View Full Version : Rodagon WA 120 good for Macro?

Paul Schilliger
31-May-2000, 12:19
I went digital and still have a nice Rodagon WA 120 enlarger lens that I do not use any more. The front element is not a standard shutter size (too big) and the rear element does not allow to mount it in front of a shutter #1 with an adapti ng ring as it has been suggested with 80 and 105 mm lenses. The barrel itself ha s a 50mm thread. 120 is a nice focal length for close-ups on 4x5 and should be useful. But I don't see how I could use it. Any experience?

31-May-2000, 17:16
Because this sounds like something you want to do on the cheap, you might want to use a Packard shutter if the exposure times will be in the seconds or if using flash (if you use a synchro model). They mount behind the lens board and need a hole through the board for the air tube.

I think there is some minimum suitable size of lensboard (which will restrict which camera you can do this with) since the shutters are pretty large (smallest is 3.25 x 3.25 inches).


You can find used Packard shutters being advertised every now and then for quite cheap - approx. $15-30 USD. New ones aren't exactly cheap ($100+) but you can use one for many barrel lenses. Check to see if they have flash sync.

Cut a cheap wood board, paint the back side black, cut a hole, mount the lens and shutter and there you go.

The other possibility is to mount a large shutter in front of the lens. Or mount the lens in an oversized shutter. Both probably not as cheap as the Packard option though.

31-May-2000, 17:18
Oh hey Paul

I thought I should make a pitch for Equinox. They are Packard shutter resellers and have a few used ones available for very good prices:


Paul Schilliger
1-Jun-2000, 13:24
KH , thanks for the tip on Packard shutters and for your fine advice on the prev ious G-Claron questions ! I visited the Hubphoto site and had a look at these strange shutters. It seems a good solution, though I still wonder how these shutters work. Have they a battery inside? Are they usabl e in the field too and can they be set to different speeds? Thanks!

1-Jun-2000, 16:16
They are actually **extremely** simple shutters. Except for the electric versions that employ a solenoid, each of these Packard shutters work using an air-hose and a bulb (think oversized air cable release) - hence you need a hole in front of the lensboard to connect the hose to. Totally ancient yet effective.

Depending on the version you choose, the speeds are 1/25th (one quick squeeze) and T, or 1/25th and B, and with each version, you can choose whether you want a flash sync option or not.

I actually own a fairly large Packard shutter myself. As long as they are kept clean they work well. And this is a very old one that I got with a camera I had bought for restoration.

Whichever one you might end up with, you should ensure that the size of the shutter hole is sufficiently bigger than the rear element because you want the cone of light to fully clear the shutter diaphragm. (the shutter sits behind the lensboard)

It might be interesting just to buy a used one to experiment with cheap barrel lenses.

Bruce Gavin
3-Jun-2000, 00:47
As of this writing, I am having an adapter machined by Steve Grimes (www.skgrimes.com) that will adapt a standard enlarging lens Leica thread (39mm) to a Copal #1 shutter. I will be able to use my El- Nikkors in 50, 80, and 135mm on one of my existing shutters.

The cost of the adapter is $50, plus shipping, and takes about 3 weeks. You can get it from him in about 3 days if you are willing to get it in bright aluminum (unfinished). Steve says it is worth the 3 week wait to get it in the black anodized finish instead.

Think carefully about the relationship between the enlarging lens and the film plane. These lenses are optimized typically in a 2x to 10x range. This means it performs best at 1:2 to 1:10 distances. On 4x5 vertical, this means the subject height would be between 10" and 50" tall.

Knowing this, if you want to go larger than life size (2:1 to 10:1), the enlarging lens should be reversed for optimum performance. This means getting an adapter that matches the enlarging lens front thread, and the Copal shutter thread on the other end. I have no doubt Steve Grimes can make you whatever you want, and for a fair price. Knowing exactly what you want is often the most difficult part...

Paul Schilliger
4-Jun-2000, 10:57
Bruce, I had seen the post on "Lens choice for close-ups" and this is where my interest originated!

Before, I thought the only way to mount an enlarger lens on shutter was to get a very expensive device made by Linhof, with integrated lensboard and shutter. So Jay's comment on the Schneider ring 39mm to Copal #1 shutter was of the highest interest to me too! I am in the process of ordering one, although my local Schneider dealer did not have it on stock.

Using the 120 WA Rodagon as a flat field repro lens seems difficult to work out and I am not sure I will keep this idea. But, and by the way, did you know that Nikon has reversing adapt ers for enlarger lenses? (ELUM1 for 40.5 and ELUM3 for 52). If the Schneider (or S.Grimes) ring provides at least 5mm of extension, they should work well, and surely be a lot cheaper (around $15) than an other special adapting ring.

I just realized that the 52 mm will perhaps allow the use of the WA Componon wit hout vignetting for near life size takings. If it doesn't, I should be able to use the 105 Durst Neonon I own (Nikkor type) for that purpose. It is designed for 6x9, but strong magnification encreases the image ci rcle a lot.