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Thread: Brass lens - Soft Focus

  1. #1
    sapata's Avatar
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    Brass lens - Soft Focus

    Hello all !
    I'm considering buying an old lens and fit on my Toyo 4x5 view camera but have no clue about which one to get.
    I've seen some pictures taken with a Petzval and they look pretty amazing with loads of blurry edges and very sharp in the center, the exactly effect I'm looking for. I've seen lots of Brass lens to be sold on ebay but not sure if they're what i'm looking for. My questions are:

    Some of those lens doesn't come whit a shutter, what to do?
    Any tips and tricks for taking pictures whith this kind of lens?
    Is my Toyo camera ok for this type of lens?
    What's the average price for a reasonable one ? I know this lens are 100 years old...

    I'd really aprecciate any help...
    Thank you!

  2. #2

    Re: Brass lens - Soft Focus

    I use most of my barrel lenses on a Speed Graphic, which solves the shutter problem for me. You'll either have to use a Packard or similar shutter with your Toyo, or use slow film and a lens cap for timing your exposures.

  3. #3

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    Re: Brass lens - Soft Focus

    Quote Originally Posted by sapata View Post
    Hello all !
    I'm considering buying an old lens and fit on my Toyo 4x5 view camera but have no clue about which one to get.
    I've seen some pictures taken with a Petzval and they look pretty amazing with loads of blurry edges and very sharp in the center, the exactly effect I'm looking for. I've seen lots of Brass lens to be sold on ebay but not sure if they're what i'm looking for. My questions are:

    Some of those lens doesn't come whit a shutter, what to do?
    Any tips and tricks for taking pictures whith this kind of lens?
    Is my Toyo camera ok for this type of lens?
    What's the average price for a reasonable one ? I know this lens are 100 years old...

    I'd really aprecciate any help...
    Thank you!
    What's the average price for a reasonable one?

    Around 5 - 500; average - who knows. Median - who knows.

    You'll find some really gorgeous cheap unmarked ones for around 0.01 - 30.00. It's probably not worth investing too much unless you have a Sinar Autoshutter system or a type of shutter wide-enough to be useful. There's loads of posts on Thornton Pickard shutters, Packard shutters, Volute shutters, Alphax shutters, Betax shutters etc....

    Good luck!

  4. #4

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    Re: Brass lens - Soft Focus

    I use brass lenses on my Toyo-view. I try and find shutter's whenever possible. But they are not essential. Options are to use slow film like EFKE 25 and have a 3 stop ND filter handy for wide open shots. I would not call a Petzval soft focus, since they are very sharp in the center. You may like the somewhat subtler effect of a rectilinear lens, particularly the very rapid type that open up to F6. Wide open, they can be quite soft and have nice edge blurring, particularly if you are not using a lens designed for a larger format than you are using. A dedicated soft-focus lens, like the Verito, Veritar, Struss, etc. is getting to be an expensive proposition. Another option is to try single elements of older lenses, like Dagors, tessars, anastigmats - you'll be surprised by the effects.

  5. #5

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    Re: Brass lens - Soft Focus

    I started buying magic lantern lenses from Ebay. Four of the seven turned out to be Petzvals. I sold two, broke one, and kept one. I made money because I could sell the lenses as known petzvals. As a result, I got mine for free.

  6. #6

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    Re: Brass lens - Soft Focus

    Petzvals don't really work well on field cameras or monorails beacause of the large diameters needed for the fast max. apertures. They were mostly meant for studio cameras with large lensboards and sturdy front standards. Of course, they can work, but check all of the dimensions before buying. Otherwise it's not a bad idea to shoot, say, 4x5 on a 5x7 or larger camera, to take advantage of the additional strength, bellows, larger lensboard, etc.

    You might be able to find a 20th century Petzval (Eastman, Gundlach, and others made these) in a studio shutter. Finding one in a brass barrel might not be easy, if that's important to you. Wollensak's Vitax often are found with shutters and they are Petzvals... but a bit large for most 4x5's!

    Rapid Rectilinears are smaller and still have a bit of funk to them, not unlike a Petzval... but not so obvious. That would be easier to find in a shutter and it would fit on your lensboard. Both are easy lenses to use, as what you see on the GG is what you get on film.

    I hope that helps!

    Paul

  7. #7
    sapata's Avatar
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    Re: Brass lens - Soft Focus

    Quote Originally Posted by Petzval Paul View Post
    Petzvals don't really work well on field cameras or monorails beacause of the large diameters needed for the fast max. apertures. They were mostly meant for studio cameras with large lensboards and sturdy front standards. Of course, they can work, but check all of the dimensions before buying. Otherwise it's not a bad idea to shoot, say, 4x5 on a 5x7 or larger camera, to take advantage of the additional strength, bellows, larger lensboard, etc.

    You might be able to find a 20th century Petzval (Eastman, Gundlach, and others made these) in a studio shutter. Finding one in a brass barrel might not be easy, if that's important to you. Wollensak's Vitax often are found with shutters and they are Petzvals... but a bit large for most 4x5's!

    Rapid Rectilinears are smaller and still have a bit of funk to them, not unlike a Petzval... but not so obvious. That would be easier to find in a shutter and it would fit on your lensboard. Both are easy lenses to use, as what you see on the GG is what you get on film.

    I hope that helps!

    Paul
    Thanks all for the tips !
    Paul, it's not really important to me the lens is in brass as long as it gives me the effect I want. I've seen some but I get confused with sizes (lens diameter/lengh)... Will that be something important to consider ?
    Thanks...

  8. #8
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    Re: Brass lens - Soft Focus

    Hey Mauricio,

    I tried to email you today from your comment on polanoid.net.

    PM me and Ill tell you what I know

  9. #9
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    Re: Brass lens - Soft Focus

    Quote Originally Posted by Hollis View Post
    Hey Mauricio,

    I tried to email you today from your comment on polanoid.net.

    PM me and Ill tell you what I know
    Thanks Hollis !
    Your pictures looks really good ! love the effect...
    I've been taking pictures lately with toy cameras and the effect is similar but I'd love to do this whith large format, specially with Polaroid film (while still available...)

  10. #10

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    Re: Brass lens - Soft Focus

    For Petzvals I figure that you have two options, either a half-plate or a quater-plate lens. Anything larger than that will not fit your camera, rest assured. My half-plate Darlot will fit a 4 and 1/2" lensboard with little room to spare. A quater-plate lens will give you lots of funk on the egdes and maybe some vignetting but you should be able to find one that will fit a 4"x4" lensboard with no problem and whch won't destroy your front stanard under its weight.

    Best of luck!

    - Paul

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