View Full Version : Wollensak Raptar 90mm f/6.8 surprising coverage!

David Karp
11-Jun-2013, 11:04
In anticipation of my Travelwide camera, I purchased a nice 90mm f/6.8 Raptar. It is so small and light, I decided that it might be nice for those days when I have to travel light but want to take a 90 with me for use on my Walker Titan SF.

Shockingly, the lens has enough coverage for some useful movements. I was surprised, because I had read that it would "just" cover 4x5.

Any of you have a similar experience with this lens?

Sean Chilibeck
11-Jun-2013, 11:42
The older lenses don't have a sharp cut off, so you might not notice the gradual loss on the GG as you do movements but if you blow it up you will. Makes it difficult to know when you are in the clear and when you aren't, I just stick with zero movements.

David Karp
11-Jun-2013, 17:14
Thanks Sean. It looked surprisingly good on the gg, especially at f/22.

Liquid Artist
11-Jun-2013, 20:37
Thats good to know, I just got one the other day but don't have a lens board for it yet.
It looks like a beautiful lens that I am looking forward to using soon.

29-Mar-2016, 13:48
Just purchased one myself - haven't received it yet, however. Anyone have an idea of what the FFL is?

29-Mar-2016, 15:41
The same as an Angulon, apparently: mine fit perfectly on my Travelwide, without any adjustments.

29-Mar-2016, 17:50
Thanks for the quick response. I peeked at your Flickr account and saw that you own/use a 108mm Raptar. With the viewing angle being similar, how would you compare the two?

29-Mar-2016, 19:15
Yes, I have a little problem with accumulating Wollensak lenses. I've got three 90s and two 108s. They do cover quite a bit, but can get very crummy around the edges before they go dark. I haven't stretched them to their limits, though I did shoot an 8x10 with a 108 the other day, just to test coverage. Unfortunately, the sun was in the photo and it totally flared out, so I still don't know. It looks like it throws a circle of 240mm, but how much of that is good enough I can't yet tell.

There appear to be a couple of different types of lenses involved--they're not just one formula--but no one has been interested enough to explain it to me. The 12.5 versions (I have one in 90 and one 108) appear to be identical to the 6.8s, except that the stop is mechanically limited, and I have removed it from mine. The little bit that I've shot with these lenses leaves me wondering why I bothered buying a 90/5.6 Super Angulon, since it never gets used at all.

The 108mm length is a particularly comfortable lens on 4x5, and the lens is nicely compact, too.

If you read very deeply, some Wollensak literature implies these might cover 105 degrees, but probably not to modern standards.

31-Mar-2016, 04:36
It's kind of funny - reading posts over the years from everyone about which "lens to buy" and "which lens is best", I've always just kind of dismissed the older US lenses because "they get crummy in the corners" and they have smaller coverage. But I've kind of learned that the work I make can be quite successful with crummy corners and small coverage. I've never understood why people need to be able to turn their cameras into pretzels for a simple landscape shot, thus requiring a lens with an extra 70mm+ of coverage (obviously, view camera studio work is different). These cheaper alternatives have opened up a new world for me. And since I shoot almost all of my work with shutter speeds exceeding 1", the shutter reliability issue of older lenses is almost non-existent.

I appreciate your comments regarding the 108mm - I think I am going to be trying to purchase something in that length next. It will be a nice "in between" size with my 90mm and 127mm. With 240mm of coverage, I imagine the corners usually look quite good, even with a little rise, no? - at least on 4x5...

31-Mar-2016, 05:37
"Best" is a defeating concept. There are plenty of us for whom "best" isn't really necessary, and when you get out of that mindset other possibilities open up. I never use my 90/5.6 SA because the front and back are the size of dessert plates, it takes a lot of room in my bag, it is hard to use with a sunken board--all sorts of good reasons. For me, the tiny W/A Raptars are fine.

I plan to re run the test with more care in the future, on 5x7. The 108 is certainly a length I like, though, and you're right---I hardly ever use more than a little rise, and these days I start at the back for tilting (the old way--there are definite advantages that explain why the old cameras started being made with back swings and tilts first and didn't have front movements for a very long time.) I have some modern lenses, but the ones I use most are Tessar derivations from Wollensak and Ilex. If you don't need the coverage that modern Plasmats give, Tessars are great, expecially in longer lengths, for people who aren't making wall-size prints.

This was shot with a 190/4.5 Raptar on 5x7. It's not really supposed to do that, but I'm fine with the results: https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeldarnton/14692136852/in/dateposted-public/
It was a primitive scan of the wet neg still in the hanger, held against the sky, shot with my Nikon D300, and I scanned the neg for real later--there's much more than in this version.

I very consistently see 90/6.8 Raptars on Ebay for around $60. By what logic would this be a bad purchase, even if only for occasional use on trips to risky places?

31-Mar-2016, 07:33
i demoted both the 6.8 raptar ( purple dot air corps/rapax shutter ) and
a 3 1/2" 12 exwa that i got when the rapax shutter was on the blink
and serviced by a guy who wa a real putz.
i bought a chrome barrelled 90 S/A to use. i had been using the 6.8 and 12 for IDK 12-16 years, never problems, endless coverage &c;
having read all the hype of the SA i sold the "lesser" lenses for the "better" one. i use the SA all the time
and to be honest, i never really noticed much of a coverage, or ANY differences, and to be honest, every once in a while i pine for
the"lesser" lenses i sold. they were nice becasue i cold leave them on whatever camera i was using at the time
( speed-g, gvii, toyoview ), without a worry: they were small, and easy. the SA is ... a bit bigger, and i always wondered
if it was worth all the hype ( on lusenet, pnet, sales talk, vcmag, and through face to face conversations with friends and colleagues ) ...
maybe it was just the purple dot getting the best of me? some say it was one of the best lenses wollensak put out
( if it was purple AND yellow, it would have been put in a safety deposit box )
maybe the rochester elves were at work, and it had endless coverage because of the magical color-corrected coating they put on the lens.
i don't think i will buy them again, now that i know what mine were like, nothing will live upto my expectations and i'll sell them at a loss.

31-Mar-2016, 14:14
It's funny - about the back tilt...I almost always go for the back tilt first, only to realize I could have just used some front rise instead..I use a 4x5 burke and james view camera (tailboard) but with the "tailboard" piece removed - getting stabbed in the neck by a 10" piece of wood while trying to focus a 127mm lens is no fun, so I probably get 8" of extension before the focusing rack falls off the track...It has a lot of movements, except isn't wide angle friendly (I am having a custom recessed board for the 90mm made).

Back to the raptars...I like the look of the 190 on the 5x7 - slightly wide. Would you happen to own a 65mm raptar/optar? Any experience on 4x5 with that?

1-Apr-2016, 04:20
Where was the "purple dot"? I haven't read of this anywhere? I just got mine yesterday...the lens cell seems to be very recessed - which seems a bit odd. I assume this is normal?

1-Apr-2016, 05:00
Wollensak, when they started coating, developed a colored dot system to specify which coating a lens had. A mythology has developed around this.

Yes, they're pretty far back in the barrel. It makes them hard to clean, but hard to get dirty, too.

I don't have a 65mm Raptar, but they don't cover 4x5. They *might* do 3-1/4x4=1/4.

1-Apr-2016, 10:09
Where was the "purple dot"? I haven't read of this anywhere? I just got mine yesterday...the lens cell seems to be very recessed - which seems a bit odd. I assume this is normal?

hi whalen

the purple dot was near the 90mm and all that stuff / script in the barrel.

1-Apr-2016, 10:19
Hmmmm, my version is definitely purple w-around-c, so I was just wondering...glad to hear I did not potentially purchased a "lemon" version...ha.

Yeah - I figured it (65mm) wouldnt cover, but I figured I'd still inquire...

With the lens so recessed, have you ever gotten any mechanical vignetting from using filters? I am probably going to use 46mm filters which should be wide enough to not really "get in the way". I could always use my 67mm set, but that seems like overkill - especially with the shutter diameter well under 67!
On the 90mm, I noticed the aperture lever goes beyond the f32 mark, has anyone ever calculated what the stop would be once moved all the way over..? I've never really paid attention to defraction - I'll stop down to f64 if I've got it!

I just got it yesterday - can't wait to actually use it...

1-Apr-2016, 11:02
Hmmmm, my version is definitely purple w-around-c, so I was just wondering...glad to hear I did not potentially purchased a "lemon" version...

naaaah the w/c was how they marked some of their lenses " wolly coat " ( w-c ) or something like that.

not sure when they started or stopped. but I am guessing it wouldn't be hard to research
over in the catalog showroom in camera eccentric dot com ...


Tin Can
1-Apr-2016, 11:03
My Raptor 90 f6.8 has a circle around a 'W', kinda like the 'L' for Luminized on Kodak lenses. I think W means Wolmanized.

I recently got an older, undated Wollensak Lens Brochure. It does not have the 90 mm f6.8 in shutter listed, but does list faster older 90 mm Velostigmat F4.5 Series II lens.

Could the older lens design have been used in a newer shutter with less aperture?

1-Apr-2016, 11:24
So if my c around the w is purple, that doesn't mean it's a purple dot? There is a actual "dot" indicator as well? Why can't lens and camera manufacturers just make things easy? 1: bad lens 2: good lens 3: great lens...instead of needing a decoder ring to figure things out. Crazy.

1-Apr-2016, 11:34
yep, there is an actual dot .. like a circle filled in ...

1-Apr-2016, 11:36
The madness.