enlarger lens cleaning
Hi all, I just got hold of a 50/2.8 Vivitar VHE, which on close inspection looks like its suffering from the slightest of internal haze. I am thinking that cleaning it might be an idea, as its got readily accessible grooves for a lens spanner.
Any recommendations for lens spanners...I dont have a set? Also, how do you get the elements centred when doing something like this....are they made with tight tolerances so they slide in? I've got some ROR and a new lens microfibre cloth to do the cleaning.
Maybe I make a couple of prints, one with each lens I have, just to see whether this haze makes any odds. My other lens is a 50/2.8N EL Nikkor. I am interested to see whether this VHE Vivitar is any better. Incidentally, its a 5 element 3 group design as it says so on the box. I thought Componon S lenses were 6 element, but then saw this on FirstCall Photographic....
So is the VHE a replica of the Componon S?
The 50/2.8 EL Nikkor is a six element lens. Top of the line for moderate enlargements. You can try taking the Vivitar apart if you want experience lens cleaning. Just gentle cleaning. Haze will come off easily, oil will stay and make a rainbow mess and after complete cleaning anything else is likely coating damage that is permanent.
I'm familiar with Schneider enlarging lenses with 3, 4 and 6 elements, so I would say the Vivitar is not a copy of a Schneider lens.
If you are looking for an inexpensive six-element lens I'd recommend the Nikkor (which you already have) and the Koumaron S and Fujinon EP.
Last edited by ic-racer; 09-21-2011 at 09:10 AM. Click to view previous post history.
'Haze' can be caused by many things.
If it is caused by evaporated/deposited lubricant or pollution it will clean off easily with Windex. Don't bother with ROR - it has very little cleaning power. It isn't the cleaning agent that wrecks a lens but the rubbing - the less you rub, the less damage.
Some optical glass forms a haze all on its own. High humidity is thought to be the trigger. Old Leitz 50mm Elmars were cursed with this problem. If this is the cause of the haze then it can not be removed, as johnielvis noted.
Steve Grimes and Microtools are other sources for spanner wrenches. I have a set of the Grimes spanners and am quite satisfied. I had a set of 60's era Edmund spanners that were utter junk - but I am sure quality has improved since then.
Vivitar doesn't make anything - it is a marketing company that has products either made to Vivitar's specifications or rebadged with a Vivitar logo. TTBOMK the VHE is a rebadged 1970's Componon. The lens on the firstcall site is a Componon-S, and is not the same lens. The VHE was and is a highly regarded lens.
Last edited by Nicholas Lindan; 09-21-2011 at 11:41 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I didnt realise its not the S version, this would explain the 5 element design, maybe, which looks very similar to a normal lens.
Looking into the lens in daylight, its really not that bad, in terms of a bit of dust. Giving the external glass a wipe helped a bit. I think maybe because its got a deep hood, the contrast is greater when looking into the glass at an angle, which makes it easier to see some of the light catching on internal elements. There is really only one way for me to ascertain whether its any cop, and thats to print a bit.
I dont know why I like working my way through old kit, but I do. This Vivitar might not be a Componon S, but it still looks nice and sits a lot lower on my PCS2000, making it easier to adjust.
I've got Durst branded Componons from the early 60s and a brand new 50mm Componon-S, after I cleaned the over 40 years worth on internal haze off the "antiques", you need a 10x loupe to see the difference in 16x magnification prints from a 35mm negative. You can almost see the differences by eye, as long as you can focus your eyes on the print when it is a hand width in front of your eyes.
Removing the haze did make a visible difference in print quality on side by side comparisons.
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Componon and Componon-S are both six element design and very similar. I don't know of a Schneider 5 element enlarging lens.
Originally Posted by hoojammyflip
Lens diagram on Vivitar box shows 5 elements and in the blurb on the slip in the box, it says the VHE is a 5 element.
Anyway, printed some photos last night and could not see any quality difference looking through a loupe at a photo taken on a tripod of a house (brick wall detail, aerials etc) between the Vivitar VHE and the Nikon 50/28N. So there is no particular dis/advantage to it, to my eye. Bit disappointed! Maybe at higher magnifications I'd see something, as this was only 5x.
A good spanner wrench isn't cheap - it might even cost more than a camera dealer might charge to service it? So unless you intend to service lots of lenses, you might like to check out some alternatives.
Originally Posted by hoojammyflip
If you are mechanically minded you can make a suitable one-off spanner out of steel sheet if you have a vice and some files - just file a half moon shape (to clear the glass) out of a suitable sized rectangle.
Don't be tempted to use the 'crossed screwdrivers' technique, though. You always end up with chewed up metalwork, scratched paint - and frequently scratched optics.
You could also try the 'rubber bung' technique, as long as the retaining ring stands up higher than the curve of the glass. (If it doesn't, you can use the rubber washer method ) Have a look on eBeeGeeBay in the scientific supplies section. Suitable sized rubber bungs are a LOT cheaper than spanner wrenches, usually work very well and have the advantage they can't chew up the slots in the ring or slip and trash the front element.
As another member has already noted, haze is caused for different reasons. If it is etched by some types of fungus, it will be permanent (although you will still want to remove the fungus to stop it getting worse). A bit of atmospheric 'age film' will come off very easily. Oil will come off but not quite so easily...
Most lenses have the glass mounted in threaded cells. These can be unscrewed with confidence as they should go back perfectly centred as long as the threads are clean. Don't strip a lens down to unmounted glass unless absolutely necessary. I dismantled a Sonnar this week and the front and rear elements come out as a single pieces of unmounted glass - but it has a well machines seats with a decent retaining rings so I'm confident it will re-seat ok. Schneider lenses are good quality, so the same should apply, but my rule is: always do the least dismantling you can get away with.
But - bottom line - if the lens is working ok in your tests, why risk it?
People tend to get a little 'picky' about spanner wrenches : I use a nasty old 3rd world pair of large scissors.
Pad the points with a wrap of masking tape, to avoid metal contact with the slots, adjust the distance, and clamp the scissors with a good,big pair of Vicegrips.
That said,the 50/2.8 El-Nikkor is so good,you will be unlikely to conclude the Vivitar (we don't make lenses,we just rebrand them) is better.
Haze is a strange thing : either easy or very hard to deal with.
As with any lens,make notes as you strip , mark the out-facing lens surface with a strip of tape,lay out in order of removal, try Windex 1st,then Naptha (lighter fuel).
You're right it's not a copy, that't because it may well actually be a Componon. Both Vivitar and Meopta sold Schneider made cells in their own barrels.
Originally Posted by ic-racer
My 150mm Vivitar VHE has cells that say made in Germany and was identical optically to a Componon, I guess I bought mine around 1980 or just after.
The front and rear cells of those earlier composite barrel Componons should unscrew very easily and not require any tools, it's olnly the lateer more plasticenlarger lenses that mabe a problem. All my Componon and earlier Compon S lenses will split easily for cleaning tey do tend to get a slight build up on the inner surfaces over time and are easily cleaned.