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Thread: Best enlarging lenses

  1. #1

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    Best enlarging lenses

    What are good enlarging lenses to get? Are most major lens makers fairly good or is there a difference? I'd like something for my 35mm and 4x5.

    Michael

  2. #2
    Daniel Stone's Avatar
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    Re: Best enlarging lenses

    What size prints are you looking to make, and will you be printing black and white or color as well?
    Just like taking lenses, enlarging lenses can get people into heated arguments rather quickly , so perhaps give us a little more info to make some recommendations.

    FWIW, I have not seen a super huge difference between "APO" branded lenses and non-APO for regular b/w printing in most cases. APO lenses were primarily used for color printing, where you were trying to reduce the chances of color fringing, or for creating separation negatives/masks.

    -Dan

  3. #3

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    Re: Best enlarging lenses

    Take a look at Ctein’s Post Exposure http://ctein.com/PostExposure2ndIllustrated.pdf

    I used a Nikon 135mm f/5.6 EL for a while when my enlarger was height limited. It was excellent. I now use the 150mm version as well as a 150mm f/5.6 Rodagon and both are also excellent and even with a loupe I can’t tell them apart. Just get a 6 element lens from the big manufacturers and you won’t go wrong. If you are height constrained go with a 135mm, otherwise 150mm is going to be more even.

    For 35mm the 50mm f/2.8 lenses from Nikon, Schneider and Rodenstock are all good. Avoid the f/4 versions.

  4. #4

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    Re: Best enlarging lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Wellman View Post
    What are good enlarging lenses to get? Are most major lens makers fairly good or is there a difference? I'd like something for my 35mm and 4x5.
    If you ask this, then right question is: What are the good darkroom techniques ?

    All nikon, scheneider and rodenstock enlarging gear is crazy good, even that from the 1970s or even older.

    It takes a long trip for a printer to take advantage of top lens performance, and always a good printer will make perfect prints with not the best lenses. Some jobs require special lenses, but you may spend years until you find any advantage from best lenses.


    I bought old Rodenstocks 210 and a 240 that were as they had fall from an airplane in flight, and they are crazy good. I metered its performance and got amazed.

    As enlarging lenses are now cheap you may get 6 element models. This is Rodagons instead Rogonars, or Componons instead Componars and Comparons. For 35mm the Nikon EL 50 2.8 is amazingly excellent, for LF I'd take Rodagons, but many have separations, avoid those having that problem. Componons are also good

    It is nice if lens is mint, but some scratches in the glass doesn't matter at all. For the moment I'd pick relatively cheap glass, when you know what you want and why you may invest more.


    In the future you may get a Rogadon N perhaps, but for sure I'd start with a plain Rodagon or a Componon, or late model Componon-S, it's very difficult to see any difference.

    As noted by Larry, Ctein's book is a very good source, some advanced information on it is a bit controversial, as always, for example Rodagon N doesn't shine much over the plain Rodagon, but it is not told in what conditions the expensive version would shine, this is for monster prints requiring a large aperture to not have LIRF in the paper. You don't need an N until you are printing mural prints and you have lots of practice, a level me I don't have.

  5. #5
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Best enlarging lenses

    Wide angle for large enlargement from 35mm.

    I have a shot made with and old Leica 35mm that was enlarged to poster size. Amazing at 5 ft. Made in 1983 by mail order, Had to be a good WA enlarging lens.

    https://www.shutterbug.com/content/d...nlarger-lenses
    sin eater

  6. #6

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    Re: Best enlarging lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Pere Casals View Post
    If you ask this, then right question is: What are the good darkroom techniques ?

    All nikon, scheneider and rodenstock enlarging gear is crazy good, even that from the 1970s or even older.

    It takes a long trip for a printer to take advantage of top lens performance, and always a good printer will make perfect prints with not the best lenses. Some jobs require special lenses, but you may spend years until you find any advantage from best lenses.


    I bought old Rodenstocks 210 and a 240 that were as they had fall from an airplane in flight, and they are crazy good. I metered its performance and got amazed.

    As enlarging lenses are now cheap you may get 6 element models. This is Rodagons instead Rogonars, or Componons instead Componars and Comparons. For 35mm the Nikon EL 50 2.8 is amazingly excellent, for LF I'd take Rodagons, but many have separations, avoid those having that problem. Componons are also good

    It is nice if lens is mint, but some scratches in the glass doesn't matter at all. For the moment I'd pick relatively cheap glass, when you know what you want and why you may invest more.


    In the future you may get a Rogadon N perhaps, but for sure I'd start with a plain Rodagon or a Componon, or late model Componon-S, it's very difficult to see any difference.

    As noted by Larry, Ctein's book is a very good source, some advanced information on it is a bit controversial, as always, for example Rodagon N doesn't shine much over the plain Rodagon, but it is not told in what conditions the expensive version would shine, this is for monster prints requiring a large aperture to not have LIRF in the paper. You don't need an N until you are printing mural prints and you have lots of practice, a level me I don't have.
    Rodagon G is for mural prints
    Apo Rodagon N is best for everything else. Closely followed by Rodagon WA and the Rodagon.

  7. #7

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    Re: Best enlarging lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Salomon View Post
    Rodagon G is for mural prints
    Apo Rodagon N is best for everything else. Closely followed by Rodagon WA and the Rodagon.
    Thanks for the correction. Anyway I can't imagine a LF negative outresolving a plain Rodagon. Bob, honestly, being the the plain Rodadon as good as it is I don't realize how Rodenstock was selling the more expensive lenses.

    I state this after checking what a plain and old Rodagon is able.

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    The damn thing (the 210mm) was taking 145 lp/mm from the film plane... not a joke.

    50cm prints are totally sharp even if inspected with a x4 loupe, I dindn't know what was a true sharp print until I started enlarging LF negatives.

  8. #8

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    Re: Best enlarging lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Pere Casals View Post
    Thanks for the correction. Anyway I can't imagine a LF negative outresoving a plain Rodagon. Bob, honestly, being the the plain Rodadon as good as it is I don't realize how Rodenstock was selling the more expensive lenses.

    I state this after checking what a plain and old Rodagon is able.
    Then try the Apo Rodagon N for most prints and the G for mural prints. With a properly aligned enlarger, glass carrier and optimal magnification and f stop you will see differences!

  9. #9

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    Re: Best enlarging lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Salomon View Post
    Then try the Apo Rodagon N for most prints and the G for mural prints. With a properly aligned enlarger, glass carrier and optimal magnification and f stop you will see differences!
    Sure the N/G have advantages, but if the plain Rodagon outresolves the sharpest negatives, what will be the benefit of using an N ? beyond having a faster lens...

    Sure a Pro would want an N, the 1 stop faster max aperture allows for a more critical focusing and allows for shorter exposures for big prints... but regarding image quality, I don't realize how a better lens than the plain Rodagon would improve the print...

    The advantage I see is the larger aperture for focus and at peak performance...

    Perhaps for small formats the N advantage is easier to see, in fact N was made until 150mm only...

  10. #10
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: Best enlarging lenses

    I use Apo Rodagon lenses for all my work, I found them to be superior to regular Rodagon lenses... for medium format negatives my favourite by far is the Apo Rodagon 90's.
    If I can get away with it I prefer slightly larger focal length , it allows the negative to be covered better IMO.

    80mm for 35mm negs though I do use Apo 50 for this as well

    90mm for medium format

    150mm for 4 x 5 but I have bought a 180mm Apo that covers nicely.


    I think these are great lenses.

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