Why? Was your neighbor mowing his lawn at 5:00 a.m. Sunday morning?
Originally Posted by E. von Hoegh
These are huge heavy plasmats in big no. 3 shutters. Not many 4x5 cameras will support something that heavy at that kind of bellows draw
without risk of vibration. Basically studio lenses; that's why there are so many of them for sale used and cheap. Lighter weight lenses in these
focal lengths are much more in demand, so generally more expensive. But there are exceptions if you are patient, or if you're willing to use
something like a process lens in barrel only and try the on/off lenscap method of exposure timing. I shoot a variety of 360's on both 4x5 and
8x10, including classics like the Fujinon A and Kern Dagor. But I wanted something with a bit of different look too, then remembered I have an
old Carl Meyer tessar-formula process 360 process lens stashed somewhere. So I put it on a lensboard and took it out with a deep blue filter
to slow the exposure down. It was a very windy day, and I wanted an 8x10 shot which combined the swirly motion of tall grasses with the
more hard-sharp quality of rocks and tree bark in the scene, yet those relatively open shadows reminiscent of old blue-sensitive film. Timing
a long exposure without camera shake under such conditions is tricky, but I'll be darned if I didn't pull it off at the expense of only one piece
of film. Beginners luck? So now I know I can make the lenscap method work as long as the exposure are relatively long.
Hey Drew! Out of curiosity's sake, how would you compare a Kern Dagor 360mm to a 14" Commercial Ektar for both B&W and color print film? Does the Dagor exhibit lower contrast? I know those Kern Dagors go for a pretty penny and I'm sure that there is a good reason for it.
Originally Posted by DREW WILEY
Last edited by Alan Gales; 06-11-2014 at 02:43 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Because dagors consists of a pair of cemented triplets, that equates to only four air to glass interfaces total. Then if you coat that, or even
multicoat it (as with the very last series of Kern dagors), you get the highest contrast of any camera lenses ever made. When I used to shoot multicoated dagors that contrast was just too much for color chrome work. But the hue purity and microcontrast were stunning. I disliked its Compur 3 shutter due to the high vibration and lack of a T setting, so have since converted to the single-coated 360 Kern in the older 3S Copal. Still a relatively modern lens with superb color and reasonably crisp contrast, equivalent to most other modern multicoated view lenses, but not over the top. The asking price for these things is getting downright silly. .. more a cult mentality than what they're really worth compared to other options. By comparison, commercial Ektars are in huge no. 5 shutter, need big lensboards, and are much lower contrast dialytes (6.3 version), with four airspaced elements and typically a single coating. Good color rendition but a much softer look, with a huge image circle. There is a rarer 4.5 Tessar version too, but it's not labeled "Commercial". Some of the 6.3 lenses were private labeled Caltar for Calumet and sell cheaper.
These things are just too big and clunky for typical 4x5 use. If you want something relatively small but incredibly sharp, buy an Apo Nikkor
305 or 360 process lens in barrel. They're fairly compact and a relative bargain, and will easily cover 8x10, but you'll either have to use the lenscap exp technique or spend the extra bucks to put them in a Copal 3 shutter. A more common excellent performer already in shutter is the 355 G Claron. I personally use my 360 Fuji A the most. It's in a no.1 shutter and is an incredibly versatile multicoated lens. But these are hard to find and generally fetch top dollar. A 300 Nikkor M is almost on par with a dagor in terms of color and contrast, actually better in
terms of sharpness, and is quite common. But it won't give much wiggle room on 8x10. Plenty of image circle for 4x5, however, and quite lightwt and compact. But there is a 450 Nikkor M, as well as the sleeper tessar out there, the single-coated 420 Fuji L (a tad heavy for 4x5).
Lots of good choices if you don't want to smash your piggy bank. Regular 5.6 plastmats are just, well... huge and heavy, so not very popular
for field photography.
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Drew, were you thinking of Wide Field Ektars, which are 4/4 double Gauss types? Commercial Ektars are all tessar types. See http://www.bnphoto.org/bnphoto/KodakEktarsDB-Index.htm ; the data came from EKCo.
Originally Posted by DREW WILEY
As for Caltar-branded Commercial Ektars, they were made by Ilex. The late H. Lynn Jones says he was the VP at Calumet who induced Ilex to make f/6.3 Commercial Ektar clones for Calumet. Clones, no the real thing. Calumet sold lenses made by Ilex, Komura, Rodenstock and Schneider (in alphabetical, not chronological, order) as Caltars.
Thanks Drew! I thought that I read somewhere that Dagors were lower in contrast so they were really popular for b&w work. I own a 14" Commercial Ektar which I really like for portraits, especially. I also own a 250mm 6.7 Fuji which is a nice lens. It sounds like your Kern Dagor is more like my 19" Red Dot Artar?
Dan - think you better double-check your sources. Most (not all) Commercial Ektars were four-element, esp in that focal length. Ektars were
themselves made in several quality grades, with some private-labeled. At least that's what my late brother told me. He sold them. But I'm no
expert on those lenses myself. Check with Jim Galli. .... And Alan, the dagor design was made for the better part of a century, so had quite an
internal evolution in terms of glass types, shutters, coatings, and even available brands. The multicoated fourteen-inch Kern, marketed by
Schneider, was the last of them, with the exception of the current hyper-expensive XXL Schneiders for ULF use.
Drew, have your memory checked. Tessars have four elements in three groups. EKCo's Commercial Ektars are f/6.3 tessar types. Here's my source, only slightly secondary: http://www.bnphoto.org/bnphoto/KodakEktarsDB1.htm Visit it and see for yourself.
Originally Posted by DREW WILEY
Perhaps your brother was telling you about Kodak Anastigmats. EKCo made a number of f/6.3 and f/7.7 dialyte type lenses engraved Kodak Anastigmat, including a 203/7.7 that was later engraved jes' plain Ektar. Ektar, not Commercial Ektar. If your brother is still alive and still of whole mind ask him to refresh your memory.
Where did you get the ideas that Ektars were made in different quality grades and that EKCo sold them private-labeled? Ektar is a trade name, meant "our best in that line."
About the last dagor type, when was the last Kern Dagor made? Boyer sold Beryls (some engraved Beryl S, others engraved Emeraude), their Dagor type, until the firm finally closed in 1982. You should be aware, though, that Eric Beltrando, who was a friend of Boyer's last owner, has told me that many of the lenses Boyer sold after his friend bought the company were assembled from elements that had been ground before he bought it.
Yean, I have read that there was some sample variation in some of the early Dagors too.
I think one of the best things about large format is all the choices you have in lenses. It certainly make things interesting! I just wish I had the time and money to try them all out.