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Thread: Cooke Protrait

  1. #1

    Cooke Protrait

    I was just wondering, there's a new lens listed on Badger's site. it's a Cooke P rotrait PS945 229mm/4.5. I was wondering what's so special about it to make it s ell for the OY MY GOD price of $3,450.00. Other than being a little faster for t hat focal lens.

  2. #2

    Cooke Protrait

    In the latest issue of VIEWCAMERA, they have a couple pages dedicated to COOKE lenses.

  3. #3

    Cooke Protrait

    This is a new soft-focus optic from Cooke. It is a copy of the formula that Pinkham-Smith used in their lenses around the turn of the 19th century. At the larger aperatures the softening is strongest. Stopped down to f/16, the image sharpens up.

  4. #4

    Cooke Protrait

    The new Cooke Portrait PS945 lens is a modern reproduction of the rare Pinkham & Smith Visual Quality Series IV soft focus lens. Cooke lenses were designed and made large format lenses in England from 1894 through the 1950s, then went on to design Cooke cine lenses exclusively. This is the first lens for still photography by Cooke in 50 years. Many photographers familiar with soft focus photography appreciate the unique characteristics of the vintage Pinkham & Smith lenses which were hand-figured, above other soft focus lenses. So Cooke, as usual, decided to do what it's been doing best for 100 years, go out for something different and give a niche market what it's looking for. Cooke's optical designers were able to match the unique characteristics of the original P&S lens exactly. The design is lovely - inside and out. The price of $3,450 includes the lens in a Copal #3 shutter, a black lacquered, logoed, hinged storage box that will accommodate the lens mounted in a lens board up to 5 inches square, and a CD that includes a brief how-to primer on using soft focus lenses by Jay Allen, historic information about Pinkham & Smith, Cooke and technical specifications and sample photos. More info at http://www.cookeoptics.com by May 24, 2002.

  5. #5

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    Cooke Protrait

    Barbara, I'm glad that you entered into this discussion. I have a question for you. After reading the article about the new Cooke portrait lens in View Camera, I wondered why a lens manufacturer would make a soft focus lens for the 4X5 format, and mount it in a Copal 3 shutter? I realize that the lens design determines the size of the elements, and the f4.5 max. aperature needs large diameter glass, but doesn't it make more sense for a lens like that to be made in a longer focal length for the 8X10 format? So far, there has been no mention of the diameter of the image circle for this lens. Also, 229mm seems a little short for a head-and- shoulders portrait lens in the 4X5 format. Please enlighten me.

  6. #6
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Cooke Protrait

    Interesting. I suspect that a version appropriate to 8x10" (14-16.5") would be too large for a Copal #3 shutter. The old portrait lenses with large maximum apertures often had "Studio" shutters, which were very large and are usually in poor condition these days. I have a Voigtlander 360mm/f:4.5 Heliar that won't fit in an Ilex #5 without losing half a stop. I have a removable front mounted shutter for it. You can see a picture of this lens and its shutter at:

    http://www.usefilm.com/articles/large_format_lens_adaptations/lf.jpg

    The Heliar is on the left.

  7. #7

    Cooke Protrait

    Hi Eugene, Being the non-technical person I am, I can repsond to your questions from my perspective. Cooke decided to make it's first lens for large format photography in 50 years for 4x5 format instead of 8x10 because 4x5 is a popular format for a wide range of photographers. You are correct that there has been no mention of the image circle (190mm). In fact, the little blurb (and great photo, wasn't it?) of the new Cooke Portrait PS945 lens in View Camera Magazine, May/June issue is the first mention of it anywhere at the moment! We're just getting geared up and that blurb was a last minute addition before deadline. Badger Graphic Sales, Inc. in Wisconsin is our first dealer in the US as of 2 days ago. They promised to add detailed information this week (week of May 20, 2002). The Cooke Optics website http://www.cookeoptics.com will have information about the lens by the end of this week (May 24, 2002). Cooke is in production and will have the first lenses available for delivery beginning late summer, early fall/ The 229mm focal length does not appear to be a hindrance to the two photographers who have tried it out so far for portraits. / This is Cooke's entrance back into a very special market. What we make next will depend on people like you providing us with feedback on what you want. An 8x10 version of what we have produced so far is certainly a possibility. I'm hopeful that the lens will be reviewed by a publication this summer so photographers can get some practical feedback. Based on the emails I've received so far as a result of one notice in View Camera, I think we're on the right track. Honestly, the lens is gorgeous, inside and out, but I'm only one of four people who have actually seen it in person so far! Go to the Large Format Photography Conference in Albuquerque, NM last weekend in June, I'll be there exhibiting the lens so you can see it for yourself. Cheers.

  8. #8

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    Cooke Protrait

    Barbara, thank you for your response to my inquiry. My point is, since portrait photographers usually make 8X10, or larger final images, What is the purpose of making a soft focus portrait lens for the 4X5 format? A 190mm image circle just barely covers 4X5. and if this lens is stopped down in order to obtain a larger image circle, it would loose it's soft focus capability for portrait work. A 4X5 negative needs to be enlarged to the size of the final print, 8X10, or larger. There are many ways to soften an image using the conventional enlarging process in the darkroom, or with today's digital printing methods. The Copal 3 shutter size limits the use of this lens to monorails with large lensboards. It would be quite large and weighty for a field camera. These are my concerns, although I have no interest in purchasing the lens. I will not be attending the conference in Albuquerque, something came up, and I reluctantly had to cancell my plans. I'm certain there will be much interest in this lens at the conference and many more questions to answer. Good luck!

  9. #9
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Cooke Protrait

    A 229mm/f:4.5 lens requires an opening of 51mm at maximum aperture. A Copal 3 shutter has a 58mm opening. A Copal 1 shutter (next size down) has a 40mm opening. A Copal 3 or 3S shutter is the only modern option in regular production. Portrait lenses are BIG.

    Smallish image circle also shouldn't be too much of a liability, since these lenses aren't typically used at infinity, and portraits don't usually require extreme lens movements.

    I think it would be great if this lens did well and Cooke could come out with other classic lenses with new glass and multicoating in modern shutters. You can put me down for the new Cooke Dagors, Heliars, and Hypergons when they're ready.

  10. #10

    Cooke Protrait

    Hi all, Actually, your concern that our new Cooke Portrait PS945 lens will not cover the format adequately is unwarranted. Mark Osterman, process historian at the Eastman House put the lens through its paces and determined that it covers 5x7 with no problem, that's using back and front adjustments on his camera. He used an old camera with a vintage format slightly larger than 6x8. I'm told it will cover 8x10 with, of course, some vignetting around the edges - soft vignetting at the wider apertures and hard vignetting with the smaller ones, of course. Remember, we made this lens for 4x5, what we considered to be the most popular format for serious amateurs and some professionals to get our feet wet in the market, so to speak. Regarding the weight, it weighs, 1.6 pounds in the shutter and is 90mm long, much lighter than soft focus lenses of the past and is definitely suitable for field work. I am also told by Clive Russ, the photographer who took the product shots and tried some portrait work with it in the field, that it's a pleasure to be able to take a "Pinkham & Smith" lens out in the field rather than be strapped to a camera in the studio due to the weight! If a good number of you want this lens for 8x10, we're the company to produce it for you. But you have to promise me that you'll try our first one to see if you can discern the difference between standard soft focus lenses and techniques and the unique qualities of the Pinkham & Smith that we've recreated! First things first! We've just begun!

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