View Full Version : UlF soft focus lens

Robert Musgjerd
31-Jan-2005, 20:14
Help . Once again I'm heading into uncharted water.at least for me. What is available in a good quality soft focus lens capable of covering 14 x 17 format. Im not too worried about price although I am running out of children to sell and where does one find such an animal.

Thanks way ahead of time


David Wooten
31-Jan-2005, 20:14
Robert I am also beginning a project in 14 x 17 "unchartered waters" I believe I attended a class with you in Flag with Dick Arentz? Have been unable to catch you through your e mail here maybe you could send me a note as I have some info for you etc.
Thanks so much
Dave Wooten-Las Vegas

John Kasaian
31-Jan-2005, 20:41
Try Lens and Repro in NYC. Most of the softies I've run into have rather small image circles so buy from someone who knows their stuff(which translates into "It ain't going to be cheap")

David A. Goldfarb
31-Jan-2005, 20:47
I've seen an 18" Verito at Photo Gizzmo recently (phone number on their website--www.photogizzmo.com--they aren't set up for e-commerce). If it doesn't cover, then the rear cell alone should. It should certainly cover at portrait distances.

31-Jan-2005, 22:05
sometimes jay tepper has long portrait lenses.
http://www.jay-tepper.com (http://www.jay-tepper.com)
he has no problems with returns

31-Jan-2005, 22:14
the rear cell of a 14 1/2" verito is 24".....the rear of an 18 incher is 30"

Kerry L. Thalmann
31-Jan-2005, 22:17

I have a 48cm f4.5 Universal Heliar that might cover 14x17. I don't have any data on the lens, or currently a camera big enough to test the coverage. I believe it will just cover 11x14 at infinity. So, it might cover 14x17 at closer distances (perhaps a little vignetting that could be concealed with an oval matte - like on many old portraits). If you do loacte one, be aware that it's a true beast of a lens - mine weighs approximately 13 lbs.

Other than really long the Veritos, I don't know of any other soft focus lenses capable of covering such mammoth formats.


31-Jan-2005, 22:24

How do you use such a large camera with out loseing control or dropping it?? What do you use for a tripod head and mounting system??

31-Jan-2005, 22:25
Robert, If money is an issue ( as it is with many of ULFers) You could always rob the wife's panty hose drawer.......stretch the nylon over your lens...presto instant soft focus. Less softness?.....use her black fishnets.....lol....

Jan Van Hove
1-Feb-2005, 01:38
My suggestion would have been to look for long Heliars, but Kerry beat me to it...

One thing to consider for portrait lenses in ULF format is both coverage and working distance, which are dealt with differently than with smaller formats : In 14x17, a shoulder portrait is pretty much at 1:1 magnification, so you need a lens that covers only half the format at infinity do cover the format at 1:1. Also, the general rule of longer-than-normal lenses for portraits is a little less critical for larger formats, so you can get away with normal or slightly shorter than normal lens...

Just food for thoughts...


clay harmon
1-Feb-2005, 05:04
Maybe I have been extremely lucky, but the soft focus lenses I have purchased have HUGE image circles. Admittedly,they are soft in the corners - go figure! For instance, the 12" Kodak portrait lens I have actually will illuminate an entire 12x20 frame at infinity. Ditto the 405mm Kodak portrait lens. I have a 16.5 inch verito that will cover 12x20 as well. I think a lot of the published figures are very conservative, and you will be well served to try a lens on your camera rather than relying on information floating around on the internet.

I recently sold a 250 imagon on ebay, and several people felt the need to tell me that my assertion in the listing that it would cover an 8x10 was false. They based this on information they had been told or read on the Rodenstock site. But none of these people had actually TRIED it. If you put the imagon on my deardorff, it covered with no problems whatsover... Empirical knowledge trumps theory any day.

1-Feb-2005, 05:27
Clay, I wasn't aware that wollensak made a 16.5 verito. I have only seen 14 1/2 " and 18" veritos. Are you sure it isn't a veritar or a vitax ? If it's a verito I would love to see a picture of it. Thanks,

1-Feb-2005, 08:31
There will be a 14x17 f6 Wollensak Versar on ebay in the next week or so. It's quite an amazing lens, really. The Versar lenses don't get the press of the Veritar or Veritos, but I think they have a much more interesting look.

Ernest Purdum
1-Feb-2005, 08:51
There were some monster lenses made. The largest I know of were made by Dallmeyer. In Series A, the f4 version, The Number 6 had a focal lenghth of 30" (762mm) and was rated to cover 16" X 20". The Number 8D was a 37" f6 lens covering 20" X 22". Both models had lens diameters of six inches.

The problem, of course, would be finding one. When new they were extremely expensive, up to $427.00 when you could buy an 8" X 10" Eastman View for $30.00. To go with it, you needed not only a big, very sturdy camera, but a big studio. It would be surprising if many were ever made.

Kerry L. Thalmann
1-Feb-2005, 09:35
My suggestion would have been to look for long Heliars, but Kerry beat me to it...

While standard Heliars are excellent lenses, one nice feature of the Universal Heliar is the ability to adjust the degreee of softness independent of the aperture. This allows stopping down to gain depth of field (say tip of nose and eyes both in focus) and then dialing in the desired diffusion. This is especially handy in lenses of such long focal length. Most of the older soft focus lenses have nicely diffused highlights down to about f8, but gradually sharpen up as you stop down. On many of theses lenses, by the time you get to f22 the soft focus effect is pretty much gone. Some manufacturers promotoed this quality in their lenses (soft at wide apertures, sharp when stopped down). That's how the Spencer Port-Land got it's name. It was a portrait lens at large apertures, but suitable for sharp landscapes when stopped down.


Armin Seeholzer
1-Feb-2005, 10:52

Clay has right re the Imagon 250mm covers easy 8x10 and I remember even at full open I one time had to shift my 4x5 Sinar full up and to tilt a bit was not a problem at all.
It covers 8x10 even at infinity!
So an 480mm Imagon would have a uge image circle!
Good luck in finding one!

1-Feb-2005, 11:58
A 250mm Fuji SF will cover at portrait distances as a nice WA SF lens. You can hyperfocal it out at infinity stopped down too with mixed results. I've used this on 12x20 with interesting dreamy effects. The f5.6 makes viewing easy. And it comes in a Copal 3S so you can plop your Computars in there too. Emile www.deleon-ulf.com

David Flockhart
1-Feb-2005, 14:32
The Imagon 420 is a fairly rare bird (may be one on Ebay now). I have one that easily covers 11x14. This lens allows extreme to nonexistent soft focus.

1-Feb-2005, 15:15
I'm intrigued to hear about someone looking for LESS sharpness in ULF. So many strive for more, and more, and more...

Jan Van Hove
1-Feb-2005, 16:34
Well, CXC,

Sharpness is not the only reason to go into ULF...
Contact printing methods don't all yield high sharpness results, Oil prints for example, don't need very high sharpness...
And there are probably more reasons..


David A. Goldfarb
1-Feb-2005, 16:44
And a nice soft focus lens doesn't just produce unsharpness. It's the combination of sharp and the extra glow that is interesting, and it is often more effective in a contact print than in an enlargement.

clay harmon
1-Feb-2005, 20:15

My bad. The Verito IS a 14.5 inch. And it covers 12x20 (barely). The 405 Kodak portrait covers the format in spades.

Jeremy Moore
1-Feb-2005, 22:35
You might also check out:

http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/sale.html (http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/sale.html)

As he hasa n 18" Verito (with 22" extension) and an 18" Gundlach Achromatic Meniscus Portrait among others for sale. I don't know if these would cover or not, but the seller seems very knowledgeable and you can ask about the particular coverage of the lenses here.

Daniele Tanto
2-Feb-2005, 06:57
Hello Robert,
I have many soft focus lenses. I used some of them.
I tested all max with 11x14 format so I have some experieneces to share.
It is true that a short lens can cover big format, it depends from the distance of your subject and consequently the bellow became longer. This could cause a more long exposure that could be without problems with still life, but bring some troubles in human portaiture.
Second: long lenses allow you not to put the lens near the face of your subject.
I have two lenses for 14x17 in my collection to sell.
I can send you photos if you are interesting.
Send me a PM along with your inquiries.

Armin Seeholzer
2-Feb-2005, 10:40

There was just 2 month ago a wonderfull Imagon 480mm on german ebay, but there are not often to find!
360mm are much more around and also 420mm.
Good luck!

2-Feb-2005, 11:06

What size lens boards does your 14x17 take?

Paul Fitzgerald
2-Feb-2005, 19:50
Hi there,

I just checked the catalog and the Universal Heliar 480mm is rated for 10X12 inch (26X31cm), it also shortens to 400mm with the soft focus dialed all the way. The 16.5 in. Vitax is rated for 11X14in.

You do not need a soft focus lens for this, just use Berrger 200 film and process it in Dektol 1-3 for 3.5 min. and you will have the best soft focus lens ever made, nothing will be sharp.

Have fun with the search.