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Thread: Astragon 360mm f/4.5: What do I have here?

  1. #1

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    Astragon 360mm f/4.5: What do I have here?

    Hey all, I have come into a friendís grandfatherís Sinar P 8x10 kit on indefinite loan, and have been curious about one of the lenses it came with. It actually came with several, but the rest are quite well documented. One lens it came with is an absolutely massive Astragon 360/4.5, and I can find absolutely zero evidence that Yamasaki ever made this lens, aside from, well, having one that says Y.O. Japan on the back. The only other lens I can find of these specs is the Universal Heliar 360/4.5, and looking at the groups I can remove off of this one, I think it might actually be a clone. Iíve played around with it a bit, it appears to have a massive image circle, and is quite sharp with some real excellent bokeh. Has anyone run into one of these/got more info?Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2

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    Re: Astragon 360mm f/4.5: What do I have here?

    Don't look a gift horse in the mouth!

  3. #3

    Re: Astragon 360mm f/4.5: What do I have here?

    WOW. Looks like a giganto Tessar type maybe? Bet it draws nicely. F4.5 might be a give away
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  4. #4

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    Re: Astragon 360mm f/4.5: What do I have here?

    To tell the difference between a Heliar type and a Tessar type, count reflections.

    The Tessar front cell consists of two singlets, so has four air-glass interfaces and no glass-cement-glass interfaces. Four strong reflections, no weak reflections. The Tessar rear cell is a cemented doublet, so has two air-glass interfaces and one glass-cement-glass interface. Two strong reflections, one weak, which may be hard to discern.

    The Heliar is a little more complex. One cell consists of a cemented doublet and a singlet, four strong reflections and one weak. The other cell is a cemented doublet. Which combination is in front varies with the lens model and maker. Voigtlaender seems to have put the doublet in front of the diaphragm, the doublet and singlet behind.

    Arne Croell (see www.arnecroell.com/voigtlaender.pdf) reports "The Universal-Heliar (table 4) was a real soft focus lens, where the biconcave center element was moveable with a ring at the front of the lens to adjust the soft focus effect (fig. 5)." OP, if your lens is a Heliar type, does the biconcave singlet move?

    Yamasaki made a 360/4.5 Tessar type. OP, it's hard to be sure, but I suspect that's what you have. Please count reflections etc. and report back.

  5. #5

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    Re: Astragon 360mm f/4.5: What do I have here?

    If I remember properly that was a private label brand name of Sterling Howard.

  6. #6
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    Re: Astragon 360mm f/4.5: What do I have here?

    It's a big, fast Japanese-made Tessar. Few modern/coated Tessars were made of that size and speed, as they were too large to fit into any modern shutter, but Schneider made a few modern coated Xenar (Tessar) in these specs. Zeiss probably made a few too. But earlier uncoated Tessars like that were fairly common from Wollensak, Ilex, and others.

    Should be a very nice lens.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  7. #7

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    Re: Astragon 360mm f/4.5: What do I have here?

    Thanks for the info, Dan! Took a look earlier and it appears you’re right, the reflections per group match up to what you said about the Tessar design. Honestly, as soon as I wrote the original post I looked up the Universal Heliar and ruled it out just because this doesn’t have a floating element. I’m so used to Tessars being kind of a bland (but sharp) lens from small format stuff, but this huge thing sure seems to make some great images. I’m actually having a friend by later to run some test portraits with a few of the lenses I have, as I’d really love to compare and contrast between this, the Apo-Nikkors I have, and the 35” RDA.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm View Post
    To tell the difference between a Heliar type and a Tessar type, count reflections.

    The Tessar front cell consists of two singlets, so has four air-glass interfaces and no glass-cement-glass interfaces. Four strong reflections, no weak reflections. The Tessar rear cell is a cemented doublet, so has two air-glass interfaces and one glass-cement-glass interface. Two strong reflections, one weak, which may be hard to discern.

    The Heliar is a little more complex. One cell consists of a cemented doublet and a singlet, four strong reflections and one weak. The other cell is a cemented doublet. Which combination is in front varies with the lens model and maker. Voigtlaender seems to have put the doublet in front of the diaphragm, the doublet and singlet behind.

    Arne Croell (see www.arnecroell.com/voigtlaender.pdf) reports "The Universal-Heliar (table 4) was a real soft focus lens, where the biconcave center element was moveable with a ring at the front of the lens to adjust the soft focus effect (fig. 5)." OP, if your lens is a Heliar type, does the biconcave singlet move?

    Yamasaki made a 360/4.5 Tessar type. OP, it's hard to be sure, but I suspect that's what you have. Please count reflections etc. and report back.

  8. #8

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    Re: Astragon 360mm f/4.5: What do I have here?

    A quick search gives me the following info.
    https://alter.com/trademarks/astragon-72382183
    https://archive.org/details/sim_popu...oward+astragon

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Tessar design, made by Y.O. that stands for Yamasaki Optical company, I believe.

  9. #9

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    Re: Astragon 360mm f/4.5: What do I have here?

    Tessar -vs- APO nikkor, APO artar and ...
    Depends on exposure aperture needed. Higher or lower contrast is also releative to image goals.

    Likely discover the 360mm Yamasaki Astragon does good in to out of focus rendition at f4.5 to about f11. Smaller exposure apertures with majority of the image in percieved focus makes lesser differnce. The Astragon likely has a round iris which helps smooth in to out of focus rendition. Lens personality is likley to be similar to this 360mm f4.5 Schneider Xenar.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    There are many reasons why the Tessar design/formula has been in production for so many decades by so may lens brands.. The Tessar would have died out long ago if not for some image personalty that has kept it so very popular for foto images..

    As for APO nikkor, APO artar (ala Red Dot), they are best at f16 to f45. Differnt lens for a differnt image goal/need. Neither is IMO better or lesser..

    For comparasions, what might be the metric as the basis for comparison (color, B&W or ?).. and how might these comparisons be done?


    Bernice




    Quote Originally Posted by gordi View Post
    Iím so used to Tessars being kind of a bland (but sharp) lens from small format stuff, but this huge thing sure seems to make some great images. Iím actually having a friend by later to run some test portraits with a few of the lenses I have, as Iíd really love to compare and contrast between this, the Apo-Nikkors I have, and the 35Ē RDA.

  10. #10

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    Re: Astragon 360mm f/4.5: What do I have here?

    I was just going to have some friends sit in for portraits, I'm looking to compare out of focus rendition characteristics of everything I have just to have a good idea of what to bring along ahead of time when I drag the whole rig around, I'd like to find some shorter bellows/rails as well so I think the Astragon is going to be quite a go-to, but I just developed some frames of a friend sitting in for me on the RDA at f/22 the other night, next job is to scan em!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernice Loui View Post
    Tessar -vs- APO nikkor, APO artar and ...
    Depends on exposure aperture needed. Higher or lower contrast is also releative to image goals.

    Likely discover the 360mm Yamasaki Astragon does good in to out of focus rendition at f4.5 to about f11. Smaller exposure apertures with majority of the image in percieved focus makes lesser differnce. The Astragon likely has a round iris which helps smooth in to out of focus rendition. Lens personality is likley to be similar to this 360mm f4.5 Schneider Xenar.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	360mm_Xenar_done.jpg 
Views:	28 
Size:	42.1 KB 
ID:	231564

    There are many reasons why the Tessar design/formula has been in production for so many decades by so may lens brands.. The Tessar would have died out long ago if not for some image personalty that has kept it so very popular for foto images..

    As for APO nikkor, APO artar (ala Red Dot), they are best at f16 to f45. Differnt lens for a differnt image goal/need. Neither is IMO better or lesser..

    For comparasions, what might be the metric as the basis for comparison (color, B&W or ?).. and how might these comparisons be done?


    Bernice

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