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Thread: really stupid question

  1. #21

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    Re: really stupid question

    Brian,
    I'm not arguing nor discounting your qualifications, or testing methodology. If in the market you work in, that's what it takes to keep that edge, all the more power to you.

    I am intimately familiar with what tabletop and commercial entails, at one time I worked for a rather largish studio(10 shooters, 15+ set areas, more Sinar and Broncolor than I think the distributor had in stock at the time, etc.) Prior to doing my own shooting in-house. I have and still shoot some catalog work, though I try to limit what I do, as some jobs just aren't worth it, if it won't fit on an 8x10 table in my studio, unless it's a location shot, I pass. And then there are those few clients that I just won't deal with the grief (trying to renegotiate pricing, after chromes are shot and processed, etc.) I can understand the competitiveness, I've been to the photo district and it is amazing. I work in a different type of market ( and sometimes, it seems a different world, when's the last time you shot chromes of farm equipment?) and yes, I'm still one of those odd ducks, who shoots film, unless I moved closer to a major metropolitan area, the ROI on a digital back would be measured in decades.

    The Componon series are in fact a plasmat design, and from an optical formula standpoint, as I am told, for all intents and purposes the equivilent of a Symmar, though optimized for different rep. ratios. I have both, and honestly, on a 6x7 or 4x5 chrome, the end result on the majority of my work, is for all practical purposes, identical. (I don't use a 40x microscope, as I shoot all my work at 100% rep. ratio, up to 8x10 and have been known on occaision to sketch on a gg with a grease pencil, or print out a blue line of the layout on trans film and tape it to the ground glass) the primary difference I see, and why I keep at least one older (symmar, non -s, non mc) lens of each focal length I commonly shoot, is contrast, about 30% of my work is outside of the realm of a studio, and at times the ability to tame contrast, by use of a non or single coated lens) is just one of a multitude of tools at my disposal. FWIW, Artars, as well as G-Clarons are and have always been process lenses, a very specialized form of enlarging lens (extremely low geom. distortion, etc), though they are now most used as taking lenses.

    I was taught by some very gifted and talented photographers, most of whom, sadly are gone. They worked in a time when you got the shot, with whatever tools you had at your disposal, not chasing the latest wonder lens/camera/film that would guarantee you success instantly, by the very virtue of using them. I've seen high dollar campaigns shot with everything from a tired old 2D, 8x10 Master Views, a few Graphic Views, as well as Speed graphics and their ilk (I prefer the B&J press camera, personally) to Sinar's, Arcas and Linhofs. And in the ulitmate test, the client really didn't care which camera you shot with, only that the chrome was what they wanted.

    Brian, by any chance, do you have a 135 symmar? I can send you a set of componon cells, they screw right into a #0 shutter and you're welcome to try them yourself.

    Most of my personal work is shot with a variety of lenses, running the gamut from a 180 Symmar-S MC to a 12" T-R Triple convertible and even a few Ektars in barrels with a packard. For me at least, photography has moved from a vocation to a semi avocation, I can pick and choose what jobs, or whether to even shoot at all, without affecting my main source of income, so my perspective is drastically different from yours.

    erie

  2. #22

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    Re: really stupid question

    Erie, I'm glad that you mention that you shoot at 100% ratio, that explains a lot. In the pre digital age that was how the majority of large catalogs were shot. Even fashion was shot 8x10 and to repro scale. If there is no intention of enlarging an image, and it is being shot at the exact size it's being used, you can get away with a really poor lens. However if there's an intention of enlarging an image, especially if you plan, or just end up enlarging it significantly, you'll wish that you had not shot it with an inferior lens.

    I've had still lifes that were shot specifically for single page magazine ads, end up as bill boards, or cropped and then enlarged to 2 page spreads, you never know exactly what will be required from an image. My own B&W printing uses some in the enlarger diffusion, something which really dumbs down the quality of my taking and enlarging lenses yet I test all my lenses and only buy the absolute sharpest. Why? Because of the chance that I won't diffuse an image and may want it sharp.

    The problem I have with posts that talk about things like our discussion is that there are many people out there who are not knowledgeable and take these posts as fact and then spend money or time pursuing them. The original posts that you and I made were about enlarging lenses being as good as dedicated tabletop or distance lenses, they are not. They are acceptable if you photograph at 100% repro size, however for the people who go out and buy an enla lens, take the trouble to find a shutter and then attempt to enlarge their images, they are not going to have as good a result as someone who just bought a used sironar or symmar off of eBay. It would have been helpful if you had mentioned earlier that you never enlarge the images that you shoot with an enlarging lens.

    I do not have a 135 symmar, I do have a 135mm Sironar-S though. I can't understand how the catalog company you mention, which had all these Sinars and Broncolor chose to use enlarging lenses and not Symmars or Clarons. I was always taught that the first and most important part of the image reproduction cycle were the optics.

  3. #23
    Ted Harris's Avatar
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    Re: really stupid question

    I've been watching this thread bounce back and forth and do agree that reverse mounted enlarging lenses will do quite well for work in the macro range. No one has, however, mentioned the use of macro lenses for true macro work. Macro lenses offer no advantages if you are working at 'near' macro ranges but still at magnifications less than 1:1. Once you hit the true macro range they do surpass the other lenses being discussed. Macro lenses are designed to give you edge to edge sharpenss with three dimensional objects (granted you have very limited depth of field) as opposed to that flat copy that process and enlarging lenses are optimised to handle. Nikon, Rodenstock and Schneider all make some excellent macro lenses. No need to discuss macro work or acro lens performance here as a search of the archives whill show you lots of information.

  4. #24

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    Re: really stupid question

    Brian,
    when I worked at that studio, it was Sironar-N's, and nothing else, every shutter was calibrated to within 1/10 stop, all lenses were identical in color cast, etc. The point I was trying to make was I've worked in a broad range of studio environments, from tiny to expansive, and with a wide range of equipment as well.

    erie

  5. #25

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    Re: really stupid question

    Ted, I certainly appreciate all the efforts of the LF lens makers and, in particular the excellent macro lenses now available. These are, however, very expensive pieces of glass and I can understand the desire of students and others who are on a limited budget and who are not, or not yet, dependent on the best equipment available to make a living, to be able to take photographs in the macro range with what equipment they are able to afford. In this regard, it is nice that the three shortest Tominon lenses are available on the used market at extremely low prices. Even the 17mm is very cheap when compared to, say, a Luminar.

    I have heard the mention of flat field lenses being inappropriate for three dimensional objects several times and do not understand it at all. I don't know of any lens characteristic which could be modified to optmize a lens for work on two dimensional or three dimensional subjects. In either case, we are dealing with a plane of sharp focus blending off into out of focus areas. If we use front tilt or swing for a three dimensional object, we are changing the location of that plane but nothing else. I would be interested in hearing from anyone able to comment on what lens design factor might be involved. I have used with great satisfaction several process lenses with long and short focal lengths on three dimensional subjects. I sent one group to Rudolf Kingslake and was very pleased by his comment that they were "technically excellent".

  6. #26

    Re: really stupid question

    Quote Originally Posted by Ernest Purdum View Post
    I have heard the mention of flat field lenses being inappropriate for three dimensional objects several times and do not understand it at all. I don't know of any lens characteristic which could be modified to optmize a lens for work on two dimensional or three dimensional subjects.
    Bokeh is the character of the subject rendering outside of the plane of focus. If the intended application is to photograph planar subjects, in principle one might trade off refinements in the bokeh against performance in the plane of focus.

    But I have no idea whether in practice this has ever been a consideration in the design of process lenses.

  7. #27

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    Re: really stupid question

    Ernest, as I said earlier it depends on the lens. I don't believe .it is safe to generalize about which lenses are best for shooting closeup (up to 1:1) or macro (above 1:1). Out of the box, a "name" lens may be better than a "no-name." But for used lenses, so much depends on condition, i.e., past history of abuse.

    Erie's practice of contact printing doesn't demand the best a lens can give. So I can easily understand why and how he got very good prints of distant subjects with a good 6/4 plasmat type enlarging lens. But not all 6/4 plasmat type enlarging lenses are equal (Saphir Bs aren't up to modern lenses and seem to be distinctly poor at distance) and some of us do enlarge.

    About short Tominons. I've shot a 17 Tominon, since sold to Patrik Roseen, against a 16 Luminar. The Tominon is perfectly usable but the Luminar is considerably better. The big surprise for me in that focal length class was (IIRC, I'm away from home and can't consult my notes) a $6 19/3.85 B&L microfile reader lens that matched the Luminar.

    Same goes for the 35 and 50 Tominons. Both are very usable. In my experience the 35s are somewhat variable in quality. But the best relatively inexpensive lens in that focal length range is, IMO, the 55/2.8 MicroNikkor AI/AIS reversed and shot at f/4.

    In the shootoff I had between my 100/6.3 Neupolar, a known good borrowed 100/6.3 Luminar (the one I owned was a badly abused dog), and my 4"/5.6 Enlarging Pro Raptar, at the apertures and magnifications tried the Neupolar beat the Luminar handily and the Luminar just barely edged the EPR. And above 1:1 I shot the EPR mounted normally, not reversed. Not all EPRs are like that; I have a 50 that the 4" beats so badly it isn't funny.

    Cheers,

    Dan

  8. #28

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    Re: really stupid question

    Dan, that's interesting about the microfile lens. I have wondered for a long time about those and similar lenses I guess I'd call industrial. I've never got around to trying any, though.

  9. #29

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    Re: really stupid question

    Ernest, when I was going through my "which lenses for high magnification?" phase I bought a handful of cheap microfilm reader lenses and tried 'em all. Short answer, some are very good, others aren't, and the only way to find it is to buy and try. But for $5-8 delivered its hard to make a really bad mistake.

  10. #30

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    Re: really stupid question

    Re-reading a previous entry, I see I should clarify an ambiguity. It was a group of photographs I sent to Rudolf Kingslake.

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