Older soft focus lenses

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I am looking for older portrait lenses that would fit on a 4x5, I had a kodak portrait lens but during a weaker moment sold it, so I am familiar with the effect of that lens. I am looking for something similar but, maybe a little stronger effect. Is anyone familar with Pinkham/Smiths or Cooke lenses and the effects they have? Any suggestions for vintage lens other then the ones listed? Anyone know of a source for these types of lenses, I have tried Lens and Repro, and everyother major store as well as Ebay, but I thought somebody might know of an obscure source. Thanks for your help!!

-- Dave Orndorf (dorndorf@nconnect.net), May 15, 2001


I just wanted to add that I have visited Jay Allen's site on the subject of SF lenses and found it quite helpful. Also I forgot to ask if anyone is currently selling a SF lens please contact me. Thanks again!

-- Dave Orndorf (dorndorf@nconnect.net), May 15, 2001.

I think the Cooke triplet lenses by Taylor-Hobson will be far too sharp for you, unless you get one that barely covers the format. They are well corrected lenses with good contrast, and the only thing that makes their performance inferior to modern lenses is the small image circle (a 6" lens barely covers 5x4), and the lack of coating.
If you want a really noticeable soft-focus effect with very soft corners, why not try a cheap No. 4 closeup lens?

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), May 15, 2001.

Have you considered any of the Wollensak SF lenses? They produced several different models, including the Verito which Hurrell used in his early work. I've seen several other models listed as SF (velostigmat, vitax, etc.), but I have never been able to completely sort them out! In addition, you may want to consider more modern SF lenses such as the Fujinon 240.

If you are interested in replacing your old Kodak portrait lens, take a look at Stephen Shuart's site or Photographic Systems. Both sites list Kodak portrait lenses, although the prices are higher ($500+) than what you may be looking for.

You mentioned that you looked at J. Allen's page. Have you ordered his book on soft focus lenses? Any comments?


-- Dave Willison (dwillisart@aol.com), May 15, 2001.

Why not get a Rodenstock Imagon? I've seen several of them available through several photo sources (Del's had one not too long ago). The 200mm is the focal length you will find for 4x5.

-- steve (s.swinehart@worldnet.att.net), May 15, 2001.

The 7" Wollensak Verito covers 4x5 and I love it -- though a tad wide for me. Dean

-- Dean Lastoria (dvlastor@sfu.ca), May 15, 2001.

Hey Dave: I have an Imagon 300mm (for 5x7), and like it a lot. The Imagon is the most versatile portrait lens ever made. You have very fine control over the degree of diffusion. In the best results, you get a very interesting look that is both sharp and not sharp. The Imagon is pretty easy to find in various focal lengths (Ebay, Lens and Repro, Midwest Photo, Photographic Systems). If you get one, make sure to get one with the complete set of disks/filters. Do not be scared off by the Compound shutters the middle-aged to older Imagons were mounted in. People bitch a lot about Compound shutters, but they are not that hard to clean/adjust (or that expensive to have someone else do it) and they're almost impossible to kill. There are actually not that many things that can go wrong with them. My real old Imagon came in a REAL OLD COMPOUND NUMBER FIVE (minor key music here). It seemed very far gone but cleaned up just fine. Enough on Compounds.... If you get an Imagon, drop me an email. I have some literature you'll want to see. -jeff buckels (albuquerque nm)

-- Jeff Buckels (jeffbuck@swcp.com), May 15, 2001.

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