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  1. #11

    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Louisiana, USA
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    1,325
    I have an original Focotar 5cm f/4.5 that came with a Valoy. The lens gives a good look to prints and is fully usable at f/4.5 but mine is old and somewhat foggy. I was given a rather old El Nikkor 50/2.8 that I used for several years but realized it was past its prime when I bought a new grain focuser. I then found a "like new" Rodenstock Rodagon 50/2.8 for a very reasonable price. A truly excellent lens with no readily discernible faults. But those old Focotar's might be just fine. Combined with with the Leitz Focomat light source, they can produce some formidable prints.

  2. #12

    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Woonsocket, RI USA
    Shooter
    35mm
    Posts
    2,725
    I'll add that I've read, from several sources, that sample-to-sample variability in enlarger lenses of any given quality level (for instance, any of the 6-element lenses being discussed here) is greater than the model-to-model variability. This can make it very hard to pick the "best" lens, particularly if you're looking for overall performance rather than specific features or characteristics. If you're buying used, add to this the variability induced by the use or abuse of any given lens and it becomes impossible to make blanket statements about the quality of particular lenses. Therefore, if you're buying used I suggest you buy from a trusted source or look for a bargain, but be prepared to buy a second lens if the first one doesn't work out. Given the price of used lenses on eBay today, you can buy several for less than the price of a single new lens.

  3. #13

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Shenadoah Valley
    Shooter
    Large Format
    Posts
    342
    Images
    4
    After printing with practically every lens you can think of in labs I prefer to use a Computar or a Fujinon EX enlarger lens for bw or color. The Computar is a pretty sophisticated design (6 element double gauss I think as I was told by the lens designer?) and the Fuji is 6 element air spaced (not sure on specifics). Personally at home I have a Computar 50mm and Fujinon EX 105mm for 35mm and medium format respectively. I have used the apo schneider and apo rodenctocks and they are also nice. Since these good optics are so cheap now I would pass over all the other options. If you do chance onto the scarce Computar make sure to look it over well as the rear elements tend to separate due to what I suspect was a manufacturing defect.

  4. #14

    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Shooter
    35mm
    Posts
    2
    I am very grateful for the helpful and very informative advice provided by members.

    Mervyn

  5. #15

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Magnificent Rockies
    Shooter
    35mm
    Posts
    537
    Images
    1
    I want to thank Patrick and David for the 'character' assessment of the different enlarger lens manufacturers.

    I have come to a similar conclusion about the respective qualities of each mfr. and have encountered the sample to sample variance mentioned.

    I have been picking up a few great lenses for 'nickels' from the auction site. I do get quite a few mediocre to bad ones for the occasional winner but at these prices one can definitely afford to shop until a gem is found. The dogs go into the trash bin!

    I prefer the character of an old Beseler HD lens which is a knock off of the Rodagon 2.8. I agree that the 2.8 Nikkor tends to be a bit harsh.

    One of these days I will have to put a few back on the auction block!

    Fred

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