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Thread: 400mm f4 Charles Shepherd Questions

  1. #1

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    Question 400mm f4 Charles Shepherd Questions

    Hi!

    This is my first post here. So hello 👋

    I'm in the hunt for a lens that will cover 8x10 all the way up to 14x17 for portraits. 1:1 and waists up.

    I have someone who is offering to sell me 400mm f4 Charles Shepherd Petzval threat is in pretty amazing condition minus a chip on the outer edge of the back element. Don't believe that will affect the image though.

    I have a couple questions I'm hoping people here can help me figure out.

    1. Do you think this lens will cover 14x17 for portraits?
    2. What do you think is a fair price for his lens?


    Thanks!!

    Here is more about the lens:
    • Made between 1855-1857
    • It's 25cm high and 16cm width (lenshood)
    • The glass diameter is 10.5cm


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  2. #2

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    Re: 400mm f4 Charles Shepherd Questions

    We don't do valuations, here!

    When one gets to the extra large early Petzvals, there is just not enough supply/Demand to form any idea of concensus value, anyway!

    Let us say the observed aperture seen from the front is 9.5cm. This means the efl is 4x9.5 = 38cm or 15". I see now that you were given 40cm as the efl!

    If you compare this the known coverage of the Dallmeyer 4a which is also 4" and F4. with an efl of 14" - this is suggested for up to 10x8" portraits. It needs a 5a (Efl 18") to cover 15x12".

    Of course, the Dallmeyer has the patent pair at the back, whilst yours has the original Petzval design, but I don't think there is much difference. I'll see if I can find a corresponding Ross lens from this period.

    You are very dependent on the aperture value being exactly correct (f4) and, of course, image qualitities in the corners you require could be less than the makers' own standards.

  3. #3
    Green Hand pierre506's Avatar
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    Re: 400mm f4 Charles Shepherd Questions

    I suggest the value as Wollensak Vitax 16in f3.8, cheaper than Dallmeyer 3A 16in f4.

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  4. #4

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    Re: 400mm f4 Charles Shepherd Questions

    Wow. Thank you for all the info!! Since I'm looking to do portraits only, I won't really need to go to infinity. Do you think of the efl and aperture are correct it will cover this type of usage for 14x17?
    Last edited by rosshj; 3-Oct-2016 at 08:45.

  5. #5
    Green Hand pierre506's Avatar
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    Re: 400mm f4 Charles Shepherd Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by rosshj View Post
    Wow. Thank you for all the info!! Since I'm looking to do portraits only, I won't really need to go to infinity. Do you think of the efl and aperture are correct it will cover this type of usage for 14x17?
    14x17:
    According to many experiences and works, I believe it's better (at least ) to use >480mm Petzval on portrait distance if the aperture is between f4 to f4.5.

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  6. #6

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    Re: 400mm f4 Charles Shepherd Questions

    I have looked for coverage given by other UK and French makers of Petzvals and everything up to efl 40cms and no-one goes much above 8x10" or 18x24cm. Bigger coverage appears around 48cm and above - as Pierre mentions. Even the Dallmeyer 6D at F.6 (20" efl) only covers 12x15 at portrait distances.

  7. #7

    Re: 400mm f4 Charles Shepherd Questions

    i use a 250mm conely petzval for 8x10 plates. following the catalouges it should be used for 5x7 maximum. thats because photographers back then actually didnt like the funky swirls and aberrations in the pictures, so they used only the 'sweet spot' of the lens, although they DID cover more.

    so if you want to use only the sweet spot of a petzval and dont want any aberrations or vignietting at all, you will need a longer FL for 14x17 for sure. probably at least 450 or better 500mm. but then again the lenses were used on a whole other level back then. today people push those lenses to their limits and rather work with the 'flaws' the lenses offer.

  8. #8
    Alex Timmermans
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    Re: 400mm f4 Charles Shepherd Questions

    A 250mm for 8 x 10"is rather short. It morely will act like a wide-angle.
    You won't notice the swirls when using a even background.
    For 8 x 10"i prefer to use at least 350mm.
    For my storytelling series 11 x11" I use a dallmeyer 3a which is 450mm. That covers about 12x12"with a little vignetting.
    But I don't believe it's long enough to cover 14x17. for that you will need something like 500-550mm.
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  9. #9

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    Re: 400mm f4 Charles Shepherd Questions

    I agree with Alex. I don't really embrace the fat faces big noses and overly swirly images from over pushing petzval's FL. I own and shoot (on a regular basis) about 7 19th century petzvals for portraits. You could push this Charles Shepherd for 8x10" portraits. I also shoot a 16 inch (405mm) Dallmeyer 3a for 8x10 portraits. I have a 19 inch Dallmeyer 5d as well as a 19 inch Voigtlander petzval for 11x14. I think you're going to want at least 19 inch (485mm) FL that for 14x17 portraits(my Opinion only). 22-24 inch would be better but we would have now entered the $3,000.00 and up portrait petzval price range. Look for a Dallmeyer 5d. They seem to still sell for under 2k because of the f6 speed. Of course please excuse me if 3-4k is no problem. It's a bit much for me.

  10. #10

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    Re: 400mm f4 Charles Shepherd Questions

    Thanks for all the info everyone. ��

    I bought the 400mm f4 Charles Shepherd. I figured I can at least use it with my 8x10. I'll try it with my 14x17 when I get it. I'll post some picks when I do. If the lens doesn't work well with 14x17, I may end up selling it for something that will give me better coverage and less parallax effect.

    Cheers!

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