Enlarging Lenses?

Started Jun 7, 2009 | Discussions
Soenda
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Enlarging Lenses?
Jun 7, 2009

I see many enlarging lenses for sale on eBay, and I started wondering. With the capabilities of today's scanners. is there really any need for enlarging lenses today?
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luxor2
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Re: Enlarging Lenses?
In reply to Soenda, Jun 8, 2009

The better lenses make outstanding macro lenses,flat field and well corrected. Just have to use in manual mode. Many have leica screw thread and can be adapted to extension tubes,etc.

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Soenda
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Re: Enlarging Lenses?
In reply to luxor2, Jun 8, 2009

That is very handy to know! I was looking for macro lenses when I first noticed the enlarging lenses. An untapped resource! Thanks very much.

luxor2 wrote:

The better lenses make outstanding macro lenses,flat field and well
corrected. Just have to use in manual mode. Many have leica screw
thread and can be adapted to extension tubes,etc.

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harrygilbert
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Re: Enlarging Lenses?
In reply to Soenda, Jun 8, 2009

You won't really appreciate digital until you shoot film and do your own darkroom work, all the way through the printing cycle. I've got a fully-equipped color darkroom sitting here unused for 10 years......but I can't quite let it go. Too many fond memories.

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Bob Sal
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Re: Enlarging Lenses?
In reply to Soenda, Jun 8, 2009

There still is a market for enlargers, not nearly as large as in the past but it is still there. And a scanner can't substitute for an enlarger in the darkroom for those who still want to use one.

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sherwoodpete
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Re: Enlarging Lenses?
In reply to Bob Sal, Jun 8, 2009

Bob Sal wrote:

There still is a market for enlargers, not nearly as large as in the
past but it is still there. And a scanner can't substitute for an
enlarger in the darkroom for those who still want to use one.

Exactly. An enlarging lens (with an enlarger) is used to make prints. And that is the finished product.

A scanner is used for some totally different purpose, it is an input device, rather than for creating output.

Regards,
Peter

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Joseph S Wisniewski
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Macro lenses and UV photography...
In reply to Soenda, Jun 8, 2009

Soenda wrote:

I see many enlarging lenses for sale on eBay, and I started
wondering. With the capabilities of today's scanners. is there really
any need for enlarging lenses today?

I was driving somewhere, when I saw an enlarger on the curb, cold, and forlorn, sitting with the trash. I stopped, examined it, asked myself if I needed another enlarger, if it could be used as a copy stand, etc.

It had a lens, so I took that, and left everything else...

Enlarger lenses are a boon. Because of the virtual death of film, you can now pick up amazing lenses that used to go for $300-1000 for 5-10 cents on the dollar, $25-50 for really good ones is typical. Good enlarger lenses are built to very high precision, often much higher than "general purpose" photographic lenses. Nikon used to churn out over a million 50mm f1.8 lenses a year, for $69 each. At the same time, they were building the slower, simpler 50mm f2.8 El-Nikkor enlarger lens and selling it for $325. Part of that price difference is simply the smaller quantity. But part is the higher precision with which they made the El-Nikkor.

You have to research what to buy. There are two main reasons for using enlarger lenses, macro and UV photography. Some of them (not all, so you have to be picky) are as sharp as any modern macro lens. On the right bellows, they can be used for tilt and shift movements, like a little view camera. I frequently use a 105mm El-Nikkor (from Nikon's famed Spanish operation on a PB-4 bellows for product work.

The enlarger lenses are optimized for magnifications from about 1:4 to 1:20 for short lenses like a 50mm, or 1:1 to 1:6 for long lenses like a 135mm. That's so that they can print a range from about 4x5 to 16x20 prints.

On a bellows or extension tubes, a 105mm or 135mm lens can do quite well over a magnification range from about 1:20 (subject 6 feet away) to 2:1 (2x magnification). Some of these lenses like to be reverse mounted when you go past 1x. Others are symmetrical, and you can quite happily crank them from 6 feet all the way to 2x without needing to reverse them. My 105mm El-Nikkor is like that. Others, like a 105mm Schneider that I have, need to be reversed past 1:1.

My shorter lenses, 50mm f2.8 El-Nikkor and 63mm f3.5 El-Nikkor seem to need to be reversed past 1:1.

There are often reasons to reverse mount lenses that don't need it. Many enlarger lenses have a little window on the back that "siphons" light from the enlarger and uses it to light up the aperture numbers. The window needs to be blocked off when "forward" mounting enlarger lenses, or it creates a "light leak" into the tubes or bellows and causes veiling flare.

When the lens is reverse mounted, this can't happen. And reverse mounting involves lower cost, easier ro get hardware. The typical mount is on a reversing ring that fits the bellows or tubes, then a step-up ring from 40.5mm to whatever size threads their reverse mount has. You can usually get both those items at a local camera store, or online from someone like B&H.

I use a Nikon BR-2 ring on a PB-4 bellows. The BR-2 ring has a 52mm thread, so I use a 40.5-52mm step-up ring for a reversed enlarger lens.

The other use is for ultraviolet photography. Black and white printing paper is actually more sensitive to ultraviolet than to visible light. So, for the fastest and sharpest printing, enlarger lenses pass this UV, and they're optimized to focus near UV and visible blue and green into the same plane. So using an enlarger lens to capture the "invisible" UV markings on flowers means tou don't have to worry about focus shift or softer pictures.

Bjørn Rørslett is a master of doing this.

http://www.naturfotograf.com/index2.html

http://www.naturfotograf.com/uvstart.html#top

He describes his use of the 63mm f3.5 El-Nikkor, which caused this particular enlarger lens to skyrocket in value, often going for over $100 used. There are many other enlarger lenses that perform quite well for UV work: I've had good luck with older specimens of both the 50mm and 105mm El-Nikkors, the older versions without the silly aperture illumination system.

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Soenda
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Re: Macro lenses and UV photography...
In reply to Joseph S Wisniewski, Jun 8, 2009

Thank you, Joseph, for your expansive and thoughtful reply. It's tantalizing to discover all these new (to me) optical avenues to photography. I had never even entertained the notion of UV photography before, but I have seen some of the marvelous photos. It's nearly voyeuristic suddenly to be able to see what only the bees could before.

One thing that's been bothering me about reverse mounting is the potential for damaging that inner element of the lens. Logic tells me that it's not covered with the same sort of protective coatings as the front of the lens. And yet as I bumble around, trying to juggle lighting, subject and manual focusing, I constantly worry that I'm going to scratch up that inner lens.

Which leads me to this question. Are there any transparent, protective filters available for the "front end" of a reverse set up? Not knowing what to call it, I haven't had any luck looking for one.

Thanks for any light you can shed on this.

S.
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Joseph S Wisniewski
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The "sanity adapter"...
In reply to Soenda, Jun 8, 2009

Soenda wrote:

Thank you, Joseph, for your expansive and thoughtful reply.

You are quite welcome.

It's
tantalizing to discover all these new (to me) optical avenues to
photography. I had never even entertained the notion of UV
photography before, but I have seen some of the marvelous photos.
It's nearly voyeuristic suddenly to be able to see what only the bees
could before.

One thing that's been bothering me about reverse mounting is the
potential for damaging that inner element of the lens. Logic tells me
that it's not covered with the same sort of protective coatings as
the front of the lens.

The coatings are pretty much the same, front and back. They're not very "protective', their purpose is the reduction of flare and improvement of contrast.

And yet as I bumble around, trying to juggle
lighting, subject and manual focusing, I constantly worry that I'm
going to scratch up that inner lens.

That's the nice thing about paying $25 for a 50mm f2.8 El-Nikkor on eBay. It's cheaper than a good brand 40.5mm "protective" filter. So, instead of scratching up and replacing $39 filters, I only replace $25 lenses

Which leads me to this question. Are there any transparent,
protective filters available for the "front end" of a reverse set up?

Only for "regular" lenses, not enlarger lenses. When I reverse my 20mm f2.8 Nikkor, I use a gadget called the BR-3 adapter, that snaps onto the back of a reversed Nikon and provides 52mm threads for a UV filter, polarizer, etc.

At least one macro photography book refers to the Nikon BR-3 as the "sanity adapter".

There's a way to make a sanity adapter for a reversed enlarging lens, really inexpensively. There is a gadget called an "M39 jam nut" or an "enlarger lens jam nut". I got mine at B&H years ago. It's a ring 47.5mm in diameter, with an M39 hole in the center, threaded for an enlarger lens.

I took a 49mm filter (a really, really cheap one), unscrewed the filter retainer (some filter retainers "snap" in with springs), and removed the glass disc. The jam nut fit perfectly where the glass went. I screwed the retainer back in, and viola! a 49mm filter holder for a reversed enlarger lens.

Not knowing what to call it, I haven't had any luck looking for one.

Thanks for any light you can shed on this.

Well, I'm not sure what to call it, either, but I know how to make one

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Rahon Klavanian 1912-2008.

Armenian genocide survivor, amazing cook, scrabble master, and loving grandmother. You will be missed.

Ciao! Joseph

http://www.swissarmyfork.com

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mark_rehorst
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Re: Enlarging Lenses?
In reply to Soenda, Jun 9, 2009

You can use enlarging lenses, especially large-format enlarging lenses, to make a digital camera using a scanner. I will be starting such a project in the next couple weeks, when school is out for the summer. I have an Eskofot Ultragon copy/enlarging lens (from ebay- $75) that has an 16-18" image circle and a Canon LIDE scanner (Craig's list- $15) ready to go. I will need to make a lens board, bellows, and frame to hold it all together. When it is finished it will be a 512 MP digital camera. Do a search for "scanner camera" and you'll find a bunch of links to sites that have info. Here are a some links that I had located a few months ago when I started looking into this:

http://www.stockholmviews.com/diyphotogear/scannercamera.html
http://www.photo-vinc.com/articles/Flatbedscanner/Flatbedscanner.html
http://www.sentex.net/~mwandel/tech/scanner.html
http://www.lensculture.com/mt_files/archives/000060.html
http://people.rit.edu/andpph/text-demo-scanner-cam.html
http://people.rit.edu/andpph/text-better-scanner-cam.html
http://cachefly.oreilly.com/make/scannercamera.pdf
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcgiffert/sets/72157607402914657/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/greenwithevil/sets/72157607083656961/
http://www.cs.ubc.ca/~heidrich/Papers/EG.04.pdf
http://www.cs.ubc.ca/~heidrich/Papers/EI.04.pdf
http://web.archive.org/web/20060205050520/www.scannerphotography.com/
http://johnvanhornphoto.com/lgformatdigitalphotography/Introduction.html

Makezine had a crude DIY project. At the other end of the spectrum you'll find papers by Heidrich (see links above). I'm going for the Heidrich type of set-up...

MR

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Joseph S Wisniewski
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Scanner camera from a LIDE?
In reply to mark_rehorst, Jun 9, 2009

mark_rehorst wrote:

You can use enlarging lenses, especially large-format enlarging
lenses, to make a digital camera using a scanner. I will be starting
such a project in the next couple weeks, when school is out for the
summer. I have an Eskofot Ultragon copy/enlarging lens (from ebay-
$75) that has an 16-18" image circle and a Canon LIDE scanner
(Craig's list- $15) ready to go.

Isn't the LIDE a scanner with a monochrome sensor and three sequential illuminations with red, green, and blue LEDs?

I will need to make a lens board,
bellows, and frame to hold it all together. When it is finished it
will be a 512 MP digital camera. Do a search for "scanner camera"
and you'll find a bunch of links to sites that have info. Here are a
some links that I had located a few months ago when I started looking
into this:

http://www.stockholmviews.com/diyphotogear/scannercamera.html
http://www.photo-vinc.com/articles/Flatbedscanner/Flatbedscanner.html
http://www.sentex.net/~mwandel/tech/scanner.html
http://www.lensculture.com/mt_files/archives/000060.html
http://people.rit.edu/andpph/text-demo-scanner-cam.html
http://people.rit.edu/andpph/text-better-scanner-cam.html
http://cachefly.oreilly.com/make/scannercamera.pdf
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcgiffert/sets/72157607402914657/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/greenwithevil/sets/72157607083656961/
http://www.cs.ubc.ca/~heidrich/Papers/EG.04.pdf
http://www.cs.ubc.ca/~heidrich/Papers/EI.04.pdf
http://web.archive.org/web/20060205050520/www.scannerphotography.com/
http://johnvanhornphoto.com/lgformatdigitalphotography/Introduction.html

Makezine had a crude DIY project. At the other end of the spectrum
you'll find papers by Heidrich (see links above). I'm going for the
Heidrich type of set-up...

Good luck. It sounds like a fun project...

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Rahon Klavanian 1912-2008.

Armenian genocide survivor, amazing cook, scrabble master, and loving grandmother. You will be missed.

Ciao! Joseph

http://www.swissarmyfork.com

 Joseph S Wisniewski's gear list:Joseph S Wisniewski's gear list
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Bob Sal
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Re: Enlarging Lenses?
In reply to mark_rehorst, Jun 9, 2009

It sounds like you have a process lens and not an enlarging lens.

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mark_rehorst
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Re: Scanner camera from a LIDE?
In reply to Joseph S Wisniewski, Jun 11, 2009

Joseph S Wisniewski wrote:

Isn't the LIDE a scanner with a monochrome sensor and three
sequential illuminations with red, green, and blue LEDs?

Yes. Entirely USB powered which makes it portable when used with a laptop.

All digital cameras have monochrome sensors. In color cameras there is a filter placed over the sensor.

In the scanner camera you can run 3 scans, switching filters between scans. Obviously it is a slow process- one full res scan takes about 40 seconds. This is both a limitation and an advantage, depending on how you use it.

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mark_rehorst
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Re: Enlarging Lenses?
In reply to Bob Sal, Jun 11, 2009

Is there a difference?

Thanks,

MR

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Bob Sal
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Re: Enlarging Lenses?
In reply to mark_rehorst, Jun 11, 2009

Quite a bit. Process lenses were used to make copy at 1:1 or near 1:1 of art work or print for reproduction via a printing press. An enlarging lens is designed to take a small flat object like a negative or a transparency and greatly enlarge it (depending on the design of the enlarging lens from 2x to as much as 40x the size of the original).

A process lens shorter then 600mm was design to only be used at f22 for optimal performance. An enlarging lens is usually designed to perform optimally at 2 to 3 stops from wide open (usually f8 or f11) or 1 stop down for mural lenses.

In addition, most enlarging lenses have convenience features for working in a darkroom: Illuminated aperture rings, dis-engageable pre-set aperture control ring, etc.

Enlarging lenses are normally used to make exposures on enlarging papers which may not be perfectly flat as most users do not use a vacuum easel to hold the paper down or to hold the film down in the enlarger. Process lenses were made to expose onto film which was usually held flat in the camera via a vacuum assembly and the art work was also frequently held flat under vacuum pressure.

The use of the graphic arts process camera has been replaced by digital technologies while the darkroom market is still alive, but not robustly.

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mark_rehorst
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Re: Enlarging Lenses?
In reply to Bob Sal, Jun 12, 2009

Great explanation! Thanks!

MR

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opto_fr
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Re: Enlarging Lenses?
In reply to Bob Sal, Jul 13, 2012

Bob Sal wrote:

Quite a bit. Process lenses were used to make copy at 1:1 or near 1:1 of art work or print for reproduction via a printing press. An enlarging lens is designed to take a small flat object like a negative or a transparency and greatly enlarge it (depending on the design of the enlarging lens from 2x to as much as 40x the size of the original).

A process lens shorter then 600mm was design to only be used at f22 for optimal performance. An enlarging lens is usually designed to perform optimally at 2 to 3 stops from wide open (usually f8 or f11) or 1 stop down for mural lenses.

In addition, most enlarging lenses have convenience features for working in a darkroom: Illuminated aperture rings, dis-engageable pre-set aperture control ring, etc.

Enlarging lenses are normally used to make exposures on enlarging papers which may not be perfectly flat as most users do not use a vacuum easel to hold the paper down or to hold the film down in the enlarger. Process lenses were made to expose onto film which was usually held flat in the camera via a vacuum assembly and the art work was also frequently held flat under vacuum pressure.

The use of the graphic arts process camera has been replaced by digital technologies while the darkroom market is still alive, but not robustly.
--

Wild generalization. Process lenses were used in typical photolithographic processes from 1:1 down to 1:10, the main criterion was field flatness and sharpness. Sometimes we used them to enlarge, all depended on the type of artwork. I have in my possession a lens designed specifically for x10 reduction. It was used for integrated circuits manufacturing in the 60's, 70's and 80's. The plates were glass and the lens cost over $10,000 in the 60's (Wray, 127mm f 4:0).

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