Non "Big 4" lenses questions : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I've been particularly intrigued by the prices of the Congo lenses ( and the Osaka lenses (dist by Bromwell marketing, see The reason for this interest is primarily the price. The Congo 210 mm is listed at $450 right now (with an old list and a falling Yen, this might be too high,) as compared to the Rodenstock APO Ronar 240 mm, at $1100 and change.

Does anybody out there have direct experience with either of these less expensive lenses? They apparantly lack the APO designation (or at least I couldn't find it listed.) How much of a difference does this make in final image quality? How do these lenses compare with a Rodenstock or Schneider, and how do they compare with each other? The Osaka lenses are available in fewer focal lengths, and seem to cost more (but that may just be the distributor's cut.)

Any info appreciated.


-- Martin F. Melhus (, May 31, 1998


I have a friend who has the 150mm (6 element) lens, and his chromes look as good as any. While I dont know if they are the latest in hi tech lens making, they certainly seem good enough, and certainly are more modern and capable than all of the 'classic' lenses everyone loves.

-- Ron Shaw (, June 05, 1998.

I have had a 180mm f/6.3 "Bogen Arcar" lens for 21 years now. It was produced by Yamaziki Optical Company (Congo). It's a Tessar type design, and is quite good if you're aware of it's limitations. It is a 4 element, 3 group lens. A lower number of elements to make reduces the cost. It also has limited coverage. I use my 180 for 4 x 5, although it will barely cover 5 x 7 (I have tried it). Look at the specifications on the web sites; If the lens says it will cover 5 x 7, use it on 4 x 5. Other Tessar formula lenses: Rodenstock APO Ronar, Nikkor-M, Schneider Xenar, Zeiss Tessar. I don't remember the Fujinon as they're not imported to the US. I also have a fairly recent Nikkor-M that is noticeably sharper tnan the older Congo 180. I don't know how the latest Congo lenses are. The bottom line? If you're on a tight budget or have stringent weight requirements (backpacking), these could be good choices.

-- Ted Brownlee (, June 08, 1998.


What Nikkor M lens do you have and how would you rate its overall performace.

-- Pat Raymore (PATRICK.F.RAYMORE@KP.ORG), June 08, 1998.

I was right about the Yen, by the way. The 210 mm lens, at 49,500 Yen, converts to $350.00. Conversion rate as of 6/11/98 was 1000 Yen = 7.07 U$D. So knock off 2/7 of the price on their list.


-- Martin F. Melhus (, June 12, 1998.

The APO designation is not a guarantee optical superiority. As of late it seems to have become more of a maketing tool by companies looking for a sales edge over their competition. Just because a lens is corrected for three colors at the focal plane, doesn't necessarily mean it has a small secondary spectrum. There are no companies that I know of that will give out secondary spectrum to focal length ratio information. Don't be bothered by the lack of APO designation on the Congo lenses. SR

-- Steve Rasmussen (, July 01, 1998.

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