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Thread: Linhof Apo-Lanthar 210mm - Duftige Schärfe "fluffy sharpness" - Open Aperture Test

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    Linhof Apo-Lanthar 210mm - Duftige Schärfe "fluffy sharpness" - Open Aperture Test

    Posting this for reference and thoughts - Found some threads and talk here about Linhof Apo-Lanthars and their Duftige Schärfe "fluffy sharpness" – I wondered do they have something different that makes them desirable against other lenses and had the opportunity to get one?

    I acquired a Linhof version Voigtlander Apo-Lanthar 210mm in essence free as part of a 4x5 kit with multiple lenses. Bought the kit becasue I saw it within and sold off the other bits for the price I paid - It is mounted in a Compound shutter, which worried me at first because of age and then realised that its multi blade aperture is potentially a big advantage to the look of the results and its probably best in this combination - its actually functions pretty well still. Its a Linhof version so has bigger 60mm diameter to the front - needs slip on filters as has no thread, but found a solution in the Canon S60 60mm slip on hoods which take a 58mm filter slipped inside them and seem appropriate for the focal length (thought it may help any flair as well given the probable single coating). Definitely a radioactive one as it has a strong tea colour stain to the front element group.

    Had a space in the process tank yesterday whilst working on another project and shot and processed a test sheet with it to see what the hype is about. Scanned using calibrated Microtek i900 @ 2000dpi dng. Loaded into Lightroom with 100 sharpness to deal with the scanners softness and set in less highlight and more shadow detail as it felt a little too contrasty and a bit over exposed/processed/scanned - see settings on the right. Background is a wall of ivy appx 3 to 4 foot behind - taken in walled yard, so lots of down light - 1/50 sec (don't think its has any model movement in it) at f4.5, Fomapan 200 (metered at 80 ASA with invercone) in semi stand Rodinal 1:100. This is not meant to be a scientific test, just a 'what do I think of it at open aperture and does it look interesting test', so no multiple apertures or same subject with other lenses to compare - one shot, sorry.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Link to full res screen grab here http://dglockwood.com/wp-content/upl...19-07-23-2.jpg

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    Link to full res screen grab here http://dglockwood.com/wp-content/upl...2019-07-23.jpg

    Image 2 would give you the screen look of an A2ish print size and image 3 a 90x112cm ish size - all look acceptably sharp to me for a portrait - bigger than this probably not.

    So my opinion - it is very slightly soft at open aperture when really enlarged (would probably sharpen up stopped down a bit more) but wanted to see what the maximum bokeh/focus transition looked like. There is a 'fluffyness' or haze/flair to small highlight details of hair - I have seen this before shooting wide open on older lenses such as the Nikon AI 35mm f1.4 (again would probably go when stopped down), but its not unpleasant. It looks to make nice images, probably less clinical than modern lenses and has a smoothness to the tone and rendering which looks to work well with portraits.

    How does this compare to Heliars or Tessar types etc (I only have plasmats and this) for portraits?

  2. #2
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Linhof Apo-Lanthar 210mm - Duftige Schärfe "fluffy sharpness" - Open Aperture Tes

    It's difficult making useful generalizations, since these lenses have been made for a very long time, and there are myriad variations. For example, a Heliar in a shutter with a very round aperture, perhaps a waterhouse stop, might render background differently than one in a modern shutter, where the aperture isn't round. So apertures, coatings, flare properties of the mount....all these apply, and then there's the different uses. Printing characteristics are strongly affected by printing magnification, and lighting has a huge effect, such as hard/soft, contrasty/low contrast..... In general, uncoated lenses have more flare. The big jump was from no coating to single coating. There's a much smaller jump from single coated lenses to multi-coated ones. Older lenses, especially portrait ones, were often optimized for wider apertures than more modern LF lenses, as the later were predominantly used in commercial studios where depth of field was more important than out-of-focus rendering. Some people seem to hate on Plasmats for portraits, but I've seen some terrific portraits made with them. People like to feel that they have the secret knowledge. "If only that portrait had been made with a Heliar! Then it would be sublime. Since it was taken with a plasmat, it should be thrown out." I suspect that most of this stuff is delusional, the more elaborate and Byzantine the theoretical justification, the more likely to be a load of hooey. This is not to say that there aren't differences, but so many seem to blow them out of proportion.
    Please stop feeding the trolls.

  3. #3
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Linhof Apo-Lanthar 210mm - Duftige Schärfe "fluffy sharpness" - Open Aperture Tes

    Quote Originally Posted by Lockwod View Post
    So my opinion - it is very slightly soft at open aperture when really enlarged (would probably sharpen up stopped down a bit more) but wanted to see what the maximum bokeh/focus transition looked like. There is a 'fluffyness' or haze/flair to small highlight details of hair - I have seen this before shooting wide open on older lenses such as the Nikon AI 35mm f1.4 (again would probably go when stopped down), but its not unpleasant. It looks to make nice images, probably less clinical than modern lenses and has a smoothness to the tone and rendering which looks to work well with portraits.
    I believe that's mostly spherical aberration.

    Lucky find on the 21cm. It gets discussed here occasionally. I have one, haven't used it in a while but I need to cut a lens board for my new 5x7 and put it on there - would probably be beautiful.

    The APO Lanthars have a certain quality to them. I've said it in the past, but they really have open shadows compared to other lenses, vintage or modern, and a certain soft-but-sharp quality (I mean at normal apertures, not necessarily wide-open). Most here will say they are no better than anything else so are vastly overpriced. My opinion is that they seem to bridge the gap between the classic and modern look lenses. I mean, I suppose if a Heliar and APO Symmar had a baby, it'd be a Lanthar.

    Agree with Peter too.
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    Re: Linhof Apo-Lanthar 210mm - Duftige Schärfe "fluffy sharpness" - Open Aperture Tes

    the scan is not sharp, I guess.

    Inspect the negative with a x20 magnifier, or make a contact copy and also apply the magnifier. Or make a good scan.

    To judge the lens I'd use TMX, f/11 and a more dirct illumination.

    You also may attach a DSLR in the view camera back, just fix a macro extension ring in a lens board and place that in the back of a monorail, substituting the graflock.


    An APO Lanthar is an exquisite lens, it is a Super-Heliar. While it has the same supreme bokeh Heliars sport at the same time these are very sharp lenses for their era, not worse than modern plasmats in practice. Chris Pérez measured peak 67Lp/mm performance at f/16-22, not bad for a 1960s glass, many modern LF lenses don't reach that.


    You may expect similar practical image quality than with modern plasmats but with an smoother Out Of Focus. APO Lanthars are single coated, you know that this also has an impact depending on the scene, good for portraiture, for landscape it may require a shade.


    The Compund is a very reliable shutter, but don't try to cock it in B/T positions, if you make force you brake it. Also aperture iris is made of paper, so immersing the shutter in ether (DIY shutter repair) will kill the diafragm.


    hmmm, nice glass, if one loves bokeh.

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    Re: Linhof Apo-Lanthar 210mm - Duftige Schärfe "fluffy sharpness" - Open Aperture Tes

    Quote Originally Posted by Pere Casals View Post
    the scan is not sharp.


    Inspect the negative with a x20 magnifier, or make a contact copy and also apply the magnifier. Or make a good scan.


    You also may attach a DSLR in the view camera back, just fix a macro extension ring in a lens board and place that in the back of a monorail, substituting the graflock.


    An APO Lanthar is an exquisite lens, it is a Super-Heliar. While it has the same supreme bokeh Heliars sport at the same time these are very sharp lenses for their era, not worse than modern plasmats in practice. Chris Pérez measured peak 67Lp/mm performance at f/16-22, not bad for a 1960s glass, many modern LF lenses don't reach that.


    You may expect similar practical image quality than with modern plasmats but with an smoother Out Of Focus. APO Lanthars are single coated, you know that this also has an impact depending on the scene, good for portraiture, for landscape it may require a shade.


    The Compund is a very reliable shutter, but don't try to cock it in B/T positions, if you make force you brake it. Also aperture iris is made of paper, so immersing the shutter in ether (DIY shutter repair) will kill the diafragm.


    hmmm, nice glass, if one loves bokeh.
    Chris must have been using the good loupe and tested it in the morning, after breakfast, while his eyes weren’t tired! But his test does not tell you anything other then how it performs when shooting newspapers mounted on a board. Very few here do that.

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    Re: Linhof Apo-Lanthar 210mm - Duftige Schärfe "fluffy sharpness" - Open Aperture Tes

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Salomon View Post
    Chris must have been using the good loupe and tested it in the morning, after breakfast, while his eyes weren’t tired! But his test does not tell you anything other then how it performs when shooting newspapers mounted on a board. Very few here do that.
    Bob, those APO Lanthars are sharp...

    See 150mm Voigtländer Lanthar versus Sironar-S section : https://www.largeformatphotography.i...rtrait-lenses/

    "At f5.6, the Lanthar and the Sironar-S are equally sharp. Stopped further down, the Lanthar is very sharp too, although a little less than the Sironar-S. The Lanthar is at f5.6 less contrasty than the Sironar-S (but almost equal at smaller apertures), and it features superior bokeh."

    A good review, IMHO.

  7. #7

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    Re: Linhof Apo-Lanthar 210mm - Duftige Schärfe "fluffy sharpness" - Open Aperture Tes

    Quote Originally Posted by Pere Casals View Post
    Bob, those APO Lanthars are sharp...

    See 150mm Voigtländer Lanthar versus Sironar-S section : https://www.largeformatphotography.i...rtrait-lenses/

    "At f5.6, the Lanthar and the Sironar-S are equally sharp. Stopped further down, the Lanthar is very sharp too, although a little less than the Sironar-S. The Lanthar is at f5.6 less contrasty than the Sironar-S (but almost equal at smaller apertures), and it features superior bokeh."

    A good review, IMHO.
    Especially since the Apo Sironar S hits optimal performance at 22 and Rodenstock never claimed how performed at 5.6. Don’t believe Voightander did either, but it is more then 40 years since we were the Zeiss Ikon Voightlander distributor.

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    Re: Linhof Apo-Lanthar 210mm - Duftige Schärfe "fluffy sharpness" - Open Aperture Tes

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Salomon View Post
    Especially since the Apo Sironar S hits optimal performance at 22 and Rodenstock never claimed how performed at 5.6. Don’t believe Voightander did either, but it is more then 40 years since we were the Zeiss Ikon Voightlander distributor.
    Bob, you have been in many wars

    I guess that by then the LF APO Lanthar had to be discontinued...

    Anyway the APO Lanthar's sweet bokeh surrounding a sharp subject and fine textures... this is an strong point !

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    Re: Linhof Apo-Lanthar 210mm - Duftige Schärfe "fluffy sharpness" - Open Aperture Tes

    Previously the OP on a thread about Apo-Lanthars
    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...ht=apo+lanthar

    also another thread at
    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...2C+kodak+ektar

    So finally was able to get on trial/loan with potential to buy a 210 Apo-Lanthar. Shot some B&W landscapes side by side with a 210mm Nikkor W and a 210 G-Claron (non-Dagor) at f/32. Apo-Lanthar had the least contrast. G-Claron was the sharpest but not by enough to matter to me. In the end stuck with the Nikkor. I don't shoot portraits, so probably not a good comparison for portrait a photographer. Possibly the Apo-Lanthar would excel for shooting portraits?

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    Re: Linhof Apo-Lanthar 210mm - Duftige Schärfe "fluffy sharpness" - Open Aperture Tes

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg View Post
    Possibly the Apo-Lanthar would excel for shooting portraits?
    IMHO it excels when wanting the kind of defocus smoothness the Apo-Lanthar delivers, for portraiture or for other subjects. If a photographer usually places all scene in focus then this won't be seen much.

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