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  1. #31

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    Sal, I have had similar thoughts, and after long lusting for an 210 Apo El Nikkor, I bought a Nikkor AM-ED 210mm lens to try as an enlarger lens - it's the big brother of the 120 you have, and has a similar optical formula. My main reason for doing this is the vaunted Apo El Nikkor is based on the same formula - Marco Cavina has a nice article detailing this. I have mounted it for a Beseler 45-VXL but haven't actually tried it out yet but will soon. I also have Apo Rodagon N 150, El-Nikkor 150/5.6A (latest version) and a 150 Componon-S to compare against.

    Just as a side note, B&H blew out the 120 AM-ED lenses at $299 not $399, but either price is a huge steal. The 210 AM-ED sold new at B&H for $2300 (!), about the same price as the Apo El Nikkors of the day. Both used rare exotic glass in a unique optical formula and share a lot of the same DNA. However I don't recall ever reading the AM-ED being optimized for f/16-22 - my guess is it's probably better a bit wider than that (5.6 - 8 I'd think) given the similarities to the Apo El Nikkor which is optimized wide open.

    I wasn't sure if the 120 AM-ED would cover 4x5 for enlargements, so I went for the 210. It's good to know the 120 will cover 4x5 for at least an 8x10 enlargement - thanks for sharing that info. I expect the 120 AM-ED would be great for medium and smaller formats also. If I didn't already have an Apo El Nikkor 105mm/5.6N for those formats, I'd get the 120 AM-ED for that, for certain. The 210 AM-ED sells for $550-650-ish on Ebay in nice condition, just as an FYI. They are somewhat scarce though there are (or were) a few available at good prices just recently.

    I'd be interested to hear from anyone else that has tried them (AM-ED) as an enlarger lens.

    -Ed

  2. #32

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    There are still Apo EL lenses being mfg for machine optics, but in fixed aperture, so of little value to us. The price of enlarging Apo EL's seem to have skyrocketed when photographers for high-quality repro of paintings discovered how well they operated with scanning back cameras. But
    for my needs, I'd want a 360, and have only ever seen one for sale - at 10K. Very few of them critters was ever done did. No thanks. Nodoby is going to even see the difference in a 30x40 color print from what that does versus my 360 f/9 Apo or even my monster 360/5.6 EL. That's a pretty small leap for 8x10 film.

  3. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by EdSawyer View Post
    ...Just as a side note, B&H blew out the 120 AM-ED lenses at $299 not $399…
    You're correct, I typed that from memory, which apparently is starting to fail.

    Quote Originally Posted by EdSawyer View Post
    ...I bought a Nikkor AM-ED 210mm lens to try as an enlarger lens...I have mounted it for a Beseler 45-VXL but haven't actually tried it out yet...
    I've recently been thinking about obtaining a 210 to use as an enlarging lens for 5x7 on my 45-VXL with Beseler 810 conversion. The 120 might cover, but the enlarger bellows won't compress enough to focus the 120. Before buying a 210, however, I'll probably use the Schneider Copal 0-to-39mm adapter to mount my 240mm Fujinon A as an enlarging lens. Other than being more difficult to focus, it will likely perform as well as the Nikkor.

    Quote Originally Posted by EdSawyer View Post
    ...I don't recall ever reading the AM-ED being optimized for f/16-22 - my guess is it's probably better a bit wider than that (5.6 - 8 I'd think) given the similarities to the Apo El Nikkor which is optimized wide open...
    Since 120 and 210 AM-ED are described as taking lenses in the Nikon booklets I have, and given that their coverage is specified at small apertures like the other taking lenses in those booklets, I assume (always a bad idea) their optical design was also calculated for use at f/16-22. Certainly, the 2X magnification test prints I made from Mamiya 7 negatives, using an LPL glass carrier and the 120 AM-ED at f/16, were sharp beyond anything else I have seen, even contact prints from large format negatives shot at f/22 with the best modern lenses.

  4. #34

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    ... but as specialized macro lenses, their coverage specs are also listed for a different X factor than ordinary taking lenses. In other words, at
    less than 1:1 (for example), they might not cover the listed recommended film size.... but you know that already, no doubt. I'm just stating it
    for general info

  5. #35
    L Gebhardt's Avatar
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    I kicked myself for several years for not buying one of the 120mm AM lenses when they were sell for $299. I finally bought one last summer (for about $330). Haven't used it much yet, but maybe I'll try it on the enlarger while I wait for the spring weather which is much better suited for large format macro work than the current 6F. Thanks for the idea.

  6. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    Unless you have your bellows cranked up near the nominal focal length of the lens for massive enlargements, the image circle of the typical six-element lens far exceeds the format.
    Makes sense. I suppose if this actually became a problem I could make a little mask so that the image circle is restricted to a rectangle the size of the negative (the same type of masking one would do when contacting a step tablet in a camera). But I really only noticed these fairly faint "bellows projections" when there was no negative in the carrier (ie a lot more light bouncing around). So it is essentially a non-issue.

  7. #37

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    Sal, the 210 should cover 5x7 no problem, esp. @ small magnifications. 400mm image circle at 1:1 I think.

    I would expect the Fuji 240A to be not quite as good as the AM-ED Nikkors. Would be interesting to hear about the results of that test though.

    You may be correct about the f/16 optimization, but it would be worthwhile to test that. It seems like it would be well into diffraction-limited performance at that point, but... ? I also prefer wider apertures as I use a Minolta/Beseler 45A head, so small apertures = long exposures = more use of the flash tubes (which are somewhat harder to find and not all that cheap so I'd like to conserve those...)

    Good to know about the Mamiya 7 test @ f/16, etc. Mamiya 7 consistently puts out some of the sharpest, most contrasty negatives I have seen from any camera, any format. I am impressed they equal or beat large-format contact prints though! (maybe I should just not bother shooting 4x5 anymore... ;-)

    thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Drew, do you have documentation or more info on fixed-aperture apo el nikkors still being available? I was unaware of that, and would be (pleasantly) surprised if it is the case.

    -Ed


    Quote Originally Posted by Sal Santamaura View Post
    You're correct, I typed that from memory, which apparently is starting to fail.

    I've recently been thinking about obtaining a 210 to use as an enlarging lens for 5x7 on my 45-VXL with Beseler 810 conversion. The 120 might cover, but the enlarger bellows won't compress enough to focus the 120. Before buying a 210, however, I'll probably use the Schneider Copal 0-to-39mm adapter to mount my 240mm Fujinon A as an enlarging lens. Other than being more difficult to focus, it will likely perform as well as the Nikkor.

    Since 120 and 210 AM-ED are described as taking lenses in the Nikon booklets I have, and given that their coverage is specified at small apertures like the other taking lenses in those booklets, I assume (always a bad idea) their optical design was also calculated for use at f/16-22. Certainly, the 2X magnification test prints I made from Mamiya 7 negatives, using an LPL glass carrier and the 120 AM-ED at f/16, were sharp beyond anything else I have seen, even contact prints from large format negatives shot at f/22 with the best modern lenses.

  8. #38

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    I've already tested the 240A and similar 250 G-Claron taking lenses, and they're pretty damn good at enlargement, and have the advantage of
    a shutter if fast exposures are warranted, so you can clip off the second of so of warmup and afterglow color change, which can be a problem
    in certain circumstances. Durst made colorheads with synchronized shutters in them just to correct this issue. But most of us rarely use an
    enlarger in intervals of mere seconds, and by 10 sec or so its and insignificant factor. They're going to be slow; you need to use em down around f/16. But my 240 Apo Nikkor is optically superior, even at f/11. .. But A's and G's, well, better than many older official enlarging lenses,
    even Componon S, but not in the league of Apo Rodagons and Apo Nikkors for this kind of usage.

  9. #39
    Rafal Lukawiecki's Avatar
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    Sal, Ed, thank you for sharing your idea of using the Nikkor AM ED 120 as an enlarging lens, I would have never thought of it! I understand, from your experience, that it is a significant improvement over the new design El Nikkor 150 for 4x5 when making small enlargements, around 8x10. I usually print 11x14 and occasionally 16x20, somewhat larger magnification thank what you have described. Also, I like faster printing times, around 15-25s, which my Ilford 500S delivers at just about f8 (I am getting an LPL VCCE next month, which is about as bright). I wonder, has anyone any experience of how this lens compares at those enlargements?
    Rafal Lukawiecki
    See rafal.net | Read rafal.net/articles

  10. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rafal Lukawiecki View Post
    ...I usually print 11x14 and occasionally 16x20...has anyone any experience of how this lens compares at those enlargements?
    No; I'm not likely to ever go beyond 11x14, and probably won't even get to that size for a while. Just on the basis of specifications, I'd speculate that the latest 150mm El-Nikkor, which is optimized for 4X magnification, would be better when making 16x20s, and probably for 11x14s as well.

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