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Dan Fromm was born in 1944. He was educated as an economist and has worked as an econometric model builder, economic forecaster, and applied statistician. He has always refused to answer questions about share prices. Photography is one of his avocations; he took up photography to record life colors of the fishes he kept, bred and collected. In addition to photographing his fishes, he has made and presented slide shows and movies about his field trips.

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Emmanuel Bigler est professeur (aujourd'hui retraité) d'optique et des
microtechniques à l'école d'ingénieurs de mécanique et des microtechniques (ENSMM) de Besançon.
Il a fait sa thèse à l'Institut d'optique à Orsay
E. Bigler utilise par ailleurs une chambre Arca-Swiss





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Unlikely lenses on 2¼ x 3¼ Graphics

Part 1: Introduction and macro lenses

by Daniel W. Fromm

Dedicated to the memory of Charlie Barringer (1943-2010)


1  Introduction: Speed Graphic cameras and barrel lenses

One of the reasons I bought a 2¼ x 3¼ Pacemaker Speed Graphic instead of another 2¼ x 3¼ or 2¼ x 2¾ [1] camera was that Ken Ruth of Photography on Bald Mountain advised me it was the most useful relatively inexpensive camera for macro work with roll film. He explained that thanks to its focal plane shutter the Speed Graphic could use inexpensive enlarging lenses, which he said work well close up, as macro lenses. So when a good opportunity turned up at a camera show, I acted on Ken’s advice.

My Speed, made in 1947, came with an uncoated 101/4.5 Ektar that shoots very well. The next lens I bought for it was a 65/6.8 Raptar, not an enlarging lens. This lens’ back focus [2] was too short for it to focus to infinity on the Speed, so I got a Century Graphic, made in 1951, at another camera show. Since then I've found other lenses for my Graphics, many in barrel and some of them, at last, macro lenses. More recently I’ve bought a 2x3 Crown Graphic, made in 1953, with 105/3.7 Ektar at a camera show, for the lens and have acquired another 2x3 Crown, made in late 1949 or early 1950 at a camera show to use as a parts camera. This last is too good to break up for parts, so I’ll have to find a use or a new home for it.

Likely lenses for these cameras, the ones most commonly used on them, were made primarily by Kodak and Wollensak and were sold for out-and-about use at normal distances. They are all in shutter, usually Kodak Supermatic or Wollensak Rapax, sometimes Compur. They include: 65/6.8 Raptar and Angulon; 80/6.3 Wide Field Ektar; a variety of ~100 mm Tessars for pre-WWII cameras; 101/4.5 Ektar and Raptar; ~103/4.5 Graflar and Graftar; 105/3.7 and 107/3.7 Ektars; 127/4.7 Ektar and Raptar; and 203/5.6 and 250/5.6 TeleRaptars. Wollensak Raptars and TeleRaptars were also sold in Graflex clothing as, respectively, Optars and TeleOptars. I’ve seen a variety of triplets and Tessar clones, perhaps taken from 6x9 folding cameras, on 2x3 press cameras. Of the more-or-less standard issue lenses, I've owned and eventually sold a 65/6.8 Raptar, 103/4.5 Graftar, 105/3.7 and 107/3.7 Ektars, and 250/5.6 TeleOptar. I now have 80 WF Ektar, 101 Ektar, another 103/4.5 Graftar and another 105/3.7 Ektar. At normal distances I’ve taken more pictures with my 101/4.5 Ektar than with all of my other lenses combined. Other focal lengths are useful, clearly not absolutely necessary.

When I began to look for lenses to use on my Graphics I wasn't sure I could afford good ones. With few exceptions, though, my unlikely lenses have been inexpensive lucky finds at camera flea markets, from dealers on the Internet, and on eBay. Their low cost has usually reflected their obscurity, not their low quality. Perfectly usable equipment need not cost terribly much. In fact, with luck and care in buying and subsequent selling I've been able to amass a heap of gear, some of it normally very expensive, for very little money.

The auction site eBay has been a great help, and in two ways. Interesting gear can sometimes be bought there at low prices. And I can be reasonably sure that if I want to get rid of a lens that I don’t like or don’t need I can recover much of its cost, and sometimes more, by selling it there.

Here's an account of the unlikely ones. Any lens that is rarely used on 2¼ x 3¼ press cameras qualifies as unlikely. In what follows, unless I say that a lens is uncoated, it is coated. Unless I mention a shutter, the lens is in barrel [3]. If the lens’ source is not reported, I bought it through eBay. I no longer own the lenses whose names are followed by [sold].

2  Limits due to the 2x3 press camera?

2¼ x 3¼ Pacemaker Graphics are very useful tools but have limits. One is bellows draw. The Speed's maximum film-to-flange distance is 225 mm, the Crown/Century's is 195 mm. It would appear that these limit them to using lenses no longer than 200 mm and around 180 mm respectively. This isn’t the case. Mounting a lens in front of a shutter or putting an extension tube between lens and shutter (or board) will add extension. At some focal length, however, the shutter or front standard will cut off the outer part of the image the lens projects on the film plane. I use a simple geometric model -- similar triangles -- to determine whether a lens mounted in front of a shutter (Crown/Century) or on extension tubes in front of a board (Speed) will cover 2¼ x 3¼ without vignetting by, respectively, shutter or tubes/board.

In fact, the longest lens I use on my 2x3 Pacemaker Speed is a 305/9 Apo Nikkor, which sits on ~ 60 mm of LTM extension tubes and adapters in front of a #1 shutter on the camera’s lens board. Vignetting isn’t a problem with it.

With the Century Graphic, the most extension that can be added in front of a #1 shutter without vignetting is around 77 mm at maximum draw. With a 100 mm macro lens, the highest magnification attainable with a Century is roughly 1.9:1. The 2x3 Pacemaker Speed is longer and can use around 90 mm of tubes and adapters at maximum draw; the highest magnification it can get with a 100 mm lens is about 2.3:1. The longest non-telephoto lens that will make infinity on a Century mounted far in front of a #1, cover 2¼ x 3¼, and have useful focusing travel is about 260 mm; on a 2x3 Speed, around 300 mm.

Another major limit is the front standard's lens throat, a 48 mm square. This restricts the use of fast lenses and modern wide angle lenses on 2x3 Graphics. When contemplating getting either, check dimensions before ordering. Although removing a lens' rear cell and screwing it back in after the board is on the camera works for some short lenses, it can't be done for all because some lenses' rear cells won't even clear the gate. Longer barrel lenses that are too fat to pass through the front standard, e.g., the 4” and 12” Taylor Hobson and 6” Dallmeyer lenses mentioned above, can be mounted entirely in front of the board or, like my 210 Konica, in front of a leaf shutter. Neither setup is entirely comfortable, each works for some lenses.

Frustration with these limits and the desire to use long process lenses led me to seek ways around them. One way is a tandem Graphic rig. It consists of my 2x3 Pacemaker Speed and my Century Graphic on a rail (1.5” x 1.5” t-slotted aluminum) with a coupler between them to keep the dark in. There’s another rail, made of 1.5” right angle wood molding (light, inexpensive) that connects to the two cameras’ side tripod sockets. The two rails keep the cameras’ optical axes aligned.

With the lens on or in front of the front camera’s lens board and the film in the usual place on the rear camera, I’ve calculated that the longest lens that will cover 2¼ x 3¼ and focus usefully close on a tandem rig built from my Speed and Century is around 480 mm. I’m not sure it is the longest lens that will work on the tandem, but my 480/9 Apo Nikkor works well on it. A 600 mm lens should cover at least 2¼ x 2¼ and focus usefully close if mounted on extension tubes in front of the tandem rig. These limits are set by the size of the rear camera’s lens throat.

3  Adapters?

I started acquiring Tominon macro lenses with the idea of using them on a Nikon bellows as well as on my Graphics. The obvious way to attach them to anything Nikon is with a female #1-to-male T adapter [4] and a female T-to-male Nikon adapter. SRB Film Services, now SRB-Griturn, (http://www.srbfilm.co.uk) made a #1-to-T adapter for much less than a #1-to-Nikon adapter would have cost. A #1-to-T doesn't tie me permanently to Nikon since there are adapters for putting T-mount lenses on nearly every SLR.

I soon realized it would make sense to add extension tubes to the bellows. I had an LTM-to-Nikon adapter. The least expensive way to get a lot of extension that I could find was a Vivitar TA-11 female T-to-male LTM adapter plus a stack of used E. Leitz New York tubes. ELNY extension tubes are usually quite inexpensive. T-to-LTM adapters are supposed to be very rare, but they show up on eBay and in camera flea markets from time to time. At the bellows end I took advantage of the Novoflex NIKLEI-K (female LTM-to-male Nikon bayonet) I've had since 1975.

When I ran up against 2x3 Graphics' limited bellows draw, putting extension tubes in front of the shutter was the obvious approach to getting more. All that was needed was a female LTM-to-male #1 adapter. Steve Grimes made one for me, and it has been very useful.

When I started to acquire macro lenses in RMS thread, I was back in trouble. I had all those adapters with T-mount at one end, so I got an RMS-to-T adapter from Edmund Industrial Optics, their item number NT52-301. It is easier to use turned around and connected via a male T-to-male T extender, also from Edmund, their NT52-298. I might have been better off with a custom RMS-to-LTM adapter from SRB or Mr. Grimes. I’ve since got a Linhof female RMS-to-male 25 mm enlarging lens adapter and an unbranded conical plastic female 25 mm-to-LTM adapter. The combination works no better than the Edmund adapter, but is prettier.

Adapters for using barrel lenses on 2x3 Graphics? SKGrimes has made cup-shaped adapters to #1 shutter for several of my lenses. These have male #1 threads at the rear and female threads at the front that accept the lens. A similar adapter, but with M39 threads at the rear, came with my Industar-51. SKGrimes has also made adapters for me with male threads at the rear to accept retaining rings and male threads at the front to screw into the back of the lens for attaching lenses to boards; these last could equally well have had female threads at the front, but making the adapter to screw into the lens saves material. All work well.

I've mentioned Steve Grimes several times here. He died in April, 2003, but his firm continues. His successors can be found at www.skgrimes.com. They’ve made adapters and done other work for me. I expect to continue sending work to them.

4  Mounting barrel lenses on boards

Modern lenses for large format cameras are usually mounted in shutter [5]. Older, process, and aerial camera lenses are, however, sometimes mounted in barrel. In both cases, attaching the lens to a camera is in theory straightforward. One obtains a lens board that will fit the camera, drills a hole in it to accept the rear of the shutter or barrel, and uses a retaining ring to hold the shutter or barrel to the board. The only complication is setting up a shutter, usually behind but sometimes in front of the lens, to get timed exposures with a lens in barrel.

Mounting large or unconventionally mounted, as from an aerial camera, lenses on a camera whose lens board is small, e.g., a 2x3 press camera, is not always as simple as this. There are three situations. The first two involve lenses that can’t be mounted in front of a leaf shutter because of short back focus or because of vignetting.

The third, front-mounting, is much preferable if possible:

the rear of the barrel is threaded (internally or externally) and won’t pass through the camera’s front standard. It may be larger than the lens board. Approaches that work in this case include, if the camera has a focal plane shutter:

a cup-shaped adapter with female threads at the front to accept the barrel and male threads at the rear to accept a retaining ring. The board is clamped between the retaining ring and the back of the adapter. This is how my 100/5.6 S.F.O.M. is held to its board.

an adapter with male threads at the front to screw into the rear of the lens’ barrel (if it is threaded for a filter and the threading is deep enough) or to replace the retainer that holds the lens’ rear element in place and male threads at the rear to accept a retaining ring. Depending on the barrel’s size, the adapter may have to be stepped. The board is clamped between the retaining ring and the rear of the barrel. My two Taylor Hobson aerial camera lenses (4”/2, 12”/4) are mounted this way; the 12”/4’s adapter is stepped, the 4”/2’s is not.

an adapter as above with a flange at the rear to be held to the front of the board by a number of small screws. This approach may be necessary for lenses whose back focus is so short that they just make infinity with the bellows fully compressed. The flange may have to be trimmed or relieved to allow room for the sliders that hold the board to the front standard. My Uran-27 is mounted this way.

Cup-shaped adapters to mount a lens in barrel in front of a shutter are very simple devices:

They are threaded internally in front to accept the lens' rear threads, externally at the rear to screw into the front of a shutter. Details of design - diameter, depth, etc. - depend on the lens and shutter used. Depending on the lens, the adapter can be anything from a stepped disk, i.e., very flat, to a very deep cup.

Most of the lenses I mount in front of a shutter are fairly light. Until recently, the heaviest was a 610/9 Apo-Nikkor. It weighs approximately 1.5 kg and, according to Adam Dau of SKGrimes, a #1 shutter can easily support it.

I've recently acquired a 900/10 Apo Saphir that weighs approximately 4 kg. If hung in front of a #1 it would break the shutter. This lens can't be used on my tandem Graphic, even with an extension tube, because the rear camera's front standard will vignette the image severely. It can, however, be used on my 2x3 Cambo with some modifications to the camera: third standard, extension tube, longer rail.

SKGrimes is doing two jobs to make the 900 usable on my little Cambo. The first is mutilating a 4x5 Cambo standard to serve as a crutch that will bear part of the lens' weight. The front cell will rest on the crutch just in front of the diaphragm control ring. The second is making a very special cup-shaped adapter with four rods protruding from its rear. The adapter will be held to a 2x3 Cambo lens board by screws that pass through the board and enter the rods from the rear. As usual there will be a #1 shutter on the board and the rear of the adapter will screw into it. The shutter will not bear any of the lens or adapter's weight.

I plan to dedicate a shutter to the 900 to avoid having to swap the cock-and-shoot Copal #1 I use with my other front-mounted lenses into the 900's adapter. I don't anticipate needing high shutter speeds with it, so it will sit in front of a relatively inexpensive Polaroid MP-4 Copal #1 Press shutter.


the rear of the barrel is not threaded internally or externally.

Approaches that work:

if the lens’ cells can’t be put in a shutter and the camera has a focal plane shutter and the lens’ barrel will pass through the front standard, it can be secured to the board by a clamp that goes around the barrel and is held to the board by a screw. My 1.75”/2.8 Elcan is mounted this way.

otherwise, if the lens’ back focus is long enough to allow mounting it entirely in front of the front standard, the rear of the barrel can be held in a cup-shaped adapter that attaches to the board. Radial setscrews or a slotted cup with a clamp will do. This may be the relatively economical way to put my 100/2.8 Era-7 on a board, if I ever convince myself that the lens has to be tried out.

the camera does not have a focal plane shutter. 6x9 press and view cameras are too small to allow use of a behind-the-lens shutter, e.g., Packard or Sinar. To use a lens in barrel on such a camera, the solution is:

a cup-shaped adapter – sometimes the “cup” is very flat – threaded female at the front to accept the lens’ barrel and male at the rear to go into the front of a leaf shutter, e.g., #1. I use a number of lenses in such adapters. The shortest lens I’ve mounted on a 2x3 Graphic this way for shooting 2x3 is a 4.75”/7.7 Aldis Uno, whose adapter is very flat indeed. My other cup-shaped adapters, for longer lenses, are deeper. Vignetting is not a problem with any of them in front of a #1 shutter on my 2x3 Graphics. It may, however, be a problem on larger formats.

Whether going to this much trouble to use a lens in barrel is worth the expense depends on how much the lens will cost, how much the adapter will cost, how good the lens is, and how much the easily-mounted alternative will cost. A rational person who wants a good lens ready-to-use for the least money possible will do the calculations, and with care. That’s sometimes me.

But I’ve often bought an unknown lens to find out what it was and then not done the calculations. Even worse, I’ve sometimes given in to curiosity about what a lens can do and had it mounted up even though I already had a perfectly good equivalent ready to shoot. That’s why I bought an adapter to mount my 260/10 Nikkor-Q in front of a #1 shutter even though I had a 10.16”/9 Taylor Hobson Copy Lens that is very good, much smaller, lighter, and easier to use. And that’s why I had my 100/2.5 Uran-27 put on board even though I knew it couldn’t be better than the 4”/2.0 Taylor Hobson Anastigmat I already had on board. Curiosity is a vice.

A process lens whose cells won’t go directly into shutter is rarely worth putting into a shutter. A lens of the same focal length already in shutter will almost always cost less than process lens plus machining plus shutter. But when the choice is between a process lens plus an adapter to front-mount it for use on a 2x3 camera and a lens of the same focal length already in shutter, the process lens plus adapter can be the better buy. A cup-shaped adapter is often less expensive than a shutter in good order. Remember that used shutters are presumed unusable until proven good and that a CLA will cost from $50 to $125, depending on the shutter and repair shop.

Front-mounting becomes especially attractive when a single adapter will fit more than one lens. A few examples: I have one female LTM-to-male M40x0.75 adapter. It fits my 6” and 10.16” f/9 TTH lenses, 135 and 180 f/10 Apo Saphirs, 210/7.7 Beryl S, and 150/6.3 Tessar. Similarly, I have a female M53x0.75-to-male M40x0.75 adapter for my 240, 300, and 360 f/10 Apo Saphirs; a female M72x1-to-male M40x0.75 adapter for my 210/9 Konica Hexanon GRII, 250/6.8 Beryl, 305/9 Apo Nikkor and 450/10 RF-5; and a female M90x1-to-male M40x0.75 adapter for my 420 and 480 f/9 Apo Nikkors. The more lenses per adapter, the better the economics of front-mounting. All of these lenses go in front of the same #1 shutter. Sharing one shutter among many lenses also improves the economics.

I buy adapters from SKGrimes. The price depends somewhat unpredictably on the size of the adapter; I’ve paid from $35 (female LTM-to-male M40x0.75) to $185 (female M113x1-to-male M40x0.75) for adapters for front-mounting. I’ve had five aerial camera lenses put on board; the charges have run from $75-$100. Today’s prices may be higher than the ones I paid.

The aerial camera lenses (1.75”/2.8 Elcan, 4” and 12” TTHs, Uran-27, 100/5.6 S.F.O.M.) went on boards because there was no other way to use them; where front-mounting is possible I prefer it. #1 shutters give timed speeds below 1/30, the slowest timed speed my Speed Graphic’s focal plane shutter offers.

5  Macro lenses first, since they were the inspiration for getting my Speed Graphic

5.1  Origin and test of macro lenses

I report on these by focal length, from shortest to longest. None of my shorter (< ~ 100 mm) macro lenses is easily used in the field. With all of them aiming and focusing are very difficult; and after focusing it takes much effort, no matter how tightly everything is clamped down, not to shift the point of aim when inserting or attaching a roll holder. The higher the magnification the more difficult working is. Practically speaking, lenses much shorter than 100 mm are usable close-up on Graphics only on copy stand.

All of my macro lenses for large format are in barrel [3]. In my experience close-up photography with ambient darkness isn't very practical; electronic flash almost always gives better results. To use a barrel lens with flash it must be mounted in or in front of a leaf shutter. Front-mounting works and can be more economical than putting a lens in shutter.

I initially bought Tominon lenses made for the Polaroid MP-4 camera because they're abundant, inexpensive, and adequate, then discovered alternatives. If I’d known how inexpensive the alternatives could be I’d have pursued them sooner.

Tominon macro lenses for the Polaroid MP-4 camera are threaded to screw into a #1 shutter [6]; all cover 4x5 at their recommended working magnifications. My other macro lenses need adapters for front-mounting on a shutter.

My Speed Graphic's focal plane shutter won't sync with electronic flash, so all of my macro lenses go in front of a leaf shutter. I hang them on a Copal #1. Copal #1 Press shutters for the Polaroid MP-4 system seem to be the best value among used #1s; I prefer the MP-4 version to other Polaroid #1s because it has an open shutter lever. The cock-and-shoot Copal 1, with speeds to 1/400, is better still. Although a #1 shutter fits easily on a 2x3 Pacemaker board it won't clear the front standard's shutter tripper; to mount one on a 2x3 Pacemaker the front shutter tripper must be removed.

I’ve tested nearly all of my macro lenses to determine which ones not to use. My first test procedure for magnifications >= 2:1 used an Olympus Stage Micrometer with 100 marks/mm as a target; I photographed it transilluminated by flash. The flash unit used was a Vivitar 283 with VP-1; flash-to-subject distance and VP-1 setting were set using guide number arithmetic with an adjustment for magnification. The camera was a Nikon FM2n with a K screen and a 2x eyepiece magnifier. The target was centered in the field. For magnifications <= 1:1, the target was an Edmund NT38-710; this target’s finest group is 8 lp/mm [7]. Films used were Kodak TMX and Ilford Delta 100. Negatives were read at up to 40x under a Unitron MSFN stereo microscope. For magnification >= 2:1, I assessed lenses’ ability to separate adjacent tick marks on the stage micrometer and ranked them by pairwise comparisons. Lenses that separated the tick marks most cleanly were rated highest. Lenses that couldn’t separate them at all flunked. For magnifications <= 1:1, depending on magnification I either measured resolution on film (for example, at 1:10 I could measure resolution up to 80 lp/mm) or assessed the width of the light areas between dark bars on the target; again, lenses were ranked by pairwise comparisons. These are not formal tests of resolution but their results are repeatable and allow ranking lenses and separating them into “ok” and “not ok.”

Since I ran the first tests I’ve obtained the use of Edmund’s target NT38-257, a USAF 1951 target on glass that goes from group –2, element 1 (0.25 lp/mm) to group 7, element 6 (228 lp/mm). It offers a somewhat more easily ranked measure of performance but has generally given results consistent with those obtained with the stage micrometer. At high magnification, instead of burning film I simply look for the finest group and element for which I can discern three bars clearly on the FM2n’s K screen. The USAF target has a pair of sets of three bars at right angles to each other at each size; this is to detect astigmatism. My eyes are astigmatic so I score a group and element as visible if I can discern three bars in either orientation. At low magnification, both targets are hard to focus on, but the USAF is easier. Visual discrimination works poorly at low magnifications so I didn’t expect to be able to discriminate visually between lenses’ performance at low magnifications. I’m very surprised that this turned out to be possible.

I looked at the target through 75 mm and shorter macro lenses with the lenses wide open to at most two stops down. Most were best wide open. I looked at the target through my ~ 135 mm macro lenses wide open, at f/11, f/16, and f/22. All were better at f/11 than wide open and worse at f/16 and f/22 than at f/11. Rankings were the same wide open and at f/11. Shooting film instead of looking through the lenses would give more precise information about degradation below f/11, but looking answered the practical question of which ones not to use.

5.2  Description of macro lenses

5.2.1  5/8” to 1-7/8” (15 mm to 48 mm)

15/2.5 Cine Ektar in C-mount. Shot reversed. Not very good as a photomacrographic objective on my early tests, but with better lighting for focusing and stopped down a little to f/2.8, at 30:1 it let me discern the 181 lp/mm group of Edmund’s USAF 1951 target.

16/2.5 Zeiss Luminar in Royal Microscopical Society (RMS) thread [8] [sold]. An eBay booby prize. It appears to have been baked in an oven. Elements 3 and 4 were cemented and still are, a little, but there are voids. The balsam whose departure created those voids is now on the front element’s periphery. Amazingly, the lens passes light and forms an image. A good 16/2.5 Luminar resolved the 228 lp/mm group at 27:1. My dog topped out at 144 lp/mm at 30:1. Returned to vendor.

17/0.95 Schneider Xenon in C-mount. Made for a TV camera with a 2/3” CCD. Field of view, reversed, about 10 mm. Minimum working distance, around 8 mm. Bought to try reversed. Its enormous aperture offers, in theory, high resolution; what it delivers is an empirical question to be answered.

17/4 Tominon in #1 thread [sold]. A fine lens for high magnification (10x to 34x on the MP-4) photomacrography. I shoot as high as 15x with it on the Graphics, as high as 30x on a Nikon with a lot of extension tubes. Its only drawback is modest working distance. Front of lens-to-subject distance is roughly 10 mm. To use it on my Graphics I screw it into a Copal #1 shutter. To get more magnification I add extension tubes using a series of adapters, which are described below (see section 3). The lens gives best image quality wide open. Since there's no depth of field even when it is stopped down, I shoot it only wide open. This lens was also sold for the Polaroid CU-5 camera. The only difference between the MP-4 and CU-5 versions is that the CU-5 version’s barrel is shorter. Better than 170 lp/mm on the USAF target from 15:1 to 25:1. Like all MP-4 Tominons, this lens has no serial number.

19.5/3.85 Bausch & Lomb microfiche projection lens. Fixed aperture. Not easily used on my Graphics, better used on 35 mm at magnifications above 20:1. In that range it does as well as a good 16/2.5 Luminar wide open. Bought from an internet vendor, and an outstanding value at $6.00 plus postage.


Figure 1: Inexpensive high performance macro lenses: 19/3.85 B&L lens from a microfiche reader and 25/1.9 Cine Ektar II, both crudely mounted. These very inexpensive lenses – the B&L cost only $US 6 plus postage – are very competitive with, e.g., 16/2.5 and 25/3.5 Luminars. Anyone who wants to do relatively high magnification photomacrography should consider them seriously.

20/1.9 Boyer Saphir in unknown thread mount. Stops to f/8. The mounting thread is 18.70 mm in diameter, i.e., it goes in a 19 mm hole. The lens came on a C-mount adapter whose length is slightly adjustable. On its adapter the lens gives magnifications from 2:1 to 3:1. I mounted the assembly on a Beaulieu cine camera and looked through it. The image quality on the camera’s ground glass at 2:1 was awful. Wide open at 15:1 it barely separated features 10 microns apart. Not a very usable lens. It is a six element/four group double Gauss type.

25/1.9 Cine Ektar II in C-mount. This is one of the sharpest normal lenses for 16 mm motion picture cameras. Kodak's Publication N-12B “Photomacrography” reports that it performs well at high magnifications when reverse mounted. I mount it on the Graphics with a couple of filter step rings and a 52 mm male filter thread-to-male #1 adapter made for me by SKGrimes (www.skgrimes.com). It makes a fine macro lens; the 25/3.5 Luminar was hardly better in my first tests. On my second tests, at 10:1, 15:1, and 26:1 best at f/2.8, not wide open, a surprise; 161 lp/mm at f/2.8 at all three magnifications. This is better than the two 25/3.5 Luminars I’ve tried. Not quite as much working distance as expected; the C-mount flange-to-film distance is 17.56 mm but the lens' rear element protrudes several mm beyond the flange, leaving around 15 mm working distance. If magnifications of 10:1 or so are needed and the camera at hand is a 2x3 Graphic or a 35 mm SLR this lens is very cost-effective.

Figure 2: Three Luminars and a Summar: Luminars are regarded as the ne plus ultra of lenses for photomacrography but Macro Nikkors are at least as good. My 25/2.8 Summar, extracted from a YELUU micro-projection attachment for a Prado projector, is, I think, very competitive with the 25/3.5 Luminar.

25/2.8 Leitz Summar in RMS thread. This fixed aperture lens was made to be used in a Leitz YELUU microprojection attachment for a Prado slide projector. Immediately it arrived I asked the sages on sci.technique.microscopy about it. Their consensus was that it was not usable as a taking lens. This may be, but I saw 170 lp/mm through it at 15:1. It was worse at lower magnifications. Barely usable on a 2x3 Graphic because its too long – it won’t quite make 15:1 on a 2x3 Speed -- but quite usable on cameras that offer more extension.

25/3.5 Zeiss Luminar in RMS thread. The 25/3.5 Luminar is a high-performance macro lens designed for use at magnifications of 6.3x to 25x. At those magnifications it covers 4x5. Mine is an early one that isn't engraved with the word "Luminar." It is marked, simply, "Zeiss-Winkel" and unlike most Luminars is in chrome, not black enamel, livery. I can use it at magnifications up to 11x or so on my Graphics. It is attached to the camera with adapters, see below, section 3. Working distance is short, around 18 mm from front of barrel to subject. Like all high-performance macro lenses, best wide open. A fine lens, but not much better on my first test than my 25/1.9 Cine Ektar II. Worse than the CE II on my second test. A second newer 25/3.5 Luminar was no better.

32/4.5 Bausch & Lomb Micro Tessar in RMS thread [returned to its owner with thanks]. Borrowed from a friend. Uncoated, in a narrow black barrel; later coated ones are in wider stainless barrels. Micro Tessars are mentioned with respect in Graphic Graflex Photography and on Usenet. Usable at 10:1, but not as good as my 35/4.5 Tominon. I suspect it would work better at higher magnification.

35/4 Rodenstock Eurygon in #1 thread [sold]. Serial number, maker’s name, and lens’ identification are engraved on the front of what appears to be a wide, flat lens hood. It was sold for use on Polaroid MP-3 and MP-4 cameras. Diaphragm not click-stopped, indicator moves beyond f/4; the aperture scale is engraved on the barrel. Found mounted on a Prontor Press #1. Marginally usable at 10:1. The old 32 Micro Tessar is better, the 35/4.5 Tominon is much better. Bought at a camera show.

And another, bought at a camera show as a speculation. Stops to f/16, diaphragm is click-stopped, indicator does not move beyond f/4. This lens doesn’t have the other one’s hood and lacks a serial number. Maker’s name, lens’ identification, and aperture scale are on a metal strip. The hood isn’t misplaced, the front cap fits properly on the front of the barrel. In a box labeled “Polaroid MP-3 Camera Accessory 35mm Macro Lens & Bellow Extension Unit.” The extension unit is a focusing helical, minimum extension 2¾", maximum extension 3 7/8", with a 3¼" x 3¼" lens board at one end and a board with sliders etc. and a recess to accept the same size board at the other.

I can’t be absolutely sure, but the two may have different optical as well as mechanical designs. Both have rear element larger than the front. I think – can’t be sure – that the first one’s rear element was larger than the second’s.

35/4.5 Tominon in #1 thread [sold]. On the MP-4 it is used at magnifications from 5x to 14x. On my little Speed, attached like the 17/4, it gives no more than about 8x. Mine is very sharp at 10:1, best wide open. Working distance? More than enough. Surprisingly, best resolution at 17.6:1, not tested at higher magnification. A second example was worse. With Tominons, acceptance testing is necessary. Bought from an internet vendor who thought it was an enlarging lens. MP-4 lenses are not enlarging lenses.

38/3.5 Olympus apparently cemented into an M42x1 threaded barrel [sold]. Stops to f/8. Olympus made two 38/3.5 macro lenses, one for the Pen F system and another in RMS thread. I bought this lens hoping it would be one of them and because it wasn’t too expensive. It doesn’t seem to be either of Olympus’ mainstream 38/3.5 macro lenses or their 38/3.5 enlarging lens for half frame negatives. It has an uncommon optical formula, apparently three single elements in front of the diaphragm and two more behind it. Best from 6:1 to 10:1. Not used yet, and not likely to be because of short working distance and because I have lenses that are better at its best magnifications.

4 cm 1:4,5 Zeiss Tessar in RMS thread [given to Mr. Barringer]. An uncoated pre-WWI mystery lens. Not coated. Normal tessar, not reversed. Intended range of magnifications unknown. Aperture scaled in mm, from 00 to 10. The lens’ smallest aperture is actually 1 mm. In a light metal (aluminum?) cup that is intended to screw into something. Usable above 1:1, not as good as the 40/4.5 Luminar.

40/4.5 Zeiss Luminar in RMS thread [sold]. A high-performance macro lens designed for use at magnifications of 4x to 16x. At those magnifications it covers 4x5. I’ve had an early one that wasn't engraved with the word "Luminar." It was marked, simply, "Zeiss-Winkel" but unlike my 25/3.5 was in black enamel. This focal length can be used at magnifications up to 6x or so on my Graphics. It came below market, but was still expensive. I bought it with speculation in mind, never got around to using it, and eventually sold it with regret when bills had to be paid. It came with a Linhof female RMS-to-male 25 mm (an enlarging lens standard) adapter that I kept.

I later bought another 40/4.5 Zeiss-Winkel even farther below market from a vendor on eBay France who had made four classic mistakes. He offered four “enlarging lenses,” three Boyer Saphir <<B>> and the Luminar, as a bundle. He spelled the Luminar’s maker’s name “zeisswinkel,” making it invisible to most reasonable searches. He didn’t identify his zeisswinkel as a Luminar. And he announced in his listing that he’d ship only to France, thereby scaring off foreign bidders; I asked him if he’d ship to the US before bidding, on the off chance that he might, and he agreed to do so. The postal system ate the lenses, and disgorged them long after I’d given them up for lost. This lens’ serial number is 32 higher than my first one’s. It came with a Linhof female RMS-to-male # 0 shutter adapter. It shoots well.

I’ve looked through two newer 40/4.5 Luminars that belong to a friend. The view through them is outstanding; wide open at lowish – 5:1 – 6:1 -- magnifications they’re a little better than a reversed 55/2.8 MicroNikkor (see below). From 10:1 up my better 35/4.5 Tominon at least matches them. And my zeisswinkel, clearly a keeper, matches the newer ones.

45/4.5 Carl Zeiss Jena Mikrotar in RMS thread, uncoated [sold]. A triplet. The diaphragm scale indicates the aperture’s diameter in mm. Optimized for 4x - 8x. As shot, a very fine lens wide open @ 4:1 and 8:1. Worse stopped down. On a 2x3 Speed Graphic the highest magnification attainable is around 5:1, the lowest is about 2:1. This last is lower than the Mikrotar and most 45-60 mm “micro” lenses should be used. Probably pre-WWII. Bought at a camera show.

Marc James Small and Charlie Barringer have terrible examples of this lens. Marc’s turned out to be missing an element. It isn’t clear what’s wrong with Charlie’s. Not, I fear, to be bought without the right of return.

48/4.5 Bausch & Lomb Micro Tessar in RMS thread, uncoated [sold]. Engraved “Micro Tessar.” Usable at 4:1 and 8:1, not the best. I believe this lens performs better at higher magnifications. There is a very nice shot taken at 20:1 with one in the first edition of Graphic Graflex Photography.

48/4.5 Bausch & Lomb Macro in RMS thread [sold]. Engraved “Macro.” In a barrel with significantly more chrome than the 48/4.5 Micro Tessar mentioned above. This lens isn’t worth the trouble of using.

5.2.2  2” to 3-1/2” (50 mm to 90 mm)

50/3.5 Reichert Neupolar in RMS thread and chrome livery, no information about best magnification. A triplet. The diaphragm scale indicates the aperture’s diameter in mm. Reichert is now part of Leica Microsystems, who could give very little information about the lens. They suggested it could be used between 4:1 and 30:1. David Paschke, of Paschke Micro-Optics, the New England repair center for Leica microscopes, tells me “The Neupolar lenses are very decent objectives, as you probably are aware. They are the equivalent of the Leitz Summar computations, not quite as fine as the Leitz Photars or the Zeiss Luminars, but much better than the Leitz Milar lenses.” In test 1, not quite as good wide open as the 45/4.5 Mikrotar at 4:1 and 8:1 but still very usable. Test 2 gave the same results. The view through it wide open is marginally better than the view through a 50/4.5 Tominon, worse than the reversed 55/2.8 MicroNikkor at f/4. I have acquired a second example whose serial number is 79 higher than the first’s. Its performance exactly matches the first’s.


Figure 3: Two Neupolars in their dovetails: I think these were made for the Reichert MeF-2 metallograph. Note the beamsplitters, used for axial illumination of the subject. The 50/3.5 Neupolar is ok, but there are better lenses of that focal length (±) for photomacrography. The 100/6.3, on the other hand, really is the ne plus ultra in its focal length. The black tube is an adaptor for mounting the 100/6.3 on a #1 shutter; Steve Grimes made it.

There is also a 50/4.5 Neupolar. I’ve seen one in black enamel, apparently uncoated, on eBay. I think it is a predecessor of the 50/3.5.

50/3.5 Boyer Saphir B. An enlarging lens in 30 mm thread. One of the bundle of lenses that came with my second 40/4.5 Luminar. Saphir Bs are six element plasmat [9] types.

50/4 Wollensak Enlarging Pro Raptar. Stops to f/22. I bought this lens because my 4”/5.6 Enlarging Pro Raptar and 160/5.6 Pro Raptar, both discussed below, are so good. This one, though, is somewhat of a disappointment. Marginally usable at 1:1 and higher magnifications mounted normally, gets worse as magnification increases. The 50/4.5 Tominon is better.


Figure 4: US-made lenses good for macro: Pro Raptars were 6/4 plasmat [9] types and were Wollensak’s answer to, e.g., Sironar and plasmat type Symmar taking lenses. Enlarging Pro Raptars were Wollensak’s answer to Componon and Rodagon enlarging lenses, were made in focal lengths from 50 mm to 190 mm. The 4"/5.6 Enlarging Pro Raptar, show front-mounted on a Copal #1 shutter, is competitive with the 100/6.3 Luminar for magnifications from 1:8 to 4:1.

50/4.5 Enlarging Ektar in ~ 1" thread [sold]. This lens is recommended highly for photomacrography in Kodak Publication N-12B. It is very usable mounted normally (back towards film) at 4:1 and 8:1 but isn't as good as my 55/2.8 MicroNikkor. All things considered, this lens is probably the best bargain in ~ 50 mm lenses for photomacrography. Bought at a camera show. This lens, the 63/8 MicroFile Ektar, 75/4.5 Enlarging Ektar, 100/3.5 Ektar and 105/3.7 Ektar are all Heliar types.

And another, bought at a camera show because it was so pretty and so inexpensive. Also sold.

50/4.5 Micro Raptar in ~ 1” thread (same diameter as, different pitch than, the 50/4.5 Enlarging Ektar). Stops to f/22. Usable, improves as magnification increases; best at 12:1, the highest magnification tried. Better than the 48/4.5 MicroTessar. I’ve seen slower 50 mm Micro Raptars without diaphragms and have no idea what they are.

50/4.5 Tominon in #1 thread [sold]. On the MP-4 best from 2x - 9x. Usable, not the best, at 4:1 and 8:1, at 8:1 better at f/5.6 than wide open. Another despised lens that performs adequately and is a very good value. Better at higher magnifications.

55/2.8 AIS MicroNikkor. Used reversed and wide open this is the best more-or-less 50 mm macro lens I own. A little better at f/4 than at f/2.8. I understand it is diffraction limited by f/4. To fit it on a Graphic, I use a male 52 mm filter-to-male #1 thread adapter made by SKGrimes. With this adapter it can be used from 2:1 to 5:1 on the Graphics. A superb lens. At today's prices used ones are great values. Bought new from a dealer.

Figure 5: Outstanding macro lens: The 55/2.8 MicroNikkor AIS is a superb lens and can be used, reversed, for photomacrography on formats larger than 24x36. It is at least the equal of the 63/4.5 Luminar and much less expensive.

55/8 Schneider ReproClaron in 25 mm enlarging lens thread [sold]. Stops to f/32. Bought at a camera show. The Lens Collector’s Vade Mecum[10], a compendium of lore about lenses published on CD by some very serious Englishmen, says it optimized for magnifications in the range 1:4-4:1, but Schneider’s archives give coverage and distances for 1:10-10:1. On test it did well wide open at 4:1, but not as well as my faster ~ 50 mm lenses. In this class of lenses, aperture makes a difference, larger is sharper. Mounted on the shutter using a 25 mm-to-LTM[11] and other adapters; the cells will go into a #00 shutter. Too short to use much below 1:1 on my Speed Graphic, and at 1:1 it doesn't quite cover 2¼ x 3¼. This lens’ outer elements are radioactive and appear to have yellowed.

60/1.4 Boyer Saphir in 61 mm x 1 thread [sold]. A six-element Gauss type, stops to f/16. Offered on eBay as an enlarging lens. The Vade Mecum says the f/1.4 Saphirs were intended for cine cameras and 35 mm still. This one has with no focusing mount, so can’t have been meant for either application. A complete mystery, heavy enough to work well as a paperweight. I never found a way to use it. Its barrel won’t clear a 2x3 Pacemaker front standard and its back focus – rear element-to-film distance -- is too short to allow it to focus to infinity when mounted entirely in front of the lens board. It will, however, make infinity in front of a Century Graphic front standard. I’ve looked through it that way. It nearly illuminates 6x6 at infinity, but suffers severe barrel distortion. The distortion seems much less bad with near subjects.

60/4.5 Staeble Katagon in Leica Thread Mount (LTM) [sold]. Sold by Novoflex, said to be best from 1:2 to 2:1. Not a keeper at 2:1, although focusing on my stage micrometer at that low magnification was very difficult. Bought at a camera show.

63/4.5 Luminar in RMS thread. Bought because no one outbid me. So-so cosmetics, and the front element has scratches. Still, the view through it is quite good. It is as sharp as a prettier one I borrowed.

72/4.5 Micro Tessar in 34 mm thread [sold]. A modern one in stainless barrel. Reversed Tessar. Usable, but not a keeper at 2:1 or 4:1.

And another, engraved “Macro,” not “Micro Tessar,” bought at a camera show for resale. Also a reversed Tessar. And another Micro Tessar, also bought at a camera show for resale, traded for some lens boards. Haven’t sold “Macro” yet.

75/3.5 Boyer Saphir B in LTM. Stops to f/22. I got this lens, which is rated highly by the French, hoping it would be useful for photomacrography. It was very inexpensive, always an inducement to gamble. Wide open and at f/5.6 it is worse mounted normally than the 75/4.5 Tominon at 2:1 and 4:1. It is, however, quite good from f/11 to f/22 between 1:8 and 1:1; not quite as good in that range as the 100 Neupolar or 4” Pro Raptar, better than the 80/5.6 Minolta. Very usable up to 1:1, not usable much above 1:1.

75/4 Rodenstock Apo Rodagon DM 1:1 in LTM [sold]. Bought at the urging of Vivek Iyer, who insists it is one of the best lenses made. This is possible, but it doesn’t cover 2x3.

75/4.5 Enlarging Ektar. Stops to f/22. This lens is recommended highly for photomacrography in Kodak Publication N-12B. Not tried yet. A gift from Vivek Iyer.

And another, bought at a camera show because it was so pretty and so inexpensive. Sold this one to, believe it or not, Vivek Iyer.

75/4.5 Tominon in #1 thread [sold]. On the MP-4 it gives magnifications from 2x to 4x. I have two, have tried one at normal distances to see if could be used as a wide angle lens on 2¼ x 3¼. Users of 2x3 Graphics would be delighted to have a $25 wide angle lens. At infinity and f/16 it illuminates the frame but image quality is terrible. I mention it here mainly to point out its unsuitability for use as a wide angle lens. On test 1, it is usable, not great, at 4:1, better at f/5.6 than wide open, and in my opinion not usable at 2:1. A similar lens in Copal #0 press, rather than in front of a Copal 1, was sold for the Polaroid CU-5. A few people have reported on photo.net that it covers 2x3 at infinity and produces good image quality. On test 2, both of mine were middling.

80/5.6 C.E. Minolta Rokkor-X in LTM [sold]. A highly regarded six element enlarging lens for 2¼ x 2¼. Stops to f/45. I got it for close-up photography at magnifications from 1:4 to 1:1. It isn't bad from f/11 to f/22, but the 100/6.3 Neupolar, 4"/5.6 Enlarging Pro Raptar, and 75/3.5 Saphir B are better.

85/3.5 Boyer Saphir B in LTM. Stops to f/22. Another of the bundle of enlarging lenses that came with my second 40/4.5 Luminar. Untried, probably will do much the same as the 75/3.5 Saphir B.

90/6.3 Zeiss Jena M in 26.5 mm thread [sold]. Bought from an internet vendor. Sort of a reversed tessar; “sort of” because the diaphragm is between the two single elements, not between the pair of singlets and the cemented pair as in most tessars. The diaphragm scale seems to indicate the aperture’s diameter in mm; the smallest number is 1, corresponding to f/90. According to Charlie Barringer, “M” stands for Mikrotar. Doesn’t cover 2x3 at infinity. A good lens, in the same class as the 100/6.3 Luminar and Neupolar.

5.2.3  4” to 6-1/2” (100 mm to 160 mm)

100/5.6 Componon-S in M32.5x0.5 [sold]. Bought because the price was right and it is supposed to be a better lens than that 105/5.6 Componon I’d bought less than a month earlier. Both lenses were bought in the hope that at least one would be good enough to use close up and easier to use with flash than my 100 Neupolar and 4”/5.6 Enlarging Pro Raptar. In the end I broke down and had SKGrimes make an adapter for front-mounting the Enlarging Pro Raptar on a #1. I should have done that sooner and not bothered with other enlarging lenses.

100/6.3 Neupolar. Stops to f/20. I’ve bought three: one early, uncoated, two late, coated, and have sold the uncoated one and one of the coated ones. Recommended range of magnifications unknown. A reversed Tessar. The diaphragm scale indicates the aperture’s diameter in mm; the smallest number is 5, corresponds to f/20. It screws into a #1 via an SKGrimes adapter; to get magnifications much above 1:1 I put the same string of adapters and extension tubes I use for the Tominons between lens and shutter.


Figure 6: Great and bad macro lenses: the 100/6.3 Neupolar is in an adapter to #1 shutter made by Steve Grimes. The 35/4 Eurygon will screw into the front of a #1.

I use my first late one out-and-about with my Speed on tripod with focusing rail. Stopped down to f/11 or smaller it forms a good but vignetted image at infinity; it would do well on 2¼ x 2¼. A 101/4.5 Ektar is therefore a better choice for general photography, but for close-up work the Neupolar is great. It is the best lens I have from 1:8 to 1:1 at f/11 to f/20 and wide open from 1:1 to 4:1. On my Graphics it can be used from 1:8 to around 2:1. The second late one, whose serial number is over 35,000 higher than the first’s, shoots as well as the first.

100/6.3 Luminar [sold]. Recommended range of magnifications 0.8x - 8x, covers 4x5 across the range. Another flea market (camera show) find, not badged "Luminar." The vendor didn't know what it was nor did the other people who walked by his table. Bargains will probably exist as long as ignorance. This one has problems. It was kept in a plastic bag that seems to have worn a spot in the front element's coating. I've shot it against my coated 100/6.3 Neupolar. The Neupolar is much better, so I never sent the Luminar out to be recoated or had an adapter to #1 shutter made for it. In fact, my 100 Luminar is terrible; it can't be focused at 4:1. Comparison with a borrowed 100/6.3 Luminar known to be good makes it clear that mine has bad problems. The good one, though, isn't quite up to the Neupolar. This is unexpected.

4"/5.6 Enlarging Pro Raptar. Stops to f/32. 6/4 plasmat type [9]. I got this lens from an internet vendor with Ken Ruth’s advice in mind and because my 160/5.6 Pro Raptar is so good. I initially bodged it onto a #1; the result was ugly, but more than good enough for light use. More recently I’ve had a proper mount adapter made. From 1:1 to 1:8 it is very good indeed from f/11 to f/22. From 1:1 to 4:1 it is nearly as good wide open as the 100 Neupolar. At f/16 at normal distances it forms an image but my 101/4.5 Ektar is much better. The 100 Neupolar is a treasure not to be parted with but the 4"/5.6 Enlarging Pro Raptar is the lens I use for close-up work in the field. Ease-of-use is very important.

105/4.5 Comparon in #0 Copal Press. Stops to f/32. Tessar type enlarging lens. Lens made in 1978. Bought for the shutter. And then I read Schneider’s propaganda, which claims that the Comparon gives better image quality enlarging from 2x to 6x (1:2 to 1:6 taking) than Componon and Componon-S. So much for the 100/5.6 Componon-S and 105/5.6 Componon I already had. For use above 1:1, the cells can be swapped front to back in the shutter. As expected, shoots well close up, but the enlarging Pro Raptar is better. Even so, I can’t bring myself to toss the glass and find another lens for the shutter.

And another in cock-and-shoot Copal 0. Aperture scale not calibrated. Lens made in 1976. Also bought for the shutter. Both 105 Comparons came from Sirchie mug shot cameras.


Figure 7: Two Comparons: Schneider’s Comparons are essentially Xenars optimized for relatively small enlargements, perform very well as macro lenses. Cheap and cheerful.

105/5.6 Schneider Componon in barrel. Stops to f/32. 6/4 plasmat [9] type enlarging lens. Bought at a camera show to satisfy curiosity. There have been many discussions in photography forums on the wisdom of using enlarging lenses as taking lenses. The consensus is that Componons work quite well as taking lenses. I’ve verified that the cells go properly into my spare Synchro Compur #0. Not good enough closeup to replace my 100/6.3 Neupolar and 4”/5.6 Enlarging Pro Raptar. Not good enough to replace my 101/4.5 Ektar and 4”/2 Taylor Hobson at distance.

105/5.6 El-Nikkor in M39x1. Stops to f/45. 6/4 plasmat [9] type. Bought a few weeks after the 100/5.6 Componon-S because the price was right and the El-Nikkor is much easier to use reversed than either it or the 105/5.6 Componon. As with them, my goal was to shoot not far from 1:1 more easily than can be done with 100 Neupolar or 4” Enlarging Pro Raptar. The Enlarging Pro Raptar is better.

135/4.5 Tominon in #1 thread [sold]. Tessar type. Works from 1x-3x on the MP-4. Polaroid’s recommended magnifications for the MP-4 Tominons are, miraculously, exactly the magnifications attainable with them on a standard MP-4. I got it with an MP-4 shutter when I needed a shutter; the package was too inexpensive to pass up just because the lens was included. I've never shot it close up because the 100/6.3 Neupolar does what I need. Polaroid describes the 135/4.5 Tominon as a general purpose lens. I've shot it at normal distances and don't like the results it gives; much less sharp than the 101/4.5 Ektar. Bought from an internet vendor.

I’ve since got another, later sold, as part of a package from eBay. Looking through both at the USAF 1951 target on glass at 1:2 made it clear that not all Tominons were created equal.

135/4.5 Boyer Saphir B in 45 mm thread. Another of the enlarging lenses that came with my second 40/4.5 Luminar. Terrible at distance regardless of aperture. At 1:2, second-best of my ~ 135 mm lenses suitable for closeup work, very usable.

135/5.6 Enlarging Pro Raptar. Stops to f/32. Another Wollensak 6/4 plasmat [9] type enlarging lens. A gift from Vivek Iyer. The best of my ~ 135 mm “macro” lenses. Better at distance than the 135/4.5 Boyer, almost usable.

And another, bought at a low price because the first one’s diaphragm is very stiff. Replacing the lens cost less than repairing it.

138/4.5 Graphic Raptar in unknown thread. Stops to f/32. A tessar type bought because the price was right and because there are two reports on Usenet that it works well as a macro lens. At 1:2, as good as my better 135/4.5 Tominon. Usable, not the best. I have no idea of its intended use. Richard Knoppow has commented on Usenet that Graphic Raptars are simply rebadged enlarging Raptars and not very good. He’s reported that all tessar type Raptars suffer severe coma, an aberration that is worst at the edges of the field and that can be reduced by stopping down. Closeup photography uses only the center of the image, so this lens’ coma, if present, should not be a major problem.

150/5.6 Comparon in barrel. Stops to f/45. Another tessar type enlarging lens, bought because I’m happy with how the 105/4.5 Comparon shoots and because the price was very, very right. Not tried yet.

6 3/8” (162 mm)/5.6 Enlarging Pro Raptar in barrel. Stops to f/32. One more Wollensak 6/4 plasmat [9] type enlarging lens. Bought at a camera show because the price was very right. Not tried yet.

5.3  Other enlarging lenses for photomacrography

In addition to the lenses mentioned above I've tried a 35/4.5 Spiratone [sold] and a 60/4.5 Dallmeyer at magnifications above 1:1. I found the Spiratone completely unusable and the Dallmeyer worse than the roughly equivalent Tominons. Ken Ruth's advice notwithstanding, I've stopped trying enlarging lenses for high magnification work. Short ones aren't practical for work on a Speed Graphic at magnifications below 1:1. Lenses around 100 mm are probably best for working below 1:1 with a 2x3 camera.

5.4  Which macro lenses should I use on my Graphics?

It depends on magnification and desired working aperture. Remember that usable magnification is limited by extension. With the Speed and a #1 shutter, I can count on no more than 300 mm without vignetting.

As a practical matter, the 90/6.3 Mikrotar, 100/6.3 Neupolar, and 4”/5.6 Enlarging Pro Raptar are as good as any of my shorter lenses at magnifications from 1:8 to 2:1. At those magnifications at f/11 to f/22 with TMX or EPP, these three give the same results as the shorter lenses and better working distance. The Neupolar is ever so slightly the best, but the Enlarging Pro Raptar is much easier to use. End of that discussion. From 2:1 to 4:1 the reversed 55/2.8 AIS MicroNikkor at f/4 is my best lens, but the 63/4.5 Luminar is somewhat easier to use. From 4:1 to 6.6:1, my 40/4.5 Luminar wide open is probably it. From there to 11:1, the reversed 25/1.9 Cine Ektar II at f/2.8 is the lens to use; the 25/3.5 Luminar is, however, easier to travel with and to use. From there to 16.5:1 the 17/4 Tominon (that I no longer have) wide open is it. Getting higher magnifications on a 2x3 Graphic doesn’t seem practical; in the field, around 4:1 is the practical limit.

6  Notes & References


2¼ x 3¼ or 2¼ x 2¾ camera: The 2¼ x 2¾ format is also known as 6x7 cm. In the US, 2x3” press cameras use cut-film in size 2¼ x 3¼ inches whereas in Europe the 6,5x9 cm cut film size was in use. Actually, 6,5x9 cm sheets of film are sightly bigger, their dimension is in fact 2½ x 3½ inches i.e. 63.5 x 88.9 mm. Except for users who wish to work with those specific cut-film sizes requiring specific, non-interchangeable cut-film holders, in all this article, 2x3 (2x3”) and 6x9 (6x9 cm) will denote the same camera formats. Moreover most 2x3” / 6x9 cm cameras can accept 120 (or 220) rollfilm backs, providing 8 (or 16) exposures of size close to 56x82 mm and in 6x7 format 10 (or 20) exposures of size close to 56x70 mm.


Back Focus or Back Focal Distance: distance between the last lens vertex and the focal point. It is very common that the short back focal distance of view camera wide-angle lenses makes impossible to mount them on a reflex camera.


In barrel: of course in all lenses, individual lens elements are held together by a barrel. The expression barrel lenses means that the lens has no built-in leaf shutter. Most barrel lenses, or shutter-less lenses, however, have a built-in iris and aperture control; however there exist numerous examples of barrel lenses with a fixed aperture, for example in scanners, xerox copiers or microfilm projectors.


T-mount: this is a simple metric thread mount, M42x0.75 mm, widely used to attach a 35 mm SLR to a microscope or a telescope. It should not be confused with the “universal” M42x1 mm threaded mount used to attach lenses to a variety of 35 mm SLRs like older Pentax and Praktika cameras. In M42x1 lens mounts, thread pitch is 1 mm, not 0.75 like in the T-mount, but the nominal diameter is the same. “T2” can also be found for the T-mount. Some T/T2 adaptor rings can rotate in order to perfectly set the lens position with respect to the camera body. T-mount rings can be found in most bayonet styles, allowing to adapt T-mount lenses to almost every new or used 35 mm SLR available on the market, as well as step-up rings from the T-mount to the video C-mount standard and modern Four-Thirds and Micro-Four-Thirds bayonet standards.


An exception to the rule is the modern Sinar DB behind-the-lens shutter system. A single shutter of large diameter is attached to the front standard of the monorail camera just behind the rear lens cell, and can serve for a whole range of barrel lenses sold in a dedicated “Sinar DB” mount.


threaded to screw into a #1 shutter: specifications for #1 shutters are as follows

  • iris max diameter: 30 mm

  • front cell thread: M40x0.75; rear cell thread: M36x0.75

  • lens board hole diameter: 41.6-41.8 mm; retaining ring thread: M39x0,75

  • cell spacing = overall thickness: 20±0.025 mm

    More shutter sizes here: http://www.skgrimes.com/compur/index.htm


lp/mm: line pairs per millimeter. or cycles/mm, a classical means of measuring the fine pitch of grid-shaped test patterns in resolution targets. The correspondence with lines pairs per inches is: 25.4 lp/inch = 1 lp/mm; one lp/inch ~ 0.04 lp/mm. Converted into dots or samples, two dots or two samples are required to pass one cycle, so 1 lp/mm needs 2 points or two samples per mm, 1 lp/mm requires 25.4x2 = 50.8 dots or samples per inch, 8 lp/mm requires about 400 samples per inch.


Royal Microscopical Society (RMS) thread: most lenses used on a microscopes have a standard RMS thread mount,
diameter 0.8 ” ; Whitworth (55° angle) ; 36 threads per pitch ; metric equivalent: 20.32 mm in diameter with a pitch of 0.706 mm.


6/4 plasmat types Originally, the Plasmat is a (6/4) lens design by Paul Rudolph, the father or Carl Zeiss Planar and Tessar lenses. The Plasmat was introduced in 1918 when Rudolph had left Zeiss and worked for Hugo Meyer. It is a quasi-symmetrical design like Von Hoegt’s Goerz Dagor, except that instead of cemented triplets in the Dagor, the Plasmat uses cemented doublets and an air-spaced single element in each group of 3. It is one of the most fruitful (6/4) lens designs of all times, which inspired up to now modern top-class view camera lenses of standard focal length.


The Lens Collector’s Vade Mecum can be obtained on CD from this vendor : http://www.antiquecameras.net/lensvademecum.html


LTM: Leica Thread Mount, a famous thread size used to mount lenses on Leica rangefinder cameras prior to the introduction of the Leica-M bayonet mount. LTM is a standard size for many modern enlarging lenses. Specifications are a strange mix of metric and Imperial, thread diameter is a metric 39 mm while the thread pitch is an Imperial 26 TPI ; the full metric specification would be precisely M39x0.977. Beware however that it is not uncommon to find pseudo-LTM threads of actual metric specifications M39x1. For enlarging lenses where the number of mounting threads is usually small, mechanical tolerances often allow to actually mount a true LTM M39x26TPI on a M39x1 and vice-versa.


part 1
part 2
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Dernière modification : 2011



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