Originally Posted by baronfoxx
I also use a Focotar which is a 40mm f2.8 mounted on a V35 enlarger and find it to be superior to the Nikon and Schneider lens.
some time ago on a Leica newsgroup tests showed that the only lens to beat the above Leica lens was the 40mm Apo Rodagon and these seem to be rearer than hens teeth.
When the 40 Focotar came out, many were ... unsatisfactory to those who were used to the Focotar 2. I was confused over this: why wasn't I getting the results I hoped for with the new Focomat ? Working in a camera shop frequented by some astonishing photographers, I asked one fellow about this. He said his "Parisian photo agency" had thrown out all the 40 focotars and replaced them with 50 Apo Rodagons. And I did too.Well, I SOLD my 40 ! The 50 cam was available then, and I haven't looked back. I did replace the Apo Rodagon with the N version years later, when I had a job to produce a show of 16x20s for a client, from Rodinal and Tri X, and found the new version had better, pinpoint acutance across the field at f/4.0 - 5.6. A pretty severe test, working often at 20x enlargements. Vacuum easel... all that. No difference in making 12 x prints.
Years passed, and now I've got a row of enlargers in the basement. There is an Apo El Nikkor, whose surly disposition is about a full paper grade contrastier that the best from schneider or rodenstock; a handful of El Nikkors from a defunct color sep house in Detroit ( apparently hand picked from Nikon, and just astonishing lenses, the EL Nikkor 50 is as good as the Apo Rodagon 50 ) and a few other examples.
All of this boiled down to this: with the sole exception of the Apo El Nikkors, a new Apo Schneider or Rodenstock are the best you can find, and equalled only by over achievers from Nikon, Minolta or Fuji. And unless you are at the limits of the their designed range, in a perfectly aligned enlarger with glass carriers, you won't see that superiority. generally speaking, the more recent the design, the better the lens. And for every under-performer, there is an over achiever.
For something mundane, like 120 portraiture, or 4x5 landscapes, a c '50s Ektar or '60s Componon is splendid.
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"
I have two older Rodagons, not the N style. One is an APO Rodagon and the other is a regular Rodagon of the same vintage. These are both extremely nice lenses, that blow any 50mm f2.8 Nikkor I've usd out of the water. Of course this is only my opinion and it is very subjective. I'm not trashing EL Nikkors, I've owned and used them and they can be awesome, but I like my two Rodagons better.
Originally Posted by fred
About a year ago, I got hold of a pristine Focotar-2 fairly cheaply, less than $150.00. This lens is a monster. I did not believe that that anthing could be better than my Rodagons, but this thing beats any other 50mm I've ever used. It now lives on my 1c.
Unfortunately, I live 40 miles away from my darkroom, so there are times when I need to use a nearby rental or school darkroom, and I'll use one of the Rodagons when I need to print, but can not get to my own darkroom. The Rodagons have never let me down.