View Full Version : advice on Congo 210mm 6.3 and Wollensak 127mm 4.5?

29-Sep-2004, 20:43

I am a beginner and have been looking into LF for some time. I have a chance to buy a good entry camera, Omega 45E, but what I've read here and elsewhere about these lenses makes me think they are suspect and limited. Any experience/advice would be welcome. I'm on a limited budget and buying a new lens afterwards would be a stretch if the Congo and Wollensak are disappointing. Thanks!

Gem Singer
29-Sep-2004, 21:14
Hi Cindy Donatelli,

After reading your post on the photo.net LF forum, where you mentioned a few more details regarding this package deal, I advise you to pass on this one. The equipment that you describe is way past it's prime. Even when that camera and those lenses were new, they were not considered to be higher quality, top-of-the-line items. The price your friend is asking is no bargain. You can do much better if you are willing to do some further research. Take a look at www.mpex.com and www.keh.com and compare the prices on similar equipment.

ronald moravec
30-Sep-2004, 02:27
I couldn`t surpass my Leicas until I purchased the latest glass. I had some Schneider glass that was from the 60`s. Hugh improvements have been made.

Edward (Halifax,NS)
30-Sep-2004, 05:41
Hi Cindy, what do you plan on photographing? If you are going to be in the field alot, a monorail is a poor choice. I would buy a used Tachihara or Shen Hao and a Fujinon 150mm f/6.3 W. If you are going to be mostly working in a studio then a monorail is perfect.

Don Cameron
30-Sep-2004, 07:46
Hi Cindy

The Omega E was/is the bottom of the line for TOYO. The bellows is not interchangeable, and most of the parts are plastic. They wear out very quickly, and are hard to lock down tight enoungh for good sharp pictures. I own five Toyos, and the top of the line models are very good. Monorail cameras are being given away (cheap) on *-bay, so I would do a little more research and pick up a better model.The lenses are no great shakes, and it sounds as if the tripod is not any better, so I would pass on that deal.

Don Cameron <www.doncameron.com>

Jim Galli
30-Sep-2004, 07:53
Funny, if you had said the lenses were Kodak Ektars of the same vintage everyone here would have immediately said to rush back to that storekeeper and get that stuff. If scientific comparisons were done ie. line pair charts and resolution tests you might find the Congo and the Wolly would turn in identical numbers to their Kodak counterparts. The designs were identical. I've had a couple of Congo lenses that were just excellent. Great in fact. The Toyo is a good solid camera to learn with. Nicely made and with excellent features. The one weak spot I'd advise you on is that the Toyo bellows are a little cheasy. If you begin to lean toward this set-up make sure you take it out in BRIGHT sun and take the back off for a good look at the bellows for pin holes. We all have Champagne taste here, but some of us have to admit that Beer will just have to do for now. I think it's a good solid place to start with a near perfect span of angle of view.

Ernest Purdum
30-Sep-2004, 08:11
The weakest part of the package is the 127mm. This lens has an image circle which covers 4X5, but without allowing for the use of movements. It could be very frustrating. Like the Wollensak, the Congo is a Tessar type, which works at a fairly narrow angle, but because of the longer focal length it has enough coverage to allow gaining experience in what your camera movements can do for you. The camera has enough capabilities to be a good training aid.

I think that one's first camera and Lens(es) should not be considered lifetime acquisitions. After gaining experience you will have a much better idea of what you really need. Equipment selection is a very personal matter which is why there exists such a wide range of choice. Fortunately, if you buy used, carefully, you can probably sell your first items at little or no loss.

Modern lenses are much more expensive than those you mention. They deserve to be because they are also much better. Since, however, you are on a limited budget, you can still learn a lot from well-chosen earlier glass. Some of the greatest images of all time were taken with lenses downright primitive by current standards. If you care to email me your mailing address, I will send you a booklet on lens selection.