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Thread: Tominon lenses > useful or useless?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    Tominon lenses > useful or useless?

    I have the 135, 75 and 50mm tominon lenses in excellent condition. I originally bought them to try some 35mm macro work, but I have moved on since and so I wonder whether they would be of any use on 4x5 or 8x10 or should I liquidate them?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2001

    Re: Tominon lenses > useful or useless?

    The short answer is, there are better macro lenses than the MP-4 Tominons, especially than the 135. I've had, IIRC, three 135s and they were all pretty poor. The 75 and 50 aren't the best but they're very usable and even now are very cost-effective. In other words, you won't get much for them. I repeat, the 75 and 50 are very usable. See the macro lens section of

    All of the Tominon lenses for the Polaroid MP-4 -- are those the ones you have? If they are, they're in barrel. -- will cover 4x5 at their recommended ranges of magnifications. They'll all cover 8x10 at 2x the minimum magnification that covers 4x5.

    MP-4 Tominons' recommended magnifications, from MP-4 documentation
    focal length (min magnification to cover 4x5) recommended magnifications type

    135 mm 1x - 3x Tessar
    105 mm 1x - 4x Tessar
    75 mm (2x) 2x - 6.5x reversed Tessar
    50 mm (2x) 2x - 9.8x 6 group symmetric triplet (sic)
    35 mm (5x) 5x - 14x reversed Tessar
    17 mm (10x) 10x - 32x 6 element 4 group

  3. #3
    photobymike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Tampa Florida

    Re: Tominon lenses > useful or useless?

    i think they are copy lenses... they have a flat field of focus ... not really good for a field camera ... i think polaroid used them on their MP4 copy camera.... but i am not an expert on lenses and i have never owned one .... i can see by other answers there are a lot of really knowledgable people out there on these lenses

  4. #4
    cyberjunkie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Bologna, Amsterdam, Chiang Mai
    Dan wrote almost everything you need to know about MP-4's Tominons.
    I am adding something he probably took for granted:
    all these lenses fit in front of any standard No.1 shutter, not just the original Polaroid shutter (which is very good for front-mounting small barrel lenses, but can't be used as "central" shutter because it lacks the diaphragm).
    The lenses of the older Polaroid MP-3 camera were made the standard way, with two cells and a shutter for each lens.
    I own a couple of Rodenstock lenses made for the MP-3, which are considered somewhat inferior to the later Tominons, but i had no chance to test them on LF, because using very short focals (with very high reproduction ratios) can be a real nightmare.
    I have to make an adapter to use both generation of lenses, especially the shorter focals, on a smaller format, like 6x7 or 4.5x6. The 35mm and 17mm can be very useful for macro work on 35mm or DSLR cameras
    As Dan pointed out, the short focals are better than the longer ones.
    Nevertheless, shooting macro in 4x5" is an art in itself, and using a 17mm is... well, acrobatic
    The bigger hurdles are the illumination technique, and the control of camera vibrations.
    have fun

    WTB (and pay good monet for):
    soft back cell for Ilex Photoplastic 5x7
    disks for Imagon 420mm
    5x7 back for Calumet C1
    5x7 conversion for Bi-System

    for sale

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 2001

    Re: Tominon lenses > useful or useless?

    cj, I've found flash very useful for stopping motion. Not that hard to use, either, although when I set out to use flash closeup I didn't understand what I was doing and so was more frightened of it and intimidated by it than I should have been. Trial and error, calculations, and practice all helped me learn.

    I see advice here and elsewhere to the effect that closeup work with flash requires extremely powerful flashes. I don't see why, I've got good enough results with tiny little ones.

    Re 35/4.5 Tominons, in my experience they're a little variable. To be fair to Tomioka, I think that some of the variability was due to internal schmutz. With these lenses, as with longer used LF lenses, condition is very important. But yes, a decent 35/4.5 Tominon is very usable and usually a good value too. I'd rather have one than a 32 B&L Micro Tessar.

    I've had two 17/4 Tominons, sold both. They're not bad lenses at all but the 16/2.5 Luminar and 19/2.8 Macro Nikkor -- I've played with both, both are out of my price range -- are considerably better, also considerably more expensive. I've kept a $6 19.5/3.85 B&L microfilm reader lens for those times when I really need absurd magnifications. At the magnifications these lenses are made for, stopping down is all loss. Shoot 'em wide open or don't use 'em. That microfilm reader lens' fixed aperture isn't a problem.

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