View Full Version : Wollensak Velostigmat 12" f4.5 Examples

2-Feb-2018, 12:47
Anyone have any portrait examples of this lens? I have an opportunity to purchase one and can't find much info on it online. I would be buying it for 8x10.


2-Feb-2018, 13:55
A 12 inch f/4.5 Wollensak Velostigmat in a Betax was my first 8x10 lens back in the 1970s. Sold it for whatever reason 10 or 20 years later. Few years ago acquired another copy of the lens, again in a Betax, and love it. Sorry don't do portraits with it but attached is a scan of an 8x10 Platinum/Palladium print that I used the Velostigmat to shoot the negative with. Trust me the print is a lot sharper than the attached image.

2-Feb-2018, 15:03
post number 150

2-Feb-2018, 16:42
These are with the Raptar enlarging lens version (coated, same formula, maybe optimized for close work, maybe not). You can click through to see full-res versions, but be aware that xray film is itself not a sharp film, so you won't be seeing the possibilities if you are looking at sharpness.

Focus is on the left person here:

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8832/17020434093_ec584d3cf3_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/rW3b5e)
A & M (https://flic.kr/p/rW3b5e) by Michael Darnton (https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeldarnton/), on Flickr

On the glasses here:

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8735/17384810858_1088058f90_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/sueGAf)
BG (https://flic.kr/p/sueGAf) by Michael Darnton (https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeldarnton/), on Flickr

Basically, the lens is a Tessar with all of the portrait delights that offers--smooth skin tones, smooth out-of-focus areas with smooth transitions, extremely sharp (sharper than modern lenses, supposedly, in good examples) in the central areas, less so around the outside.

I use almost entirely Tessar-type lenses for portraits, but not this one too much--12" is a bit short for 8x10 portraits and I usually use something closer to 15". I did just buy a 12" Velo with the fuzzulator for my 5x7, but no results from that yet. On 5x7, 12" is the perfect focal length for portraits! As a friend of mine would say, Tessars are the bomb!

2-Feb-2018, 22:02
Here is one, shot wide open with a non-soft focus version of the 12” Velostigmat Series II on Arista 400 film with a Packard shutter. As someone mentioned, a 12” lens is probably on the short side for (at least tighter) 8x10 portraits—these days I tend to use a 17” lens—but I don’t think this one suffers too much for it. 174341

William Whitaker
3-Feb-2018, 09:25
Velostigmats are fine old lenses and probably quite under-rated, IMHO. I wish I had some images to share, but I don't at this time. However your post has inspired me to make it a priority to do some work with mine.

I have a 14" f/4.5 variable soft-focus version in a Studio shutter and a 7 1/2" f/4.5, Series II in a Betax #4. The latter I picked up for 5x7, but I was surprised recently when I examined it again and found that it covers 8x10 with room to spare. Not wild coverage, but quite ample. Interesting to note that another Velostigmat (in barrel), a 7" f/4.5, while only 1/2" shorter in focal length doesn't have anywhere near the coverage, leaving the corners of my 8x10 ground glass in the dark. Hard to believe that there was that great a change in formulation, but perhaps other factors are at play.

As far as purchasing a Velostigmat, I think your biggest concern should be about price. They are plentiful and not rare (in spite of many bogus qualifiers on Ebay and elsewhere). Check closed Ebay sales on same as a price guide. As a portrait lens it should be very satisfactory. So much depends on lighting, development technique and other variables.

Wide open it should show some softness and sharpen nicely as you close down. This was a common trait of lenses of its ilk and vintage as they were intended for commercial photographers, working stiffs who may not have been able to afford the latest and greatest Cooke or Pinkham or Heliar, but whose day-to-day work demanded that kind of versatility.

3-Feb-2018, 10:22
I started the LF thing buy buying a couple of modern plasmats, but once I got a whiff of what old Tessar-types would do, that was the end of that except for things I want to use as wide-field, like 210 on 8x10. Now I've got a bunch of Raptars, Velostigmats, Optars, Tessars, Paragons, and very happy with them. Probably for someone doing architectural and more technical work that wouldn't do, nor for people looking for small backpacking lenses, but for the things I do, mostly involving people and minimal movements, they're perfect

6-Feb-2018, 12:56
Thanks everyone for the examples! One other quick question—I am new to 8x10, and will be receiving my camera soon. To mount a Wollensak to the camera, would it fit in a standard copal 3 / 1 / 0 lensboard? Does the shutter work like a standard 4x5 copal shutter sytem?

6-Feb-2018, 13:23
I suspect it came in many or at least several different shutters, so you will have to figure that out when you get it. For sure the board will need a bigger hole than anything you named; this is a large lens! (That's a 132mm board it's on.)

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4766/39410696114_aff41af77b_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/233A7UA)

velo-leica (https://flic.kr/p/233A7UA) by Michael Darnton (https://www.flickr.com/photos/stradofear/), on Flickr

William Whitaker
6-Feb-2018, 19:34
Thanks everyone for the examples! One other quick question—I am new to 8x10, and will be receiving my camera soon. To mount a Wollensak to the camera, would it fit in a standard copal 3 / 1 / 0 lensboard? Does the shutter work like a standard 4x5 copal shutter sytem?

No, if the lens is not mounted in a Copal shutter, it will not fit lensboards drilled for Copal shutters. Most often, as Michael pointed out, a 12" Wollensak will be mounted in something like a Betax 5 shutter. That's a fairly large shutter; you will need to have a lensboard drilled for your particular shutter unless you're lucky enough to find a lens already mounted on such a board. f/4.5 lenses for 8x10 tend to come in larger shutters because the physics of it demands larger glass. My 14" f/4.5 Velostigmat SF is in a Studio shutter which is even larger than the aforementioned Betax. It's mounted on a 7 1/2" lensboard for my 8x10 Ansco.
And so it goes with larger formats... :-)