View Full Version : Enlarging lenses for medium format macro

Mike Kovacs
09-09-2006, 06:50 AM
Has anyone fooled around with enlarging lenses for MF macro? I recently picked-up 50mm and 80mm 6-element Nikkor enlarging lenses and I wonder whether its worth the trouble to adapt them to my Rolleiflex SL66?

Do they cover 6x6? If so, any idea of which f/stop and amount of extension required for coverage? I'm just trying to get a ballpark number to see if they fall into a useful magnification range for me.

I wonder how sharp they will be? The 80/2.8 Planar seems to perform pretty well but I think the 50/4 Distagon suffers in the macro range being a retrofocus design. I don't own one but the 120/5.6 S-Planar is just too long to consider for some of the higher magnification work I do.

I haven't got them yet - I assume they are LTM in which case I can rig up something to mount them. A blank SL66 lens board and a junked Soviet LTM lens mount ought to do the trick.

One day those Zeiss Luminars will be mine though! I keep hoping to find some at the university, free from somebody's junk drawer...

David A. Goldfarb
09-09-2006, 07:10 AM
They will cover in the macro range, and of course those focal lengths won't focus to infinity on a 6x6 SLR. I've experimented a bit with enlarging lenses on MF, and you just have to test the lenses you have. Some work better reversed, but some are about the same in either orientation. I have a custom Canon FD adapter for my Bronica S2a, and I have an LTM-FD adapter and reversing ring. For macro, I think my Tamron SP 90/2.5 is sharper than the enlarging lenses I've tried on the Bronica (and it covers in the macro range), but I haven't tried my 90mm Apo-Rodagon, which might be sharper. I have a 25mm Luminar and a Canon FD 35/2.8 Macrophoto (also a RMS mount lens), and I think the Canon is contrastier and sharper, and it usually sells for less than a Luminar.

09-09-2006, 07:14 AM
I've shot some macro shots when I was much younger using the enlarger as a camera, focus a neg on the object placed under the enlarger then lights out and a bit of film in the carrier and light the object under the enlarger. The results were tack sharp and it was a pretty cheap lens that came with the Bogen 35mm enlarger. I'd say you are on the right track.

Dan Fromm
09-09-2006, 08:32 AM
About Luminar fantasies. They are still have considerable value and are hard to steal. If you need lenses for use above 1:1, few lenses -- the 63 Luminar is not among them -- are better than a reversed 55/2.8 MicroNikkor AIS. Few lenses -- the 25 Luminar is not among them -- are better than a reversed 25/1.9 Cine Ektar II above 10:1.

David, your news about the 35/2.8 Canon is a little surprising. But I've had a couple of Luminars that were real clinkers. Mike, take note of this. Quality long ago and far away isn't always a good predictor of quality here and now.



09-09-2006, 09:18 AM
An 80mm El-Nikkor is made for enlarging 6x6 negatives, so there should be no problem with coverage. The 50mm will cover at macro range.

I once bought a 60mm Componon which I didn't need only to get the lensboard it was mounted on: A Technika III 5x7" lensboard! Someone must either have been doing some extreme macro work with a 5x7" camera, or have use a converted camera as an enlarger...

David A. Goldfarb
09-09-2006, 09:24 AM
The FD 35/2.8 Macrophoto is a more modern design than the Luminars, and it's multicoated. Here's some info on the Canon FD macrophoto lenses--


I used it in this 4x5" shot--


and this 35mm Kodachrome 25--


Claire Senft
09-09-2006, 10:48 AM
When you use your 80mm Planar in the reversed position you already are getting a very close up image. What magnification are you trying to achieve?

Mike Kovacs
09-09-2006, 11:18 AM
Reversed 80 Planar gives me about 1.6x magnification. I get around 3x magnification on the reversed 50 but I'm not entirely satisfied with the performance. I don't see myself wanting more than that for 6x6. As it is, it requires exacting technique to shoot at these levels of magnification.

I'm experimental by nature - if I can squeeze some more resolution out of the enlarging lenses, they're worth a try. If not, just as well since the Zeiss lenses will be a whole lot easier to use!

Claire Senft
09-09-2006, 11:23 AM
I wish you a lot of luck. Trying to outperform the reversed Planar will take some doing.

09-09-2006, 09:38 PM
Hi David,

Are you sure that the Canon Macrophoto lenses are multicoated? I'll have to check mine.


The Leitz Photars are also very good and I will have to compare the Canon Macrophoto lenses to my Leitz 25mm f2.5 Photar. You can also try and get one of the discontinued Schneider M Componon Lenses or the 2 Rodenstock - f4.0 75mm 1X Apo Rodagon D or the f4.5 2X 75mm Apo Rodagon D lenses. These 2 lenses are designed for copy work and high magnification for 6X6 and 6X7 cameras. I will have to compare these to the other lenses as well. They are supposed to be superb performers.


David A. Goldfarb
09-09-2006, 10:51 PM
The FD 35 Macrophoto is multicoated (it's a 6-element lens), but the 20mm is single coated (4-element/3-group lens like the Luminars). I haven't managed to get my hands on a Photar.

Dan Fromm
09-10-2006, 04:47 AM
Rich, I had a 75/4 1:1 Apo Rodagon D. Veeery interesting MTF curves, I think they're on Paul Butzi's site. Flat to the edge. And past the edge the MTF goes to zero, as in no image at all. I think the lens is a wide angle with very restrictive field stops.

Anyway, according to Rodenstock it shouldn't be used far from 1:1. And at 1:1 it doesn't cover 2x3. So I basically gave mine to a friend who wanted it.



Dan Fromm
09-10-2006, 04:51 AM
David, I hate to disagree with you but I think all of the Luminars but the 16/2.5 are triplets.

I have 25/3.5, 40/4.5, 63/4.5 and had a 100/6.3. Triplets all.

I had a 16/2.5 that appeared to have been cooked in an oven, the balsam had run out from between the two cemented elements to form a crust around the periphery of the first element. I have somewhere, probably can't find easily, drawings of cross-sections of all of 'em; they show the 16/2.5 as essentially a tessar with a field flattener, the others as triplets.

For those watching this discussion, we're deep into lens trivia that has no practical implications at all.