Wollensak 159mm f12.5

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Somebody offered me a Wollensak 159mm f12.5 in very good condition for $250. I would use it on a 8x10. Anybody has any experience with this lens as far as sharpness, color rendition, light falloff, etc. I shoot slide film.

-- Sorin Varzaru (svarzaru@bigfoot.com), January 29, 2001


The price is reasonable, assuming it's in a working shutter. It is designed for 8 X 10 use. It will not be as sharp as modern glass and depending on vintage will not be coated. I only shoot B&W with my f/9.5 so cannot comment from experience on color rendition, but I wouldn't expect astounding fidelity or saturation from it. In fact, I bet it's less contrasty image might compliment the saturation of Velvia, nicely. Don't look to this lens for being accurate with a MacBeth. Use it for what it is, reasonably priced vintage glass.

The following was condensed from another forum:

"The table I have lists the 12.5 Wollensak as having a 379 mm image circle and 100 degrees of coverage. That sounds like it could be about right. I believe you need to stop right down to f16 or f22 when shooting to get rid of residual aberrations, but this is only a guess based on info provided on lenses of similar vintage (the Angulon) where the wide open aperature is for viewing only. I don't have access to pricing information of the period and was not aware that the 159mm f/12.5 Wollensak Extreme Wide Angle lens was marketed as a cheaper version of the f/9 specimen. It was my impression that the difference is somewhat like that of the Protar IV and Protar V, in that the later, though of smaller maximum aperture, has somewhat greater coverage."

"Many years ago I had an opportunity to compare the f/12.5 and f/9 versions of the two Wollensak EX. WA lenses (they were both Velostigmats) and the f/12.5 model did indeed have greater coverage. Since coverage is a really important feature this fact should explain why the f/12.5 model has a market value close to the f/9. In fact for my money the greater coverage would make the f/12.5 model more valuable."

-- Sean yates (yatescats@yahoo.com), January 29, 2001.

There have been several of the Wollensak 159 mm lenses that have sold on e bay recently, some F 9.5, some F 12. You may be able to find them in the "completed sales" section of e bay. A friend of mine has the F 12. I've looked through it on a bright day and it seemed surprisingly bright on his plain ground glass. It probably would be even better with a Bosscreen. I paid more than $250 for my F 9 but I haven't yet mounted it on a lens board so I have no experience with it. I don't use slide film but my understanding is that coatings are more critical there than with negative film, especially the black and white that I use exclusively. I would think that with slide film you would want at least single coating and not all of the Wollensak 159s were coated at all. I don't think any were multi coated.

-- Brian Ellis (bellis60@earthlink.net), January 31, 2001.


Sean is right. The f12.5 lens has a bigger coverage compared to the f9 lens. If your lens has a yellow dot, it has a coverage of 94 degree at f16 (at infinity), whereas the f9 lens is 90. Do you find your chrome slightly warm (a little pinkish)?

-- Geoffrey Chen (DB45TEK@AOL.COM), February 02, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ