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  1. #1

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    Which 135mm and 300mm Enlarging Lenses For BIG Prints?

    I'm thinking of getting back into the B&W wet process printing but I only want to do very large prints at least 56x84 and 56x112 inches. I'll be shooting 6x12cm and 8x10" film. I'm not "currently" seeking any advice other than choice of enlarging lenses. I've done the calculations and lenses of "normal" focal length will provide the image sizes I seek, in the space I have, with a little room to spare. I want the highest center-to-corner resolution possible without going bankrupt... film grain be damned. From what I've been reading the latest/best Apo lenses are the optimal choice. However, I'm not a wealthy man... just a spoiled brat.

    8x10in: If I'm processing the information I'm finding correctly the best bang-for-buck option in the 300mm range might be an old 305mm Apo Nikkor process lens. Please remember, I'm never going to make small or medium-sized prints... only very large ones. So these lenses need to perform very well at high magnification. I don't think the f/9 maximum aperture is going to bother me. Opinions??

    6x12cm: I have an all-metal 135mm El Nikkor and a brand new Fujinon EX (still sealed in the factory cellophane). My reading is leading me to believe the Fujinon EX "may" perform slightly better at high magnification. I'd consider an Apo Nikkor for this format too but the shortest one I've seen is 180mm and that "might" limit my print size to just under my target of at least 112 inches wide. However, with the little bit of play I have with may calculations the 180mm "might" just do the trick. Opinions??

  2. #2

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    I have neither facts or opinions. I just wanted to say, that sounds like FUN! I'd love to print THAT big!
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  3. #3

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    Yes, it will be fun, I'm sure... and quite frustrating at times too, I'm sure.

  4. #4
    Katie's Avatar
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    Whatcha printing?

    Don't know many that have printed that large, but I have a 135 that I've used (EL nikkor) and it was great... I used it to print a strip of 35mm onto 11x14 strips - like large contact prints.

  5. #5

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    I'm not printing anything... yet. I will be soon but strictly B&W.

    I like your idea of making giant "contact prints". That would make a great display.

  6. #6

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    A friend of my who once had the biggest pro lab in this area (now retired) swore by the Apo Nikkors for
    mural sized work. I routinely use the 305 and 360 for 8x10 film, though I never print quite as big as you
    are planning. These are wonderful lenses for both b&w and color work. If I need more speed I use the ordinary 360 EL Nikkor (a much bigger lens, needing a special mount).

  7. #7
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    8.5x enlargement is kind of borderline. The 'usual' 300mm lenses like the Rodagon 300mm are recommended for 2x to 8x and the high-magnification Rodagon-G 300mm is recommended for 8x to 30x enlargements. In my experience, a 300mm process lens would be best for low magnification like 1x to 2x.

  8. #8

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    I didn't realize the Rodagon-G was rated for such high magnification. I'll have a look at them.

  9. #9
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    Rodagon-G, or maybe a process lens like Apo-Ronar. At such high magnifications you're kind of out of the realm of enlarger lenses and more into objective lenses so you may well be better off getting something designed as an objective lens (Apo-Symmar?) as it will be better corrected for those magnifications.

  10. #10

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    I researched using Fujinon-C lenses as enlarging lenses for oversize prints but found nothing. Maybe I should have done the same search with Artar and Ronar. I searched for the Fujinon-C because I already have those.

    I priced a handful of Rodagon-G lenses and those are selling for more than I really want to spend. I'll shell out the cash if I must but surely there are cheaper alternatives that perform nearly as well. I am picky and spoiled rotten... I do want excellent quality. But if prints from a $200 lens are nearly indistinguishable from those from a $800 lens I'll buy the cheaper one.

    I hadn't thought of an Apo Symmar or similar. Maybe a 300mm Apo Sironar or Computar would do the job? If one of the latter two are viable solutions that would be optimal because I'm looking for a 300mm lens for 8x10 with excessive coverage.

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