Process Lens for LF camera

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by muthukumar_nadar|1, Oct 23, 2004.

  1. HAi ,
    I had posted a question (thinking it was absolutly stupid) about
    using an Enlarger lens to construct a LF camera and I got some
    wonderfull Responses which encouraged me to hasten the process of
    jumphing into the LF world. Well today my question is ,
    Can we use a PROCESS lens for an LF camera ?
    something like a Taylor Hobson 13 Inch or a Kodak Copying Ektanon etc.
    Plese let me know.
    Thank you.
  2. They will work fine for close up work. Some work better than others at distance. Apo ronnar and G Claron work at infinity. I use G Claron all the time. I purchased a Wallensak process at one time, and it works fine up close, but will not focus at infinity. Not just bad, totally unuseable even stopped down. Five times more fuzzy than a soft focus. When you try to focus, it starts to get sharp, then reaches a point of best focus, they fuzzy again. That point of best focus is really poor poor poor.

    Bottom line is to ask about a specific design and hope for an answer or find a way to try before you buy.
  3. As I noted in an earlier post, my Kodak Copying Ektanon is razor sharp, but as the poster above has suggested, results will vary with lens design and maker. Hopefully someone will relate their experience with the Taylor Hobson. Process lenses are generally optimized for 1:1 magnification, at their widest aperture, which makes them interesting for portraiture, although far too sharp and contrasty for some tastes or subjects. I use mine when I want a hyperrealistic rendering.
  4. There are a lot of process lenses floating around. Some are excellent performers on cameras while some aren't as suitable. Unless you're into experimenting, I'd suggest going with a proven performer like the Artar, f/9 G-Claron, Ronar, Ektanon, Nikkor, Hexanon, NuArc and the Cooke Apotal.

    Good Luck!
  5. FWIW, a process lens is more like an enlarging lens than it is like a regular camera lens -- as Jay suggested, it's optimized for close focus, typically between 1:1 and about 1:4, while enlarging lenses are usually optimized for around 1:10 or so. Ansel Adams used process lenses at times for some of his work, seemingly with excellent results in 8x10 negatives -- scenic landscape work, that is, with effectively an infinity focus. At a minimum, such a lens will be wonderful for close-ups and macro photography (if you have enough bellows extension available) and is likely to be less costly than a comparable lens specific to large format photography -- though you should surely take into account the cost of mounting in a shutter, since most if not all are likely to be barrel lenses as originally mounted.
  6. The Artars work very well as large format lenses, as do the Nikon process lenses.
  7. Its been done. I do it, and I'm far from the only person who does.

    Apo Nikkors, Apo Ronars, Artars (also apochromats), G-Clarons (some apo, others not), Konica Hexanon GRIIs (claims to be apochromats not found, which doesn't mean they aren't), and Process Nikkors (Nikon's literature on these doesn't say apochromatic; it is safe to say that Nikon doesn't make the claim) have consistently got good reports on LF-related boards for performance at infinity. The Lens Collectors' Vade Mecum reports on a variety of process/copy lenses that it says perform well at infinity.

    Some process lenses, e.g. Staeble Ultragon (= Eskofot Ultragon, Repromaster, Heliopring), Staeble Super Intergon, Computar, Graphic Kowa have got mixed reports, some good, some not so good, on usenet's*

    As I said, its been done. Based on my experience, its hard to go wrong with any Taylor Hobson lens if it is in half-decent condition.

    But remember, many process lenses will not go into shutter easily or inexpensively. G-Clarons and some Apo Ronars will go straight into a standard shutter; these lenses usually sell for more than similar ones that won't.

    I use all of my process lenses front-mounted. This may not be practical for you, and adapters for front mounting can be quite costly.

    I appreciate that you're trying to work as cheaply as possible. Your best bet is just to get a used Ektar of the right focal length for your format in a working shutter. This will cost less than a used process lens and a modern shutter to hold it and, perhaps, mount adapters. Mount adapters can be a killer. For an introduction to that aspect of reality, visit and read about the work they've done.

    If the format you're working towards is 4x5, just get an ex-Polaroid CU-5 127/4.7 Tominon in Copal Press. This is not a bad lens, and you should be able to get a clean one in a good shutter for < $US 35 excluding delivery charges. Why make what you can buy for less?
  8. I recently purchased a Cooke Apotal that works very nicely. However, so far,
    I've only used it for close ups. I haven't checked it yet for infinity focus.

    I have also purchased a Taylor Hobson Butal 6" f5.6 that is currently being
    fitted onto a Sinar panel. I use a Sinar F with a Sinar Copal shutter which
    makes it easier to buy and use barrel lenses.

    The Apotal cost me $80 and the Butal was $90. Low prices for very high
    quality lenses. The Vade Mecum is highly recommended as a guide.

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