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Thread: Process lenses

  1. #1
    lenser's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Tim from Missouri

    Process lenses

    Am I correct that other than the lack of a shutter and the fact that they are flat field, process lenses from a newspaper or print shop style copy camera will work just fine for traditional large format shooting? Please share your experience and knowledge of any draw backs.
    "One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude." Carl Sandburg

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Re: Process lenses

    I have a couple of process lenses, but am hardly an expert. Many use process lenses when they want a longer than normal focal length for their format. Most process lenses have a fairly narrow field of view, so they may not cover the format at a "normal" focal length. A bit longer than normal is usually OK. There are some "wide field" process lenses out there, but I have no experience with those.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Massachusetts USA

    Re: Process lenses

    You may find this short article helpful: Process Lenses

    These photos were made with a 10 3/4 inch Apochromat Artar.
    These photos were made with a 150mm APO Nikkor.
    These photos were made with a 240mm APO Nikkor.
    These photos were made with a 610mm APO Nikkor and here is a resolution test of the 610mm APO Nikkor at infinity distance.

  4. #4
    Vaughn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Humboldt County, CA

    Re: Process lenses

    I use several of them (8x10 and 11x14).

    Their main lack is the lack of a shutter...which for using in the redwoods is not a problem (all exposures are >1 second). Some may not be threaded for filters -- I do not have any handy to check. Coverage may be less relative to 'regular' lenses of the same focal length -- their coverage specs are usually stated at 1:1 rather than at infinity, so one needs to be aware of that.

    One advantage is that they weigh less than a shuttered version.

    Over-all, I have am quite pleased with the images taken with process lenses. I have particularily pleased with the performance of my two Red Dot Artars (19" and 24"). I believe the red dot signifies that they are optimized for less than 1:1 use (ie landscapes). I also have a Graphic Raptar 210mm that covers 8x10 -- small and sharp. It does not see as much use since I got a Fuji W 250/6.7 (shuttered).
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  5. #5
    Michael Jones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 1998
    Nashville, Tennessee

    Re: Process lenses


    As a general rule, yes. Your run of the mill Artars (red dot or not), Ronars, Browns, etc are standard fare for many 8x10 and up format users. I have at least three I use regularly with no issues whatsoever; I have had Steve & Adam at SK Grimes remount into shutter, but all you really need is a lens cap as your "shutter." Most barrel mounts have multi leaf apertures which many portrait photographers prefer over the more modern 5 leaf version in most shutters. These lenses tend to have slightly less coverage than a similar length plasmat, but the coverage tends to enlarge as they are stopped down.

    All that said, be careful with some wide field precess lenses; any tended to be used for close-up work and do not behave well if used otherwise. I had a 240 Wide Field G Claron. Aside from being the coolest looking lens with a big hemispherical rear element, it was worthless for landscape or portrait use.

    Take a look at the posts in the ULF & lens sub-forums for many threads on process lenses.

    “You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?”

  6. #6
    LF/ULF Carbon Printer Jim Fitzgerald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Vancouver Washington

    Re: Process lenses

    I use process lenses all the time. My go to lens on my 8x20 is a 360mm Rodenstock Gerogon process lens. 90% of my 8x20 work is shot with this lens. 77mm filter threads which is great!

  7. #7
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Stuck inside of Tucson with the Eastern Seaboard Blues again...

    Re: Process lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by lenser View Post
    Am I correct that other than the lack of a shutter and the fact that they are flat field...
    Nearly all lenses of the past century are flat field, and many process lenses will screw into a shutter without modification other than perhaps correcting the aperture scale. I've used process lenses quite a bit, especially around 1:1 (where they're optimized) with no complaints. All I've tried at distance (admittedly not very many) have done well too.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    San Joaquin Valley, California

    Re: Process lenses

    I have found a 240mm G Claron, 14" APO & 19" Red Dot Artars useful additions to my collection. Additionally a 229mm Process Paragon rides on the snout of the Elwood Enlarger. As Michael Jones mentioned above, not all process lenses are created equal, but the useful ones for LF photography are well documented both here and elsewhere.
    I keep an empty Copal at the ready to shelter any homeless, shutterless G Claron that might come my way.
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Mar 2017

    Re: Process lenses

    I am only dipping my toes into the possibility of ULF, but after looking around a bit about lenses (okay, more than a bit!), I bought a 19-inch Apochromat Artar on eBay, for $45*! It has not even arrived yet, but when I saw the ad, it seemed to beg me to go for it. I don't really believe in omens, but if I did, this would tell me to do more than dip in my toes. This lens has a big image circle; folks use it for 12x20! (Uh oh, those seem to be red dot Artars; this one is not. Does that matter?)

    This post has gotten me to wonder: is the 19-inch Apochromat Artar one of the lenses that can screw directly into a shutter? The serial number on the one I bought seems to suggest it was made in 1926 or after.

    *The ad said his is a 'parts' lens because there is a bit of fungus. But the buy-it-now price was $45, so I figured I'd better jump at the chance. I've bought several fungused lenses, and in about half, the fungus -- if I could get at it -- just wiped right off. And on the rest, the fungus just doesn't seem to have an effect on images. I like a challenge, especially a cheap one.

  10. #10

    Re: Process lenses

    As I've accumulated a nearly full inventory of the Sinar Norma system over 35 years (about almost everything they ever made), I also have a nearly complete set of vintage Rodenstock Apo Ronars. I have them from 150mm to 890mm in barrel mount. I am lacking the REALLY long ones, due to cost and availability. The Sinar mechanical shutter is a good option for faster speeds and operation.

    These are great lenses. I use them for from 6x6cm to 8x10".
    Last edited by Daniel Unkefer; 29-Oct-2017 at 06:57.
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