that was too good for normal use. A joint venture with NASA, they were diffraction limited wide open, and were usually found making color seps in pre press houses.

Schneider made a zoom lens for color printing machines. It was way expensive.... and was, umm, less than, ummm.... well.

For a real bargain, get a Kodak Ektar, a '60s Componon or Fuji. Or Minolta. Or Wray. Or Wollensak. Because we can tailor our negative contrast to our 'enlarging system', unless you are doing technical imaging of 15x or larger, normal people don't really need the latest apo-super-nons.

And if you DO get a nice hot lens, be prepared to sit up with your Omega or beseler, often replacing every screw that holds it together, retapping threads, and in general, rebuilding it to perform well enough to keep up with the lens.

Warp in the base of your easel has to be dealt with after you've aligned your enlarger. Installing an adjustable lensboard ( as Zone VI sold years ago ) is a good idea. Of course you need glass carriers.

By bringing an old enlarger design up to spec does wonders for the performance of a 50 year old lens design, and after seeing what you get, you may figure you don't need a new lens after all....

Oh, and don't stop down further than necessary, it KILLS your performance. A good guide is to look in the corners of the field ( a mirror at the corner of the easel ) and go only until the aperture blades are visible. By then, you're sacrificing center performance but eliminating vignetting in the corners, so it's a trade off.

Above all, as Ralph says, look out for the tailfins.

.

Lachlan Young
02-21-2006, 03:29 PM
5. Is there such a thing as a 'zoom' enlarger lens?


Not that I'm aware of. Enlarger lenses are, to the best of my knowledge, fixed focal length, designed to cover a specific film format.

Yes there is, look HERE (http://glennview.com/jpgs/lens/105to150/big_1.jpg) - it is a bit of a monster though and is selling for $350

Hope this helps,

Lachlan

Nige
02-21-2006, 05:46 PM
4. Actually, what makes a good enlarger lens? Large aperture? Special glass? Coatings?


I would add that ease of use matters. I have a Fujinon EX 90/5.6 (came with an enlarger) which performs as good as my Componon-S 80/4 but I use the Componon because it has a lever that allows you to snap it to full aperture for focusing, then flick it back to working aperture. Very handy IMO.

srs5694
02-21-2006, 11:33 PM
Fujinon has a specific name for their 6 element lenses, but I don't know what it is.

Their grades are ES, EP, and EX. IIRC, the ES lenses are 4-element designs, while EP and EX are 6-element designs, with EX having better coatings.


For a real bargain, get a Kodak Ektar, a '60s Componon or Fuji. Or Minolta. Or Wray. Or Wollensak.

Since you're talking oddball enlarger lenses, Soviet/Russian lenses deserve mention. They're mostly in the Industar and Vega lines, with "U" (or "Y" in Cyrillic) designations, as in the Industar-96U f/3.5 or Vega-11U f/2.8. I happen to have both of these; they're 50mm lenses, the Industar-96U being a 4-element design and the Vega-11U being a 5-element lens. They're both decent lenses -- not quite as good as my 50mm Nikon f/2.8, but better than my 50mm Nikon f/4. (It's possible that any of my specific lenses is sub-standard because of manufacturing flaws or mishandling before I got it, though.) Unfortunately, most Soviet/Russian enlarger lenses have longer necks than do German and Japanese lenses, so they don't focus properly on some Western enlargers. The Industar-96U uses a removable extension tube, so it focuses properly on most Western enlargers with the extension tube removed. I happen to be able to use my Vega-11U for up to about 11x14-inch enlargements (from a 35mm negative) on my Philips PCS130 enlarger, but much bigger than that and I lose focus.

Toto
02-22-2006, 05:00 AM
A time ago, I met an incredible photo teacher who told me to buy only enlarger lenses that their names finish in "on" and not the ones with "ar".
I finally buyed a 50mm meopta meogon.
I donīt remember the differences or I never knew them.
Does somebody knows them?

avandesande
02-22-2006, 05:08 AM
I would agree but with careful ebaying you can get a decent rodagon for 30$. There isn't much information on those older lenses so it is hard to know what you are buying.



For a real bargain, get a Kodak Ektar, a '60s Componon or Fuji. Or Minolta. Or Wray. Or Wollensak. Because we can tailor our negative contrast to our 'enlarging system', unless you are doing technical imaging of 15x or larger, normal people don't really need the latest apo-super-nons.

.

Lachlan Young
02-22-2006, 05:41 AM
The old Minolta f4.5 lenses are pretty damn good - if they were good enough for W. Eugene Smith then they're good enough for me! Also, you can generally buy them for less than Ģ50 sterling each in mint condition - if you're lucky on E**Y you can get them for under Ģ10. There is also an article on APUG that appears to show a Minolta 50mm f4.5 can blow the socks off a EL Nikkor 50mm f2.8.

Have fun lens hunting,

Lachlan

GeorgesGiralt
02-22-2006, 05:50 AM
Hi !
If you plan to buy an enlarger lens, bear in mind that these lenses are well known, well done since a long time ago. So age does not matter that much provided you buy a 6 lenses design, well build and coated.
In Europe you will find Rodenstock, Schneider, Meopta, Boyer (French, dead a long time ago).
The USSR designs cited above,
The Japanese Fuji, Minolta and Nikon, and of course the Americans. Keep an eye on the Computars (US design, Japan manufacture).
Ctein has tested some and published the results in Post Exposure.
If you buy from a "reputed" manufacturer you can't go wrong. If second hand check, as always for fungus, shocks or damage. And double check you can get the threaded lens support you will need. The Older 23 mm diameter found on early lenses is difficult to get, now as every body has switched to 39 mm thread.

Early Riser
02-22-2006, 08:15 AM
A sidebar here, a few weeks ago I tested a 180mm APO Rodagon, a 180mm Rodagon and a 210mm El Nikkor head to head. In terms of resolution and contrast, they ranked in that same order. The APO 180mm was the best, used at it's allegedly best aperture one stop down from open, and the other lenses were 2 stops down from open (f11) whether this was the deciding factor or not I don't know.

The differences however were small, if you didn't see the result from the 180 APO, you would think that the other 2 lenses rendered image quality that could not be bettered. The regular 180 Rodagon did appear sharper than the 210mm El-Nikkor, but that might have also been a difference due to the focal length.Although all were enlarged to the same image size. For the typical user, the difference in sharpness might not matter and buying a 6 element lens from Rodenstock,Schneider or Nikon is a safe bet.

There are many good buys on enlarger lenses on Ebay and I suggest that anyone considering the purchase of an enlarger lens check there first. However as many people keep their lenses in their darkroom, lens fungus can be a problem so make sure that any used lens you buy is stated as being free from fungus.

Lee L
02-22-2006, 09:53 AM
A time ago, I met an incredible photo teacher who told me to buy only enlarger lenses that their names finish in "on" and not the ones with "ar".
I finally buyed a 50mm meopta meogon.
I donīt remember the differences or I never knew them.
Does somebody knows them?
Looks like no one picked this up. The advice is rather generic, but pretty good if you don't know or can't look up lens specs. Typically the -on ending means the lens is in the family of 6 element double Gauss lenses, and the -ar is in a family of 4 element lenses that don't typically perform as well as the double Gauss types, especially at larger apertures. So the -on lenses are often have 50% more elements and are more highly corrected. There is obviously a price difference, and some manufacturers (e.g. Nikon) don't adopt this naming scheme.

Lee

nze
02-22-2006, 11:55 AM
I'll recommandMeopta meogon lens 5.6/50 . thi lens is the better lens I've ever seen. the best diaph is 8 but you can usse it wide open. at f8 you reach the 93lpm, as will do any apo/

another interesting lens is the 4.5 30mm anaret , ueful for big enlargement and also giving 93lpm at f8. There should be oone on ebay.

wilhelm
02-22-2006, 12:40 PM
5. Is there such a thing as a 'zoom' enlarger lens?
Schneider makes the very freaky Betavaron (http://www.schneiderkreuznach.com/archiv/pdf/betavaron.pdf). It's 35mm only, and will do 3x to 10x enlargement, or 5.3x to 17x with the separate supplemental lens attachment. Optically, I have no idea how they perform. That auction that MattKing posted, that's one of 'em. You can easily get a few very high quality non-zoom lenses for the kind of money it looks like you'd have to pay for the zoom lens.

Will

gr82bart
02-22-2006, 07:11 PM
Holy moly! Thanks for all the replies! Now THIS is what APUG is about. Awesome information people.

Regards, Art.

morpheuse
12-27-2006, 12:11 PM
http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQsassZphotoliquidators

suddenly betavarons are in fashion - i think ill grab one...