View Full Version : Help in identifying soft focus lens

23-Aug-2017, 19:03
I recently got this soft focus lens but there is no writing on it and am trying to identify it. The lens came on a Wollensak shutter which looks original as there is no place for a front element to screw in. The lens is a rear only element and it looks like a doublet. The lens has a focal length of approx 13". The glass diameter is approx. 2". The f stop on the shutter says f5.6. I took pictures with the lens and it easily covered an 8x10 image. It is the type of lens where wide open it is very soft focus and it gets sharper as you stop down the diaphragm. I am including two photos I took with the lens on my 8x10 camera. I took them on paper negatives and then scanned and reversed the images. One wide open and the other stopped down to about f8. If anyone has a similar lens or can figure what it is based on its characteristics I would be interested in learning. Thanks.

23-Aug-2017, 21:04
I recently got this soft focus lens but there is no writing on it and am trying to identify it.

While I can't identify this specific lens positively, it may be an early Rodenstock Imagon. The Imagons also do not have any writing on the lens itself. All the identifying marks are on the disk holder that goes on to the front of the shutter - which is the same for all the focal lengths! Perhaps Bob Salomon can throw some light on this mysterious decision.


Jim Noel
23-Aug-2017, 21:15
As far as I have been able to learn the Imagon has always been a single element behind the shutter.

23-Aug-2017, 21:32
No. The Imagon is a doublet - two elements in one group, usually positioned behind the shutter. See http://www.prograf.ru/rodenstock/largeformat_en.html#Imagon
But I don't believe the position is critical - the Pentax version is the same cell, positioned at the very front of the helical focusing barrel...


24-Aug-2017, 09:49
It's hard to tell from the photos but the front slopes in to the shutter blades. There would be no area to put any of the Imagon disks. Here are some links to sharper photos.


24-Aug-2017, 10:22
It looks like a Wollensak product. The Auto shutter was in use in the 19teens. In the 1906 catalogue Wollensak sold "Single Achromatic lenses " made of crown and flint glass (so I presume a doublet). My other thought was that it might be the back half of a seven inch Verito in an Auto shutter, made as a special.

24-Aug-2017, 12:24
The crud or tarnish on the blades of the shutter make it appear the lens has lived it's working life with no front element.

I'd keep shooting with it. Looks like it might have some promise not quite wide open.

24-Aug-2017, 13:06
I have a near identical Wollensak lens (in storage) and it is most similar physically to my much more modern 305mm F4.8 Kodak Portrait Ektar lens (1960's which is in a Ilex #5 shutter), also a doublet.

Jim Galli
24-Aug-2017, 23:07
The piece at the front of the shutter is convincing that whoever made it intended for it to be a soft focus lens, or perhaps just an entry level multipurpose lens mostly used well stopped down. It would have the same look stopped down on a full plate as the cheap folding Kodaks that also used an achromatic doublet at the rear with a finish piece at the front of the shutter except on the Kodak you couldn't open it up for full softness. I think they were f12.5 at the big hole and f32 at the small hole. Looks like a keeper to me. You might remove the glass from the barrel and see if there are any markings on the side of the glass on the ground surface.

Mark Sawyer
25-Aug-2017, 11:36
I'm with Jim that the front of the shutter is pretty convincing that this was a rear-element-only lens. The f/stops marked on the front are a good indication that it was meant as a soft lens, as they're only marked down to f/22. A single-element lens meant for sharp work should have been marked to f/45 or f/64.

Bill (cowanw) had a good thought that it might be just the back of a Verito, as they were meant to be convertibles, and this would have been similar to other pictorial doublets out at the time.

25-Aug-2017, 12:26
Thanks for the replies. I compared this lens to a 7 1/4" and a 9" Veritos that I have and they are different in size and curvature. The element in the Wollensak shutter has more curvature in the front and rear of the element when compared to the Veritos.