150mm/5.6 EL-Nikkor or ??
Hi. I stupidly sold my 150mm enlarging lens a few years ago (along with much of my 4x5 equipment - also stupidly) when I decided to work on 35mm for a while. Now I'm getting back into 4x5 enlarging and need a lens. Normally in LF I wouldn't bother quibbling about trivial differences between Rodenstock and Schneider, but here are a few interesting things:
Assume we're talking about new (ie unused) for now.
1. Helix Photo (Chicago) actually has a new 150mm/5.6 EL-Nikkor in inventory. It's about the same price as you'd pay for a new 150mm/5.6 Rodagon. Anyone think it would be worth getting the Nikkor? It's not an APO, but still, people always rave about their 6-element EL-Nikkors.
2. Helix Photo also has a new 150mm/5.6 Componon-S in inventory (older inventory) priced at $420, which is approximately $300 cheaper than you'd pay for the same lens at any other retailer (and $400 cheaper than a Rodagon). I called to ask why, and they said it was inventory that had been purchased before price increases. ?
So, it would seem I could get this particular Componon-S for virtually half the price of the Rodenstock equivalent. For some reason this makes me feel uneasy.
Alternatively, any point in going for the EL-Nikkor? Anything really special about it? Or will all three of these non-APO lenses (Componon-S, Rodagon, EL-Nikkor) be indistinguishable in performance?
For reference, 11x14 is pretty much the largest print I make from 4x5 negatives, so we're talking pretty low magnification.
The Componon-S, EL-Nikkor, and Rodagon are all very high quality enlarging lenses—regardless of price. You won't be disappointed with any of them. If you want new, however, you're going to pay a lot. If you really want to save money I would consider buying any one of these lenses used for far less than the listed prices.
I agree they are all excellent and I doubt I'd be able to see any difference in actual prints. But the pricing by Helix on this particular Componon-S specimen is intriguing - probably the same price you'd pay for a used one in excellent condition. Almost too good to be true...
I don't have any experience dealing with Helix, but I've only heard positive things.
Ooops ... anyway, I'm a bit nickpicky about enlarging lenses, and would definitely prefer a late EL
Nikkor or Rodagon to a Componon S. But as it is, I happen to use an Apo Rodagon N in that focal
length (now that's a nice lens!). But honestly, for 4x5 I prefer something even longer, and typically
use either a 180 Rodagon or 240 Apo Nikkor.
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Hi Drew - good point, I've always preferred slightly longer-than-normal lenses for enlarging. But I've only done that in smaller formats. It occasionally occured to me a 180mm would be nice for 4x5, but it seems anything longer than 150 is rare these days.
Could you elaborate on your preference for the Nikkor or Rodenstock over the Componon-S? Any specific shortcomings in the Componon-S relative to the others?
I've used all of them, but eventually sold my Componon S lenses because the Rodagons seem a little
sharper, and what El Nikkors I've used have been excellent too (at least in large format lengths -
there are some so-so cheap ones in the smaller sizes). I have a lot of enlarging lenses because I do
so many nitpicky darkroom things. Sometimes contrast or MTF can be just too much and pick up some blemsish or subtle AN glass texture I don't want to show through. Or I might use one kind of
lens for black and white negs and another for color work, or yet another for very critical dupe or
interneg production. I have never used the "HM" Apo-Componons. Optically, the very best lenses I
use are Apo Nikkor process lenses, but they're quite a bit slower than typical enlarging lenses per se.
I have used all three and at typical home printing sizes like 16x20, you would be hard pressed to see any difference.
There may be some advantages in the area of consistency (e.g. colour, contrast) from format to format in having all your lenses from the same line.
Not that I actually practice this ....
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
There can be differences in contrast even within the same brand. Color-wise I haven't noticed any
significant difference in modern lenses, maybe an old chrome barrel Componon (pre-S). More important will be eveness of illumination relative to format, and how this is related to the eveness
of the diffuser or colorhead itself. Diffusers have to be ground to match the specific lens. Longer
than "normal" focal lengths will generally give a more even field. Like I said, I am a bit nitpicky,
but any relatively recent top-end lens by the major mfg (Schneider, Nikon, Fuji, Rodenstock) should