PDA

View Full Version : DIY soft focus



mdarnton
29-Apr-2016, 08:14
I'm going to start this now, and hope eventually to have some pictures to show.

Since I got it, I have been unhappy with my 250mm Fujinon-SF. It didn't seem like a soft focus lens, with all of the nice things that implies, as much as just an unsharp lens. I gave it a fair shake, and really it didn't satisfy.

After reading up on achromatic soft focus lenses of the past, and experimenting with building lenses from close-up lenses, and substituting close up lenses for elements in normal lenses, I figured that it would be pretty much a crap shoot whether I could get something I liked or not, but it appeared to be worth experimenting.

I have been using for a while the front half of a 15" tele-Raptar as a SF lens, but it has a couple of disadvantages. One is focal length--around 7.5" is what I figure now; the other is, because of the relatively short FL, I think, distortion. Sometimes neither of those matters, and it's nice to have an f/2.8 SF lens of that length (examples on 4x5, x-ray film):

Outside, f/4, mounted with front component screwed inside, on the back:

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8705/17146398051_99f86f7e04_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/s8aLLB)
Randy M (https://flic.kr/p/s8aLLB)
by Michael Darnton (https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeldarnton/), on Flickr


Inside, f/2.8, heavily back lit; the front on the front, back component removed. Virtually no flare, and really nice modeling:

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1520/26275968925_cb9c78b41a_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/G2Vd7Z)
Alex H (https://flic.kr/p/G2Vd7Z)
by Michael Darnton (https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeldarnton/), on Flickr


Anyway, wondering what to do with my Fujinon, and wanting a SF lens somewhat longer than the 190mm of the half-tele, I noticed that it has 58mm filter threads on the back, so I picked up one of these on Ebay, for $40:
ProOptic 58mm Close-up Lens 250D Double-Element Achromatic Design

I completely gutted the Fujinon, leaving just the empty barrels, and screwed the achromatic lens on the back, where it sits about 1" behind the diaphragm, sort of an "approved" position in this application which I can extend backwards with empty filter rings if I decide to. Since it's a 250mm lens, the diaphragm markings calculate pretty close to what's printed on the lens, too.

I just did this yesterday and haven't shot anything with it yet, but the view is really looking good. At f/5.6 it's a lot softer than the Fuji, better in all respects; by f/8 it still looks unsharp, but is considerably cleaned up, and at f/11 I think the effects are mostly gone. In that respect, it tracks very closely with my 11.5" Verito, which I love but doesn't leave the studio very conveniently, since it's big and has a Packard shutter. This one has a real modern shutter, real sync--all the good stuff. It's an expensive experiment, but if I like the results it will be totally worth it!

Pictures when I get them.

BrianShaw
29-Apr-2016, 08:51
I'm looking forward to this discussion. I've explored SF in all formats. In LF all attempts have led me back to the same solution. My experience is different from yours in that the DIY solutions are fun to explore but never satisfy me.

Can anyone tell me what this was made with:
- Softar filter
- Duto filter
- Fujinon SF
- Imagon
- other antique SF-type lens


... but for some reason I can't seem to upload a pic. I'll keep trying.

Okay... figured that out, thanks to the thread in the Feedback section. Obviously I don't post enough pics to remember how to do it!

Apologies, I think this image started as a scan of a contact print.

150213

mdarnton
29-Apr-2016, 10:03
That looks like a normal lens stopped down a bit with Julia Margaret Cameron-style missed (front) focus to me rather than any of the choices you offered, but it's not really the kind of subject that shows off soft focus well. It doesn't have the ethereal look that I am searching for, at any rate.

What kind of results do you like that you are not getting?

Randy Moe
29-Apr-2016, 10:22
Following a pleasant inadvertent DSLR f32 portrait result, I was using f32 to match exposure for 5X7 LF shots during a combination session. Digital Polaroids.

Posted here in Tiny Format Portraits (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?118637-Tiny-Format-Portraits&p=1323370&viewfull=1#post1323370) the diffraction induced softening is very interesting and I plan to pursue the process with LF for increased DOF and induced softness during studio flash portraits. I was unaware of historical efforts in this procedure.

SergeiR
29-Apr-2016, 10:33
Michael this is awesome experiment

Jim Galli
29-Apr-2016, 10:33
Michael, was your intent for others to share their DIY results as well, or do you prefer to have this thread to share your own results?

As you know my site is littered with stuff like this. Dollar lenses as well as many thousands of dollar lenses. I played with a doublet out of an $8 antique pair of binoculars the other day. Let me know if it's OK to share those images here.

BTW the second image of the cello player is a stunner. Great results.

Peter De Smidt
29-Apr-2016, 10:36
f/32 won't be as soft on LF at a given print size. You might not notice much, if any, difference from f/22. f/32 requires a lot of light, which might be unpleasant for the sitter. In my experience, digital cameras are much more sensitive than their ISO ratings indicate, and so you'll probably need to give more exposure than was used in the sample photo, which is a terrific photo, btw.

I've done a little work with SF recently. My favorite in an Imagon with the small disk and the out disks half-closed. It's fairly sharp but there's a nice glow. I nice alternative is something like a Cooke Aviar, which is pretty sharp but it's lower contrast due to all of the uncoated glass-to-air surfaces. It gives a delicacy of rendition without giving the feeling of everything being out-of-focus. I'm sure there's lots of other lenses that give a similar look.

For Michael: I put together on old solfbox from Photoflex, an x-large one, about 4x5ft. It has double diffusion screens, but it's less diffusion than my Fotodiox Octobox. A reading at 3ft with 1200 Speedotron watt seconds (805 pack) with EI64 on the meter gave f/22.3 .

Randy Moe
29-Apr-2016, 10:42
Peter I realize LF lens will need a smaller aperture. I plan to try the smallest. F128?

Michael I hope I did not step on your thread?

Peter De Smidt
29-Apr-2016, 10:46
That's going to require a lot of light!

Randy Moe
29-Apr-2016, 11:07
That's going to require a lot of light!

It's all over in a flash. :)

I'm running my lights at 10% a lot of the time.

I also shoot HP5.

The linked image was shot at 50% power through 2 diffusers. from the side.

I'll test on myself.

Peter De Smidt
29-Apr-2016, 11:25
The HP5 will help, that's for sure.

Sorry about the detour, Michael. I'm looking forward to seeing some photos with your DIY lens!

mdarnton
29-Apr-2016, 11:41
Michael, was your intent for others to share their DIY results as well, or do you prefer to have this thread to share your own results?

No, go ahead. No problem.

I started this thread because the idea of being able to go out and buy the specific pieces to assemble a definite modern product rather than salvaging would provide repeatability, but I don't mind other ideas

Jim Galli
29-Apr-2016, 11:48
Here is one from the session with the binocular doublet.


http://tonopahpictures.0catch.com/MisclMenisci/M_01s.jpg
Model A Woody at the Mizpah

The focal length seemed to be about 8 inch so I chose 5X7. Perhaps a little too weak off center, it might be a good choice with 4X5. Even better since there's 2, maybe I should split the 57 frame and do stereo 3.5X5's with the 2 lenses.

cowanw
29-Apr-2016, 11:51
I'm looking forward to this discussion. I've explored SF in all formats. In LF all attempts have led me back to the same solution. My experience is different from yours in that the DIY solutions are fun to explore but never satisfy me.

Can anyone tell me what this was made with:
- Softar filter
- Duto filter
- Fujinon SF
- Imagon
- other antique SF-type lens


150213

I will guess a Velostigmat with SF adjustment

Jim Galli
29-Apr-2016, 12:10
I'm looking forward to this discussion. I've explored SF in all formats. In LF all attempts have led me back to the same solution. My experience is different from yours in that the DIY solutions are fun to explore but never satisfy me.

Can anyone tell me what this was made with:
- Softar filter
- Duto filter
- Fujinon SF
- Imagon
- other antique SF-type lens


... but for some reason I can't seem to upload a pic. I'll keep trying.

Okay... figured that out, thanks to the thread in the Feedback section. Obviously I don't post enough pics to remember how to do it!

Apologies, I think this image started as a scan of a contact print.

150213


I will guess a Velostigmat with SF adjustment

Confused. A search seems to indicate that image was in the fuji soft focus thread (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?95020-Fujinon-250mm-Soft-Focus&p=933475&viewfull=1#post933475) posted by BrianShaw

BrianShaw
29-Apr-2016, 12:47
That looks like a normal lens stopped down a bit with Julia Margaret Cameron-style missed (front) focus to me rather than any of the choices you offered, but it's not really the kind of subject that shows off soft focus well. It doesn't have the ethereal look that I am searching for, at any rate.

What kind of results do you like that you are not getting?

That's not the answer but I appreciate the comparison to JMC. That is a style I quite enjoy but not the look I particularly want to achieve in my work. The problem I always have in these SF discussions is the diversity of opinion on what the correct SF look is, etc. What I'm looking for is almost exclusively is to just "break the edges" on portraits.

In 35mm and MF I tend to like the looks from a duto. I have almost every SF filter ever made and have done comparisons. Duto is my favorite and Tiffen SoftFX1 are the only ones I use. The others were interesting for experimentation and comparison, though.

For that one, I used a Fujinon SF with yellow disk and I recall it being almost wide open. I think the film was Bergger 200. I thought I focused good and tried to do so... but with that little DOF it doesn't surprise me that I missed the mark a bit.

I would love to use SF for the ethereal in images other than portraits. As example, the works of David Hamilton are the look I'd like to achieve. Maybe he sometimes has too much glow for my taste, but that's the best examples I can think of.

BrianShaw
29-Apr-2016, 12:48
Confused. A search seems to indicate that image was in the fuji soft focus thread (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?95020-Fujinon-250mm-Soft-Focus&p=933475&viewfull=1#post933475) posted by BrianShaw

You shouldn't be confused. You did some sleuthing and found the answer. Good work! But I'm confused by your confusion. :o

mdarnton
29-Apr-2016, 12:58
Ah, well that unfocused look, with nothing added, is exactly why my Fujinon is in pieces in front of me right now-- being unable to do more than this, making me think I need to clean my glasses:

https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7648/16945855792_7966c1e409_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/rPrWxs)
Dan K (https://flic.kr/p/rPrWxs)
by Michael Darnton (https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeldarnton/), on Flickr

Jim Galli
29-Apr-2016, 12:58
You shouldn't be confused. You did some sleuthing and found the answer. Good work! But I'm confused by your confusion. :o

Easily confused these days. I probably spoiled everone's fun. Sorry.

BrianShaw
29-Apr-2016, 13:06
Ah, well that unfocused look, with nothing added, is exactly why my Fujinon is in pieces in front of me right now.

So that's a good way of saying what troubles me. I can't seem to find consensus on what is perceived as the unfocused look versus the soft focus look. I have my idea but everyone else has theirs. In the contact print that image looks soft, not unfocused. But just saying that doesn't make it so. You may look at the neg and the contact print and still think it is a Julia Margaret Cameron-style inability to focus.

And not to insult anyone (intentionally)... the supershallow unfocused images from makeshift or primitive lenses just don't do a thing for me. Not even from a fun experimental perspective. Sometimes it is so sad to be me. :)

I only wish that I were a more avid scanner to put a few more images into the discussion. I could chat about this until the cows come home. One day I'd like to not only figure out what is SF and what isn't SF... and maybe come up with a solution that more people will like than dislike. For now, though, the Fujinon meets my LF SF needs and some folks actually are complimentary about the resulting images.

BrianShaw
29-Apr-2016, 13:07
No worries, Jim. The timing of your reveal was right!

Mark Sawyer
29-Apr-2016, 15:33
One day I'd like to not only figure out what is SF and what isn't SF... and maybe come up with a solution that more people will like than dislike. For now, though, the Fujinon meets my LF SF needs and some folks actually are complimentary about the resulting images.

True soft focus lenses operate through spherical aberration, wherein the light passing through the outer edges of a lens focus closer than light from the center of the lens. There is a conventionally sharp image from the center of the lens, and a soft out-of-focus image from the periphery of the lens. That's why, as you close the aperture and block light from the outer portions of the lens, the image grows sharper.

Randy Moe
29-Apr-2016, 15:50
My 2 cents is spent on finding what I like, not historically correct. Some of the fiercely shallow DOF images I see are really odd looking to me.

I am chasing soft with maximum DOF.


Which is exactly how I see the world without corrective eyeglasses. I really enjoy softened colors, shapes. I also see this vision on a rainy Fall day when texture/tone of trees and grass richens.

Maybe only the myopic want this perceived reality reproduced in a print.

Taija71A
29-Apr-2016, 16:05
... I am chasing soft with maximum DOF...

If truly so...
Think 'Pinhole' Photography.

mdarnton
29-Apr-2016, 16:16
First:
True soft focus lenses operate through spherical aberration. . .
Mark, I've heard this before, but this sounds like the No True Scotsman fallacy. You can solve this question quickly for me. Is the reason that the Verito was reformulated into the Veritar because the new use of color materials for portraiture showed up the Verito's lack of color correction, as I have read? If this is so, then your definition of a True Soft Focus lens means the Verito, and probably every other soft focus lens previous to 1950 or so. . . none of those is a True soft focus lens by your definition. I'm pretty sure that lack of color correction contributed something to the special qualities of all of them, and that without that they would not be the same lenses.

Second: Taija71a--I was thinking exactly the same thing!

Third: Does anyone know what those guys who were grinding their own "pictorial" lenses at the turn of the century, like the Port-Land, Pinkham & Smith, et al, were doing, very specifically? The reason I ask is because I think I may have figured it out, but I'm not going to waste anyone's time with my idea if everyone knows but me. What I'm thinking explains both their inconsistency in reproducing the same lens over and over--their failure to deliver a consistent product--and also their claims of increased depth of field (which some writers appear to have prematurely dismissed, if I'm on the right track). If I'm right, then this kind of lens could be made by just about anyone, at home. If my current experiment works, that might be the next step for me.

BrianShaw
29-Apr-2016, 16:23
I've seen that definition many times before. Perhaps it is some bodies formal definition of SF, but what does that make dish strainer SF - fake SF? Some folks like tat effect, whatever one wants to call it, even if it isn't in alignment with that definition. So when I evaluate SF and diffusion prions I'm looking for an effect that I (and others hopefully) find pleasing... However it is created.

mdarnton
29-Apr-2016, 16:30
I've seen that definition many times before. Perhaps it is some bodies formal definition of SF, but what does that make dish strainer SF - fake SF? Some folks like tat effect, whatever one wants to call it, even if it isn't in alignment with that definition. So when I evaluate SF and diffusion prions I'm looking for an effect that I (and others hopefully) find pleasing... However it is created.

Actually, the Imagon/Fuji dish strainer is exactly that phenomenon, not a contradiction. All the strainer does is increase the proportion of outer edge aberrations when a small central opening is used. Think of it as using the lens at a smaller stop, represented by the central hole, while mixing in some percentage of the outer areas of the glass to bring back some of the spherical aberration that gets cut out by using the central part of the lens via the smaller stop. The strainer doesn't create the diffusion by itself, which is why I always laugh at people making strainers for normal lenses, thinking they're making Imagons.

BrianShaw
29-Apr-2016, 16:38
Okay, that's interesting. I've never thought about it at that level of detail. But have seen folks say they aren't "true" SF.

BrianShaw
29-Apr-2016, 16:43
Maybe I need to work more on achieving better uses of SF, then. I agree that just softening wrinkles isn't the best use, nor is it the kind of work is someday like to produce. The look I like is David Hamilton... But I'd like to steer clear of little children.

I'm looking forward to where this effort will be taking you!

Jim Galli
29-Apr-2016, 16:46
So that's a good way of saying what troubles me. I can't seem to find consensus on what is perceived as the unfocused look versus the soft focus look. I have my idea but everyone else has theirs.

It goes without saying (the horse has been dead a very long time) that there's no right or wrong. This is all very subjective. Difficult or impossible to really quantify. However, soft focus images should have verifiable sharpness within the glow. Nobody likes mush.

For Randy: Look for the no-name 1905 - ish "Wide Angle Anastigmat" f18 lenses that were sold by all the big catalog houses cheap. I checked and there's none on ebay right now to show you. Usually brass, but sometimes they're just black. If you poke the iris out of those you'll get a lovely f8 - ish wide angle lens that has a fine softness and being very wide for their intended format they also have nice DOF

mdarnton
29-Apr-2016, 16:53
Brian, there's a lens on Ebay for sale right now that makes me think of you. If I remember right, it's a Velostigmat that the seller is claiming is a soft focus lens, with a serious defect: the central area is all hazy. Looking at the lens, it looks to me like someone might have intentionally ground a matte spot about the size of a dime in the middle of the front element. I wonder if the previous owner was trying to blur up the sharpness coming from the central area while retaining the lesser quality of the perimeter that always is there just a bit with any Tessar-type used wide open. It's an idea, anyway. It didn't look like a real SF Velo--at any rate, if I'm thinking of the right lens, the front ring adjustments weren't there.

Your idea a soft focus lens isn't out of line at all with what I think the original photographers looking for SF were looking for--a lens that blurred detail to give renderings more like one sees in paintings, clear, but not overly detailed. Like how you never see every pore and hair in an old painting, but they don't give the impression of being blurry, either. I think that's just what the thinking was for the Fujinon, and why you like it. I have a picture of my mother that was shot around 1936 that you would probably really like. It doesn't look unsharp, but when you look carefully there's no detail, either.

But I also think that many of use who are using SF lenses are looking for additional effects--the layering of soft over sharp, the extended depth of field that comes from a wider front-to-back zone that's somewhat focused, somewhat not, resulting from a stack of images that focus at somewhat different distances, the somewhat jittery and layered sharpness that some SF lenses give.

Mark Sawyer
29-Apr-2016, 17:14
First:
Mark, I've heard this before, but this sounds like the No True Scotsman fallacy. You can solve this question quickly for me. Is the reason that the Verito was reformulated into the Veritar because the new use of color materials for portraiture showed up the Verito's lack of color correction, as I have read? If this is so, then your definition of a True Soft Focus lens means the Verito, and probably every other soft focus lens previous to 1950 or so. . . none of those is a True soft focus lens by your definition. I'm pretty sure that lack of color correction contributed something to the special qualities of all of them.

The Verito was fairly well corrected for chromatic aberration, as its rear element was an achromatic doublet. But yes, the arrival of color portraiture after the war created a need for better correction to avoid color fringing. In b&w soft portraiture, color fringing wasn't an issue, of course, and chromatic aberration mimicked the look of spherical aberration. (In fact, a few soft lenses, like the Boyer Opale, used chromatic aberration instead of spherical aberration.)

The Veritar had a couple of other major improvements: it was coated to reduce flare and increase contrast, and spherical aberration was increased a bit because it only opened to f/6, compared to a Verito's f/4. The smaller elements allowed the 14-inch f/6 Veritar to fit into a large flash-synched modern shutter, something the 14.5-inch Verito was too large for. (And with faster films and in-studio strobes, photographers wanted their lenses in shutters!)


Third: Does anyone know what those guys who were grinding their own lenses at the turn of the century, like the Port-Land, Pinkham & Smith, et al, were doing? The reason I ask is because I think I may have figured it out, but I'm not going to waste anyone's time with my idea if everyone knows but me. What I'm thinking explains both their inconsistency in reproducing the same lens over and over, and their claims of increased depth of field. If I'm right, then this kind of lens could be made by just about anyone, at home. If my current experiment works, that might be the next step for me.

I've heard P&S only re-ground some of their early lenses by hand. All the other manufacturers' lenses, and all P&S's other lenses were spherically-ground conventionally. All spherical lenses have spherical aberration, hence the name. It's corrected by using multiple elements from different glasses with different curves, refractive indices, and spacing. If you use a simple meniscus or bi-convex lens or doublet, you'll have spherical aberration. That's what happens with the Spencer Port-Land, and the P&S Semi-Achromatic doublets, (not to mention the Imagon, the Kodak Portrait Lens, the Gundlach Single Meniscus, the Cooke RV/RVP/Achromat, the Plasticca, the Struss Pictorial Lens, the Wollaston Meniscus, any of the old landscape lenses if you remove the front aperture...) The front element of binoculars or a telescope will also work, as will magnifying glasses, reading glasses, etc.

And remember, Verito's are convertible by removing the front singlet, leaving behind an achromatic doublet. And Veritar's are convertible too, though they weren't advertised as such.

Oh, and regarding the increased depth of field, remember the light from the outside perimeter of the lens is focusing slightly shorter then the light from the center? That means it's focusing on something farther away. There's your increased depth of field...

mdarnton
30-Apr-2016, 07:10
I have an idea that would increase depth of field beyond that, and probably change the character of the lens as well, so that's why I'm wondering what the objective in P&S's grinding modification might have been.

jp
30-Apr-2016, 07:55
Pinhole will be the ultimate soft focus with big depth of field. The one that started it as far as art pinholes was "the onion fields"

Film size will affect depth of field as you will need a longer lens (with less dof) for a given angle of view.
For small-format-like dof, check out my photo of the kids on the staging in the April 2016 portrait thread. That's 4x5 with 7.25" lens at about f5. Pretty thick dof and shows how softness blends in with in-focus elements.

If you want the background to be distinctly out of focus, it either has to be a long ways in the background relative to the camera-subject distance, or use a smooth lens that has a creamy DOF like a non-soft triplet.

Randy Moe
30-Apr-2016, 09:25
Thank you Jim, that is info no search would have found. :)

See you all in a week.

You too Sal. :)



...

For Randy: Look for the no-name 1905 - ish "Wide Angle Anastigmat" f18 lenses that were sold by all the big catalog houses cheap. I checked and there's none on ebay right now to show you. Usually brass, but sometimes they're just black. If you poke the iris out of those you'll get a lovely f8 - ish wide angle lens that has a fine softness and being very wide for their intended format they also have nice DOF

Peter De Smidt
30-Apr-2016, 10:21
How about something like this? http://www.thorlabs.com/thorproduct.cfm?partnumber=LA1380-A-ML

mdarnton
30-Apr-2016, 10:36
I've been buying sets of closeup lenses on Ebay, +1, +2, +4, +10 in any size you want for $8 a set to perform that function. :-)

Peter De Smidt
30-Apr-2016, 11:01
That's a great price. It'd be nice to find something in the 450-500mm range for 8x10 work, as the long Kodak Portrait Lenses and Imagons are so expensive.

mdarnton
30-Apr-2016, 11:07
+2 is 500mm.

Divide 1000mm by the diopter to get focal length. So +1, +2, +3, +4 = 1000mm, 500mm, 333mm, and 250mm. In the cheap set I bought there's a +10, which at 100mm is relatively useless for LF.

The Imagon and Kodak Portrait are both achromats, which is why I bought a $40 achromatic closeup lens in 250mm for this experiment with the Fujinon SF shell. Those are also available in the same powers as the close up set, but for a lot more money, and it's sometimes hard to figure them out. The Polaroid 500 is 500mm. The unlabeled Sigma is a +1.6 (there's one on ebay right now claiming +2, but I don't think that's correct). I suspect that because they're not designed as shooting lenses that all of them will have slightly different renditions. I have noticed that just saying +3 doesn't mean it's the same as another +3. For instance, the front lens on my Verito is simply a very thick +1. Put a thinner +1 from the close up set in front instead, and everything turns to garbage. It's fun to over-simplify the whole optical problem, and experiment, but I'm well aware that I'm oversimplifying: a 500mm achromat's image may or may not look like a Kodak Portrait or Imagon. But for $40 it seems worth trying. That's also why in my initial post I specified the exact 250mm achromat I am using, so if people like the results they can buy exactly that one, not another.

The largest cheap achromat on Ebay is 58mm, which would be a bit slower than f/9--that might be too slow to give enough fuzz to be worthwhile. But you might like the look of a simple +2 from a 72mm kit--that would be a bit faster than f/8, and might just give enough fuzz to keep you happy, if you don't mind the lack of flat field.

Jody_S
30-Apr-2016, 11:46
+2 is 500mm.

Divide 1000mm by the diopter to get focal length. So +1, +2, +3, +4 = 1000mm, 500mm, 333mm, and 250mm. In the cheap set I bought there's a +10, which at 100mm is relatively useless for LF.

The Imagon and Kodak Portrait are both achromats, which is why I bought a $40 achromatic closeup lens in 250mm for this experiment with the Fujinon SF shell. Those are also available in the same powers as the close up set, but for a lot more money, and it's sometimes hard to figure them out. The Polaroid 500 is 500mm. The unlabeled Sigma is a +1.6 (there's one on ebay right now claiming +2, but I don't think that's correct). I suspect that because they're not designed as shooting lenses that all of them will have slightly different renditions. I have noticed that just saying +3 doesn't mean it's the same as another +3. For instance, the front lens on my Verito is simply a very thick +1. Put a thinner +1 from the close up set in front instead, and everything turns to garbage. It's fun to over-simplify the whole optical problem, and experiment, but I'm well aware that I'm oversimplifying: a 500mm achromat's image may or may not look like a Kodak Portrait or Imagon. But for $40 it seems worth trying. That's also why in my initial post I specified the exact 250mm achromat I am using, so if people like the results they can buy exactly that one, not another.

The largest cheap achromat on Ebay is 58mm, which would be a bit slower than f/9--that might be too slow to give enough fuzz to be worthwhile. But you might like the look of a simple +2 from a 72mm kit--that would be a bit faster than f/8, and might just give enough fuzz to keep you happy, if you don't mind the lack of flat field.

So if I can buy an adapter for the rear of a #3, 4 or 5 shutter to the thread size of any of the diopter sets I have kicking around, I can experiment with something rather similar to the Fujinon SF (minus the tea strainer disks, unless I make them...)? To date, I've been using a pillbox Darlot landscape with the front removed, it's 14" f22 or f9 with the front off, but at f9 I really would like to have a shutter on it and it's too big for any of my LUC or Packards.

mdarnton
30-Apr-2016, 13:02
It won't be similar to the Fujinon, which is a four element lens (BTW, the subclub site says it's a 4/3, but mine is 4/4. I believe there's a later model, possibly the one in the all-black shutter--maybe that's the 4/3). It will be more like your Darlot landscape if you use simple closeup lenses, or like some early SF lenses if you use an achromat.

I have another shutter, an old dial-set Compur, that 49mm filters screw directly into its back, if I shim the filter with a turn or two of plumbers tape, so there's another one that works directly. I don't know what number the shutter is, though according to SK Grimes' chart below, it's probably an alternate version of a #2. 58mm won't screw directly into the back of my Fujinon Copal shutter, which is a Copal 3S, but would go into a Copal 3

SK Grimes has tables with different shutter specs, with the back mount thread for them. For instance:
http://www.skgrimes.com/library/used-obsolete-discontinued-shutters/compur
http://www.skgrimes.com/products/new-copal-shutters/standardcopals
http://www.skgrimes.com/library/used-obsolete-discontinued-shutters/ilex
http://www.skgrimes.com/products/new-copal-shutters/pressshutters

A couple of things I think I know here:

The larger the glass for a given FL the faster, and you also gain more diffusion with diameter. So a 58mm +3 used wide open will give you more diffusion than a 49mm +3, because the 49mm is effectively stopped down compared with 58mm. So you want to use the largest size shutter you have, to be able to use the largest filter size. I didn't feel mi 49mm diameter +3, 333mm, lens was too exciting, for instance.

Accordingly, if you are using a really long focal length, in a small shutter, the effective opening may be so small that you have the effect of lens stopped down so far it's not soft focus anymore. A 52mm +1 would be about f/22 and probably not soft focus at all. Big glass plus shorter focal lengths gets you more fuzz. An 82mm +10, that's about an f/1.3 lens, and I imagine the resulting image would be spectacularly "bad".

With a single component lens, the concave side should face the subject. That's what normally happens if you screw a + lens into the back of a shutter. I only mention it for those who just want to mess with closeup lenses by themselves, in front of a Packard or something.

The diaphragm should be 1/5 to 1/10 the focal length ahead of the lens. My using the original lens' mounts does that; screwing directly into the back of the shutter doesn't, so you might consider buying a pile of cheap filters to gut for extension rings to push the glass back from the diaphragm.

Finally, since very few shutters appear to happen to have threads on the back that will fit filter sizes, yes, you can get an adapter, but I suspect that a custom adapter will bring this project up considerably in cost to the point where it's not interesting anymore, although, now that I think of it, I'm the guy who gutted a perfectly OK lens and shutter to do all this, so what do I know. A Copal 3 appears to be the only shutter with a really convenient hole in the back. Maybe some of the Ilex shutters, but my inch>metric converter blew a tube, so I can't say.

Mark Sawyer
30-Apr-2016, 15:15
So if I can buy an adapter for the rear of a #3, 4 or 5 shutter to the thread size of any of the diopter sets I have kicking around, I can experiment with something rather similar to the Fujinon SF (minus the tea strainer disks, unless I make them...)? To date, I've been using a pillbox Darlot landscape with the front removed, it's 14" f22 or f9 with the front off, but at f9 I really would like to have a shutter on it and it's too big for any of my LUC or Packards.

Just check the rear thread size of your shutters and buy a diopter set that size. The Copal 3 and Ilex 4 are 58mm, the Alphax 4 is 62mm. They just screw right in.

mdarnton
30-Apr-2016, 15:16
Great---thanks!

scheinfluger_77
30-Apr-2016, 18:45
...
And Veritar's are convertible too, though they weren't advertised as such.
...

My Veritar is convertible? I had no idea.

Jody_S
1-May-2016, 11:50
58mm won't screw directly into the back of my Fujinon Copal shutter, which is a Copal 3S, but would go into a Copal 3


With a single component lens, the concave side should face the subject.

The diaphragm should be 1/5 to 1/10 the focal length ahead of the lens. My using the original lens' mounts does that; screwing directly into the back of the shutter doesn't, so you might consider buying a pile of cheap filters to gut for extension rings to push the glass back from the diaphragm.


Thanks, I do have a Copal 3 and a bunch of old 58mms filters, I might just give this a try.

mdarnton
3-May-2016, 08:19
Checking again, I found the Fujinon SF is three elements, three groups. I guess it just felt like four, getting them out.

This is a quick test yesterday, the 250mm achromatic closeup lens, wide open (f/5.6) on x-ray film :

https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7379/26769483286_490c7c700f_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/GMwAKh)
Central Camera, Chicago (https://flic.kr/p/GMwAKh)
by Michael Darnton (https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeldarnton/), on Flickr

Peter De Smidt
3-May-2016, 09:23
Nice example!

Taija71A
3-May-2016, 09:47
Agreed with Peter...

Yes, that is an 'Exquisite' example... Of 'DIY' Soft Focus.
Thank-you for sharing it with us Michael!

-Tim.

Jim Galli
3-May-2016, 09:57
Very nice! Congratulations, you've just re-invented Reinhard's "Wollaston meniscus".

mdarnton
3-May-2016, 10:42
Very nice! Congratulations, you've just re-invented Reinhard's "Wollaston meniscus".

No--that's a non-achromatic single element. This is more in the Pinkham & Smith direction, a two-element achromat.

AtlantaTerry
3-May-2016, 11:06
<snip>

Anyway, wondering what to do with my Fujinon, and wanting a SF lens somewhat longer than the 190mm of the half-tele, I noticed that it has 58mm filter threads on the back, so I picked up one of these on Ebay, for $40:
ProOptic 58mm Close-up Lens 250D Double-Element Achromatic Design

</snip>


Here is the above mentioned lens on FleaBay:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/ProOptic-58mm-Close-up-Lens-250D-Double-Element-Achromatic-Design-58CU250-/391313048556?hash=item5b1c1343ec:g:OG4AAOSwxp9W-7Ks

Mark Sawyer
3-May-2016, 12:04
Here's an extensive list of achromatic doublets, with diopter power and thread size, for those hunting for an inexpensive semi-achromat:

http://fuzzcraft.com/achromats.html

Mind you, the single meniscus will also give lovely results. Hell, even the 99-cent store magnifying glasses make terrific images!

Jim Galli
3-May-2016, 12:23
No--that's a non-achromatic single element. This is more in the Pinkham & Smith direction, a two-element achromat.

Pretty sure he's buying achromatic doublets.

Mark Sawyer
3-May-2016, 12:56
A Wollaston meniscus is by definition a single meniscus. No idea what Reinhard's is. In black-and-white, it wouldn't make much difference...

mdarnton
3-May-2016, 13:43
Reinhold's is a single meniscus. It may not make much difference with my x-ray film, but B&W film is virtually color film without the color, so it should make some difference there. Another difference is in focusing.

You guys are promoting the idea here that all soft focus is the same, and it doesn't really matter which lens????? I'm finding that even different single elements of the same focal length look different.

AtlantaTerry
3-May-2016, 18:32
I, too, have been experimenting with soft focus. As far back as the late '60s, I was sticking magnifying lenses on the end of my Nikon bellows and creating etherial 35mm transparencies.

In the '70s when I lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I had a nice little business photographing women in their homes by soft window light (G-rated) with a 1920s-era Kodak folder that used 616 film. I made a negative carrier for my Omega enlarger and made my own color enlargements. Sadly, somewhere along the line, that camera was lost or stolen. Oh well, you can't get 616 Kodacolor film these days anyhow.
I really need to look around to see if I still have any of those negatives.

One of my favorite lenses for 35mm work is a Sima SF (out of production). This is a simple single element lens that uses a sliding tube to focus. It uses a T-mount so almost any 35mm SLR or DSLR camera can use it. For apertures, simple disks are placed on the front; the lens came with a set of 3 or 4 aperture disks but you can always make your own.

To my main point: there are a couple ways to get some nice black metal disks with holes in them to use like a Waterhouse stop with a DIY soft focus lens.
One way is to buy Cokin lens adapter rings. Mount a Cokin filter holder on your lens or lens board and these rings easily slide on or off. Cheap from eBay sellers in China.
The second way is very similar: use lens Step Up or Step Down rings also from any of eBay's sellers in China. If you put a simple lens onto the rear of a shutter, you can then screw a step ring onto the front to create an aperture.

My most recent foray into this DIY field has been to make a couple 6x6 inch black foam lens boards for my Cambo. I then hot glued various sizes of magnifying glass lenses that I bought at Dollar Tree and Hobby Lobby stores. I've been too busy with other projects to actually burn some film but to my eye, what I see on the ground glass is interesting.

I know I'm going to need some sort of shutter. Yes I could use a hat or Jim's darkslide trick but I want something more repeatable so my next DIY step will be to build a drop shutter.

The drop shutter will have a Cokin filter holder on the front so I can use Cokin lens adapters as easily removable (and cheap) apertures.

Mark Sawyer
4-May-2016, 01:30
Reinhold's is a single meniscus. It may not make much difference with my x-ray film, but B&W film is virtually color film without the color, so it should make some difference there. Another difference is in focusing.

You guys are promoting the idea here that all soft focus is the same, and it doesn't really matter which lens????? I'm finding that even different single elements of the same focal length look different.

You're right. Different curves, refractive indexes, focal lengths, apertures, etc. yield differing amounts and natures of spherical and chromatic aberration, so yes, different looks. The old optical engineers knew what they were doing; they didn't get drunk and say "Ha! Let's design a crummy lens and foist it on those sucker 'artistes!'". A lot of though and inspiration went into the dedicated soft lenses, and those engineers would be spinning in their graves if they knew we were trying to duplicate their efforts with crummy close-up filters. Still, there's a beauty in it. (And an economy! :) )

Some chromatic aberration will show up on panchromatic b&w film, but with a soft lens, it will usually be far outweighed by the spherical aberration. Add in that chromatic aberration looks a lot like spherical aberration, (they're both just focusing light on different planes), and it's just not an issue with soft lenses. I don't know much about x-ray film, but if it's only sensitive to a narrow band width, it wouldn't record chromatic aberration.

plaubel
4-May-2016, 03:57
The old optical engineers knew what they were doing... a lot of though and inspiration went into the dedicated soft lenses...

..often inspired by artists, seen in the Imagon or Nicola Perscheid lens, and others.
Yes, these old guys knew some nice things, and how to work with :-)

Ritchie

mdarnton
4-May-2016, 04:51
The old optical engineers knew what they were doing; they didn't get drunk and say "Ha! Let's design a crummy lens and foist it on those sucker 'artistes!'".

It's easy and romantic to imagine, since we weren't actually there 110 years ago, but remember that Alvin Langon Coburn owned a dozen or so Pinkham and Smiths because they were all different. That doesn't seem to reinforce the image of the wonder-working optical scientist. :-)

Something interesting for those who haven't seen it. George Eastman House's links are defective, so it's not easy to get to:
http://notesonphotographs.org/view.php?jpg=/images/c/cf/P%26SLensCover.jpg
http://notesonphotographs.org/view.php?jpg=/images/f/fe/P%26SLens1a.jpg
http://notesonphotographs.org/view.php?jpg=/images/7/75/P%26SLens2a.jpg

Peter De Smidt
4-May-2016, 07:05
I hadn't seen those before. Thanks for posting the links!

plaubel
4-May-2016, 07:43
remember that Alvin Langon Coburn owned a dozen or so Pinkham and Smiths because they were all different.

True!
As he described himself, they all have different focal length :-)
And it sounded, that he enjoyed in each of this "Moss" lenses.

Ritchie

jp
4-May-2016, 08:09
Since probably at least some are different focal lengths, and Coburn had a bunch, I wonder how much was product variation, bespoke product customization, or simply GAS? Optics is pretty basic physics for P&S to visually test spherical aberration. I think highly of Coburn and would not hold GAS against him.

Randy
4-May-2016, 17:10
I use Reinholds 190mm Walloston on 4X5 and I very much enjoy the results. I particularly like the results around f/5.6 and f/8. It begins to sharpen at f/11 and to much glow for me at wider stops. Here is a comparison with a 7 1/2" Eastman Anastigmat. Both shot at about f/5.6 or f/8...can't remember.

190mm Walloston
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/52893762/wollaston1.jpg

7 1/2" Eastman Anastigmat
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/52893762/wollaston2.jpg

What I particularly like about the Walloston is that there is not a sharp line between in focus and out of focus, as you can see by this comparison. It's a slow graduation.

Jim Galli
4-May-2016, 17:25
Since probably at least some are different focal lengths, and Coburn had a bunch, I wonder how much was product variation, bespoke product customization, or simply GAS? Optics is pretty basic physics for P&S to visually test spherical aberration. I think highly of Coburn and would not hold GAS against him.

Or maybe we're overthinking all of this. Maybe Pinkham was taking front element doublets out of old worthless petzvals, whatever happened to get traded in on an anastigmat that week, throwing the rest away and re-grinding / polishing them to make them "his" and would chuckle at the idea that 100 years later anyone was bowing down at the throne of Pinkham. He might be quite amused at all of this.

We'll never know.

mdarnton
4-May-2016, 17:43
Exactly! I'm just struck by the inconsistency of it all. Coburn obviously had favorites among them, and talks about using one for quite a while before he realized it was his best one. Pinkham was grinding, but we don't know exactly what he was grinding or why. If it's a straight achromat, well, it seems like that one was figured out long before he got to the problem, so what's special about him that he has to reinvent it and can't do the same thing twice?

Coburn used mostly one camera, a 3-1/4 x 4-1/4 SLR, and most of the 15 various brands in the George Eastman House collection are for that camera. He claimed to own a dozen P&S, mostly of the first version--I mean, if they're all just different focal lengths for one SLR camera of limited extension, think what that means--lenses a half inch apart? Probably not.

I mentioned early on, and I guess no one had much to say, that it appears that Pinkham was doing something unusual in the grinding that he wasn't able to control. I have an idea in that regard, and hope I can get around to trying it. I'm not trying to prove anything--this is just for my own amusement, and I thought some other people might also find is amusing, that's all.

jp
4-May-2016, 19:00
I think Pinkham got started in the soft focus lens business because they were asked to replicate the look of a particular European lens. Day is credited for asking for it, and Coburn and the others were friends/peers of Day.

mdarnton
4-May-2016, 19:35
It's interesting because the first version, the Semi-Achromat, seems really just to be a single element landscape lens, like the Wollaston, nothing too fancy, so I wonder what the problem was. Wouldn't you think that this would almost be a standard lens for them?

Peter De Smidt
4-May-2016, 20:15
I visited John Shimon's place tonight, a very experienced large format shooter. He has a Pinkham-Smith Bi-Quality, and three of the longer Kodak Portrait lenses. Interestingly, he mentioned that two of them are crap, but one is brilliant. There must've been quite a bit of variability with these older lenses.

AtlantaTerry
4-May-2016, 23:40
It's easy and romantic to imagine, since we weren't actually there 110 years ago, but remember that Alvin Langon Coburn owned a dozen or so Pinkham and Smiths because they were all different. That doesn't seem to reinforce the image of the wonder-working optical scientist. :-)

Something interesting for those who haven't seen it. George Eastman House's links are defective, so it's not easy to get to:
http://notesonphotographs.org/view.php?jpg=/images/c/cf/P%26SLensCover.jpg
http://notesonphotographs.org/view.php?jpg=/images/f/fe/P%26SLens1a.jpg
http://notesonphotographs.org/view.php?jpg=/images/7/75/P%26SLens2a.jpg

Does any manufacturer make a Semi-Achromatic "Smith" lens today? Or anything similar? If so, who?

If no one does, what might I look for on the used market for my 4x5" portrait work?

Thanks,
Terry

Jim Noel
6-May-2016, 10:10
I'm going to start this now, and hope eventually to have some pictures to show.

Since I got it, I have been unhappy with my 250mm Fujinon-SF. It didn't seem like a soft focus lens, with all of the nice things that implies, as much as just an unsharp lens. I gave it a fair shake, and really it didn't satisfy.

After reading up on achromatic soft focus lenses of the past, and experimenting with building lenses from close-up lenses, and substituting close up lenses for elements in normal lenses, I figured that it would be pretty much a crap shoot whether I could get something I liked or not, but it appeared to be worth experimenting.

I have been using for a while the front half of a 15" tele-Raptar as a SF lens, but it has a couple of disadvantages. One is focal length--around 7.5" is what I figure now; the other is, because of the relatively short FL, I think, distortion. Sometimes neither of those matters, and it's nice to have an f/2.8 SF lens of that length (examples on 4x5, x-ray film):

Outside, f/4, mounted with front component screwed inside, on the back:

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8705/17146398051_99f86f7e04_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/s8aLLB)
Randy M (https://flic.kr/p/s8aLLB)
by Michael Darnton (https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeldarnton/), on Flickr


Inside, f/2.8, heavily back lit; the front on the front, back component removed. Virtually no flare, and really nice modeling:

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1520/26275968925_cb9c78b41a_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/G2Vd7Z)
Alex H (https://flic.kr/p/G2Vd7Z)
by Michael Darnton (https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeldarnton/), on Flickr


Anyway, wondering what to do with my Fujinon, and wanting a SF lens somewhat longer than the 190mm of the half-tele, I noticed that it has 58mm filter threads on the back, so I picked up one of these on Ebay, for $40:
ProOptic 58mm Close-up Lens 250D Double-Element Achromatic Design

I completely gutted the Fujinon, leaving just the empty barrels, and screwed the achromatic lens on the back, where it sits about 1" behind the diaphragm, sort of an "approved" position in this application which I can extend backwards with empty filter rings if I decide to. Since it's a 250mm lens, the diaphragm markings calculate pretty close to what's printed on the lens, too.

I just did this yesterday and haven't shot anything with it yet, but the view is really looking good. At f/5.6 it's a lot softer than the Fuji, better in all respects; by f/8 it still looks unsharp, but is considerably cleaned up, and at f/11 I think the effects are mostly gone. In that respect, it tracks very closely with my 11.5" Verito, which I love but doesn't leave the studio very conveniently, since it's big and has a Packard shutter. This one has a real modern shutter, real sync--all the good stuff. It's an expensive experiment, but if I like the results it will be totally worth it!

Pictures when I get them.

Does the 58mm cover more than 4x5? I'm wondering if I can get one to cover 8x10 which is my primary format.

mdarnton
6-May-2016, 10:56
Even at the back of the tunnel I have it mounted in, it does seem to cover. Looking through the corners of my GG I see a lozenge of clear lens of about 1/3 of the full glass, so illumination will be there but less. Performance goes down as you get larger than 5x7, but not as quickly as a simple close-up lens does, and there's an amount of distortion that gets worse, the larger the film size but isn't noticible on 4x5.

I would call it "coverage" but I wouldn't call it "good". :-)

Here's a quick view through my 8x10 camera. Don't take the sharpness as shown here seriously--just the coverage and distortion:

https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7499/26250119843_a2579129e8_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/FZCJ6a)
achromat-on-8x10 (https://flic.kr/p/FZCJ6a)
by Michael Darnton (https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeldarnton/), on Flickr

Mark Sawyer
6-May-2016, 12:24
Does the 58mm cover more than 4x5? I'm wondering if I can get one to cover 8x10 which is my primary format.

58mm is the mounting thread size, and you can get a variety of focal lengths in that size. Get a focal length of around 333mm (+3 diopter) and you're set. The single menisci illuminate a very large circle, but if you go with a 250mm (+4) or shorter, your corners will get very crappy very fast, which may or may not be an effect you like.

mdarnton
6-May-2016, 13:51
I picked 58mm because it's the size of the shutter I had to put it on. I have checked the Ilex #4 and though the threads are larger diameter, the diaphragm is smaller than the Copal 3, around 40m, so it probably wouldn't be as good of a combination. I just bought a cheap #4 to mess with, but it turns out that the lens in it was in MUCH better condition than the seller described, so it's staying in place. The Ilex #5 diaphragm is 62mm, maximum, but that shutter is a lot rarer. I like Ilex shutters, but I never realized before this how small the hole is for such a large shutter!

The achromatic close-up lenses are available in all the lengths and diameters of regular closeup lenses, but they can be hard to find and expensive. They definitely have a flatter field and more consistent sharpness across the field than a closeup lens. Someone earlier posted a link to a list of many of the available ones, though there are more now, with Ebay available.