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Thread: Portraits with an enlarger lens?

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    Portraits with an enlarger lens?

    I have just got hold of an adapter that comes with a M39 ring for mounting enlarger lenses on my MF camera but do not understand how an enlarger lens can be used for portrait, landscape or other types of photography. Is it just like using any other lens and how is the performance of enlarger lenses compared to other lenses?

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    Re: Portraits with an enlarger lens?

    Bear in mind that modern enlarger lenses aren't optimized for the magnifications typical of landscape photography. But depending on what you have in mind, portraits on medium format may be within their design range, or close to it. As to whether you will like the way any particular enlarging lens draws, the only way to find out is to try it.

    This has been discussed elsewhere. A couple of examples:

    Enlarger lens on view camera

    Symmar = Componon ?

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    Re: Portraits with an enlarger lens?

    depending on what you have in mind

    Thanks Oren for the useful links

    I'm looking to use my venerable Contax 645 as a mini-view camera with tilts, swing & shift with the help of Zork's pro shift adapter and multi focus system (mfs) for making portraits.

    The Zork system supports a great variety of lens options that is quite bewildering for a dork like me who is simply trying to replicate the experience of using a "normal" 80mm Contax MF lens on the 645 body -- but adding view camera movements including the possibility to shift the lens for stitching panoramas.

    The Zork multi focus system I have obtained comes with an adapter ring for mounting any (enlarger) lens with an M39 mount. So this looks like an inexpensive way to get started... if an enlarger lens can be used for such a purpose?

    Other options are investing in a custom adapter ring that will enable me to mount my 135mm Rodagon LF lens on the mfs instead of an enlarger lens... or a suitable Pentax 67 lens mounted on the pro shift adapter though that will only give me shifts, not tilts and swings that are only possible with the addition of the multi focus system.

    So lots to consider...
    Last edited by lowep; 13th October 2012 at 07:42.

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    Re: Portraits with an enlarger lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by lowep View Post
    Other options are investing in a custom adapter ring that will enable me to mount my 135mm Rodagon LF lens on the mfs instead of an enlarger lens...
    The Rodagon is an enlarging lens.

    It's difficult to use tilts effectively on such a small format as 645 if what you're trying to achieve is precision placement of the plane of focus rather than just gross off-kilter special effects. At least with late model DSLRs, one has the advantage of magnified live view to help get the focus right.

    From looking at the Zork literature, it's not clear to me that you'd even be able to use an 80mm lens for anything other than close-up work - the minimum flange-to-film distance on a 645 SLR with the adapter mounted may be too long. I can't find a mount register spec for the Contax 645, but the Mamiya 645 and Pentax 645 are 63.3mm and 70.87mm, respectively, which implies that 80mm on a thick adapter will be a problem. Zork's catalog offers an 80mm kit for 35 SLRs, but 105 for medium format.

    Is your 135 Rodagon mounted in shutter? If it's in barrel, Rodenstock's literature says it has a standard M39 screw thread. Why not just try that and see what it can do for you? Otherwise, enlarging lenses are cheap these days. See if you can pick up an inexpensive 105 or 135 just to see whether this setup is even practical to achieve what you're after. If it is, you can worry later about finding a lens with the most pleasing optical character. If not, you can direct your efforts elsewhere.
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    Re: Portraits with an enlarger lens?

    Dang…. too much coffee, again!

    The LF lens is a Rodenstock Sironar N 1:5.6 135 in a Copal shutter, not a Rodagon.

    Zork makes custom adapter rings for using LF lenses on the Zork MFS and advises the combination shift/tilt needs a f=120mm (shortest FL) for infinity focus. So far I have not been able to find any explanation about or examples of images made with this combo of LF lens and Zork MFS.

    Regarding enlarger lenses, Zork advises the Rodenstock f=4/105mm is ok for the MFS. Other f=100mm EL lenses and view lenses are ok for infinity focus.

    So lots to explore…

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    Re: Portraits with an enlarger lens?

    At least with late model DSLRs, one has the advantage of magnified live view to help get the focus right.

    How about a focussing loupe on the WLF instead?

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    Re: Portraits with an enlarger lens?

    The Sironar-N is a fine lens. I guess it boils down to what's the simplest and least expensive way to test proof of concept.

    FWIW, I think the Sironar-N is likely to be better suited optically for what you'd like to do than an enlarging lens. But Zork components tend to be expensive, and it may cost you a lot more to get the necessary adapter ring than to buy a 105mm or 135mm enlarging lens. Anyway, you can find out the price, and choose whichever option you're more comfortable with.

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    Re: Portraits with an enlarger lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by lowep View Post
    At least with late model DSLRs, one has the advantage of magnified live view to help get the focus right.

    How about a focussing loupe on the WLF instead?
    That will help a bit, but it's still difficult. Based on my own experience, I'd say that judging fine tilt adjustments with a loupe on the GG starts to become non-aggravating at around the 4x5 inch format. YMMV depending on your eyesight, sensitivity to focus, etc.

    Again, it depends on exactly what you want to do. Sure, if the idea is to put in a bit of tilt to buy some leeway on a landscape photograph where the aperture is going to be stopped way down anyway, you can get away with mucking around. But if you need to know exactly where your plane of focus is going to be on a very small format like 645, your viewing system had better be really good, with a focusing screen optimized for acuity rather than brightness and plenty of high-quality magnification accessible across the entire field, not just in the center of the screen.

    Anyway, if you can set up what you have in mind without spending too much money, trying different things and seeing for yourself is the best way to learn. Possibly I'm being too pessimistic. Good luck and have fun!

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    Re: Portraits with an enlarger lens?

    There is no reason NOT to use enlarging lenses for portraits or other types of photography as long as you are happy with the rendering you get from your chosen lens. I regularly use various enlarging lenses on a 5D2 for portraits and also for the equivalent of 'product' shots.

    Setup used on the 5D2, Meogon 80/2.8


    I've found most enlarging lenses to have a broadly similar rendering in that they tend to have a harsh bokeh but I try to use this to my advantage. I'm yet to find one specifically with a soft bokeh, of the 20 or so enlarging lenses I've used.

    I like the Schneider Xenotar 80/2.8 and the Meogon 80/2.8 for portraits, but there are lots of inexpensive gems out there. I also like the Ross Resolux 110/4, Taylor Hobson (TTH) Ental 5" F4.5 or the Schneider Componon-s lenses in the 100-135 range. The biggest problem with enlarging lenses is that some times it costs more for the adapter than the lens. I have had several custom adapters made for lenses such as the Xenotar and the TTH 5". Most of the US made lenses also have unusual threads so are generally in the 'too-hard' basket as far as I'm concerned.

    Re the Zoerk adapter, if you are limited to a longer lens then so be it. There are still lots of options out there. There are lots of high end enlarging lenses too, such as the APO's from various makers, but these can be very expensive.

    I also use a NIkon PB-4 for tilt/shift on a 5D2


    I've compared a bunch of 100mm+ lenses with significant amounts of tilt, using the PB-4 bellows above, and this might be of some help to you.

    JJ

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    Re: Portraits with an enlarger lens?

    Thanks very much JJ for the expert advice and super moving photos. Very interested to hear that you regularly use various enlarging lenses on your 5D2 for portraits. Do you have any posted anywhere on the internet?

    My understanding is that I can probably expect good close up performance but not so good performance at infinity & quite hard edged bokeh from an enlarger lens. So maybe better in terms of IQ if not price to go for a lens made for taking photos rather than enlarging.

    The reason I am asking about this is I am looking for a suitable lens to mount on Contax 645 via Zoerk Multi Focus System (MFS) with m39 adapter so that I can use my Contax 645 as a mini view camera with tilt shift movements. If I understand right to do this I need either an enlarger or taking lens with minimum 69 or even better 4x5 coverage that will thin out the range of lenses to choose from.

    It is also interesting to discover that several adapters are available for converting various taking lens with bayonet etc mounts to m39 mount.

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    Re: Portraits with an enlarger lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by lowep View Post
    My understanding is that I can probably expect good close up performance but not so good performance at infinity & quite hard edged bokeh from an enlarger lens. So maybe better in terms of IQ if not price to go for a lens made for taking photos rather than enlarging.
    That is rather a myth. Enlarger lenses are optimized for certain magnifications, as are reproduction lenses. A long time ago, this would have been important. Today, the design and manufacturing technology has made this pretty irrelevant. Where enlarger lenses shine is the flat field they produce at magnifications, but for general photography this is not so important. You will find that modern enlarging lenses very good or maybe better than regular lenses.

    This myth is also given over to macro lenses and landscapes. The sharpest lens I have for landscapes is a macro lens.

    This myth persists because it is easy to repeat. What you will find is little evidence. Unfortunately, there are quite a few "common sense" myth surrounding photography that are simply perpetuated because people repeat what they heard/read somewhere else, but was never tested nor shown and in some cases in direct contradiction to underlying theories. They just "feel right."

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    Re: Portraits with an enlarger lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    You will find that modern enlarging lenses very good or maybe better than regular lenses.
    Thanks Shashin good to hear from somebody who has tried this. Is there any particular enlarging lens you can recommend from your own experience that has enough coverage to work well for panorama stitching on a 645 camera? Perhaps when you have time you could post an image you have made with an enlarger lens, as they seem to be quite rare apart from this one (note the hard edged highlights in the bg) made with a piece of an old vacuum cleaner hose. What do you reckon? Ideally am hoping to find a good one with M39 mount or that can be connected to M39 mount via an adapter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    Unfortunately, there are quite a few "common sense" myth surrounding photography that are simply perpetuated because people repeat what they heard/read somewhere else, but was never tested nor shown and in some cases in direct contradiction to underlying theories. They just "feel right."
    Yes I agree it is even harder to separate the s*** from the shovel now we have internet
    Last edited by lowep; 1st November 2012 at 11:01.

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    Re: Portraits with an enlarger lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by lowep View Post
    Thanks very much JJ for the expert advice and super moving photos. Very interested to hear that you regularly use various enlarging lenses on your 5D2 for portraits. Do you have any posted anywhere on the internet?...
    I don't have any portraits shot with EL's on the internet as I shoot them for publications/magazines and I don't feel comfortable publishing them elsewhere (I don't shoot them for myself).

    Quote Originally Posted by lowep View Post
    ...Yes I agree it is even harder to separate the s*** from the shovel now we have internet
    Big time!

    Regarding your specific application, you should probably talk to Zork about that.

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