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Thread: Lousy Dagor

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    14

    Lousy Dagor

    After much pressure and advice to try a dagor for my 8x10 I finally bought a 180mm dagor. Being a wide angle sort of shooter this seemed like a good fit. Doing long exposures also lent itself to the inexpensive arena of the barrel lens. Well I have to say that this lens performs poorly. The corners are like mush and the entire image is very soft. This is what all the hoopla is about? Soft mushy images that lack contrast and detail. I was told by dagor lovers that the lenses are not sharp. I was also told NOT to enlarge images made with them. I guess this speaks to the low resolving power of the lens. If you are using 8x10 or bigger are you not doing it for the high res and tonal range? If you want to use a moldy oldy why not just use a rapid rectilinear? I have to say I think the dagor is lousy and clearly the optics people were right when they told me the dagor is a poor lens. Am I the only photograhper who feels this way? Sure seems like it. So whats the big deal w/ the dagor? Its also clear from reading posts that dagors of the same focal length have different coverages. This must speak to the sloppy manufacturing and poor selection of glasses. Didn't this lens also introduce the phenomena of focus shift? Ok, it was a revoultion in the late 1800's but today its just old. Excuse me if I like sharp images. I do use very old lenses for effect including the RR and some very poor quality wide angles. Just one opinion that goes against the grain.

  2. #2

    Lousy Dagor

    Several years ago I borrowed a 6" Gold Rim Dagor from a friend to test. I evaluated the image by making a 2X enlargement. It was very sharp to 60 degrees at f22 and 67 degrees at f45, after which it got mushy in a hurry. Also, the plane of sharp focus was closer to the camera in the center of the field and curved away from the camera near the edges. I think a G-Claron is a much more useful lens than a Dagor.

  3. #3

    Lousy Dagor

    I had purchased a 12" Series III Dagor because of its ample coverage for 7x17. I learned, however, when I compared the Dagor's resolving power to my Wollensak 13" (Series IA Raptar Triple), that the Dagor was seemingly nowhere near the 13" Wollensak. I was a bit disappointed, especially because the Wollensak, though a good lens, is no Rolls Royce.

    In the case of your 180 (and I am a newcomer, by the way), maybe the lens was disassembled at some point and reassembled incorrectly? Or maybe that particular specimen is not a very good one, or a kind of lemon? Or maybe that was the best that technology of that time could come up with (no computers, and all)?

    Bottom line for me is that I'm saving my money for a 355 G-Claron.

    Maybe Sandy King would weigh-in on this one. I'm with you, Joe. I like "sharp," too!

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Posts
    3,986

    Lousy Dagor

    Of course the Dagor doesn't work on your 8x10! It ain't supposed to work. Why on earth did you think it would work? Why don't you try a 180mm Apo-Symmar on your 8x10? It won't work either, and you can badmouth it as well.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    Posts
    1,786

    Lousy Dagor

    Landacrc,

    I've had reasonable performance from the ones I have, including one that is 104 years old.

    The 180mm is generally not recognized as being suitable for 8x10 use, although almost everyone states that it will illuminate 8x10. Most people recommend 5x7 as the maximum format for a 7" (180mm) lens. You can search the archives here and at PN. I have a 7" on the way so I'll let you know what mine's like. I've also noticed that my 6" Goerz American Optical K1 in barrel will illuminate an 8x10 GG surprisingly uniformly, but it reportedly (and not surprisingly) will go to mush at the edges (this is a newly acquired lens, so not enough experience yet).

    Is the lens in it's original shutter or barrel? Any impact damage? Dagors are noted for needing critical spacing of the cells. Also people recommend lenses with serials 77XXXX or greater because they believe that manufacturing quality control was better on these lenses.

    Is yours clean and clear when a flashlight is shone through it? Also, I've seen some Dagors with cement problems, noticeable as hazy stuff when shining a light through the lens or looking through the lens at a light source. I'm of the opinion that haze either on the glass or in the cement can cause some of the issues you describe and that it doesn't take a lot depending on the lighting circumstances.

    I've spoken with several people about the focus shift, and the consensus is that it needs to be compensated for in fine focusing with most Dagors, although some claim to have examples that don't exhibit focus shift. I suspect it's more of an issue when stretching the limits of coverage of a given lens.

    A very experienced local pro (83 years old and still shooting) uses a bunch of Dagors and when asked about the focus shift, he stated that all lenses have some focus shift when stopping down, but some designs exhibit more than others. He said if you want the best results you should always check fine focus stopped down.

    Steve

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    South Carolina
    Posts
    4,670

    Lousy Dagor

    "I guess this speaks to the low resolving power of the lens. If you are using 8x10 or bigger are you not doing it for the high res and tonal range? If you want to use a moldy oldy why not just use a rapid rectilinear? I have to say I think the dagor is lousy and clearly the optics people were right when they told me the dagor is a poor lens. Am I the only photograhper who feels this way? Sure seems like it. So whats the big deal w/ the dagor? Its also clear from reading posts that dagors of the same focal length have different coverages. This must speak to the sloppy manufacturing and poor selection of glasses. Didn't this lens also introduce the phenomena of focus shift? Ok, it was a revoultion in the late 1800's but today its just old. "

    About all I can say is that there are Dagors and there are Dagors and then there are Dagors. The Dagor was made for almost 100 years, from the 1890s until the late 70s or early 80s. They were made in Europe and in the US by many different optical firms and marketed by Goerz, Goerz America, Ross, Schneider, Zeiss, and who else? For that reason, even within the limitations of the design wide differences in performance of different specimens, which is very considerable, should not be surprising.

    Most Dagors suffer from focus shift and also need to be stopped down to f/16 or f/22 for best resolution. Very early Dagors were not coated but since there are only four air-to-glass surfaces even uncoated Dagors are capable of good resolution and contrast when stopped down to f/11 or f/22. Late model coated Dagors should give excellent contrast unless the coating is tarnished or there are a lot of cleaning marks. The very last Dagors made in Switzerland by Kern were multi-coated and have outstanding contrast.

    Dagors are capable of excellent results when contact printing from large format and ULF negatives. In fact, if you were to compare a contact print from a Dagor with one made from a modern lens of similar coverage, at the typical aperture of f/22 or f/32 that are used with these cameras, you would be hard pressed to find any advantage in the print made with the modern lens. Modern lenses give much better resolution when used at maximum aperture, but in fact we rarely ever use a lens at maximum aperture in LF and ULF photography.

    Even though Dagors are more than adequate for contact printing with LF and ULF negatives my opinion is that they are somewhat over-priced in comparison to a few modern lenses which are both less expensive and give equal or better performance. The G-Claron is one good example. In focal lengths up to 355 one can usually find late model G-Clarons in a modern shutter for less than vintage Dagors. And the quality control with G-Claron was excellent from my experience with this line. Early G-Clarons were actually of dagor design but later models are symmetrical plasmats.
    http://www.sandykingphotography.com/
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  7. #7

    Lousy Dagor

    been there: I have a cp goerz berlin 300mm that is sharp and contrasty, I paid $300 for it. I have a 300 Nikkor M that I paid about $500 or maybe $600, and it is a much better lens.

    It does not seem logical, to quote spock, that the newer stuff would not be better than the older stuff.

    I think the prices for dagors are "clult" prices, and there is nothing wrong with owning a lens that St. Ansel used, but from a purely technical point of view, the thing one gets from the old lenses is a certain softness, and the prints look different. Not better, different.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    14

    Lousy Dagor

    I certainly agree that they are overpriced as well. Especially the longer versions of 14". The basic dagor is what would be considered today, a process lens type. Symmetrical. In fact goerz sold the process dagor for a while.

    Maybe I am expecting too much of the 180mm but Goerz data specs the lens to cover 8x10! I guess their expectations of performance were less than ours are today, or more like mine. Since they sell so high and everyone goes googy over them I was just expecting more. I think they are lousy lenses, especially by modern standards. They ought to be put into the vault.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Posts
    471

    Lousy Dagor

    let's see, I stopped counting at about 4000 award winning photos taken with a dagor.......So I guess....yes they are junk....how much do you want for it? also if you have one of those Veritos that you can never get sharp i'll buy that too. ( they're junk also)......lol....lol

  10. #10
    wfwhitaker
    Guest

    Lousy Dagor

    Sounds like a troll to me....

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