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  1. #1

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    Enlarging Lens advice needed for 4x5...

    I just pick up a 4x5 camera and need advice on an enlarging lens.. I have used El-Nikkors for medium format and 35mm and was wondering how the larger El-Nikkors are? Can i use a 135mm for a 4x5 neg or do i have to go larger?

  2. #2
    wiltw's Avatar
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    Better to use 150 than 135mm for 4x5. Large coverage circle, more even coverage....assuming that you do not have an issue of sufficient distance to print the enlargement size that you need to.
    But I would choose a Schneider Componon-S 150mm f/5.6 for absolutely the best contrast performance, and the 135mm El-Nikkor last.

  3. #3
    Leigh B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiltw View Post
    But I would choose a Schneider Componon-S 150mm f/5.6 for absolutely the best contrast performance...
    That is certainly a fine lens, but I think the Apo-Componon HM 150mm f/4 will beat it, and it's a stop faster.

    I use the HM and get extraordinarily good prints from it.

    - Leigh
    “Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” - Plato

  4. #4

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    Ctein's tests in Post Exposure 2 tested El Nikkor 135mm, Rodagon 135mm, Rodagon 150mm, and Componon S 150mm. Conclusion: all 4 lenses had very similar contrast and resolution; the Componon S 150 mm had the best contrast of 4x5 lenses, but wasn't quite as sharp as the 135mm Rodagon. You can download a free copy of the book on his web site: http://ctein.com/booksmpl.htm

    I suspect their is more variation sample-to-sample among the best lenses than there is brand-to-brand. Enlarging/process lenses have among the most stringent requirements, and I doubt of the major manufacturer's there isn't anything they don't all know.

    For smaller formats, I have El Nikkors, that I am very happy with; I have a Comparon 150 mm that is very sharp, and I like--even though it's only 4 elements. Comparons are optimized for a 4x enlargement ration (Componon's are optimized for a higher enlargement) and this might play into it. I've also bought a 135mm El Nikkor, and a 150mm Rodagon (they were cheap), but haven't tested them yet. I got the 135 in case I want to make bigger enlargements than the 150 allows.

    One thing to keep in mind is the mounting size: lensboards have become very expensive, so it might be worth it to get a lens that you can mount on your existing lensboard.

    Charlie Strack

  5. #5

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    Thanks for the info.. I have always used the El-Nikkors and was very happy with the contrast but i have never tried a Componon..

  6. #6
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    Any of the big-name (Schneider, Rodenstock, Nikon, Fuji) 135mm or 150mm lenses are fine. Or even a 180mm, but you won't be able to print very large. The point voceumana makes about lensboards is important, you want to get a lens with an M39 mounting because that's pretty universally supported and while a 150/4 lens is surely lovely, I don't think you're going to see any difference in a print and you'll need a custom lensboard with a ~50mm hole in it.

    In terms of quality and resolution: all of the big-name lenses can resolve the grain in your film wide open. Contrast improves slightly when closed down one or two stops, but they're all spectacularly good lenses. Cleaning your lens will make a much larger difference to print quality than any differences between the good ones. They're all much much sharper than what your eyes can perceive, even when shoved right up against a large (30") print.

    An APO lens may be of some benefit if printing in colour, but only if you operate the lens wide-open. At -2 stops, they're all diffraction limited.

    I have a cheap 135/5.6 EL-Nikkor and while I have no doubt that an APO-Componon is measurably better and would snap one up in an instant if I found an affordable copy, I'd put money on you not being able to tell the difference in print quality side-by-side. I have both Componon-S and Rodagons for use in medium format and have used an 80mm APO-Componon; the print quality is in all cases limited by the negative quality. If you want sharper prints, use a sharper film and/or objective lens and/or camera technique.

  7. #7
    Leigh B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by polyglot View Post
    An APO lens may be of some benefit if printing in colour, but only if you operate the lens wide-open. At -2 stops, they're all diffraction limited.
    Apo lenses have distinct advantages when using additive (RGB) rather than subtractive (CMY) heads.

    After all, variable-contrast paper relies on both blue and green light to form the image.

    I used to print Cibachromes and also used an RGB additive head, thus getting optimum results from the enlarger system.
    Did that really improve the quality of the prints? I don't know, since I had no CMY head or non-APO lenses for comparison.
    Yet I was sufficiently confident of the advantage that I spent a whole bunch of my own money on the system. The prints look great.

    - Leigh
    Last edited by Leigh B; 08-23-2012 at 09:03 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    “Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” - Plato

  8. #8

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    The rule is that you must use a lens of focal length at least as great as the diagonal of the negative expressed in millemeters to get complete covereage. This would be 150 mm but a 180 mm is probably a better choice.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  9. #9
    Patrick Robert James's Avatar
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    Personally I would put the Computars above the normal lenses and approaching the APO lenses. They are difficult to find though and most of them have horrible separation these days. In the end though all that matters is that you make beautiful pictures. The only people that will critique what lens you use are other photographers, and they don't buy prints....

  10. #10
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leigh B View Post
    Apo lenses have distinct advantages when using additive (RGB) rather than subtractive (CMY) heads.

    After all, variable-contrast paper relies on both blue and green light to form the image.



    - Leigh
    Sorry, but the blue and green coming from the CMY head are focused just as well as that coming from the RGB head by an APO lens.

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