Four years ago I replaced all of my lenses with APO rodagons (50, 80, 150, 300) with the exception of one el nikkor my eight year old uses. It was the best money I ever spent on my darkroom. They have actualy paid for themselves in what I have sold.
DIGITAL IS FOR THOSE AFRAID OF THE DARK.
I am not at all convinced that the difference between a decent Componon S/ Rodagon and their new APO variants would be that great if at all noticeable at in Mono. I am especially suspiscious for the larger film formats or at any neg size if the enlarged image is a relatively small enlargement factor (as the resolution on print may still be greater than you can actually see). I have discovered that for 5x4 taking lenses, it takes a print of 16x12 at a minimum to differentiate between the (visually) worst (65 f8 S Angulon) lens I had and the sharpest and according to Perez's lens test data (assuming mine were similar) the better one (90mm Nikkor f8) was very significantly sharper. While there are no new 5x4 lenses out there that produce better performance (tested rather than anecdotal) than the 90mm F8 Nikkor, which dates back to the eighties, I see no reson why it would be different for enlargement. Why if nobody has produced sharper taking lenses (they have produced smaller, lighter, faster asymmetric lenses which are as sharp as the older bigger slower f8 lenses ) would their enlarger lenses suddenly get better? I was under the impression that the latest APO lenses held their benefits in the realm of colour where the APO bit matters? For Petes sake, 20 plus year old 35mm prime lenses are just as sharp as those today - lens testing bears this out!
I would suggest that before spending the large sums required for APO lenses, that you try something mroe modest first - I doubt you will be disappointed.
One thing I've noticed about my Rodagons is that when the front element is removed (happened accidentally - the element unscrewed instead of the filter) there is a shim controlling the front element spacing. If this shim is missing, or replaced with another, I am as nearly certain as I can be about anything, that the lens performance will degrade beyond belief.
The best course of action would be to contact the Rodenstock or Schneider, or Nikon - or whoever - Reps and discuss the problem. Rodenstock offers a lifetime guarantee on their later enlarging lenses - I am *sure* they would be available to correct any problem with them - including replacing shims.
I've tested a few lenses in the "caveman" days - on an optical bench. It is really *rare* to find a clinker from new stock. I would suspect that someone, somewhere - fiddled with any reputable lens to get it to the deplorable states mentioned here.
Sometime ago, I experienced a flood where my Olympus equipment went under water. I found *the* repair facility to go to (knock on the door and ask for Joe). They would NOT work on one lens - a Zuiko 75 - 150 Zoom (15 elements in 11 groups - one of the first Zoom lenses available for a 35mm camera), but sent it to Olympus Repair instead.
The effect in image improvement was remarkable. I originally bought that one used, and I had assumed "that's the way all zoom lenses are". Most noticeable was pincushion distortion.
Repaired - it is the sharpest, most contrasty, distortion free - at any focal length - lens I own.
The point I'm trying to make here is that communication is very helpful. The manufacturers have a great deal at stake - their reputation.
Ed Sukach, FFP.
If the EL-Nikkor might be slightly better in contrast if it is multicoated (usually is) and the Schneider is not (usually only single coated, except for the Apo-Componon). The flange focal distance of the two is also different. This may affect edge illumination on condenser enlargers and higher mag-ratios. Check this, if you have a condenser enlarger and can make a direct comparison. But no comparison makes sense, if your enlarger is not properly aligned.
The Schneider BLV-L barrel (the one with the lever) has preset aperture control, which is most convenient.
The Componar(-S) series is a four element "entry level" design. The Componon(-S) series is a six element "professional" design.
Enlarger alignment and focus finder adjustment are extremely important. You only have to be a little out with your focus finder and you will be a long way from producing the best from your lenses. There have been many posts on enlarger alignment with many methods touted. This is a seriously important step, which makes everything else fall into place. It is no good just levelling the baseboard relative to the neg and lens. In the case of my RRB 20x16 easel, it does not lie perfectly flat due to uneveness in thickness of the foam strips it rests on. With everything permanently level, I level my easel with a spirit level and use card shims achieve this. As it is a 2 blade easel it moves about the baseboard loads as I go from small to large prints. Takes about 30 seconds to level, thats all.
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"The Componar(-S) series is a four element "entry level" design. The Componon(-S) series is a six element "professional" design."
There are a few Componon-S out there with 5 elements... 50mm, from mid-1970s to 1980s.
No the 6 element-types are not superior to the 5 elements.
Tom - while I'd agree that, by definition, APO designs are highly corrected for color convergence, it seems to me that B&W prints would benefit as much as color. The only difference being that color fringing that might be apparent in a color print would become grey fringing in a B&W print. But, as noted, my experience was limited to switching from an older 50mm Componon to the new 40mm APO Compnon HM. The difference in sharpness and local contrast with negs that I had previously printed with the old lens was quite striking - rather like moving from a Holga to a Hassy.
Originally Posted by tomishakishi2
[COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]
Rio Rancho, NM
You may be right. However, the light emitted from under the neg may already be less than full spectrum, maybe...guessing? It would certainly be the case that a graded paper would only be sensitive to the bluish bit and a VC paper yellow and magenta. I'm out of my depth here.
If there was a Holga/Hassy difference, I would question the proper function of the older lens rather than the 'new level' performance of the APO, tho I have no doubt that it would perform supremely well. Tho some later designs may have greater contrast, this is nothing that a wee bit more contrast under the enlarger could not fix (mono). Barry Thornton reckoned that the sharpest 50mm enlarger lens he ever had was a 50mm f4.5 Minolta....which in a moment of madness he always regretted, he sold. I have one too, however, perversely, it does not come close to covering 35mm (must be faulty) - ouch, cost me £5!....My most expensive lens was £50 80mm F4 Rodagon (new, in clear out). This was £2 more than my 240 Componon S, which not having used it yet, I hope is a good'un. There are tons of cheap bargains on ebay if getting started!
Check the articles - I posted a test of a Schneider Vs a Nikon Vs a minolta.
The schneider was old and in poor condition, so I wouldn't base your descision purely on my findings, but it DOES make a difference, and pick a lens based on it's performance, rather than assuming that a big brand name will perform better.
I'm with you. Based on experience with over 50 EL-lenses that “accumulated” in my darkroom over the past 15 years, I can say:
Originally Posted by tomishakishi2
- The differences you might be able to recognize on prints are inverse proportional to film size. Part of that is because larger formats have higher tolerances in every step. Small Format on the other hand requires actually micro meter precision form picture taking to the print.
- Enlarger alignment is crucial, especially for Small Format. A correct alignment has to include all three planes (carrier, lens and easel) and should be checked regularly and verified for each serious test print (i.e. lens and head position). This usually requires special tools like Zig-Align or “The Parallel”. IMO, it makes no sense to spend huge amounts for the best EL-Lenses and dispense with such tools.
- Always do blind or better double-blind tests. Apply only codes to the prints and use different people to print and judge). Otherwise you will be inclined to give a "bonus" to more expensive lenses.
- There is an individual optimum range for each lens (type). This includes aperture, magnification ratio and the thickness of the glass in the carrier. This implies that a statement like “lens A is better than lens B” can hardly be a universal truth.
- It is usually easy to spot a bad performing lens (which e.g. includes an Apo-Rodagon at 40x magnification), but very hard to articulate differences between good results. Up to now, I’ve encountered only one case where an out-performer was noticeable at first glance, which besides was a rather subjective judgment. Even a comparison between an Apo-El-Nikkor (a $4k lens) and a much simpler Rogonar-S (a $100 lens) required closer inspection within “normal” parameters (e.g. 5x and f8). With “closer inspection“, I do not mean the use of a loupe (which is IMO a questionable procedure). I rather mean “direct comparison” of some image details.
- Within their optimum parameters, almost all EL-Lenses, even the most simple 3-element designs, do have a fairly good performance around the center of the image. Better lenses do have primarily a better edge performance and their evaluation makes high demands on cameras, taking lenses and subjects. And only a few applications do really require such perfection (e.g. architecture) and the final degree of comparison costs a fortune. The best EL-Lenses ever built have not been designed with photographic applications in mind. Their use was micro-documentation, circuit printing and printing plate production. Therefore they carry the price-tags of industry capital goods.
- IMO, whether a lens is better than another one depends also on convenience factors in practice. It is, e.g., usually more convenient to work with a faster lens. In this sense, a Rodagon 5.6/210 is actually better than an Apo-Gerogon 9/210, although you cannot tell the difference between the prints they make from a 5x7 neg. IMO, this is the main advantage of the Apo-Versions, which are usually one stop faster than their counterparts. For 99% of your prints , a lens that does not require a recessed lens board for your enlarger is better than a lens that requires one. A lens with a device to switch between open- and working-aperture is better than even the same lens type without such a device (some lenses come in different barrels). Etc.
- Beyond 20x mag-ratio the air is getting thin (for EL-lenses as well as for taking lenses, film material, shutters and tripods). It is most likely that a good taking lens will also be a good EL-Lens for this case. Better than your “normal” (Apo-)EL-Lenses, anyhow
- Last but not least: a good picture hardly gets worse if printed with a poor EL-lens. But no bad picture gets better if printed with the best lens on earth. The technical quality of your work, however, gives an outlook on you as well. Every photographer has a his value on the scale between Craftsmen and Artists