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Beseler and Rodenstock -- same enlarging lens?

Dave Martiny , May 04, 2008; 10:07 a.m.

Does anyone know for sure if the Beseler High Definition 80mm f/4 lens is identical to the Rodenstock Rodagon 80mm f/4? I've heard that Rodenstock made some lenses for Beseler and they certinainly look the same in some photos I've seen.

Can anyone using the Beseler lens give it a good recommendation? I'm considering buying one.



Michael Axel , May 04, 2008; 03:27 p.m.

Dave, I've read that as well. I can tell you that I have an older version Beseler lens called a Color Pro (I believe it may be the predecessor to the HD version), and it smokes my Nikkor and Schneider lenses in that same range (except for a 90mm APO Schneider, of which it's very difficult to tell the difference). They are superb lenses and I would not be dissuaded by the Beseler name.

Rodeo Joe , May 04, 2008; 05:12 p.m.

There's no enlarger manufacturer (other than Meopta and Leitz) that makes or ever made their own lenses, so Durst, Beseler, Omega and other re-badged lenses are nearly all made by either Schneider or Rodenstock - most likely Rodenstock.

The tooling cost for lenses is very high, so it's a racing certainty that any re-badged lens is going to be optically identical to one of the lenses in Rodenstock's standard line-up. If it walks like a Rodagon, and quacks like a Rodagon..........

Lex Jenkins , May 04, 2008; 08:00 p.m.

Rein in them hosses, RJ. Wollensak and others also manufactured lenses.

As for the old quack test, 't'ain't necessarily so.

THK Photo has manufactured items like filters which have been sold under other camera brand names, including Olympus. That does not mean that a Hoya or Kenko filter is identical to an Olympus badged filter at only half the price. Many items were made to spec for certain camera brands and were not available as "generics".

While it's possible that an enlarging lens that appears identical or substantially similar to another is in fact the same, I'd hold off until after methodical tests have been conducted on samples of each.

Considering the low price of most well known brand names of darkroom equipment on the used market, anything considered to be an off-brand should fetch a low price and might be worth buying just to see whether it performs well. Not much risk in spending $10-$20 for a lens to see whether it performs as well as a much more expensive version.

Jim Sandling , May 21, 2008; 07:54 p.m.

Yep...all enlarger mfg's bought their branded lenses from the best bidder...usually four elements unless otherwise admitted...but if you need a really good one..then don't forget about the kodak ektars.....and ektanons in the longer focal lengths...they are all fully corrected, coated and usually availabe for two - three verses of your best song. the ektars always perform very well. check 'em out.

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