View Full Version : Portrait lens options for5x7

Ian Greenhalgh
5-Dec-2013, 08:09
Hi folks

I'm planning to do a portraiture series on 5x, and I don't think I have a suitable lens as I'm looking for a classical smooth look which probably means a lens with residual spherical aberration.

These are what I have for 5x7 above 150mm:

Wollensak Enlarging Raptar 4.5/162mm - not tried it, doubt it will cover 5x7, might be quite soft wide open?
Ilex Acuton f4.8/215mm - plasmat, doubt the rendering will be what I want
Eskofot Ultragon f9/210mm - process plasmat, again probably won't have a suitable rendering
Wray HR Lustrar f5.6/7" (178mm) - tessar type, intended to be shot at f8 or smaller, don't know what the rendering is like wide open
Staeble Ultragon f9/240mm - another process plasmat
Wray APO Process Lustrar f10/12" (300mm) - dialyte, doubtful it will render in a suitable way

So, what options do people recommend - trying out the lenses I have first, perhaps using a diffusion filter?

What lenses do people recommend for 5x7? A Pentac 2.9/8" might be the ticket, I know the image circle turns to mush in the corners on 5x7, but for portraits, that will probably look nice, and wide open it's soft and glowy.

A petzval appeals, but I have no idea what length would be needed for 5x7 and I don' know how to find a Petzval without paying more than my meagre budget can afford, any tips on Petzvalhuning would be appreciated, aren't some magic lantern/projection lenses Petzvals? I do happen to have a pair of Kershaw projection lenses from the 1950s that are Petzvals but they are 5 and 5.5" respectively and are very heavy as the barrels are very thick aluminium to dissipate the heat of a 35mm projector's lamp. I shot this with the 5" one ad this is the wort of smooth rendering I like for portraits:


P.S. Shutter isn't an issue, I'll be using paper negatives so a lens cap will suffice.

Pete Watkins
5-Dec-2013, 08:25
You could consider a Kodak Ektar 203. Nice image when opened up but I've never tried mine on 5x7 portraits.

Ian Greenhalgh
5-Dec-2013, 08:42
Hi Pete

That's a dialyte, right? I could try my Wray 12", that's also a dialyte.

5-Dec-2013, 08:45
I'm looking for a 240 Heliar in synch shutter myself

otherwise...I have a 250mm f3.5 Xenar and a f6.3 300mm

Greg Y
5-Dec-2013, 08:54
My choice is the 240 Heliar..... thanks to Jim Galli :)

Jim Noel
5-Dec-2013, 08:55
The portrait you provided looks pretty nice. If your background is going to be plain, why not use it? If you want a longer FL, buy a 2 1/4" slide projector. They are dirt cheap now and you might find one with an appropriate lens for well under $50. Try Goodwill online store, Salvation Army and similar stores.

Dan Fromm
5-Dec-2013, 09:18
In Dagor types, there are now several 210/6.8 Beryls up on ebay.fr (not mine, and I'm not acquainted with the sellers). All in barrel, the cells are direct fits in a Compur #1.

BTW, isn't 210 mm a bit short for a portrait lens on 5x7?

5-Dec-2013, 09:32
It sounds like you want to save money, so I'd look for a Bausch and Lomb IC Tessar or Series II Velostigmat. If you're patient, you could get a 9" Velo with the soft focus adjustment, like this one 251361432503.

Ian Greenhalgh
5-Dec-2013, 09:49
I'd like a 240 heliar, but sadly, Heliars are probably outside my budget, hence my interest in the Pentac, which is similar to a Heliar of course and AM Pentacs are pretty common here, I have one but the front glass is ruined.

I'm not sure what would be a good focal length for portraits, I suppose 300mm would be about right. The bellows on my 5x7 limits me to about 360mm I think. I have a huge 14" Anastigmat without a name on it, just a crown, the aperture blades are missing so it's wide open only, that might be worth a try I suppose, not sure if it's a tessar or a triplet.

The portrait was taken with a Kershaw 5" projector lens that is a Petzval type, it was mounted on an old 6mp Canon DSLR. I doubt that 5" lens would come close to covering 5x7. I do have a longer one but I think it's 5.5", I'll have to dig it out and check.

B&L and Wolly lenses don't turn up too often over here in England, but there are plenty of English equivalents.

William Whitaker
5-Dec-2013, 09:57
It sounds like you want to save money, so I'd look for a Bausch and Lomb IC Tessar or Series II Velostigmat.


5-Dec-2013, 10:45
I'd like a 240 heliar, but sadly, Heliars are probably outside my budget, hence my interest in the Pentac, which is similar to a Heliar of course and AM Pentacs are pretty common here

B&L and Wolly lenses don't turn up too often over here in England, but there are plenty of English equivalents.

pick up a couple of them Pentacs and sell them on the US ebay - also shop on the US ebay for B&L and Wolly lenses - they are pretty common here and most people would ship to you

turn a couple of those pentacs over and you'd have your heliar

wait..you don't need a shutter?..I have a 240 I am going to sell w/o a shutter - in my quest for a shuttered one

let me know if you are interested

5-Dec-2013, 11:08
Personally, I love a longer lens for portraits. I'm loving the 36cm Schneider Tele-Xenar on 5x7 right now. Here are two portrait examples. These are purposely overexposed for this look. Both 1 second exposures wide open.

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5335/8872706567_11c1eeecd5_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/themdidit/8872706567/)
Xenia_Portrait_052513_wm (http://www.flickr.com/photos/themdidit/8872706567/) by ScottPhoto.co (http://www.flickr.com/people/themdidit/), on Flickr

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8268/8872706697_6c6ba996f9_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/themdidit/8872706697/)
Anton_Portrait_052513_wm (http://www.flickr.com/photos/themdidit/8872706697/) by ScottPhoto.co (http://www.flickr.com/people/themdidit/), on Flickr

Here is an example of how sharp is can be. 5x7 tintype:

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2836/9703734129_2196cb9b68_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/themdidit/9703734129/)
John Fluevog womens shoe (http://www.flickr.com/photos/themdidit/9703734129/) by ScottPhoto.co (http://www.flickr.com/people/themdidit/), on Flickr

Other than that I do like my 12" Commercial Ektar though I'm looking forward to trying a 12" Dagor as well.

Hope this helps. :)


Bernice Loui
5-Dec-2013, 11:08
Depends on the type of portrait. For head/shoulder consider a focal length of no less than 240mm and up to 360mm or more (classic formula, adding the two edge dimensions of the film format. The resulting sum equals the "ideal" focal lenght. 5"+7" = 12") . For environmental portrait, focal lengths of 210mm or less may fit the need.

Try the current inventory first for focal length. Once this has been settled, then consider lens type.

IMO, good values are tessar types like the Xenar, Ektar and etc.. The Heliar is nice, but given the current market value they might not be a great value. Beyond this, there is an entire group of soft focus lenses.

Here are some images and ideas to consider:


5-Dec-2013, 11:27
Tessar will be the cheap and safe choice. Probably get a 300 ish /4.5 tessar

An old imperfect triplet would be ideal. I have a 12" aerostigmat I picked up for <$100 recently and want to try it. My most used triplet is the Trioplan and I notice there are at least one on Ebay in the mid 200mm range. A fuji soft focus lens is also an imperfect triplet that gets pretty normal stopped down a little bit.

Heliars are a proven choice, but I haven't shot one yet.

Kodak Portrait 305 is a pretty versatile too, wildly soft wide open, sharp stopped down, usually with a shutter.

Ian Greenhalgh
5-Dec-2013, 12:42
Thanks for all the info and tips guy, very useful.

I spotted this incredibly badly described Pentac and grabbed it for a song:


I'll keep my eye out for a longer tessar or triplet as well.

Still got a hankering for a Petzval too...

Jim Galli
5-Dec-2013, 15:13
A fine look on a low budget for 5X7, contact me about some really cheap triplet fast projection lenses. I think I have 12" and 15" laying around. No aperture. Use them wide open. Also consider a 9" enlarging Raptar or better still same, but 12" for portraits. I'd want to be around 12" for portraiture on a 5X7 ideally.

Any projection petzval that covers 5X7 is going to be expensive. We sort of blew that possibility wide open a while back. Cat's out of the bag so to speak.

Paul Fitzgerald
5-Dec-2013, 16:14
You may want to look for 'Emil Busch Bis-Telar ser II f/7' lovely look to them wide open, a few are listed on ebay.
Wollensak 'Tele-Raptar' 15"/5.6 works well on 5x7.
If you remove the rear elements from your petzvals you'll almost double the FL, very soft wide open.

Have fun with the hunt

Ian Greenhalgh
6-Dec-2013, 00:32
I've just dug out that 14" Anastigmat, it's an Air Ministry one with a UU code, so will be made by Dallmeyer. It's a tessar type, so I wonder, is it a Serrac? The glass is in fine shape but the aperture blades are missing, sadly.

Pete Watkins
6-Dec-2013, 02:20
Hi again,
I bought one of those 14a UU 14" lenses recently, mine has the aperture blades. I tested it recently on 4x5 for infinity and it's a bit on the soft side. Might be ideal for portrait. I have no idea wether it's a Tessar or a Serrac. It's just not as sharp as most of my other lenses.
Before you ask I have a Sinar 4x5 / 8x10 with a Sinar shutter but I have used step up/step down rings on the front of the lens in the past to enable me to front mount a Copal 3.
I also have a Dallmeyer / Packard shutter that works as it should that I was going to put on the Bay in the near future. PM me if you're interested.

Roger Hesketh
6-Dec-2013, 05:19
I think the 14a UU AM lens is an Aviar. I know Dallmeyer made it but I think to an Aviar design. Make a good doorstop it's a heavy brute. Pete the Serrac is one of Dallmeyer's versions of the Tessar.

Correction sorry just checked mine it's made by TTH TT code so may differ from yours.

Ian Greenhalgh
6-Dec-2013, 06:20
I'll have to check mine Roger, see if the rear is cemented or not, then we'll know.

Thanks Pete, I'll have a think about shutters, I'm currently debating what to do abut shutters as I have loads of barrels lenses. A Sinar is too expensive unless sell some things to finance it, so I'm thinking a T-P roller blind type would be suitable, it would look right on my Lancaster Instantograph. I hadn't thought about a Packard shutter, how easy are they to use in terms of exposure timings?

Pete Watkins
6-Dec-2013, 11:50
If you're thinking about T-P rollers contact Ian Grant. He posts here.

Ian Greenhalgh
6-Dec-2013, 14:18
I've been chatting to Ian, he's been most helpful. :)