Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Using Enlarging Lenses to Make Pictures

No, I am not talking about enlargers. I am talking about making pictures with enlarging lenses. Sometime last year, I read a photography forum where someone showed off some of the most fantastic pictures I had seen, made using an enlarging lens.

I was intrigued, and bought a used Rodenstock Omegaron 150mm f4.5 enlarging lens. Found a cheap 135mm f2.8 T-Mount lens, and removed the glasses. The enlarging lens was then planted on the front of the T-Mount lens. Now I had a lens that could focus to infinity. I couldn't believed my eyes when I looked at some of the pictures I took with it. They were sharp, corner to corner, on a full frame sensor. I was hooked.

Since then, I have accumulated a dozen or so enlarging lenses from 50mm to 300mm and made various lenses out of them. I made some of my favourite pictures with a few of them.

Basically, there are two ways to use the enlarging lenses. One, and the easiest way, is to use a bellows. This usually allows you to focus to infinity if the lens is longer than 90mm or so, and it lets you use the enlarging lens as a macro lens. But, this setup is very bulky and inconvenient to carry around. The second way to go about this is to "plant" the enlarging lens in an existing lens barrel. The second approach is what I took.

Believe it or not, I have a few boxes of cheap lenses of various focus lengths that I have collected over the years. They make great parts to build your own lenses. I found that the older the lens, the easier it is to take apart and be usable. Primes are best. A 50mm lens would make a great barrel for a 75mm to 105mm lens, using tubes or spacers made from filters rims.

I must say that it's great fun. It's a cheap way to get exceptionally sharp pictures, since most enlarging lenses are flat field design. They are designed for optical performance, instead of speed.

In the future, I will talk about individual lenses that I have used. Below you will find some sample lenses I have made, and a few pictures made from them.

Rodenstock Omegaron 150mm f4.5. My first frankenlens.

Sample pictures from the 150mm f4.5 Rodenstock Omegaron. Taken with a 1D mark II. Larger Picture.

Schneider Componon-S 80mm f4, planted on a 55mm f2 Yashica lens.

Sample pictures from the Schneider 80mm f4. Taken with 1D Mark II. Larger Picture.

Wollensak 209mm f4.5 Copy Lens. One of my favourite.

Sample picture from Wollensak 209mm f4.5 and Canon 1Ds. Larger Picture.

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