View Full Version : Lens Inquiry

22-Sep-2004, 13:18
I am presently using a 180mm Acuton non coated lens on a copal shutter with a toyo 4x5 camera and am considering an upgrade to a schneider or rodenstock multicoated lens. Would this be the smart way to go and would I see a remarkable technical improvement in sharpness and contrast.

Jim Galli
22-Sep-2004, 13:25
You'll get many opinions. First, your "Acuton" in Copal is single coated to the best technology available in the mid '70's same as Schneider and everybody else. If it's the 6.3 series it's a Tessar variety and likely a fairly competent performer. Still a move to a multi-coated plasmat like Sironar or Symmar would probably give you noticeable gains. What you're taking a picture of is perhaps far more important though.

Gem Singer
22-Sep-2004, 14:26
Hi Matt,

You didn't stipulate whether you were using B&W or color film. If you are using B&W, you won't notice much technical improvement, unless you plan on making huge enlargements. However, if you are using color film, you will probably gain more technical improvements by using a "modern" coated, or multicoated lens.

22-Sep-2004, 14:50
Actually I will be using b&w, color negs,and slides.

Dan Fromm
22-Sep-2004, 16:01
Not to be a complete idiot, but will somone please explain Eugene's idea that coating makes a discernible difference when shooting color? I ask because I can't imagine why it should and because I've shot quite satisfactory color transparencies with an uncoated 4/3 Ektar and with a variety of single-coated lenses. I don't think I have a multi-coated lens for my Graphics, but I do have single- and multi-coated for my Nikons and I just can't see a difference among 'em. FWIW, my "flattest" Nikkor is multi-coated.

What does a "modern" lens get me that an older one won't except, perhaps, coverage? When answering, please explain what you mean by "modern" too, since I don't know exactly when modern times began.

And please don't tell me that I'm an idiot. I know that already.



Gem Singer
22-Sep-2004, 17:12

"Eugene's idea"

I certainly can't claim credit for the idea, but I'll stand by my statement that Matt will probably gain a noticeable improvement in his color photographs if he uses a "modern" (computer generated) multicoated lens. I don't have the equipment or the knowledge to do a truly scientific side-by-side comparison, so have to draw my conclusions from my own subjective observations and experience. I can see the improvements, and I'm sure that others can also see them.

Brian Ellis
22-Sep-2004, 20:20
It's hard to say without seeing what you're getting from your current lens. If you're photographing in situations where flare is a problem, and if you can't use a lens shade on your uncoated lens for some reason, a coated lens should improve contrast compared to your uncoated lens. In situations where flare isn't a problem I don't think you'll see a noticeable difference in contrast between uncoated and coated lenses just because of the coating. And coating by itself won't affect "sharpness."

However, an uncoated lens is necessarily an old lens (roughly pre-1950 or thereabouts). I'm not a lens expert but I gather that there have been improvements in lens design, construction, materials, and quality control since the days of uncoated lenses so a coated lens may show improvements in both contrast and sharpness for those reasons (plus of course old lenses can develop problems over the years even if they were great when new). I have one uncoated lens, a 159 F9.5 Wollensak, that I use for contact printing 8x10 negatives. It does an excellent job for that but I don't think I'd use it or any other uncoated lens for enlargements, not because of the lack of coating as such but just because of the age of an uncoated lens. I don't think single vs. multicoating coating makes any noticeable difference except perhaps in very high flare situations. I have two single coated G Clarons that I use for 4x5 and they seem to me to do as good a job as any of my multicoated lenses.

Ted Harris
23-Sep-2004, 09:32

We are all probably in erro rby using terms like 'modern lens' if we narrow the term down to include only current apochromatic as opposed to acromatic lenses then, theoretically, there will be a difference in both black and white and color images.

I say theoretical for two reasons: 1) In many exposure situations coupled with prints of 16x20 or smaller from a 4x5 chrome or negative the diffferences are unloikely to be apparent to the naked eye. 2) Just because a lens is not manufactured to apochromtic standards does not mean that many of the examples produced don't perform to that standard; especially when discussing lenswes from Schneider and
Rodenstock who are conservative in their specifications and claims.

23-Sep-2004, 10:47
I don't think that you'll notice any improvement (in either B&W or color). The exception being if you require a lot of coverage for tall building, etc. A good Tessar type lens is as sharp in the center of the field as the latest multicoated APOHYPERSUPERSMEGMA, and with only 6 air/glass surfaces it doesn't really need multicoating (in fact, it barely needs coating at all). So -- keep and use your present 180mm lens.

23-Sep-2004, 11:27
Well the fact of the matter is that I don't think that it is a tessar design since there is no indication anywhere on the lens, the max aperature is all the way down to 4.8 !

Dan Fromm
23-Sep-2004, 12:19
Matt, its been a long time since I saw it, and of course I didn't bookmark it, but I believe I've seen a page on an Austin Community College site by H. Lynn Jones in which he discussed lenses he commissioned from Ilex while a VP at Burleigh Brooks. I have one of them, a 65/8 Acugon which is a very nice wide angle. Of relevance to you, the Acuton, if I recall correctly, was a plasmat type and was convertible. Look around, you'll find discussions of the 215/4.8 Ilex Caltar (= Acuton) that praise it highly. And its convertible.

If my little Acugon provides any basis for comparison at all, your 180/4.8 Acuton should be fully competitive with contemporary glass from Schneider and Rodenstock. Their good lenses from the '60s are pretty competitive with the current equivalents on everything except, perhaps, coverage. When, that is, they're in good condition.

I don't know why you think your Acuton isn't coated. Perhaps you meant single-coated. My little Acugon is certainly coated. Nearly all lenses made after WWII were coated.

If I were you, I'd be happy that I had such a treasure. I think you'd be better off, especially for color work, investing in a better meter (and learning to use it well) than in a newer lens.



Ernest Purdum
23-Sep-2004, 13:21
You can resolve any question as to whether or not it is a Tessar type by closing the diaphragm as far as it will go, then looking at the reflections in the glass from a single small light. If they are the same front and back, the lens is some sort of symmetrical design, definitely not a Tessar.

John Kasaian
23-Sep-2004, 13:24
Hello Matt,

What has me curious is that the consensus is that your Acuton is a very usable lens while you feel that it is lacking in sharpness and contrast compared to more recently produced lenses.

Assuming that you're focusing with the aid of a loupe and using some kind of shade for your lens, and that the glass is in good condition, you're using a sturdy tripod, and your camera locks down securely, we can eliminate those as being the culprit.

You say that your Acuton is in a copal shutter. My recollection is that most every Acuton I've seen has been in a seiko(sorry I can't spell the rest of the name) shutter. Maybe I'm wrong---others more knowlegable than I can jump in here---but perhaps your lens was reshuttered somewhere along the way and the job wasn't done correctly.

This is just a thought. While I don't have an Acuton, I agree that when Ilex made a top of the line lens, they actually are 'top of the line' and the difference between single coated and multi coated glass(and I do use both kinds)---for my flavor of photography anyway---isn't worth upgrading.

You might consult SK Grines if you suspect the shutter job is the source of your dissatisfaction.

Good luck!