Newbie - Enlarging lens question : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

So I've bought the camera, lens, tripod and even the enlarger - now for the enlarging lens:

1. How cheaply can I expect to get by on for a used enalarging lens for 4x5? 2. If a lens is clear (no scratches, fungus, finger prints etc) will the results be close to a $800 new lens or will I really be loosing out on something? (and what would that be?) 3. At what point do I loose the benefits of LF by going cheap on an elarging lens? 4. 135mm is the shortest lens I can reasonalby use, correct?

Thanks Beginner Bill

P.S. I just had one of my first LF experiences last Saturday. The morning was overcast but there was a ton of frost on the trees (some of the frost spears were and inch long!) and a forcast of sun. I drove to a wooded area setup and waited in knee deep snow for 1.5 hours for the light to be right. When the sun finaly broke through the clouds it lit up the area increadibly. I then spent a good 2 hours getting as many shots as I could before the sun melted the frost - What a Blast!!! I'm hooked.

-- Bill Forsyth (, February 03, 1999


Yep, 135mm is the shortest lens you can reasonably use. As far as cost goes, that one is wide open. Used enlarging lenses have poor reseale value, which makes them an incredible bargain. I bought an EL-Nikkor 150/5.6 in mint condition for $375 about six months ago. One of my firends just bought a Schneider Companon 135/5.6 for $150 on eBay. Don't get cheap on this part of your equipment. The enlarging lens is the last glass your images goes through before hitting the paper. Why waste all your time and effort projecting your vision through a cheap lens? Buy the best you can afford, even if it means putting off that second lens for your camera.

You'll only lose out on the $800 results if you buy an old lens, or if you get away from the Big 3 (Nikkor, Rodenstock, Schneider). There are other good lenses out there, but finding them used is not easy. The Beseler HD series (made by Rodenstock) is excellent. Stay away from the Schneider Componar, Rodenstock Roganar or anything you are unsure of.

-- Darron Spohn (, February 03, 1999.

I second the vote for second-hand. Excellent value for money. A Componon-S 150/5.6 cost me #200 (UK pounds) last year.

Think of the whole photographic process as a chain, especially a chain of the two lenses: camera and enlarger. It is only as strong as its weakest link.

If either link is weak, you will see loss of sharpness, resolution, and contrast, and increase of distortion (barrel, pincushion or a bit of each). In fact, no lens is perfect, they just don't exist. How imperfect can you get away with? If your camera lens is the end of a milk bottle, the enlarger lens won't make much difference. But a cracking camera lens needs a similar enlarger lens. Your negatives will thank you.

-- Alan Gibson (, February 03, 1999.

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