View Full Version : Congo Lenses

sheldon hambrick
22-Jan-1998, 15:53
The Congo line of lenses (mentioned on the homepage under distibutors)look to be very resonably priced. Can I hear of people's experiences with this line.

Ted Brownlee`
22-Jan-1998, 16:47
I have an older lens made by Yamazaki Optical Company, the manufacturer of Congo lenses and have been very happy with it. I have a 180mm f/6.3 in a Seiko SLV sh utter.This lens is now an F/6.8 in a Copal 0 shutter. It's approximately 20 yea rs old and I've used it on 6x9, 4x5 and 5x7. All of the Congo Lenses are Tessar formulas, which are still quite good. They lack the covering power of a Nikkor-w or Symmar-s. Myself, I have been looking at the 400mm telephoto lens for 5x7. I would prefer the 500mm, optimized for 4x5, but it's image circle appears to lea ve no room for movements. If you buy a Congo, I'd like to hear from you.

Ron Shaw
25-Feb-1998, 17:51
Check out the Congo lenses at http://www.cosmonet.org/~congo/index_e.htm. They h ave a lot of info at this site about all their lenses. They also have 6 element type lenses as well. They are good values. I know of one person using the 6 element 150mm on 4x5, and his chromes look very good.

Sal Santamaura
19-Oct-2001, 15:40
Anything to add in the 3 1/2 years since this thread was last active? I'm looking at the 90/6.3 and 120/6.3 as particularly attractive for a lightweight 6x9 outfit (Horseman VH). Using the center of these Tessars' image circles promises good results. Any first-hand experience? Any comments on how good the multicoatings are? Thanks in advance.

Paul Schilliger
19-Oct-2001, 17:52
Ted, I bought a used 500T not long ago and sold it just as fast. Sharpness and c oating were all right, but it produced dark corners. Maybe the lenses with more coverage are better. If you ar e looking for a good tele right now, have a look at my Fujinon T600 on Ebay! A good deal, ends tomorrow.

Kerry L. Thalmann
21-Oct-2001, 15:22

I have one of the little 90mm f6.3 Wide Angle Conogs that I use as a wide angle on 4x5 when backpacking. Coverage is tight, so I really have to watch for vigne tting (easy enough by checking the corners of the ground glass). It's not the g reatest lens I've ever used, but it's quite decent within its limited coverage. I bought mine from Badger Graphic when the exchange rate was a lot more favorab le. I paid $275 at that time. Due to fluctuations in the exchange rate, Badger 's price eventually went up to $425. At which point, they are no longer a very good value. Also, I tested five of the WA Congos (three 90s and two 120s) and o nly found one that performed well all the way to the corners. The quality of th ese Congo lenses seems to vary considerably from sample to sample. Something to keep in mind when buying one. Badger no longer carries the Congo lenses, but I believe Christoph Greiner does.

For a little more on this lens. Check out my lightweight lens recommendations ( for 4x5) at:


WRT to the coatings... They are probably not state of the art, but on such smal l lenses of simple design, they do a fine job. BTW, the 90mm and 120mm Congos a re not tessars, they are wide field gauss designs similar to the old Kodak WF Ek tars (4 elements in 4 groups).

All-in-all, I'm quite pleased with my little 90mm WA Congo - given what I paid f or it, and the small size and weight (and that I was allowed to cherry pick the best of the ones I tested). As long as I watch the coverage, it is quite sharp and contrasty and produces transparencies that look every bit as good as those f rom my larger more expensive lenses. I've made some of my favorite images over the last couple years with this little lens. It's so small and light, it goes e verywhere with me. The Congo lenses can be great values - especially if you buy from a source that will allow you to test the lens before committing to a purch ase.

That said, if I was looking for a 90mm for use on a 6x9 Horseman, I think I'd lo ok for a 90mm f5.6 Horseman Super ER. It won't have as much coverage as the Con go. Not really enough for 4x5, but way more than enough for 6x9. The Super ER series was the last of the 6x9 lenses Horseman made, and the only ones to be mul ticoated. I can't remember off the top of my head, but the 90mm is either a pla nar or plasmat. In any case, it, along with the 75mm, is considered one of the top performers in the Horseman lens line-up. Plus, it will come already mounted in a board for your Horseman. They also made a 120mm f5.6 Super ER. The Super ER series are harder to find than the plain Super and Professional Horseman len ses. They are labeled in white paint around the outside of the front barrel (th e older single coated ones are engraved around the retaining ring that holds the front lens in the barrel).

As far as tessars go, a 90mm would barely cover 6x9 and not really leave any roo m for movements. If you want a tessar, you should look for a 105mm. Again, Hor seman made a 105mm Super ER that is multicoated, but you might also want to watc h for a 105mm f3.5 Nikkor M. It is a tiny little lens of tessar design and mult icoated. They aren't available new any more, but I do see them occasionally for sale used. Prices in the $250 - $350 range depending on condition (and seller optimism).

Finally... Paul, WRT to the dark corners with your 500mm Tele Congo, am I correc t in assuming you are referring to using this lens on 4x5? If you were getting dark corners on 6x9, something was definitely wrong with the lens. On 4x5, the lens has an image circle of 160mm, which barely covers 4x5. If you used any mov ements at all, or the lens was mounted slightly off center, you wouuld get vigne tting. I did, at one time own one of the 400mm Tele Congos. It has an image ci rcle of 200mm, which makes it more usable on 4x5. The sample I had was an OK, b ut unspectacular performer. Not in the same league as the Nikkor or Fuji teles, but about 1/4 the price. Again, a good value for the money.


Paul Schilliger
22-Oct-2001, 04:35
Kerry, you are right, the 500 is too tight for 4x5. Mine was all right for a squ are image of 9x9 or for 6x12. But on 4x5 the drop off was of a full stop, even closed at f22, which proved unbeara ble on Velvia. But would have perhaps been less visible on Astia. Otherwise, the lens had acceptable sharpness and good contrast for a tele. Not too far from the Nikkor 500. If Yamasaki would redesign a version with a slightly larger image circle, but without having to use a Copal #3, this could be a good buy. I sold it to som eone who uses it on a 6x9 camera and he seems quite happy.