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Friday, 03 December 2010


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Mike - you keep sending me down memory lane.

I bought a 9-1/2" Dagor back in the late '80s to serve as my first real 8x10 lens. It covered the format well enough for sensible movements, and produced lovely black and white prints.

I used to make platinum-palladium prints from the 8x10 negatives in addition to printing on now-extinct Portriga Rapid photo paper. Talk about a classic look from a classic lens!

Here's the interview, I think...http://www.alexcovo.com/blog/archives/762

He mentions many cameras; don't see the lens.

Good find Jeff. Thanks. I think there was another article, though, in that same issue, about his technique. I don't know for sure.


I've shot with many Dagors, most during a stint at a big Chicago catalog studio in the early 80's earning my chops. After I went out on my own I picked up the modern Schneider Kern 14" in Compur and used it nonstop for a dozen years for every kind of commercial assignment and personal work. It made beautiful images, and was a work of art in and of itself. As I made the transition to a $20K Imacon back I sold it out of necessity, and it now lives in China. Wish I had it now on the Deardorff I let go of. What a bummer.

Well, here's a more extensive version, with video and bio, the latter including some technique info...http://rogerllonch.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/paolo-roversi-llum-natural-bellesa-sobrenatural/

I don't think there's another article on him based on this summary of contents...http://business.highbeam.com/articles/2025/photo-district-news/march-2005

Good find again...in that case I don't remember where I heard that he uses a Dagor. Maybe this is a senior moment so called....


All the later Dagors have been cult lenses for many years. I remember once in 1989, the salesman at a NYC pro shop telling me "they're all going to Japan". Not quite yet...

You do realize the Gold-Dot Goerz Dagor in a modern Copal #3, is
the kind of object d'art which will make grown men cry and women weep when they realize the lens is beautiful just as is, a work of art!

It isn't a Goerz Gold Dot, but I received a package today containing an ebay item I won last weekend: a Linhof Technika III with matched Xenar 150mm and sports finder in pretty decent condition. $350 including shipping. So much fun can be had these days for so little money. I can shoot a lot of 4x5 film and it will take me years to come close to the money you'd have to spend on a digital medium format system that can achieve the kind of quality prints this old gem can provide.

I'm waiting for the "Large Format for a Year" article to be published soon Mike! Speaking of Art Sinsabaugh, Amereican Horizons is a brilliant book.

In the middle 1990's I picked up a 12" and 14" Dagor and Protar (both in shutters) for what now seems like small change, also a 140mm f/18! WA Protar (shutterless), add to that trading an enlarging lens for a beautiful 11x14 Improved Empire State view and winning on Ebay a 4x5 Sinar Standard that was in a fire (only smoke damage & needed new bellows) for pretty much $ equal to the postage it took to ship it to New England. Add to this a SEI photometer and 8x10 Sinar Norma back again for almost no $. Now 15 years later after many times resisting to put them up on Ebay I treasure having the equipment. Between having a darkroom for the time being so all are packed away but in a few years when am able to construct another darkroom (sink, trays, paper, etc. all in storage) will be out there setting up the 4x5, 8x10, and 11x14 and enjoying every minute of it. Very much miss the experience of hand developing single sheets of film in the darkroom with music always playing in the background. Instead of using a timer I had a list of songs that I chose from depending on the developing time. Presently shoot digital but can not wait to return to using film. For printing will see what happens... printing digitally with pigment inks have gotten very comfortable with and after doing some Platimum/Pallatium printing, fiber base paper might just not be a choice for me.

This is the third time I've viewed the Natalia photo above and for some reason this time it really hit me hard. Even on a computer screen the earthiness and mood comes through. Wish I took it.

It's a variant, too--the more famous picture from the same session is somewhat different.

Paolo Roversi is an interesting photographer--I've been glad to learn more about him in the past few days. Normally fashion photography is just not my thing, and I certainly don't like all of his work, but he's very talented and certainly very accomplished. I'd like to seek out some of his books, if not to own then at least to see.


Just a little nod to all Goerz lenses here. I used to shoot scads of commercial work on 8X10 with a Red Dot Artar 19", loved that lens, but just got tired of using it with a Packard shutter, really wanted something in a Copal or Compur, and this was long before I knew a barrel lens could be post-fit into a shutter, and long before I knew about people like S. K. Grimes. I bought a, at the time, recently introduced Nikkor 450M, since it was close to the 19 inch of the Red Dot...ran some tests, and was I amazed! People laud the M series Nikon stuff, and rightly so, and certainly I felt much better about using Nikkor lenses in general on my 4X5 than some of the German manufacturers at the time, but that 450 was a dog for close-up work, didn't even need to use a loupe to see the difference between it and the Red Dot! No contest, the Red Dot was far superior!

When I was mounting the lens, I noticed that there was a little metal shim between the rear element and the shutter, it fell out when I was mounting it, and I put it back in, of course; but often wonder if I had left it out, if it would have been better close up. I know with symmetical lenses, spacing is a big deal for sharpness. BTW, the 450 Nikkor was perfect at infinity, but of no use to me that way, so I sold it and kept using the Red Dot.

I figured that the 450M Nikkor was an Apo, but probably figured for infinity instead of close up, which was the Red Dots forte.

Within about 18 months, I stopped getting much work in 8X10, and rarely did it any more; mostly a product of drum scanning in the pre-press business.

To this day, I do practically nothing commercially in sheet film anymore, but I keep a small set of Goerz Red Dot Artars in pristine shape: an 8 1/4, and a 12 inch, both in factory mounted Compur shutters (and a Fuji-A 240mm, which is basically a 9 1/2 inch), in case I get the calling to do 4X5 (5X4!) sheet film in the studio. I even paid the Grimes folks to make me threaded adapters for them to up-size the filter ring to a usable 67mm. If I ever find a 10 3/4 inch in factory Compur, I'll get that as well to fill that little "hole" between the Fuji and the 12".

They'll probably throw that little case of lenses in my coffin when I go...

...and, can anyone tell me what shutter numbers mean, like #4, etc?

There's no #4 that I know of...the numbers are #0, #1, and #3, and they just refer to sizes...#0 is Baby Bear, #1 is Mama Bear, and #3 is Papa Bear. (Sorry for the infantilism.) Check here and scroll down to where it says "Shutters."


There's no #4 that I know of...the numbers are #0, #1, and #3,"

no.4 shutters as well as no.5 were available as Compound shutter, as well as in Ilex models. Of course those two brands were NOT interchangeable, just similar in size!

A few years ago I attended a workshop on PT/PD printing given by Tillman Crane at Inversnaid in Scotland. While on a field trip he attached a Dagor lens to his camera and informed me it had been given to him by Paul Caponigro and it was the same lens used to capture Running Deer.

I myself have never been able to find a sensibley priced Dagor but I would love to own one of the later multicoated versions manufactured by Schneider.

Dear Mike;
thanks for answering my question.
Here is a quote I found by Paolo Roversi:
"My studio is a rectangular room with a high ceiling, old wooden parquet flooring, and a large window facing north. It is like a tiny theatre with an empty stage, a space to be filled, a time yet to be invented, a proscenium where everything is possible, no trick disallowed, where neither seasons, nor days, not hours exist. Here all temporal boundaries dividing live and imitation, reality and fiction, dissolve. Like any art worthy of the name, the most brazen lie can evolve into surprising and seductive truth. The furnishings are modest: two stools, a carport, some chairs, two or three lights, and an old blanket, which is my favorite backdrop. It can be a wall, a road, a field, sky, night, fear, wind… a screen for dreams. The studio is not only in this room; it is anywhere I put my camera on my tripod and my tripod on the ground, liberating my heart and mind. The studio is far more than a workplace or a tool of my trade. It is above all a state of being and feeling. The studio is everywhere. It is the corner of my mind. I have a very mystic and spiritual approach to photography, which I can't explain, and I don't need to. I like to keep things unrevealed, I like sometimes to lose myself into the indefinite. That often happens to me along the path of beauty, without every truly understanding where to proceed, and the further I manage to see, the deeper the mystery becomes. Photography goes beyond the limits of reality and illusion. It brushes up against another life, another dimension, revealing not only what is there but was is no there. Every photograph is an encounter, an intimate, reciprocal confession. I like long exposures to allow the should all the time it needs to rise to the surface, and to let chance have its way. Always, photographs surprise me; they never turn out quite the way I imagine they might. Every photograph enters the world as a sign of hope. It is late, very late. Everyone has left, and a strange silence has descended. I wander aimlessly around the deserted studio trying to bring some order to ideas and objects, but the natural and permanent chaos exerts its power. I put on my jacket, turn out the light, and close the door. But where does the light go? Silence… Darkness is the light's silence."


Did you mean, "Is this a dagor I see before me"?

I know, you have better taste than to wield that pun. Pen. Sorry, again.


I don’t know anything about this sort of equipment so sorry if this seems like a naive question. I hope someone could tell me, Paolo's style, is it necessarily the gear or more him or some combination. So if he was using say digital gear, would his pictures be that much different. I am genuinely interested in why you would use this sort of equipment. I really like his images but am hoping it is not a requirement to use this particular setup... what do people think?

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