View Full Version : Best 210mm Lense for Artwork Reproduction

2-Sep-2004, 07:04
As stated in an earlier post, I am rather new to LF, moving up from 35mm digital. I would like to have some opinions as to which 210mm lense is the "best" lense for flat artwork reproduction. When I say "best," I mean sharpest, most color accurate, etc. I am overwhelmed with all of the choices ranging from Macro and APO to S-Type and N-Tpe. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks...

ronald moravec
2-Sep-2004, 07:37
My 210 G-Claron works fine in close up flat applications and works well as a landscape lens also. It only lacks a large aperature for viewing, then then again it is small and light weight

Michael Veit
2-Sep-2004, 07:43
I'd suggest the Eskofot-ultragon 210 to be had on ebay for $50.00 or less. Sharp as a tack and I even use it to shoot at infinity, though I think it's optimized for closer work. Don't spend more than you need to, the Ultragon was designed for reproduction work and should do everything you need.

Ted Harris
2-Sep-2004, 07:53

While "best" is frequently in the eyes of the beholder in this case my recommendation would be to go with a G-Claron from Schneider, one of the Fuji 'A' series (eiether 180 or 24o in this case), Doctar Apo Germinar or similar offerings from Rodenstock. These are all process lenses which are maximally corrected for the distances at which you are most likely to be photographing flat art and anf are corrected for for fla subjects. they all work excellently as general purpose lenses as well.

In addition to the lens think about film type and lighting as well. The extent to which you are able to control the lightling will make a great difference in your ability to accurately match the colors of the original without a lot of additional work in the darkroom or in Photoshop. I used to do a lot of this work when I had a studio in an Artists Coop (The Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA) and generally found that doing the work in my studio using daylight balanced color negative film with high levels of properly balanced strobe light was the best way to fly.

Donald Brewster
2-Sep-2004, 09:24
All above are good suggestions -- and don't forget the Goerz APO Artar.

Ellis Vener
2-Sep-2004, 09:38
Any of the modern 210mm f/5.6 lens will be absolutely fine for this: Schneider Symmar S, Rodenstock Sironar N, Nikon, or Caltar II-N (actually this is the Rodenstock Sironar N). .

Armin Seeholzer
2-Sep-2004, 10:44

My 300mm APO Ronar would be my favorit in thad case. It is a lens wich was build like all APO Ronars for thad job. And with the 300mm I would only use the sharpest part of the lens in the middle of the coverage!

2-Sep-2004, 10:48
any 210mm f6.3 lens will do fine too.. I have a commercial Komura in copal 1 and it is sharp as tack and colors are great. it is multi coated.

I also bought an 210mm Eskefot-ultragon 210mm f8 and i can't comment on the color reproduction but it is gorgeous with 8x10 B&W work..

Michael Kadillak
2-Sep-2004, 10:49
I would have to recommend the 210 Kowa Graphic. Coverage to spare (easily cover 8x10) and sharp as a tack. I put one in a Copal #1 and it will be with me for as long as I am shooting LF.I had an expansion adapter put on it to accept 52mm screw in filters. Covers 8x10, light as a feather and takes 52mm filters. Wow!

Jim Galli
2-Sep-2004, 10:52
As already stated the G-Claron's were originally designed for exactly what you're asking about. Here's (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=15248&item=3837566613) a 240mm that is in a shutter and could double as one of the finest general photo lenses you'll ever own.

Kevin Crisp
2-Sep-2004, 14:18
Yes Jim, but would you trust that seller?

Paul Moshay
2-Sep-2004, 22:45
I'm with Jim as I use the GClarons in my work of reproducing fine art and I use the 150, 210 270 and 305 GClarons and they are perfect for the job. Paul

Jim Galli
2-Sep-2004, 23:04
"Yes Jim, but would you trust that seller?"

About as far as I could throw him....and he's been gaining weight lately!

12-Nov-2004, 08:41
I have a related question:

If a copy camera lens is optimized for 1:1 (i.e. large artwork being copied onto large negatives, meaning small bellows draw) will it perform equally well in "macro" mode in 4x5? (meaning, still 1:1 but with extended bellows).

Much of the historical discussion on this subject has been centered around using a copy camera lens at infinity, or a "normal" lens used at 1:1, but not how a lens designed for huge negs (i.e. a copy camera) behaves with much smaller film format at the same magnification.

I'm very curious about this, and I have never seen it discussed before on this or any other forum.

J Michael Sullivan
http://www.haywood-sullivan.com/photography (http://www.haywood-sullivan.com/photography)

Dan Fromm
12-Nov-2004, 10:05
J. Michael, about "how a lens designed for huge negs (i.e. a copy camera) behaves with much smaller film format at the same magnification":

I shoot a 210/9 Konica Hexanon GRII, a 150/9 Cooke Copying Lens and a 10.16"/9 Taylor Hobson Copying lens on 2x3 Graphics. All process or copy lenses. They are good sharp lenses at all distances. Massive overkill for 2x3, but their prices were right. All front-mounted on a #1 using adapters from SKGrimes. All are too long for macro work on my little cameras.

I also use a 65/8 Ilex Acugon, a 160/5.6 Pro Raptar and a 12"/4 Taylor Hobson telephoto on my Graphics. Same story. Good lenses, and relatively inexpensive. The Acugon is supposed to cover 153 mm. The 12" came from an Agiflite aerial camera, is supposed to just cover 4x5. 65 and 160 are in shutter, 12" is in barrel.

I don't understand "1:1 (i.e. large artwork being copied onto large negatives, meaning small bellows draw)." What did you intend to write?



12-Nov-2004, 11:59
well, these repro lenses are (in general) wide angle lenses -- particularly those that were used in vertical copy cameras (due to limited bellows draw)

Since they were designed to produce huge negatives (e.g. 17"x22" or larger) from large artwork and since the final result was for print reproduction (i.e. no real need for high lpm resolution as the negatives were typically contact printed), I am concerned that these lenses may represent a significant compromise when used for smaller film sizes -- even at the intended reproduction ratio of 1:1.

In other words, what would be considered "acceptible" for a huge orthochromatic copy negative in terms of lpm or chromatic abberations might be considered "poor" for a 4"x5" color film application. (please note: these lenses will always be excellent when it comes to barrel and pincushion distortion no matter what the application as repro lenses had to deliver a faithful, distortion-free copy)

In short, no matter how good these lenses are for "general purpose" applications, I am concerned that for the specific use for 4x5 color 1:1 (macro) work they may leave something to be desired -- even though everyone seems to be happy with their results at infinity on their 8x10 cameras.



P.S. The lens I would really love to purchase is the Schneider Macro Symmar HM which is specifically designed for 4x5 color 1:1 (macro) applications. I have no doubt that it would deliver significanly better results than any repro lens discussed. Trouble is, they are well over $1000 new and rarely show up on eBay :(

12-Nov-2004, 12:18
If you use 4x5 film with those lens you're going to be getting just the very centre of the lens.

http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/testing.html (http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/testing.html)

You'll find a few process lenses. When it comes to working F/stops of F/22 or so it doesn't seem to me that they lose out in lp/mm

12-Nov-2004, 12:32
Unfortunately, neither coma nor chromatic abberations are measured. Further, the "general" pattern of the few copy lenses in the list shows them to deliver slightly less lpmm than normal lenses (there are exceptions). Of course, none of these tests were at 1:1 so it is all hypothetical. Good information though!!! Thanx for the link.


P.S. anecdotal information I have received from others suggests the Schneider Macro Symmar HM delivers 80+ lpmm across the entire field at 1:1, delivering results that exceed any lens listed on the above site. Again, my concern is that using a lens outside of its intended application may very well result in significant compromise

12-Nov-2004, 12:34
At what F/stop did it deliver 80+?

Dan Fromm
12-Nov-2004, 13:13
MJSfoto1956 wrote "I am concerned that these lenses may represent a significant compromise when used for smaller film sizes -- even at the intended reproduction ratio of 1:1. "

I must not have been clear. But then, you asked whether lenses designed for one format could give good results on a smaller one. The lenses I mentioned all give outstanding results on 2x3.

To answer your second question/clarification, I've shot my 210/9 GRII against my 200/4 Micronikkor AI at 1:2 and at ~ 10 m at f/9, f/11, and f/16. The GRII won at all apertures and both distances.

He added "In short, no matter how good these lenses are for "general purpose" applications, I am concerned that for the specific use for 4x5 color 1:1 (macro) work they may leave something to be desired -- even though everyone seems to be happy with their results at infinity on their 8x10 cameras. " Look, if you want to shoot 4x5 at 1:1 just get a nice used Apo Nikkor or Apo Artar or Apo Ronar or G Claron or ... or nearly any nice 150 mm enlarging lens and be happy. Unless, that is, your motto is "Don't happy, be worry."

13-Nov-2004, 09:05
LOL!!! You made my day!

OK, let me describe my application in detail so that you can better sense my dilemma:

I have a Better Light large-format digital scanning back which I use to copy original artwork up to 30"x40". For such copy purposes I have been using various focal length Rodenstock Rodagon enlarging lenses and, as has been discussed before, they are tack-sharp in this application. I also have used this digital back in the field. For this application I use "normal" Schnedier and Rodenstock lenses and the results are also "tack sharp". You can see some of the resulting images here: http://www.haywood-sullivan.com/photography/IR-land.html (http://www.haywood-sullivan.com/photography/IR-land.html). (Note: the good news about using the Better Light is that I do not need a shutter, thus opening up the choicde of ppssible lenses)

Now for my new application: I want to scan my archive of medium format and large format film negatives with the Better Light back.

Consequently, I have rigged up a Besseler 45MX enlarger to a Linhof studio camera to scan my 6x7 and 4x5 negatives. The 6x7 negs will be "enlarged" slightly to match the 3"x4" scanning area of the Better Light. Likewise the 4x5 negs will be "reduced" slightly. As such, the optimal lens will be one that is designed for 1:2 to 2:1 application. Elimination of Coma and Chromatic abberations is critcal. Any barrel or pin cushion distortions must be nil. Now for the dilemma...

I have tested the above mentioned Rodenstock Rodagon enlarging lenses and they are abyssmally soft at 1:1. I also did tests with a cheap Polaroid Tominon 135mm copying lens and, while better than the Rodagons, still was soft. It is CLEAR that enlarging/copying lenses do not perform optimally at 1:1 for reproducing fine-grained negatives and chromes (however, they may be just "fine" for photographing closeups of flowers -- YMMV). However, truth be told, the results are quite good "as is" -- especially the color controls that the Better Light software provides. In fact, I feel the color controls are better than any other scanning software I have used to date. At this point the only issue left for me is one of softness. (NOTE: I know the resolution can be significantly better as I have had the same negatives scanned on a drum scanner as well as a Polaroid SprintScan 120 and can easily compare the differences). So I'm getting close...

While I am tempted to plunk down $1100 for a new Schneider Macro Symmar HM and be done with it, the fact is that $1100 is a lot of money for me right now. I was hoping (still am hoping) that some "other" used lenses out there might just be nearly as good. The issue is one of time and expense of course. I could go out and buy this or that lens on eBay (for example Agfa Repromaster, Konica Hexanon GRII, Eskofot Ultragon, etc), test it, and if it did not "rate", go out and do it all over again. The "worry" is that this way might very well cost me as much in the long run. Thus, I was trying to tap the vast cumulative knowledge of this list.Was hoping for answers based on experience with my specific application ar 1:1 rather than anecdotal evidence of lens performance in other applications.

Still open for more comments!


13-Nov-2004, 11:48
Ok, I've done some more tests (with the few lens candidates that I currently own).

The 150mm Rodagon REVERSED gives a BIG improvement in sharpness at 1:1.
(this was tested at f11, which @ 1:1 is equivalent to f22, so I'm right at the difraction limit)
It is still a touch soft, but I'm quite pleased with the improvement.

Reversing the 135mm Tominon did nothing to improve sharpness no matter what the f stop.
(presumably this is a symmetrical lens design?)

Looks like I will get an opportunity to borrow a friend's Schneider Macro Symmar HM to compare.
If anyone is interested, I'll post further results.


Ernest Purdum
13-Nov-2004, 15:47
The main thing to keep in mind is the original purpose of the lens. Both the Rodagon and the Tominon were designed for work where that which is in front of the lens is several times larger than that behind. Whether the lens is intended for enlarging or copying doesn't matter, but the ratio of sizes does. Whether reversed or not, 1:1 is outside of their optimum range.

In the case of process lenses, there are basically two families, those designed for horizontal cameras and those for the much more compact vertical cameras. Most in both families are intended for 1:1 work and are symmetrical. The vertical group work at wider angles, but still only moderately wide, 64 degrees or so. 150mm is a frequently seen focal length, and these would have been used to copy letter-size documents, which I wouldn't think of as "huge". Most of these are newer designs than those intended for horizontal cameras and are a little more elaborate due to the requirement for wider angle.

I am sure you will have good results with the Makro-Symmar HM. (If you don't the fault will probably lie elsewhere.) I also think, though, that the chances of obtaining satisfactory results with one of the several process lenses mentione are very good. I wouldn't worry too much about equaling the $1100 by buying multiple lenses to test and find inadequate. In the first instance, since you don't require a shutter, yoiu will find some to be very inexpensive. Besides this, reselling would likely bring you as much as you paid, particularly if you take the trouble to provide good photos and a good description.