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Thread: 12" Dagor coverage

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    12" Dagor coverage

    First, what's the difference between a gold dot, gold rim, and no gold? Second is coverage and personal experience with them. Who uses them on formats larger than 8x10? Do they vary in coverage from one to the next in the same focal length, 12". Are they a "smart" buy, ie. are there better choices?

  2. #2
    IanG's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Aegean (Turkey & UK)

    Re: 12" Dagor coverage

    Can't comment on the Gold dots etc but I have and use a 12" Gerz Am Opt Dagor made 1939/40 which was later factory coated, it's a very good lens. A lot is down to the condition of the lens , later Gold dot, rim etc versions are all coated so fetch higher prices.

    My own lens was sold with a camera and the second owner had never used it saying it had separation and wouldn't be sharp, it was just years of dirt around the edges. Coverage is quite good plenty of room for movements on 10x8 and it's very sharp. I made contact with the original owner who had been a student and later teacher at the Clarence White School of Photography, he'd bought what he considered the best camera and lens available in 1939/40 a 10x8 Agfa Ansco Commercial View with a 12" Dagor.

    When I first tried my Dagor I wasn't expecting too much and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the lens. If you get a good one they are a smart buy.


  3. #3

    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    Re: 12" Dagor coverage

    Thank you Ian, they have a fine reputation so after having many Artars I thought I'd look into a Dagor. Of course I'd like nothing better than a brand new Cooke convertible. It's the coverage of the Dagor design that interests me most.

  4. #4

    Re: 12" Dagor coverage

    Curt ive owned many Dagors over the years and had ones I liked and others I didn't. My first one was a very nice condition 12" series III in an ilex shutter. It was originally uncoated but over the years had developed a natural bloom which was in effect a coating. I used it in studio for catalog work and food photography and was always pleased. I wound up trading it for a Symmar and always regretted the trade. The Dagor was no better than the Symmar but I liked the color better. I mainly used it on 8x10 but found it covered 11x14 stopped down.

    I owned a couple of short Dagors including a 120mm. They were good but nothing special.

    A couple of years ago I picked up a 14" gold dot Schneider, a 12" late coated on gold and a gold rim 8". The 8" gold rim was very good with enough coverage for 8x10 and some movements when stopped down. It was sharp and no focus shift.

    I was quite disappointed with the Schneider. It was the gold dot variety hand didn't have the coverage of the 12" series III. For some reason Schneider restricted the coverage. The images were too contrasty and harsh looking. The version I had was multi coated if I remember correctly.

    The late 12" non gold was great on coverage and looked much mike the Series III but had a dramatic focus shift when stopped down. I had to stop down to focus around f
    16 and then go to my working aperture. I didn't care for this lens and sd it.

    The little 8" was beautiful in every way. It was a gold rim version. It was sharp, pleasant contrast and had excellent coverage. There was no focus shift and it covered 8x10 with a little movement when stopped down.

    I recently purchased a beautiful brass Double Anastigmat 180mm in a very early brass shutter. The glass is perfect but the shutter needs work. Its no problem since I bought it for wet plate. It is a fine lens and typical of even the later Dagors. Dagors are a little soft wide open typically and this is what I was looking for. It's a lovely lens on wet plate.

    All Dagors with the exception of the Schneider have common characteristics. Now having owned a very early Double Anastigmat (Dagor) and several others produced over a century all have a common look. It's amazing until Schneider they really had not changed other than coating.

    My overall opinion of Dagors, they're good lenses if you get a good one but there are dogs out there. There good on coverage except the Schneider versions.

    Overall they are no better than a Symmar or other quality plasmat. Matter of fact Dagors generally aren't as sharp as a modern plasmat like the Symmar or sironar, Fuji or Nikkors.

    The buzz about them has driven the price to redicilous heights. The same thing has happened to the 12" & 14" commercial ektars. While good they're no better or not as good as modern lenses. IMO a good clean gold rim Dagor is worth no more than a comparable Symmar, Nikkor, Fuji or Rodenstock. This is just my opinion and experience. I would never personally pay more than $400 for a clean non gold late coated Dagor if it works properly.

    There was a gentleman who used to post here but I understand he passed away. He was with Burke and James at the time Goerz changed to the gold rim and then gold dot. He stated and I've read this in a magazine article thirty years ago that there was absolutely no difference other than cosmetics. The gold rim was simply a marketing gimmick. If I remember correctly the gold dot came when goerz ran out of gold rims and had to come up with something to fill an order. They took a black retaining ring and put a gold dot on it and said it was a newer version and improved. Marketing!

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Sep 2007

    Re: 12" Dagor coverage

    I like all Dagors, and have about 5. With less air spaces, they more contrasty than most other lens types, even uncoated. As far as the Golden Dagor, I don't know, but the Gold Dot was supposedly applied to lenses that were centered with a special new device according to a lot I've read. I think the "it was just marketing" story is just being repeated after one person said it in View Camera, but that statement may be from a person that didn't know. There are others who worked with or at Goerz that say the Gold Dots were specially made:!

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    Re: 12" Dagor coverage

    Thank you Don, that's a lot of very good information! I'll re-read it again to be sure. I heard the same about the Red Dot on Artars being a marketing tool. When it comes to lenses I've found it a little like buying a used car. You never know what it'll do until you test it out. I have an 8 1/2" and a 14" Kodak Commercial Ektar lens. They have lived up to their reputation. I got luck maybe. The 210 and 300 Symmars I have are fine too as are the 305 and 360 Apo Nikkors. It gets more interesting looking at ULF lenses though. The dollar signs pop up quickly on some. I go get a little tired of reading "mint" and "rare" but that's the program.

    It's the coverage that's the draw for me on the Dagor lenses but I'm still looking at all of what's available. 11x14 coverage and up.

  7. #7
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Maryland, USA

    Re: 12" Dagor coverage

    To answer the original question...
    The angle of view of the Dagor is 90 when stopped down.
    Given a half-angle of 45, the distance from lens axis to the IC perimeter equals the focal length.
    So for a 12" lens, the IC would have a radius of 12".


    Dagors were made for a long time in various locations.

    I have an 8" Gold Dot that was made in Switzerland.
    The dot is definitely not an after-thought, since the arrangement of the lettering left an obvious space for the dot.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    It is my understanding that the gold rim was a marketing ploy used when the Gold Dot lenses were not available.

    Lynn Jones, former VP at B&J, made the following comment regarding "gold rim" Dagors in an earlier thread:
    "Regional sales manager needed 6 Dagors but the bezels had not been plated (black) so Harry said send them anyway."
    [Note that the bezels were brass, and thus appeared "gold" before painting.]

    - Leigh

    Full post here:
    Full thread here:
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2001

    Re: 12" Dagor coverage

    Curt, opinions about Dagors' coverage vary a lot. For an illustration and a good laugh, see

    My friend Eric Beltrando wrote a ray tracing program and collected a small heap of lens' prescriptions from patents and, for Boyer lenses, for as much of the Boyer archives as he has. The results, with coverage estimates three stops down from wide open are on

    He did the exercise for a number of different Goerz Dagor prescriptions, also for several vintages of Boyer Beryl prescriptions. The Beryl is a Dagor clone. Boyer claimed that Beryls cover 85 degrees. This matches Goerz' claims for f/6.8 and f/7.7 Dagors. As Eric calculated 'em, and using his coverage criterion, they all cover no more than 70 degrees. He's advised me to expect no more than 55 degrees from a Beryl "in stringent applications."

    Berthiot made a number of Dagor clones. Their coverage claims for the f/6.8 Perigraphe shrank from 95 degrees in 1912 (see to 85 degrees in the mid-1930s (see to 65 degrees in 1950 (a SOM Berthiot brochure that I have). Coverage is a sometime thing.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Sep 2007

    Re: 12" Dagor coverage

    If anything, people buy the Golden and/or Gold dot Dagors because they were made during the period after Goerz started using the precision assembly alignment tool. Which helped ensure the highest quality. I have a Golden, and it's fantastic. I have a few 1920s ones too. Which do you think had more precise manufacturing?

    David attributed this in another post:
    "The best Dagors were made after 1963 [the "gold" period] when Goerz perfected a device to centralize the elements within two seconds of arc. This is equivalent to five feet in 100 miles. How do I know this? I built the device and also filled in as a lens fitter from time to time."
    March 1986 issue of "Shutterbug" had a letter from Edward Bolsetzian who worked at C.P. Goerz

  10. #10

    Re: 12" Dagor coverage

    Lynn Jones is the person I was trying to remember. I would take his word since he was so closely involved in the industry.

    Like I mentioned I shot many catalogs and ads with Goerz lenses including three RD Artars, 14, 16 1/2 and 19. I never owned a non red dot but my understanding is the only real difference is the RD is coated and the other is not.

    I also failed to remember I owned a pristine 14" Dagor 7.7 that I had mounted in a shutter. I used this along with the 12" and RD Artars all through the 70's and into the 80's for many national ads an catalogs. No client ever questioned the quality of the images or what lenses I shot with. When I went to more modern glass, symmars and g Clarons no one ever knew. there's just not that much difference. At least it wasn't visible in 8x10 and 11x14 ektachrome.

    I've always felt there was a little more coverage from the Dagors vs modern plasmats with the exception of the Sironar S and first generation Fujinons with the engraving on the inside of the retaining ring.

    If you're looking for a reasonable and more modern lens with exceptional coverage and at a very cheap price take a look at the Fujinon 1st generation like the 250 f6.7. Huge coverage and very sharp. I owned one and sold it but wish I had kept it. I still have a 125 and 150. The 125 covers 5x7 stopped down and the 150 covers with good movement. They are exceptional bargains.

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