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  1. #1

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    Some questions and thoughs about my enlarger lenses

    Hello!

    Recently I've been checking my enlargers alignment.

    What I observed was that all four corners had the same focus level and it was different from that of the center.
    Then, by focusing on the center of the image, I checked the corners and observe as I stop the lens down. Here, I found something interesting. I found the different lenses behave differently.
    For example:
    My Rodagon 80mm f/5.6 had blurred corners and they became sharp when I step down to f/8-11
    My El-Nikkor 50mm f/4 had also blurred corners but they became sharp at about f/11
    Unlikely, the El-Nikkor 50mm f/2.8 had very sharp corners even wide open at f/2.8.
    Finally, one Schneider Componar 105mm f/4.5 had to be stopped down to f/16 to have acceptable sharp corners.

    I know that the El-Nikkor 50 and the Rodagon 80 are both 6 element lenses so high quality is expected. Also, Nikkor 50/4 has 4 elements and the Componar has 3.

    Now, my questions are:

    Is it normal that the Rodagon has not sharp corners like Nikkor 50/2.8? Could that mean a default on my lens?
    Also, I noticed a difference in the detail I could see between the Nikkor 50/2.8 and the Rodagon. The negative was the same. Is that ok?

    Please note that all the observations were made with a grain focuser, but I plan to do some tests on paper too. Also, the Nikkors are in mint condition, the 2.8 is never used, according to the seller. The 50/4 makes a sound when I shake it, could that be an element that is loose? The Rodagon is used, but it is very good condition, its optics are clean and clear.

    Could you help me identify what is the version of the lenses I have?
    Is my Nikkor 50/2.8 N or not? It hasn't the same design as the Nikkor 50/4.
    And the Rodagon has a rubber aperture ring and a red strip. (I can provide pictures and serials numbers if they can help)

    Thank you for your repsonses and your attention,
    George

    P.S.: Is there any site that I can see the technical specifications of enlarging lenses? From what I searched I found a Rodenstock's pdf file that has some information about its newer lenses. Can these specifications apply to my Rodagon?

  2. #2
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    Is your testing being done with glass carriers and a leveled enlarger?

  3. #3
    fretlessdavis's Avatar
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    I was getting results like that with my enlarger lenses, but it was the film slightly sagging in the holder. Try using a glass carrier and compare. My EL-Nikkor 50mm f/4 is incredibly sharp on the entire frame @f/8. My Comparon 75mm (I know, not a componon... but it's optimized for the 8x10-11x14 range, and I couldn't tell a difference between it more expensive lenses at an 8x10) is also ideal at about f/8, except with Foma film, which needs f/16 because it's so curly and won't stay flat like FP4 and Acros do.
    New-ish convert to film.
    Pentax MX for 35mm
    Bronica ETRS for 645

  4. #4

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    @Bob Carnie: Yes my carrier has glass and my enlarger is leveled.

    @fretlessdavis: For the Nikkor 50/4 the sharpness was good at f/8 but in my eyes I had to go to f/11 for calling it sharp corners. As I reply to Bob, I use a glass carrier, so I guess film flatness is not an issue

  5. #5
    fretlessdavis's Avatar
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    Noticed your comment about the 50/4 making noise while shaking-- Mine does not. There's probably some variation between the two, and maybe some issues if it's making noise, but I definitely have great sharpness corner to corner @f/8 after checking prints under magnification. The others sound pretty typical to me in their behavior, after testing out pretty much a whole case of enlarger lenses. 2 stops down from wide open is a good starting place for most good, but not necessarily new, EL lenses. Having to stop why down on a Componar is typical, and 1-2 stops on a Rodagon seems pretty reasonable.

    EDIT: The 5.6 Rodagon 80 is an older one in the Rodagon series-- quite nice lens, but stopping down 2 stops is definitely par for the course (for older nice lenses) to get good corners. Just like older Componons-- definitely wouldn't expect to be able to use them wide open.
    New-ish convert to film.
    Pentax MX for 35mm
    Bronica ETRS for 645

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by fretlessdavis View Post
    Noticed your comment about the 50/4 making noise while shaking-- Mine does not. There's probably some variation between the two, and maybe some issues if it's making noise, but I definitely have great sharpness corner to corner @f/8 after checking prints under magnification. The others sound pretty typical to me in their behavior, after testing out pretty much a whole case of enlarger lenses. 2 stops down from wide open is a good starting place for most good, but not necessarily new, EL lenses. Having to stop why down on a Componar is typical, and 1-2 stops on a Rodagon seems pretty reasonable.

    EDIT: The 5.6 Rodagon 80 is an older one in the Rodagon series-- quite nice lens, but stopping down 2 stops is definitely par for the course (for older nice lenses) to get good corners. Just like older Componons-- definitely wouldn't expect to be able to use them wide open.
    From any prints I had with the Nikkor 50/4 there was nothing to make me worry. But I have never made prints to check the performance of my lenses.

    So you think the Rodagon is fine? With the Rodagon I had some prints used wide open -mainly when making test strips- and I noticed a very obvious difference in detail. Much better performance when stopped down 2 stops.

  7. #7
    fretlessdavis's Avatar
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    Yeah, your Rodagon sounds fine to me! Unless you're pushing past 11x14, I wouldn't worry about any of those lenses, but would not use that Componar.

    I'm sure there's sample variation in the 50mm Nikkor's, too. If you can't see anything in prints, it's probably not a loose element f/11 is perfectly reasonable for printing, too. I don't know why people hate on its quality, mine is better than an old Componon I tried.
    New-ish convert to film.
    Pentax MX for 35mm
    Bronica ETRS for 645

  8. #8
    Dave Swinnard's Avatar
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    Re: the 80mm Rodagon. It sounds like the one I got new back in the early '80s. The aperture ring should pull down slightly and disengage the click stops. I think the theory behind that was to allow continuous aperture setting for "zeroing" in on exposure when using enlarging meters. (now that's how I recall it...)

    Over the years it's been my go to lens for 6x6.

    Not sure if the modern lens specs correspond or not...

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by fretlessdavis View Post
    Yeah, your Rodagon sounds fine to me! Unless you're pushing past 11x14, I wouldn't worry about any of those lenses, but would not use that Componar.

    I'm sure there's sample variation in the 50mm Nikkor's, too. If you can't see anything in prints, it's probably not a loose element f/11 is perfectly reasonable for printing, too. I don't know why people hate on its quality, mine is better than an old Componon I tried.
    Unfortunately, I don't print large I don't have large enough trays and the paper is a bit expensive. For now, I print mostly at 8x10 (20x25 cm).

    So we agree. The Nikkors and the Rodagon are fine but the Componar isn't that good.

    I can't say the 50/4 is bad, it was my first enlarging lens and gave me beautiful pictures. But from a comparison I can see a difference with the 50/2.8 to be sharper to me. I haven't printed with the 50/2.8 yet, it is quite new I am sure that a difference in prints won't be visible.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Swinnard View Post
    Re: the 80mm Rodagon. It sounds like the one I got new back in the early '80s. The aperture ring should pull down slightly and disengage the click stops. I think the theory behind that was to allow continuous aperture setting for "zeroing" in on exposure when using enlarging meters. (now that's how I recall it...)

    Over the years it's been my go to lens for 6x6.

    Not sure if the modern lens specs correspond or not...
    Yes, that is the one I have. I confirm it is created at about 80's as I checked the serial number with a database I found.

    On the modern specs I can find a 80mm f/4 Rodagon. I guess that if my f/5.6 and the f/4 have no big differences, then the specs could fit me.

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