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  1. #1

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    EL-Nikor Enlarger lens--Difference between

    I have 4 EL-Nikor enlarging lenses that I have a question about. All are 50mm but 2 are 2.8 and the rest are f4. Would either be any better than the other without making a bunch of test. The 2.8 has a lot of glass, the f4's small amount of glass. I guess my question is, would the 2.8 be the better since it has a large amount of glass???
    I don't have any knowledge of what makes one better than the other.

    Any ideas on this?

    Richard

  2. #2
    Stephen Prunier's Avatar
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    By no means am I an expert on this as I'm fairly new to the darkroom myself. Knowing that, I would think that the 2.8 would help you to make focusing easier. Being a faster lens it will allow more light when set at 2.8. After you finish focusing, close down the lens a couple of stops. At that point I don't think one will differ from the other because 5.6/8 will be the same on either lens.
    It has to be true. I read it on the internet, and you can't lie on the internet!!!!!

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    On EL-Nikkors, 50mm f/2.8 is a 6 element lens where as f/4 is a 4 element lens.

    f/2.8 version is better corrected for edge-to-edge sharpness and is considered a better lens. There's a debate on APUG how much difference there actually are between those two.

    I only use the f/2.8 kind so I can't tell you personally.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  4. #4

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    I didn't think there would be that much difference when stopped down but no harm in asking. I think I should worry more about negative buckling than what lens I am using.

    Thanks for the replies

    Richard

  5. #5
    outwest's Avatar
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    Some years ago one of the photography magazines tested enlarging lenses. They tested the EL-Nikkor 50mm f/2.8 (a plasmat) and a whole slew of f/3.5, f/4 (but not the Nikkor), and f/4.5 lenses (Tessars) including Schneider, Rodenstock, and Leitz. At f/5.6 the Nikkor resolved 80 and 65 (center and edge) line pairs/mm whereas the best of the others at f/5.6 was 50 and 40 (the Leitz - most were 45 and 35 or 40.) Test the two f/2.8s against each other and keep the best one if there is a difference. You will have the best 50mm you can get and then you can forget about the lens and work on the other big problems - the parallel alignment between the neg carrier, lens board, and easel and the flatness of your neg. An easy way to get a flat neg is to take a glass (preferably the anti-Newton one) out of a Gepe slide mount and glue it to the top half of your neg holder.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by outwest View Post
    Some years ago one of the photography magazines tested enlarging lenses. They tested the EL-Nikkor 50mm f/2.8 (a plasmat) and a whole slew of f/3.5, f/4 (but not the Nikkor), and f/4.5 lenses (Tessars) including Schneider, Rodenstock, and Leitz. At f/5.6 the Nikkor resolved 80 and 65 (center and edge) line pairs/mm whereas the best of the others at f/5.6 was 50 and 40 (the Leitz - most were 45 and 35 or 40.) Test the two f/2.8s against each other and keep the best one if there is a difference. You will have the best 50mm you can get and then you can forget about the lens and work on the other big problems - the parallel alignment between the neg carrier, lens board, and easel and the flatness of your neg. An easy way to get a flat neg is to take a glass (preferably the anti-Newton one) out of a Gepe slide mount and glue it to the top half of your neg holder.


    Hey outwest
    I am going to do some testing today and see if there is any difference that I can see.
    I have a 6x9 glass negative carrier and I have masked the top glass. I am going to test that also with one that is glassless.
    I'll post what I find with my eyes looking at each print.

    Thanks
    Richard

  7. #7
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    I've used old versions of both f/4 and f/2.8 El-Nikkors. The F/4 version is better than many of the other brand f/3.5 or f/4 three or four element lenses, but the f/2.8 version is better yet. Wide open it provides quick and precise focusing. Stopped down to f/4 it performs well from corner to corner. It might be at its best at f/5.6. When stopped down below f/8, the effects of diffraction become visible on the sharpness of grain. The effect in the center of the image when stopping down can conveniently be seen with a strong focusing aid. Some focusing aids permit this even at the corners of the image.

    Decades ago I did a quick, but critical, test of about 35 camera and enlarging lenses. Four were better than any others: an El-Nikkor 50mm f/2.8, a Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/3.5, a Leitz Elmar 50mm f/2.8, and a GN-Nikkor 45mm f/2.8. Other 50mm lenses from Nikon and Leica lagged slightly behind those four. The Nikkor 20mm f/3.5 of 1967 was one of the sharpest in the center of the field, but much less so near the edges.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Jones View Post
    I've used old versions of both f/4 and f/2.8 El-Nikkors. The F/4 version is better than many of the other brand f/3.5 or f/4 three or four element lenses, but the f/2.8 version is better yet. Wide open it provides quick and precise focusing. Stopped down to f/4 it performs well from corner to corner. It might be at its best at f/5.6. When stopped down below f/8, the effects of diffraction become visible on the sharpness of grain. The effect in the center of the image when stopping down can conveniently be seen with a strong focusing aid. Some focusing aids permit this even at the corners of the image.

    Decades ago I did a quick, but critical, test of about 35 camera and enlarging lenses. Four were better than any others: an El-Nikkor 50mm f/2.8, a Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/3.5, a Leitz Elmar 50mm f/2.8, and a GN-Nikkor 45mm f/2.8. Other 50mm lenses from Nikon and Leica lagged slightly behind those four. The Nikkor 20mm f/3.5 of 1967 was one of the sharpest in the center of the field, but much less so near the edges.
    Hey Jim
    Could you actually see the difference on the print or was it from the focusing aid? I have 3 focusing aids and I will check this also today.
    I also have a couple of Rodenstock 50mm's and I want to check them also. I am not sure if my old eyes will be able to tell a big difference though.
    All I am doing is making sure I have the best image I can get and box up the ones I don't want to use.
    This will be a fun test to do just for my knowledge and information.
    I have never done a lens test and it will be interesting to find out some questions that are in my mind.

    I have questioned in my mind also how accurate the focusing aids are. Of the three I have, they seem to focus a bit different from one to the other. From the distance from the mirror to the view finder is what bothers me on this.
    When they are made, I often wonder how accurate they are in relation to what is actually printed. The distance between the mirror and the base is what will make the difference. I am not sure I can relate what I am thinking but between the three, there is a small difference in adjusting for sharpness. Maybe I don't have a good enough focusing aid???

    I am not very critical on what I print but I would like to know if there needs to be an improvement in the quality.

    I have a hard time explaining what I am thinking but I hope you understand what I am looking for.

    I have downsized from 4x5 and med. format to 35mm and with that small of negative, I need to know if everthing is in order as far a image quality goes.

    Thanks
    Richard

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardH View Post
    Hey Jim
    Could you actually see the difference on the print or was it from the focusing aid? I have 3 focusing aids and I will check this also today.
    I also have a couple of Rodenstock 50mm's and I want to check them also. I am not sure if my old eyes will be able to tell a big difference though.
    All I am doing is making sure I have the best image I can get and box up the ones I don't want to use.
    This will be a fun test to do just for my knowledge and information.
    I have never done a lens test and it will be interesting to find out some questions that are in my mind.

    I have questioned in my mind also how accurate the focusing aids are. Of the three I have, they seem to focus a bit different from one to the other. From the distance from the mirror to the view finder is what bothers me on this.
    When they are made, I often wonder how accurate they are in relation to what is actually printed. The distance between the mirror and the base is what will make the difference. I am not sure I can relate what I am thinking but between the three, there is a small difference in adjusting for sharpness. Maybe I don't have a good enough focusing aid???

    I am not very critical on what I print but I would like to know if there needs to be an improvement in the quality.

    I have a hard time explaining what I am thinking but I hope you understand what I am looking for.

    I have downsized from 4x5 and med. format to 35mm and with that small of negative, I need to know if everthing is in order as far a image quality goes.

    Thanks
    Richard
    Richard,

    I have used the 'opposing mirrors' method (search APUG, it's here) to align my Beseler 23CII. Having never used any fancy alignment tools I can't speak to the job they do but if you factor in the cost the homemade mirror tester is wonderful and should be tried first. I bought a 12" x 12" mirror tile from the local hardware bigbox and I had a glass cutter already. The glass in the tile was cheap so the reflected images had a green cast (iron in the glass I think) but it worked well and helped. A lot. I also bought a glass negative carrier (no $regrets, and 'four surface dust' has not been an issue), but the trick of using the glass out of a slide mount is something I wish I had thought of. I have a box of Agfa mounts somewhere...

    Good luck, the results are worth the effort.

    s-a
    I photograph things to see what things look like photographed.
    - Garry Winogrand

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by semi-ambivalent View Post
    Richard,

    I have used the 'opposing mirrors' method (search APUG, it's here) to align my Beseler 23CII. Having never used any fancy alignment tools I can't speak to the job they do but if you factor in the cost the homemade mirror tester is wonderful and should be tried first. I bought a 12" x 12" mirror tile from the local hardware bigbox and I had a glass cutter already. The glass in the tile was cheap so the reflected images had a green cast (iron in the glass I think) but it worked well and helped. A lot. I also bought a glass negative carrier (no $regrets, and 'four surface dust' has not been an issue), but the trick of using the glass out of a slide mount is something I wish I had thought of. I have a box of Agfa mounts somewhere...

    Good luck, the results are worth the effort.

    s-a


    Hey s-a
    I have a slide negative carrier and maybe I will do something with that.
    If you find the glass neg. holders, keep me in mind. I would be glad to buy one from you.


    I spent the day ( between a nap ) working on the enlarger adjusting it for level and correctness.
    It wasn't that far off for being square with the baseboard. I did use the glass carrier and tried one without. What a difference!!!!!!!! I couldn't tell any buckling but I know the neg. wasn't flat when I tried the glassless one.
    I think I could have printed it at 2.8 and it would be sharp with the glass carrier..

    Thanks
    Richard

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