Was true decades ago when enlarging lenses had poor corner definition. Has not been true for many decades, but the theory persists.
A longer lens does provide more working room from lens to print, but limits max size you can print with a given set up. 8x10 is the best I can do from 4x5 enlarger, 35 mm film and 80 mm lens. 135 or 150 lens is cool for making very small prints from 35mm because of the nice working distance.
Buy a six element lens, use a glass carrier, use a grain focuser,and align the enlarger and you will get good results.
I had terrible problems printing from 50mm lenses on my Devere 10x8 enlarger, even with recessed cones. I had the same problems (soft corners) on other enlargers with three different 50mm lenses. When I bought a 60mm rodagon and 63 Nikkor (won both unexpectedly on ebay) my problems went away. the 50mm was fine up to 12x16, but at 20x16 the extreme corners were soft. Not so with the 60mm lenses. Tack sharp always. Problem solved. Why I dont care, but at least the issue hs gone away. The 63mm Nikkor and rodagon 60mm are both exceptional performers too.
50mm lenses should work on most enlargers fine, but for some reason I ran into serious problems. That is unlikely to be your experience and a 50mm should allow for lower column height.
Yes, this is the case on my D5. Focusing the 50mm is a problem, switching to a 60mm solves the problem.
Originally Posted by df cardwell
The bellows on the D5/D6 are too long to place the lens sufficiently close to the negative to focus images much larger than about 8” x 10” from a 35mm negative.
If you compress the bellows fully you might barely make an 11” x 14” print, but with no reserve upward travel for cropping. And a 16” x 20” or larger print isn’t possible with a 50mm or shorter lens mounted on a slide-in plate or on the 3-lens turret.
Further, the small slide-in lens plate receiver won’t allow a recessed board. The problem has nothing to do with the quality of the lens.
There is a similar problem with the DeVere 5108. There are recessed boards available, but if the recess is too shallow, then the lens won’t be close enough to the negative to focus at larger print sizes.
Recessed DeVere lens boards for the 5108 are 3/4" and 1 1/8” deep. I don’t know if DeVere made deeper ones as well. Even if a custom lens board is required, if the 50mm lens is placed at the correct distance from the negative for a particular print size, then the image will be correctly focused and equally sharp to a 60mm or 63mm lens.
I regularly make 16” x 20” prints from 35mm negatives with a 50mm EL Nikkor. They are crisp into the corners. I use the lens on a medium format enlarger whose bellows allow placing the lens at the required position with some freedom of movement upward in reserve. Thus, the bellows are not compressed and don't force the lens away from the focus position as can happen with a bigger machine.
I have no problems with a 50mm lens on 35mm film. It is a Schneider from the '70's. They are probably even better today. I would not buy a 60mm lens if I already had a 50.
As long as the lens covers the film, you can use it. But there are differences in magnification.
If you are noticing that your prints are not sharp edge to edge, but are sharp where you focused, then your enlarger needs to be aligned.
I use a Delta 3200 neg to determine whether or not my prints are sharp edge to edge. You can easily see any softness with this film, even in the areas that are outside of the D of F on the negative. It is hard to see out of focus edges with a very grain-free film when the edges of the image are outside of the D of F on the neg.
So, I'd say to first ensure that your enlarger is aligned. Then, if necessary, purchase a higher quality enlarging lens. At this point, you might want to get a 60mm if one comes along for the right price. However, I would not go far out of your way to look for one.
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mine could focus a 50 fine, but the corners were soft at big enlargements. No idea why it works perfectly with a 60 but it does.
corners are soft because it is a poor lens, or the magnification range it was designed for was exceeded, or the neg was not flat in a glass carrier.
As for 4x5 Omegas, it is a matter of either the turret was wrong or you are not using th eproper lens plate. The proper plate is flat with threaded hole.
I am using a Rodenstock Rodagon 4,0/60mm-WA for my 35mm work because i have a bit more distance to the Dunco 40x50cm easel which is much easier to operate then. Compared with my Rodagon 2,8/50mm i can not find any difference, even not at 40x50cm from a 35mm negative. More or less the same story with 6x4,5 or 6x6cm. For 6x7cm i am always using the Rodenstock Rodagon 4,0/80mm and even the differences with my Meopta Meogon 2,8/80mm are very small. I think all good enlarger lenses but they are not very old.
I occasionally use a 60mm f4 Rodagon on 35mm for two reasons: I don't like using the 'top hat' mount for 50mm lenses on the Devere, which recesses the aperture ring into the mount unless it is holding the Focotar, and; I found the edge performance of the 60mm to be excellent - noticeably better at 16x12" enlargements than a Nikon 50 f2.8 and a Focotar 50 f4.5. I'm not saying this is a universal truth, nor that the 50mm's aren't good enough: they are, but for 35mm 16x12's I use the 60mm Rodagon on the Devere and the 50mm's I keep for my Rolleimat Universal for up to 9x13". This is the advantage of two enlargers: the Devere is mainly for panoramic or Medium format at 16x12 (using a 16x20 easel) and most of my 35mm is done on the Rolleimat at the smaller print sizes (using an 11x14 easel).