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  1. #1

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    enlarger lenses: the best.

    I have been looking at the amazingly low prices that quality used enlarger lenses seem to be going for these days and think it might be time to buy the sort of best of the best lenses I could never afford before. At present I use a 50mm for 35mm and a 90mm for 6 x 7, but I am planning to start doing some 6 x 9 work. What do people think are the best ever lenses in these sizes?

    David.

  2. #2
    ZorkiKat's Avatar
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    Russian lenses.
    Plenty of sleepers- For about US$5 to US$10 you can get 4-element anastigmats which are far better than the 3-element lenses supplied as 'basic' optics for many enlarger kits. The Vega-11U is a 2,8/50mm five-element lens which can rival the more expensive Japanese or German equivalents.

    More details here:http://www.apug.org/forums/forum41/29691-my-russian-enlarger-lenses-little-review.html
    Jay
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  3. #3

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    At the current prices it's possible to buy a few lenses, decide what you like and then sell the others. Well that's the theory What may surprise you is that some of the less expensive lenses give great results. My favourite MF lens is a Minolta with Rodenstock for 35mm and LF. I must admit that I see little difference between the Nikon, Rodenstock and Schneider lenses that I have. The only thing I've had with some older lenses is focus shift when stopping the lens down plus the need to work at a smaller aperture. The Rodenstock 50mm works extremely well at f5.6. One other nice lens is a Durst (Schneider) 150mm that was picked up on ebay for a tenner.
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  4. #4
    PepMiro's Avatar
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    Best lenses are Rodenstok APO Rodagon or Schneider APO Componon. Even used, they are quite expensive (especially the APO Componon one).

  5. #5
    mario Ag+'s Avatar
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    Id look out for bargains on Schneider Componons or Rodenstock Rodagons. Even the old F5.6 ones are really good.

  6. #6
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    When lenses got cheap, I could finally afford to upgrade all my enlarging lenses to Apo-Rodagons (50 and 90) and a 150 Apo-Componon. They're all excellent. The best enlarging lenses are probably Apo El-Nikkor, but they are still very expensive, if you can find them.
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  7. #7

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    I'd have to disagree with ZorkiKat, or at least disagree that lenses like the Vega-11U are the "best of the best," to quote Woolliscroft's criterion. The Vega-11U is a 5-element design that, in my experience (detailed in my post to the thread to which ZorkiKat links), is very good but doesn't quite match my 6-element EL-Nikkor f/2.8. (Both of these are 50mm designs.) The Vega-11U is a fine lens and I'm not afraid to use it for 8x10 and smaller enlargements, but for absolute nit-picky quality or for really huge enlargements, the EL-Nikkor would do better. As a practical matter, the Vega-11U's long neck means that I can't focus it on my enlarger for enlargements over about 12x16 inches. A caveat about quality: I only have one sample of each of these two lenses. It's conceivable that my Vega-11U is slightly substandard, although certainly there's nothing obviously wrong with it (fungus, etc.).

    As others have said, apochromatic (APO) lenses are typically top-of-the-line models and are especially good for color enlargements. AFAIK, my own EL-Nikkor isn't an APO model, and I've never seen a side-by-side comparison, so I don't know how much you gain from that feature. If you want the "best of the best," though, I see no reason to buy anything but a 6-element APO lens. Schneider, Rodenstock, and Nikon are the manufacturers whose lenses most often get mentioned in these discussions, but among these, my own experience is limited to Nikon.

  8. #8

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    In my experience, the N series El Nikkors are excellent lenses and they are a bargain. I recently bought an 80mm a 105mm and a 135mm. I am using them for 6x6, 6x7, 6x9 and 6x12 work.
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  9. #9

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    Russian lenses.
    Plenty of sleepers-
    I would stay away from any russian products. Knowing their quality control or rather total lack of it, can happen that you can find good lens but it is lottery. Older products (1945 to 1980) could be made by forced labour.

  10. #10
    ZorkiKat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by srs5694 View Post
    ....is very good but doesn't quite match my 6-element EL-Nikkor f/2.8. (Both of these are 50mm designs.) The Vega-11U is a fine lens and I'm not afraid to use it for 8x10 and smaller enlargements, but for absolute nit-picky quality or for really huge enlargements, the EL-Nikkor would do better. As a practical matter, the Vega-11U's long neck means that I can't focus it on my enlarger for enlargements over about 12x16 inches. A caveat about quality: I only have one sample of each of these two lenses. It's conceivable that my Vega-11U is slightly substandard, although certainly there's nothing obviously wrong with it (fungus, etc.).
    I've used my Vega-11U for printing in colour. It came out superb. I've seen large prints made with it (not by me, lens was borrowed to make prints for a show), and it stood well enough with the other prints enlarged through the more conventional lenses. Yes, I've sniffed at the prints, and they look as good as the enlargements from more expensive (and commonly used) EL_Nikkors.
    Last edited by ZorkiKat; 11-11-2006 at 01:15 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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