View Full Version : Using enlarger lenses as barrel lenses

Nitish Kanabar
30-Mar-2005, 15:23
I am a total beginner to large-format photography and the members here are very helpful so please bear with what could be a silly question.

I have a speed-graphic with a working focal-plane shutter and was considering the use of an enlarger lens as a barrel lens for this camera. I read a thread here regarding mounting an enlarger lens on a copal #O shutter, so apparently an enlarger lens could be used as a regular lens.

What concerns arise when an enlarger lens is used as a camera lens? Should it even be done?

Thank you in advance for your replies.

Dan Fromm
30-Mar-2005, 15:43
Old question.

Short answer, it is physically possible but none of the enlarger lenses I've tried out on my Speed has been much good (= has been lousy) at distance. Closeup work at magnifications no higher than 1:1 is another matter. That's pretty much what they were designed to do.

If want an inexpensive useful lens in barrel, to use on your Speed look for a process lens. I have a small pile of them, none of the ones I've used has disappointed. To learn more about process lenses, use the forum's search function.

Good luck, have fun,


30-Mar-2005, 15:47
Without knowing what lens you had in mind, I would say try it, your only loss is a few sheets of film. I would try making a big enlargment and see what you think of the results. I on ocassion use a 300mm rodogon as a taking lens with out any loss of quality or sleep, but I am strictly contact printing, so not too much to loose.
Give it a try!

Bob Wagner
31-Mar-2005, 09:28
I've done some test shots with a 90mm enlarging lens because it's the only thing I have wider than a 150 (which is itself a process lens). I havn't gone over it with a high powered loupe or anything but it looks good to me. If nothing else it will give you a chance to decide whether you need that focal length which is why I tried it. For what it's worth I made my own recessed lens board from a plastic replacement sink bottom assembly from Home Depot for a few dollars, works fine. I have several process lenses I've cobbled together and they allow me to play around with the camera without putting hundreds into lenses. Overall my experience with large format, though limited, is just shoot with whatever you have, equipment isn't near as important as practice to overcome the little mistakes that come from unfamiliarity with the process.
Happy shooting

1-Apr-2005, 09:14
how is an enlarging lens fundamentally different from a process lens?
aren't they both flat field lenses designed to be used at small magnifications?
curious ...

Bob Salomon
1-Apr-2005, 09:31
"designed to be used at small magnifications?"

Rodagon G up to 50X
Apo Rodagon N up to 30X
Rodagon WA up to 20X
Rodagon up to 15X
Rogonar S up to 10X
Rogonar up to 8X

You consider these low magnification lenses compared to process lenses designed for about 1:1?

Also a process lens shorter then 600mm was made to be used only at f32 where an enlarging lens is designed to be used 1, 2 or 3 stops from wide open (depending on the lens design).

The enlarging lens is designed to take something small and make it big. A process lens is designed to take an object that is flat and reproduce it on film at the same size. A general purpose lenss is designed to take something big - a landscape for instance - and reproduce it on something much smaller - film.

You might want to try reversing and enlarging lens to use it for general purpose work bu for best results you want to mount the lens with the rear lens elements in front of the shutter blades and the front group behind the blades. If you want to just reverse (or just use) an enlarging lens be sure to maask off the illuminated aperture port on the rear surface of your lens - should yours have this feature.

Jim Galli
1-Apr-2005, 10:52
Once I bought a large group of industrial lens cast off's on Ebay since I can't resist such foolishness. Inside a piece of 2" allthread was a hidden 135mm Schneider Componon-S. So I mounted my $12.00 treasure in a Tominon Copal shutter and used it as a taking lens for 2 years. Of course realizing I was somewhat beyond it's design strength I would always stop down to f22+ but that's pretty normal anyway with LF scenes. I have stunning negs from that lens. I later swapped it out for a fuji 135 EBC lens that never seemed as sharp, and then swapped that for a fuji 125W that I really love. I learned that any of the better 6 element plasmat type lenses can be forced into other than exact design services with good results. Curiosity is a wonderful thing. I've made some pleasant negs simply because I was curious of the result. A favorite neg comes to mind that was made with a 150mm Schneider Comparon (4 element I think, cheap I'm sure) another industrial cast off, on 8X10. Sure, it covers fine when the bellows draw is about 14 inch! Neat macro shot of an ancient Ford hubcap in my back yard. So get busy and go play.