View Full Version : Enlarging Lenses for Taking (again.........sorry)

Martin Courtenay-Blake
17-Jul-2004, 06:44
I know this has been covered before but I really want to clear a few things up in my mind.

There is a very regular supply of high quality enlarging lenses which are selling for considerably less than 60 (approx$100). I am thinking of mainly Rodagons, Componons (and S), Apo-Gerogons and the ubiquitious G-Clarons. Focal lengths from 150mm - 240mm are common and 300mm, 360mm and upwards do not appear to be rare.

Firstly, after stopping down to f16 or f22 would the image quality be good enough for most forms of photography including landscape? I know the latter pair are available in a taking form so I'm more curious about the Rodagons and Componons.

Does anyone have any experience of comparing images taken with an enlarging lens and a conventional taking lens?

Finally do they come apart reasonably easily and fit standard shutters?

I intend to use them with my (being restored) 1/2 plate (nominal 5X7) Kodak Specialist RAF issue field camera.

Cheers to all


17-Jul-2004, 06:58
The claron does fit shutters. I have a 150mm in a #0 shutter right now. A 240mm is in the mail that I hope to put into a #1 shutter. But with all these lenses if the goal is to save money don't forget the cost of the shutter. I had a free #0 shutter for the 150mm and I've got a #1 I can put to use for the 240mm. If I hadn't the cost of a new shutter and the lens might have been higher then just buying a brand new lens. Also the 150mm uses a tiny relatively rare filter size. So you need to add the cost of a step ring.

I think one of the enlarger lens companys [Scheinder?] makes an adapter to fit some of thier lenses in front of a shutter.

Ernest Purdum
17-Jul-2004, 07:28
You are putting two groups of lenses together, Rodagons and Componons are truly enlarging lenses. The Apo-Gerogons and G-Clarons, however, are "process" lenses. The enlarging lenses have limited use on cameras, though excellent at the image/subject ratios they are intended for. The process lenses are somewhat more versatile. Their original primary use was on copy cameras where a small maximum aperture was no handicap. Note that this is a way to distinguish between the two groups. Enlarging lenses nearly always have a maximum aperture several stops larger than the process lenses.

There are also two groups of process lenses, those originally used on huge horizontal cameras and newer designs intended for smaller vertical cameras. The ones you mention belong to the second group. The first type has a narrow angle of view. You need a relatively long focal length to coveryour film, but this often allows them to be fitted onto the front of a large shutter, a relatively inexpensive arrangement. The second group has wider coverage, so you can fit a shorter lens and expect it to match your film size, but a shutter would need either to be extremely large (to avoid vignetting) or mounted between the cells, which can be very expensive. G-Clarons cells, however, will screw right in too modern shutters. All you need to do is to provide an aperture scale.

Most of the process lenses can indeed be used at long distances when well stopped down. Schneider recommends using f22 or smaller for the G-Claron.

Thilo Schmid
17-Jul-2004, 13:33
Martin, true enlarger lenses like Comonons and Rodagons have a very limited coverage that is caluclated to fit the negative at 1:5-1:10 (for LF). The coverage would be less at infinity and you would need much longer lenses than usual. But they would be an excellent alternative for macro photography. Rodagons and Comonons usually do fit into a shutter.

Process Lenses for the same magnification ratios, like the G-Claron or the Apo-Geregon, do have more coverage (usually 70-75), but not all of them can be mounted into a shutter. The Apo-Geregon, e.g., does mechnically not fit into a shutter, but might be used with an auxiliary shutter.

The process lenses for 1:1 like the Apo-Ronar do have less coverage at infinity, because image circles are larger at 1:1, where a 70 lens would waste coverage and thus information.

Martin Courtenay-Blake
19-Jul-2004, 03:48
Thanks for the advice everyone...I'll keep the enlarging lenses for use in the enlarger.

I suppose one of my reasons for looking at this is cost. I also like the idea of re-using things. To this end, having just missed a G-Claron on Ebay I have just bought a 210mm Staeble Ultragon which I hope to mount in a shutter in due course (somebody outbid me on a 305mm).

Next project, after finishing the Kodak restoration, is to start building a camera from scratch...probably a 10 X 8 or LF panorama.


19-Jul-2004, 05:17
The Agfa lens won't mount for reasonable cost IMHO. Not unless you're able to do the work yourself. If you consider. $200+ for a new shutter. At least that for having the lens mounted. You're close to the price of something factory made. If you intend to use it on a 8x10 why not just get a packard shutter? How often will you need speeds faster then the packard can provide?

Martin Courtenay-Blake
20-Jul-2004, 06:34
You are probably right Nick. I've thought of a Packard but am bothered about the single speed...still could always use B which will probably be required at f.22 or smaller anyway.

I could do the machining myself to mount in another shutter and I am even considering adapting a Copal 3 or a big Ilex with a series of recessed adaptor rings and rear mounting on the lens. What about a permanently fitted Sinar Copal electronic behind the lens board? For some reason I feel the need to do it myself as well as the fact I hate the idea of all those beautiful process lenses going to waste....by the way there are some superb very (very) late Carl Zeiss Jena Tessars for sale on Ebay Germany and they look virtually new.

One day I'll buy a Grandagon or a Nikkor or two but LF and DIY seem made for each other.


Dan Fromm
25-Jul-2004, 07:52
Martin, pardon me for jumping in so late.

Front-mounting is a viable option for many lenses in barrel, including your 210/9 Ultragon. I had one, it isn't huge like many w/a process lenses.

Visit www.skgrimes.com to see some of the lenses they've hung in front of shutters and their recommended shutters for front-mounting some lenses. Their list is incomplete, but should start you thinking. And pay attention to their sketch which explains how and (I think) under what circumstances the shutter will cause vignetting.

Re DIY, if you want to front-mount, used oscilloscope cameras are a good source of self-cocking Ilex #3 and Alphax (size unknown) shutters. But be very careful when buying. It seems that all HP cameras have electronically-timed shutters that are very hard to adapt to any other use, as do many Tektronix cameras. Tek C-12, C-27, and some but not all C-30 have Ilex shutters. Most of their others have electronic shutters.

I see that you're in the UK, where US-made 'scope cameras are likely to be scarce. Buying through eBay is possible, but be aware that these things are heavy. Sorry, I can't advise about UK-made 'scope cameras, although I'm very aware they exist. Shackman comes to mind ...

Note that there are hidden costs and a major pitfall. Ex-'scope camera Ilexes all need overhauls. And most, if not all of them, are not threaded externally at the rear. To mount one of the beasts on a board, an externally-threaded flange that will clamp the board between the back of the shutter and itself is required. More machine shop work.

Lastly, about enlarging lenses. In theory, as you've been told, enlarging lenses shouldn't perform well at distance. In practice, its an empirical question.