View Full Version : Your Choice of a 50mm Enlarger Lens
05-26-2009, 06:59 PM
I'm in the process of buying an enlarger that comes with both a 50mm lens and 75mm lens. I am not in the market for a different 50mm lens at this time, but i'm considering a future purchase.
What would be your choice of a 50mm enlarging lens if you were buying one?
I did several searches and came up empty - please feel free to direct me to the correct thread if it is available.
05-26-2009, 07:09 PM
There are many, many, many good 50mm lenses that are or have been made. I use a Schneider APO Componon HM 45/4 and a Nikkor 50/2.8. The Schneider cost 10 times the Nikkor but is not 10 times better.
05-26-2009, 07:15 PM
There were a couple of threads about erlarger lenses, so what ?!
I use a 50mm Rodenstock Rodagon and an 80mm Rodenstock Rodagon and like them very well.
05-26-2009, 07:45 PM
The 50 mm. f/2.8 Rodenstock Rodagons (not Rogonars), EL-Nikkors, and Schneider Componon-S lenses are all excellent lenses. There is no practical difference between enlargements made with any of these lenses to my eye. The Schneiders are a little more convenient to use because they have a nifty preset stop down lever. Both the Rodenstock and Schneider lenses have click stops at 1/2 stop intervals. The EL-Nikkors lack both these features, have click stops only at full stop intervals, and usually sell for less while still producing outstanding image quality. The lack of either of these features is a not major inconvenience. The APO designated lenses are better IF you plan to make enlargements greater than 15x AND you need the utmost quality money can buy. Chances are that you won't. Remember that to take advantage of the APO lenses, everything in the image making chain has to be up to that standard for it to be noticeable. And yes, the APO lenses do come at a very hefty premium.
05-27-2009, 10:59 AM
Any six element lens will give you excellent results. If you look for a EL-Nikor get the 2.8/50 for 35mm.
I've got that & a 105(tad bit long) Rodagon for 6X7.
05-27-2009, 02:46 PM
If you're lucky like me to find a Minolta CE 50mm f/2.8, grab it with all your might.
I had one that basically came free with a colour enlarger. Oh, the unhappiness...
After that, the EL-Nikkor 50mm f/2.8 is very nice (stay away from the f/4 models, they don't perform as well). I sold that one once I got the Minolta. The Minolta has an edge over the EL-Nikkor.
I have a Schneider Componon-S 80mm for 6x6 which does an excellent job as well. Leica lenses are also something to look for.
These days you can get top of the line products for around or under 100$. It gets a bit more expensive with longer lenses (for larger formats), but there's a lot of excellent lenses for 35mm / 6x6 out there.
05-27-2009, 04:25 PM
EL-Nikkor 63/2.8 is really great lens for enlarging 35mm negs.
05-27-2009, 06:15 PM
Even the best name lens sell very cheap these days.
But look out for one of these ....
Fuinon EP, EX
As they are also reported to be very good. The Beseler and Vivitar are rebranded Rodenstock lenses, I believe, but are quite often less expensive than the big names.
And, I agree with the above; the Minolta CE is a real sleeper.
05-27-2009, 06:54 PM
My primary 50mm lens is a Nikkor EL 50mm f2.8. I had a Schneider APO 50 but could not see any benefit to it for B&W printing. However, I don't use any 50mm all that much as I prefer to use a Schneider 80mm for 35mm enlargements. That's for prints up to 11x14. Anything bigger (not very darn often) I use the 50mm lens.
05-27-2009, 07:15 PM
I use the Nikkor EL 50 f2.8 as well. It's done great 11x14's for me.
05-29-2009, 01:37 AM
I found a Vivitar VHE 105mm f5.6 at a photo fair for $10. I picked it up because I had heard it was a Rodenstock lens - It's very well made and says made in Germany. But I can't seem to find a 50mm bore lens board for my 23CII, and I'm really not looking forward to paying SKGrimes well into 3 digits in order to use my $10 bargain lens. So far, I'm making do with an Omicron El 90mm f5.6 lens for my medium format work (6x6 and 6x7), but I have heard the Vivitar is a better lens. Anyone know where I could find a 4x4" 50mm bore lens board?
For my 35mm work, I'm quite happy with a 50mm f2.8 El Nikkor. But there's a local seller on Craigslist who's offering a 50mm f2.8 Schneider Componon here in San Diego for $40.
05-29-2009, 05:39 AM
Compared to the El-Nikkor, I don't think you'd see any improvement with the Componon over the EL-Nikkor. If I'm not mistaken, the Componon is a rather old lens. Schneider lenses carrying the Componon-S designation are better. Save the $40 for paper.
05-29-2009, 08:22 AM
Look for a slower six element lens. They're cheaper. Printing is usually done at f8 to f11 anyway. I have a Componon 80/5.6 and 50/4. Both are just as sharp at the apertures I print at as their newer and faster counterparts. The newer Componon S lenses are sharper at wide open apertures. I never print wide open. You probably won't either.
I have the resolution numbers from a Nikon brochure regarding their six element 50/2.8 and their four element 50/4. No difference at f11. Large difference at f4. If you print at f11, you won't see any difference. At f11, I can't tell the difference between my El-Nikkor 50/4 and my 50mm Componon.
Just my .02
05-29-2009, 10:02 AM
[QUOTE=dougjgreen;805703]I found a Vivitar VHE 105mm f5.6 at a photo fair for $10. I picked it up because I had heard it was a Rodenstock lens - It's very well made and says made in Germany. But I can't seem to find a 50mm bore lens board for my 23CII, and I'm really not looking forward to paying SKGrimes well into 3 digits in order to use my $10 bargain lens.
2" hole saw & a blank Beseler board would get you there. Got a friend with a garage?
05-29-2009, 11:08 AM
I found a Vivitar VHE 105mm f5.6 at a photo fair for $10. ... Anyone know where I could find a 4x4" 50mm bore lens board?
Look for a regular machine shop. Enlarging the hole on a lens board is not a high precision task. I was able to do this with a Beseler 67 board cut to 42mm in a marine shop near where I live and it cost me $10.00. It isn't quite as pretty as the lens boards that came directly from Beseler, but a black Sharpie fixed any bright spots.
05-29-2009, 11:30 AM
I have an older Nikon 50mm f/2.8 EL-Nikkor and a bunch of other crap lenses that do not even come close.
05-29-2009, 11:40 AM
But I can't seem to find a 50mm bore lens board for my 23CII, and I'm really not looking forward to paying SKGrimes well into 3 digits in order to use my $10 bargain lens.
If you are able to drill the hole yourself, here is one with a pilot hole, not too bad at $20.
05-29-2009, 12:14 PM
I have a lensboard for the 23CII with a 50mm bore for use with the 105/5.6 Vivitar VHE; I got it from B&H for about $80. If you really want it, I'll let it go---contact me privately. The 105mm f/5.6 Vivitar VHE is a Schneider Componon, and it worked OK for me in my brief excursion into 6x7.
If I was choosing from scratch for 35mm, I'd buy a 63mm El-Nikkor-N and a 50mm Rodagon-G. Gobs of cash, I know, but I regret not buying those lenses when they were available new.
35mm enlarging should be done as wide open as possible. Using a stop between f/4 and f/5.6 with a good 6-element f/2.8 lens improved my prints more than any other single thing I've done in the darkroom.
05-29-2009, 12:28 PM