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View Full Version : Schneider 550 mm XXL Fine Art Lens, a very special lens



federico9001
29-Nov-2011, 14:49
A very special ULF lens: 90 cm of image circle, superb sharpness and quality from center to borders

http://www.flickr.com/photos/castorscan/6349444967/in/photostream
http://www.flickr.com/photos/castorscan/6350191062/in/photostream/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/castorscan/6348420483/in/photostream/

vinny
29-Nov-2011, 15:01
Sure, if you have more $$$$$$$$$$$ than Donald Trump and a sherpa to carry it.

E. von Hoegh
29-Nov-2011, 15:03
But it's a modern Dagor.

Richard K.
29-Nov-2011, 15:15
Federico, I have to admit that it's a thing of beauty! :)

Do you have any of your 12x20 photos online?

When I was younger (last year or so :rolleyes: ), I was seriously considering doing the 18x22 Carleton Watkins thing and this would have been one of my lenses. This was contingent, however, on winning a lottery and needless to say, the desirable thing did not transpire...

carverlux
29-Nov-2011, 16:06
In mammoth land, has anyone compared the 550 XXL against a Protar V of similar focal length in actual performance? It seems that in the Protar V lineup there was a 460 with 840mm of coverage and a 632 with 1,160mm (!) of coverage - according to the Carl Zeiss catalog from about 100 years ago.

Just wondering....

federico9001
29-Nov-2011, 17:01
Protar lenses are excellent, but of course the 550 XXL provides much more modern performances, and infact it's excellent even when shooting 11x14", 12x20" or other "small" formats ;-)

Dan Fromm
29-Nov-2011, 17:50
In mammoth land, has anyone compared the 550 XXL against a Protar V of similar focal length in actual performance? It seems that in the Protar V lineup there was a 460 with 840mm of coverage and a 632 with 1,160mm (!) of coverage - according to the Carl Zeiss catalog from about 100 years ago.

Just wondering....

Why think small? I'm sure the coverage claims are exaggerated, but this catalog http://trichromie.free.fr/trichromie/index.php?post/2011/01/27/PERIGRAPHE claims that the 500/14 Perigraphe covers 1,250 mm. Slooow Dagor type, by the way.

The big problem, though, is finding one.

E., do you remember what Michael Kadillak reported he was told when he investigated commissioning a small series of W/A lenses for ULF? He approached a designer and asked about having a modern Dagor type designed and made, was told something to the effect of "Oh, you don't want that, we can do much better now." I like my little Beryls but there are better lenses.

federico9001
30-Nov-2011, 04:18
I think that http://opticalresolutionsinc.com/index.htm can develop and build LF and ULF lenses on demand, they provided the lens for Flint's Gigapixl project and I suppose that they built Clifford Ross' high-res lens for his R1 9x18" camera.

E. von Hoegh
30-Nov-2011, 08:05
Why think small? I'm sure the coverage claims are exaggerated, but this catalog http://trichromie.free.fr/trichromie/index.php?post/2011/01/27/PERIGRAPHE

E., do you remember what Michael Kadillak reported he was told when he investigated commissioning a small series of W/A lenses for ULF? He approached a designer and asked about having a modern Dagor type designed and made, was told something to the effect of "Oh, you don't want that, we can do much better now." I like my little Beryls but there are better lenses.

Better? Absolutely. Nicer? Matter of opinion.:)

Dan Fromm
30-Nov-2011, 08:15
Better? Absolutely. Nicer? Matter of opinion.:)

Not to quarrel with Mr. Kadillak's designer, but for my purposes my little Beryls are quite good enough. I don't ask more of them than they can give. I'm sure that you do the same with your Dagors and are happy with what they do for you.

carverlux
30-Nov-2011, 11:01
The reason I posed the question is not in defiance of what 100 years of optical engineering may possibly bring us, as in the case of a quantitative comparision between the 550 XXL and any 100-year old Protar V. I am sure there would be, and should be, significant measurable differences.

The impetus lies in how Protar V's consistently demand prices on the used market that are several times that of its nearest rivals - its comtemporary or from current production. This despite a relative abundance in availability; and the qualitative preference that experienced ULF photograhpers have voiced over the years.

My curiosity stems from whether the support for the Protar V over the years has been based on observed, repeatable evidence or it is pure folklore and/or the blind worship of things Carl Zeiss. Perhaps someone who has experienced both in similar circumstance can enlighten us.

carver

sanking
30-Nov-2011, 12:36
The impetus lies in how Protar V's consistently demand prices on the used market that are several times that of its nearest rivals - its comtemporary or from current production. This despite a relative abundance in availability; and the qualitative preference that experienced ULF photograhpers have voiced over the years.

carver

Protar V (and IV also) are something of a cult lens and even in short and medium focal lengths often will command a higher price than modern lens of the same focal length that cover as much or more. In longer focal lengths, 300mm or more, Protar V may offer unique qualities because of the small size and big coverage, thus they go for premium prices.

Very early on I purchased Protar V lenses for 5X7 and 8X10 formats. I was very disappointed with the quality of the image at the corners and soon replaced the Protars with better (for my purposes) optics.

BTW, I am a former owner of a 550 Schneider XXL. Wonderful lens but every time I used it I worried about dropping it and scratching the brass and/or glass. Some things are just too nice to use!!

Sandy King

carverlux
30-Nov-2011, 15:22
Protar V (and IV also) are something of a cult lens and even in short and medium focal lengths often will command a higher price than modern lens of the same focal length that cover as much or more. In longer focal lengths, 300mm or more, Protar V may offer unique qualities because of the small size and big coverage, thus they go for premium prices.

Very early on I purchased Protar V lenses for 5X7 and 8X10 formats. I was very disappointed with the quality of the image at the corners and soon replaced the Protars with better (for my purposes) optics.

BTW, I am a former owner of a 550 Schneider XXL. Wonderful lens but every time I used it I worried about dropping it and scratching the brass and/or glass. Some things are just too nice to use!!

Sandy King

Thanks, Sandy, for debunking the myth of the Protar V from actual ownership and usage experience. In your mind, what may be possible alternatives in both quantitative and qualitative terms to the 550 XXL in formats at 12x20 and higher?

carver

Hugo Zhang
30-Nov-2011, 16:01
Carver,

I myself use a Zeiss Protar V 460mm for my 16x20 and I don't have the 550mm Fine Art XXL to compare it. But I do have 110mm SSXL and 150mm SSXL and they are my least used lenses and are collecting dust on the shelf. They are very sharp with great contrast, but I find the middle tone of my prints with these two lenses are somewhat compressed. Maybe it's me that I don't know how to use these lenses and have problems with exposure and development. On the other hand, I find old Dagor (especially F/9 Zeiss-Dagor) and Protar lenses in certain light conditions render a nice glow to my contact prints. Maybe uncoated lenses, due to their lack of contrast, have something to do with this, especially in middle tone area.

I am so pleased with my Protar V for my 16x20 and I would not buy a 550mm XXL even if I had the money.

BTW, Ansel like Protar too:

AA to EW
June 3, 1937

I think what you want for your best solution to the problem is a Zeiss Protar No. 6 19 in.
...
The protar gives the most beautiful "breathing" image of all lenses - you cannot enlarge as many times as you can with the Dagor, but for contact work and moderate enlargement it cannot be excelled.

Again, Ansel did not have a chance to compare 550mm XXL to Protar.

Just my two cents.

Hugo

Helcio J Tagliolatto
30-Nov-2011, 16:12
Excuse my ignorance, but is it possible to distinguish, resolution abroad, between two 12x20 contact prints, made by the same photographer, same camera, same proofer, chemicals, etc, one taken with that 550mm and another with a simpler lens design, like the Fujinon C 600?
And concerning tonality and transition of tones?
Do they make sense (such expensive modern lenses) regarding image quality, since we are making contact prints?

carverlux
30-Nov-2011, 16:57
Carver,

I myself use a Zeiss Protar V 460mm for my 16x20 and I don't have the 550mm Fine Art XXL to compare it. But I do have 110mm SSXL and 150mm SSXL and they are my least used lenses and are collecting dust on the shelf. They are very sharp with great contrast, but I find the middle tone of my prints with these two lenses are somewhat compressed. Maybe it's me that I don't know how to use these lenses and have problems with exposure and development. On the other hand, I find old Dagor (especially F/9 Zeiss-Dagor) and Protar lenses in certain light conditions render a nice glow to my contact prints. Maybe uncoated lenses, due to their lack of contrast, have something to do with this, especially in middle tone area.

I am so pleased with my Protar V for my 16x20 and I would not buy a 550mm XXL even if I had the money.

BTW, Ansel like Protar too:

AA to EW
June 3, 1937

I think what you want for your best solution to the problem is a Zeiss Protar No. 6 19 in.
...
The protar gives the most beautiful "breathing" image of all lenses - you cannot enlarge as many times as you can with the Dagor, but for contact work and moderate enlargement it cannot be excelled.

Again, Ansel did not have a chance to compare 550mm XXL to Protar.

Just my two cents.

Hugo

Hugo,

Thanks for your input and great reference. You must have one of the rarest Protar V's in existence! Bravo!

The difference in performance with contact prints between your Protar V and the modern generation is what I kept reading about but have not personally experienced. Not very often have I come across such compelling evidence as that from federico9001's flickr site and the vast portfolio of Clyde Butcher (as both gentlemen use the 550 XXL) have I started to wonder whether the Protar V's in long focal lengths still exist and have their own Protagonists (please pardon the pun - I could not resist).

Now I found one in you - and as the owner of a rare 460 on 16x20. Also - do you think what Ansel was referring to in the Protar as not being as good as a Dagor in enlargements is supporting Sandy's finding that the edges and corners go to hell on Protar V's?

Perhaps I can ask both you and Sandy King: would you be able to point us not-so-lucky souls without actual hands-on experience to some place where we can experience your slightly divergent assertions first hand?

Thanks,
carver

Drew Wiley
30-Nov-2011, 16:59
Good question. The 600C has been routinely used for clear up to 20X24, at least with
limited movement; and the quite rare 600 A and 1200 A have way more coverage.
But I suspect that these modern lenses have a very different look from the classics,
especially in relation to out-of-focus highlights. Glad I can't afford ULF in the first place - don't need yet another format addiction!

don12x20
30-Nov-2011, 17:40
Carver,

I myself use a Zeiss Protar V 460mm for my 16x20 and I don't have the 550mm Fine Art XXL to compare it. But I do have 110mm SSXL and 150mm SSXL and they are my least used lenses and are collecting dust on the shelf. They are very sharp with great contrast, but I find the middle tone of my prints with these two lenses are somewhat compressed. Maybe it's me that I don't know how to use these lenses and have problems with exposure and development. ...... Hugo

Hugo
I have both the 550mm and 1100mm Fine Art XXLs, as well as 150mmSSXL. (although the latter does not cover 12x20...only 8x10). since my Canham 12x20 was built in 1995 by Keith specifically to use 171x171 arca lens boards, I use all three on my Arca 8x10. I don't see any compression in the Fine Art lenses that you mention seeing in the 150mm SSXL...although I do see it in the 150 and prefer the Grandagon 155 for this reason.

I don't have any large protars so can't make that comparison. But I will say that the Doktor Germinar 750 also performs well compared to the 550/1100 - and these Germinars (including 600 and 1000) are priced substantially less than the XXL Fine arts -- so that might be another choice.

Regards
Don

sanking
30-Nov-2011, 18:03
Excuse my ignorance, but is it possible to distinguish, resolution abroad, between two 12x20” contact prints, made by the same photographer, same camera, same proofer, chemicals, etc, one taken with that 550mm and another with a simpler lens design, like the Fujinon C 600?
And concerning tonality and transition of tones?
Do they make sense (such expensive modern lenses) regarding image quality, since we are making contact prints?


Having used both the 600mm Fujinon-C and the 550 XXL on 12X20 I would say that in most circumstances there would be no noticeable difference in resolution in a contact print between the two. You might see a bit less flare with the 550 XXL in scenes of high contrast, and of course if you used extensive movements negatives made with the 550 XXL would have greater resolution on the corners.

To be brief, the advantage of the 550 XXL over any lens of comparable focal length would be greater contrast, and more coverage. It is really a fabulous lens for ULF of 12X20 or larger, but very expensive and quite large and heavy.

My favorite lenses for 12X20 format is the 450mm f/9 Nikkor M. It is relatively small, not all that expensive, and has good coverage.

That said, some people prefer the slightly more open shadows that you get with a vintage uncoated lens like a Dagor or Protar. I personally used mostly vintage lenses when I first got involved with ULF, but over time gradually replaced the vintage lenses with modern coated lenses like the 350 G-Claron, 450 Nikkor M, and 600 Fujinon C. That personal preference was due in part to the fact that I work almost exclusively with alternative processes that need negatives of greater contrast than silver.

Sandy

Dan Fromm
30-Nov-2011, 19:08
Look here http://www.dioptrique.info/base/m/m_zeiss.HTM for calculated performance of a number of Zeiss lenses, including f/18 Protars.

Helcio J Tagliolatto
1-Dec-2011, 04:00
Thanks, Professor.
I’ve just bought one Fujinon C 600. May be my kallitypes begin to look so impressive like yours...

Helcio

Drew Wiley
1-Dec-2011, 11:06
Well it's nice to know I've got some lenses that would work on ULF, but can't see myself getting into it unless I had enough spare time in gezeerhood to make my own
16x20 camera. A tempting project, but I've got way too many wanna-do's lined up now.