View Full Version : Comparison of some low cost 8x10 lenses

4-May-2014, 06:36
I decided to make a small lens comparison photo-shoot of several low cost lenses I have been shooting with recently.
I thought some of you might find the results interesting.
For the comparison I decided to shoot 8x10 paper negatives. All paper was shot at (about) ISO 3 with a Packard shutter, developed in paRodinal 1+50 for 3 minutes, scanned and inverted in Photoshop, then exported through Lightroom after B&W conversion and dust spotting. There is some variation in the exposure, due to my timing of the Packard shutter.
All Images were shot from the same distance, images are not cropped.

Ross Rapid Symmetrical 8 1/2 X 6 1/4 (Wide open)

Beck Symmetrical (f/8)

Cooke Aviar Anastigmat (f/6)

4-May-2014, 06:38
Eurygraph Rapid Rectilinear (f/8)

An old 13" WWII projection lens I found I the bottom of a box (est f/5.6)

8 1/4" B&L Copy Lens (f/4.5)

4-May-2014, 06:40
7" Somerville 5x7 1A (f/8)

+3 Closeup Lens (f/22)

4-May-2014, 06:43
Here's a picture of the actual lenses:

Top Row:
Ross of London, Beck symmetrical, Eurygraph Rapid Rectilinear, Somerville 1A
Bottom Row:
+3 closeup lens, Cooke Anastigmat, B&L Copy lens, WWII Projection lens

Ken Lee
4-May-2014, 08:27
The subjects are a bit small on-screen: with closer shots it might be easier to discern the differences between lenses. It might be even more revealing if you make the same exact photograph each time, so that the only difference is the lens.

For example, here (http://www.kenleegallery.com/images/forum/150mmLensesSharpened.jpg) is a comparison of three 150mm lenses on 4x5.

(I should point out that at f/11 those lenses are virtually identical in overall character. The Heliar exhibited focus-shift: focused wide-open, the point of focus moved closer as the lens was stopped-down to f/11.)

4-May-2014, 14:13
Hi Ken,
Great suggestion re:size. Unfortunately I can't update the original posts to include links to larger images, but I will include them below if anyone is interested.

Ross Rapid Symmetrical 8 1/2 X 6 1/4 (Wide open) 11"

Beck Symmetrical (f/8) 11"

Cooke Aviar Anastigmat (f/6) 10 1/2"

Eurygraph Rapid Rectilinear (f/8) 11"

WWII Projection (est. f/5.6) 13"

4-May-2014, 14:14
B&L Copy Lens (f/4.5) 8 1/4"

Somerville 5x7 1A (f/8) 7"

+3 Closeup Lens (f/22) 330mm

Barry Kirsten
4-May-2014, 14:37
Mark, very interesting comparison. For me the stand-out was the Beck, although all have their own 'look'. I noticed on your flickr page you said the Beck is one of your favorites; with the benefit of being able to look at actual prints, can you say which you really prefer?

A darn nice group of lenses. :)


4-May-2014, 23:57
Hi Barry,
Yeah, you got it - the Beck is the lens I'll be using for the next few weeks. Funny, I picked it up 6 months ago and my initial pictures with it were a bit average. I'll be using it a fair bit now. Having said that, I'm going to persist with the closeup lens - there's an interesting quality there.

John Kasaian
5-May-2014, 06:13
Cool. Very cool. Thank you for posting this!

Andrew O'Neill
5-May-2014, 10:39
What was it about the Beck that you liked? I liked the Ross Rapid.

5-May-2014, 12:14
Thanks for sharing!:)

5-May-2014, 13:54
Thank you for sharing and I agree with Andrew O'Neill I prefer the rendering of the Ross to the Becks. The Ross seems to be brighter, the highlights are a bit more for lack of a better term alive and it has better clarity. I also quiet like the look of the lowly B&L copy lens.

Everyone has different tastes that's why I love old lenses there is one for every taste.

Barry Kirsten
5-May-2014, 14:10
Well said, Dominic. I'm moving definitely in the direction of older lenses - old Tessars, brass lenses, and even pinholes. I've been seduced over the years into believing you have to have the latest in specs - sharpness, resolution, MTF etc. but it's all BS without a special 'look'. I'm not saying you can't have both in a modern lens, but I do think there is a degree of sameness in today's lenses.

Thanks again for posting these, Mark.


5-May-2014, 18:21
Barry, I think it would be interesting for you to try something like the closeup lens in my set. Very simple to make, and very unique look.

Barry Kirsten
5-May-2014, 20:28
Mark, I certainly will. I had a stack of filters stolen in a burglary a couple of years ago, including three close-ups, and haven't replaced them (from days when I shot a lot of 35mm). I'm definitely in the mood for some experimentation, and you've inspired me. I found your blog very useful. Thank you again,