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Thread: Enlarging lenses: APO or not?

  1. #1

    Enlarging lenses: APO or not?

    I am going to buy a 150 mm. enlarging lens, mainly for B&W printing. I will choose between Rodenstock Rodagon, the normal one and the APO version.

    On the better performance of the APO I read and heard opposite opinions. The M TF graphs show that the non APO has more regular performance (the lines are stri ght), with also a better resolution for the 40 l/mm line (the one supposed to gi ve a microcontrast index).

    Does anybody make real direct comparaison between these APO and non APO lenses?

    Which one is the best? From what enlarging ratio on?

    I am not talking about a better reolution under a 6X loupe over a 20"x24" print, but a visible (even if slight) difference of this print hang on the wall.

    Thanks to all.

    Diego Rigatti (Milan, Italy)

  2. #2

    Enlarging lenses: APO or not?

    Although I haven't made a direct side-by-side comparison, I have used many lenses over the years. My conclusion? The APO lenses are worth the extra money only if you're making 16x20 or larger color prints. Even then, the differences are extremely subtle if you stop down to a middle aperture as you should. The slight difference will be visible only at close viewing distances, and only if your enlarger is aligned properly.

    But then, with today's technology, if you're making large color prints you're better off going digital.

  3. #3

    Enlarging lenses: APO or not?

    <Although I haven't made a direct side-by-side comparison, I have used many lenses over the years. My conclusion? The APO lenses are worth the extra money only if you're making 16x20 or larger color prints. Even then, the differences are extremely subtle if you stop down to a middle aperture as you should. The slight difference will be visible only at close viewing distances, and only if your enlarger is aligned properly. >

    In other words you have formed a conclusion by not making a direct comparison.

    This becomes trivia rather than factual.

    Now for some facts.

    Apo enlarging lenses, at least the Apo Rodagon N series from Rodenstock perform as well for black and white as for color. The advantages of the Apo are better contrast and resolution, larger range of magnification, larger range of working apertures, the elimination of color fringing which makes fine lines reproduce thinner than with a non apo.

    If you want to actually form an opinion you should take an excellent negative with fine sharp detail over the entire negative area. Put it in a glass carrier in a properly aligned enlarger and make prints with apo and non apo lenses at sizes within the optimization range of the lenses.

    You will find that the Apo will be sharper from edge to edge, has better contrast, has more choices of optimal apertures, hits optimal aperture at least 1 stop sooner and the differences are as important and visible for B&W as

  4. #4

    Enlarging lenses: APO or not?

    I have great respect for Bob, and his information is always useful. However, I have never [o.k. so I do wear glasses!] been able to actually SEE the difference between APO and non-APO enlarging lens results. I admit that I've only been a working photographer for 40 years, so there probably are folks with lots more experience. I have friends who do custom printing for museums and who SWEAR APO's are better. It's just that I can't see it; maybe you can.

  5. #5

    Enlarging lenses: APO or not?

    I agree with Dick, if you cannot see the difference with your eyes, what difference does it make it it is detected by a machine? Save your money for paper and film, some of the highest selling prints in the world have been made with regular lenses, before APO was ever dreamed of. Pat

  6. #6

    Enlarging lenses: APO or not?

    Just so we can all be sure Dick.

    You are printing from a good negative in a glass carrier with aproperly aligned enlarger?

    Or did you eliminate one or more of these requirements to optimal performance?

    If so you will never see what any lens is truly capable of putting onto paper.

    And that is why some can not see the difference.

  7. #7

    Enlarging lenses: APO or not?

    I own APO Rodagon lenses, Schneider Componon lenses, and El Nikkor lenses and have done direct comparisons between the lenses with the same transparency printed on Ilfochrome material. I have also compared the three lenses on black and white material with the same negative and my results show the following:

    1. On black and white material you cannot see the difference in sharpness when the lenses are used at the same f/stop. All tests were done at f/8.

    2. The APO lens is flatter field and can be run wide open successfully while the Componon and Nikon lens have to be stopped down at least 1/2 stop from wide open to get sharpness in the center and at the corners. Enlarger alignment and lens alignment were checked when each lens was mounted prior to making the print.

    3. The APO lens is FAR better for color work. The matched prints have better contrast, and a GREAT deal more detail separation in red areas. When comparing three matched prints, the red areas show more shades of red with the APO lens.

    4. Based on my tests and experience, for critical color work, my choice is the APO Rodagon.

  8. #8

    Enlarging lenses: APO or not?

    >>I own APO Rodagon lenses, Schneider Componon lenses, and El Nikkor lenses and have done direct comparisons between the lenses with the same transparency printed on Ilfochrome material. I have also compared the three lenses on black and white material with the same negative and my results show the following: 1. On black and white material you cannot see the difference in sharpness when the lenses are used at the same f/stop. All tests were done at f/8. 2. The APO lens is flatter field and can be run wide open successfully while the Componon and Nikon lens have to be stopped down at least 1/2 stop from wide open to get sharpness in the center and at the corners. Enlarger alignment and lens alignment were checked when each lens was mounted prior to making the print.

    And were you in a glass carrier?

  9. #9

    Enlarging lenses: APO or not?

    I have been printing commercially for bout 25 years and have used all of the lenses available at one time or another. I find this topic extremely interesting because I am not convinced that optically we can see the difference in the Rodagon, the APO Rodagon, the Schneider, or the Nikkor in smaller prints. I am accustomed to printing REALLY large and for a long time considered anything 30 inches by 40 inches to be small. The last large prints I did (12 feet x 20 feet) were done on a Durst 2501 horizontal enlarger (naturally in glass) with APO Rodagon 300mm and it was razor sharp edge to edge, but I'm not convinced that in sizes smaller than 30" by 40" any of us can see the difference. Anyway, this is interesting and I hope the thread continues for a while--Are any of you large format people getting into digital. That is all I am doing now.

    Keep posting.

    enjoy yourselves,

    Fred

  10. #10

    Enlarging lenses: APO or not?

    >> I have been printing commercially for bout 25 years and have used all of the lenses available at one time or another. I find this topic extremely interesting because I am not convinced that optically we can see the difference in the Rodagon, the APO Rodagon, the Schneider, or the Nikkor in smaller prints. I am accustomed to printing REALLY large and for a long time considered anything 30 inches by 40 inches to be small. The last large prints I did (12 feet x 20 feet) were done on a Durst 2501 horizontal enlarger (naturally in glass) with APO Rodagon 300mm and it was razor sharp edge to edge, but I'm not convinced that in sizes smaller than 30" by 40" any of us can see the difference. Anyway, this is interesting and I hope the thread continues for a while--Are any of you large format people getting into digital. That is all I am doing now.

    First there simply is no Apo Rodagon 300mm enlarging lens.

    There was a 300mm Apo Rodagon Process lens.

    Secondly the Apo Rodagons are optimized for up to 15x magnification and you are far past that.

    Thir the proper lens for murals from Rodenstock would be the 300 or 360mm Rodagon G.

    Now why not try the lens designed for speciffically what you are doing and then see what the difference is. We have talked to innummerable custom labs who print on very long vertical or on rail mounted horizontal Durst 810 enlargers who do murals and they csn see a difference. So can th

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