View Full Version : Pinkham & Smith remounted in Shutter

Jonathan Brewer
30-Jun-2006, 20:51
I'd been looking for a pinkham & Smith for years, I gave up hope of acquiring this lens several times, after looking for 2yrs, I purchased the Cooke PS945, later, somebody I know, who knows I wanted the Pinkham & Smith offered me one for sale, one side of me was telling me 'pass', the other side of me was saying, 'he says this lens is the best example of a Pinkham & Smith he's ever seen, you won't get this chance again, ever, GET IT!!

I got it, the glass was 'AS NEW', the lens has been extremely well taken care of, but I began to find out how difficult this lens was going to be to use, compared to what I was used to, it was suggested that I would need a front mounted shutter, where you manually actuate the shutter by squeezing a bulb, a front mounted shutter was also a 'hitch in my gettalong' as far as filtration was concerned.

Adam Dau of S.K. Grimes was nice enough to take the time to discuss the possible alternatives to a front mounted, bulb operated shutter. Adam gave me some figures, the inner diameter of the Ilex#5 shutter(approx. 2.5") was going to give me F4.5 with the Pinkham in it's remounted configuration, and he could give me an 95mm accessory filter thread on the front cell to use with filters I already have.

Part of me did not want to mess with a classic, but after thinking about it, I went ahead and purchased an Ilex#5 shutter, and gave Adam the 'go ahead' to overhaul the shutter and to remount the lens. A pleasant surprise was the fact that despite the F4.5 engraving on the lens, it was actually F4.0, and Adam advised me that remounting the lens into the Ilex#5 would give me F4.5.

I'm including this shot of the Pinkham mounted in the Ilex#5, the front accessory thread is 95mm, the front cell is simply a straight cylinder, the lens has a 'retro' look, Adam didn't skimp on metal and the lens as a 'beefy', 'tanklike' feel and heft, the rear cell is conical with a break to a cylindrical shape, this shot is the polaroid I took to check final lighting and framing, I'll post the shots I took with FP4 of this shot and the rear cell next week, Adam was able to mount the humongous Ilex#5 onto a 4" toyo lensboard, so I can shoot 4x5(everything's flush with it mounted on my Toyo AII), or mount the lens into an 8x10 adaptor for 8x10. I'm now glad I did this, and I'm happy with the way the lens now looks, and I can use it w/studio strobes w/relative ease.

Jim Galli, I hope U catch this.

Have a great 4th of July weekend.

Oren Grad
30-Jun-2006, 21:13
Jonathan, that's great! Enjoy, and do let us know how it compares to the PS945 once you've had a chance to exercise it a bit...

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
30-Jun-2006, 21:17
Like Oren I am curious as to the difference between the Cooke and the original; any observations as to the affect of coating or other differences?

The orginal had complicated iris which produced near a circle, the ilex a bit less, and the copal no where near a circle; any observations as to the difference?

Jonathan Brewer
1-Jul-2006, 01:03
Yes, thanks, will do, I just got the shutter back from Adam, day before yesterday, so I'll be coming up with something after I do some preliminary tests, maybe a test shot the same lighting, distance, w/both the CookePS945 and the Pinkham.

It hadn't ocurred to me the issue of the effect of the original Pinkham iris diaphragm as opposed to the Ilex and Cooke w/its Copal, I've got the original Pinkham shell, now I want to take another look at the iris diaphragm.

I'm just now getting comfortable w/the Cooke, for instance there are some things you can do with a normal lens, you can't do with the Cooke, like pile in overexposure for 'high key', the Cooke won't tolerate it to the same degree as other lenses. Said another way, the Cooke makes just a little overexposure real bright, and a lot of overexposure garish. With every shot, depending on the lighting/light ratio, there's a 'sweet spot', if you're under that 'sweet spot', you tend not to get that 'glow', and over it, things look 'harsh' and 'garish', in essence, a big, NASTY looking hot spot. Actually, I think you can say the same thing(but to a less drastic degree) of the Velostigmat w/soft focus.

If you go to my website, go 2 galleries, go 2 portraits, click on 'Zulu Hat', this was shot with the Wollensak Velostigmat w/the soft focus ring set to 2, this was an 8x10 'Polaroid Chocolate' shot on outdated film, the results were then scanned. I plan on doing some more 'Chocolates' in the near future w/the Cooke and the Pinkham. I like doing Polaroids with these type lenses, because the highlights tend to compress in a very pleasurable way.

This discussion is in regards to portraiture, I would refer to Per Volquartz's still lifes in terms of how this type of lens renders that kind of subject matter.

The Velostigmat and Cooke seem to get along with HP5, they combine for a very soft and muted pallette, use these lenses on the more contrasty looking FP4, and they'll look good, but you have to be closer to 'on the money' exposure wise.

After familiarizing myself with the Pinkham, I'll upload some representative shots.

Jim Galli
1-Jul-2006, 10:34
Congratulations on a fine lens! You have some spectacular pieces at your web pages. I can't wait to see what you get with the 'new' lens. I'll drive you insane and suggest that it might be perfect used on full plate 6.5X8.5! I'm enjoying that size printed with a mask on 11X14 with pure white rebate.

Jonathan Brewer
1-Jul-2006, 12:14
Thanks for the extremely kind words Jim, it took quite a while to get at least a handle on what the Cooke can do, I'll do a little experimenting with the Pinkham, then maybe later I'll try doing the exact same set-up w/the Cooke and Pinkham and see what happens.

stefan d
1-Jul-2006, 13:02
Hi Jonathan!
Congratulation on this wonderful lens and your photos at the internet. I am also searching for a Pinkham & Smith lens for a while. Can you give me a hint to find one. Thanks in advance and best wishes from Germany
stefan d

Jonathan Brewer
1-Jul-2006, 16:42
Hey Stephan

First person I'd contact is Clive Russ @ www.cliveruss.com ......he sold me the Pinkham, he's sells the Cooke PS945, and comes across the Pinkham as much as anybody, I'd let him know you're in the market for the lens, I'd start combing the web for folks who deal in soft focus lenses and get on their waiting lists.

It's taken me almost 4 years from wanting one to getting it, but you might luck up on one next week. Jason Greenberg Motamedi and Ernest Purdum and possibly some other folks might have ideas for other sources, they also have specifics on the Pinkham, if memory serves me right, there was the original production of Pinkham & Smiths around circa 1900 I believe, and then a second run around the 1930's of the same lens, which has a slightly different name, which I can't think of right now.

Good luck Stephan, I hope you can track one down.

Jim collum
1-Jul-2006, 19:39
I played around with the Cooke for a month, and was very impressed. I recently bought a Wollensak 8 3/4" Verito f/4. From f4.0to about f8.0, the effect was very similar to the Cooke. The Cooke was much sharper when stopped down.. and you could shoot directly into the sun, without any flare. The Wollensak shows significat CA in the corners when stopped down. The advantage is the Wollensak cost $300, while the Cooke, $3,000.

As with many.. i've been looking for the Pinkham as well... and have never seen one come up for sale.

full image, f4.0:


crop of sections



stefan d
2-Jul-2006, 05:48
Hi Jonathan,
thanks for the fast answering and informations. I will contact everyone to try my best.
All the best
stefan d

Jonathan Brewer
7-Jul-2006, 21:10
I've gotten back the the Ilford FP4 I used on this shoot, there's a little more clarity and fidelity with these shots than with the Polaroid proofing shot, so here's the front and back cells remounted by Adam Dau of S.K. Grimes, mounted in the Ilex#5 shutter.

I'd love a scenario where the Pinkham springs back to life in 8x10 with a production run of a lens possibly similar to this one, just like the CookePS945 in 4x5.

Have good weekend.

Jonathan Brewer
7-Jul-2006, 21:12
Here's the back cell.

Jay DeFehr
8-Jul-2006, 10:58

I have a 14 ½" f4 Wollensak Verito in a Studio shutter that never worked properly, and gave me fits for years. During that time, I too longed for a "real" shutter, and would have been willing to sacrifice a stop of aperture to get one. In the end, I'm glad I didn't go through with the conversion, and instead had my Studio shutter rebuilt by Carol Miller at Flutot's Camera Repair. The old shutter works like new, and although it's still not a "real" shutter, it seems to suit me very well, and I can use my lens at f4 for maximum effect, although, I doubt I could detect any difference between shots taken at f4 and f4.5. I've had this lens for years, but feel that I am only just beginning to get to know it since Carol repaired my shutter. These lenses are a lot more complex than I imagined, and there is a real learning curve associated with them, quite apart from matters of taste, which are equally critical to develop. I find that I approach a subject very differently when using one of these lenses than I would using a standard lens. I'm still in the toe of the learning curve, but when everything works, it's amazing. Enjoy your new lens.


Jonathan Brewer
8-Jul-2006, 14:06
'I'm still in the toe of the learning curve, but when everything works, it's amazing.'...................................................................You are exactly right about this, I feel I'm in the same position w/the Cooke lens.