View Full Version : Fujinon soft focus

17-Jul-2006, 03:23
In another forum someone made mention of having a Fujinon SF 420. I didn't know such a lens existed. Can anyone give me any info on this lens? I know they make a 250 and a 180 but I've never seen a 420. Thanks

Ted Harris
17-Jul-2006, 07:20
No 420 and never was AFAIK. I would guess that it was a typo.

Sheldon N
17-Jul-2006, 07:34
The only Fuji 420mm that I'm aware of is their 420mm L f/8 lens. I believe it was a Tessar design that was in their entry level lineup. You still see them from time to time on Ebay at around $400-500.

Michael Gudzinowicz
17-Jul-2006, 12:00
To contact an owner, see: http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=003CxM&tag=

The 420 mm Fujinon SF/SFS lens has a 62 deg coverage angle giving an image circle of 500 mm.

Ted Harris
17-Jul-2006, 19:18
Whoops! Michael is absolutely right. I had totally forgotten as I havce never seen one or know anyone who has used one. The lens has been discontinued for around 25 years or more. I checked in my Fuji literature and saw no mention of it going back to 1980 but did see it mentioned in much earlier DO Industries listings. It was only availablein a barrel and I don't have any dimensions so have no idea if it could be easily mounted in a shutter. Interesting lens, love to see one some time.

Acomment on performance. I have usedall of the modern SF lenses (except the Congo?Osaka) extensively (see article last year in VC Magazine) and found the Fujinon SF to run a poor third behind the Cooke and Imagon. Of all the SF lenses I have used the original Pinkham Smith on which the current Cooke is modeled is my favorite but it is a huge beast.

Michael Gudzinowicz
18-Jul-2006, 11:09
The reference I have lists it in a #3 shutter, in which case the maximum aperture would be f/8 or f/9 rather than the published f/5.6 The lens is uncommon, so I'd suggest getting the thread diameter and pitch, and the barrel length to compare it to actual shutter dimensions. Another issue is whether you want to tolerate the loss of soft focus due to the effect of a smaller maximum aperture. Grimes probably can mount it in a larger shutter to use at f/5.6.

Ted Harris
18-Jul-2006, 13:52

What is the reference you have that lists it in a #3 shutter .... curious as three different references I checked all showed barrel only.

Thanks ... Ted

Michael Gudzinowicz
18-Jul-2006, 18:27
The lens was listed as available in a #3 shutter as f/5.6 in articles published in Petersen's in 1984 and 1986 corresponding to two database entries - one for SF and another for SFS. The copies are buried somewhere so I can't be more specific, though I'm skeptical for the obvious reasons.

Charles Webb
19-Jul-2006, 19:24
[QUOTE=Ted Harris
Acomment on performance. I have usedall of the modern SF lenses (except the Congo?Osaka) extensively (see article last year in VC Magazine) and found the Fujinon SF to run a poor third behind the Cooke and Imagon. Of all the SF lenses I have used the original Pinkham Smith on which the current Cooke is modeled is my favorite but it is a huge beast.[/QUOTE]

Where can I find the article, I would be very interested in reading it. Unfortunitely I do not know what VC magazine is so am at a loss where to look. I have been using SF lenses for over fifty years, and agree that the PS is a terrific lens and also my favorite.

I think it would be fun to read your findings, and compare my findings with your article.

Thank you,
C Webb

20-Jul-2006, 08:27
Okay, I found it... one of the issues I saved:

View Camera Magazine, November/December 2005, Vol XVIII No. 4, page 52.

The article is interesting but unfortunately, the images printed aren't quite capable of supporting the text. But an interesting article nonetheless.

I am struggling a bit, Ted, with your comment that the Fujinon SF is a "poor third". The impression I got from the article is that you really favor the Cooke (no doubt!) and both the Imagon and Fujinon weren't as good in your opinion. But I missed the "poor third" part.

Re softness: "In the case of the Imagon and Fuji, I often find them too soft for my taste."

Re skintones: "Overall, the Imagon gives an appearance of greater sharpness than the Cooke (the Fujinon was similar to the Imagon), especially in the detail around the eyes and the hair."

I'm not trying to be confrontational, but you threw me for a loop with this statement of Fujinon SF being a "poor third". Is there data/information that didn't get published?

The reason I ask is because I have a Fujinon SF and have been quite satisfied with it. Unlike you, however, I haven't had the opportunity to personally do comparisons. Maybe I don't know what I'm really missing!

Ted Harris
20-Jul-2006, 09:10

First, yes, I favor the Cooke but with a few major caveats. I remain unsure that the differences between the Cooke and the Imagon are sufficient to warrent the price of the Cooke if your primary use is studio portraiture. If you are going to use the lens for both studio and environmental portraiture and for landscapes then the Cooke makes more sense ... but still a steep price. In the studio I found it virtualluy impossible to tell the difference between images createdwith the Cooke and the Imagon.

Differences between the Cooke and the Imagon were small and subtle but noticable. Differences between the Imagon and the Fujinon were a bit larger and not so subtle. First, when stopped down the Cooke and the Imagon were nearly as sharp as the Fujinon 240A. It was very difficult to see any difference without going to 16x20. The difference in the sharpness of the Fujinon SF was obvious immediately. The Fujinon SF was not unsharp stopped down it just didn't perform quite as well as the other two. Now, this is, of course, subjecttive to some degree but I did have two other people check my opinions and we agreed. Further, I owned a Fujinon SF for some years and my experiences with that Fujinon were the same as those I got during these tests ... still only speaks for those two lenses specifically but my guess is that, since it happened with two, it is a bit safer to generalize. Using the Fujinon wide openwith one or the other of the supplied "strainers" gave nice results, I jhust didn't like them as much as those of the other two. Moreover, design of the Fujinon is such it that it is more difficult to control the diffusing effect than it is with either the Imagonor the Cooke. The Cooke is easiest in this regard (although all three take some getting used too and are far from simple to use).

Bottom line, if I had never used any other soft focus lens I'd still be perfectly happy with the Fujinon. I sold the Fujinon after I bought an Imagon 300mm and then I later accquired an Imagon 250mm as well when Calumet was closing them out. I like the way you can control the variability of the opening sin the "strainer" on the Imagon which you cannot do with the Fujinon.

Is a lot of this subjective? Of course it is and I'm not sure I know of a real objective way to test especially when wars rage over the quality of one out-of-focus effect v. another. BTW you are completely correct that the printed images don't do the text justice nor would any printed images short of full page images and I'm not sure that even that would do the trick. As I recall I even mentioned that in the article. We are dealing with some very subtle differences in performance here and also with taste which, in the end, is personal. All three lenses are much different designs optically BTW further complicating the comparisons. Please note that I made no attempt to evaluate these lense in tersm of line pairs, etc. since the final use and criteria is how they perform when in less than sharp focus other than around one single area of the image.

As for your Fujinon, no reason not to be satisified with it. Especially on a price performance ration the Fujinon is an outstanding value. New the Fujinon is $750, a mint used Imagon will cost you about the same or more and when it was discontinued a couple of years ago it was selling in the $1200 range new and the Cooke, of course, is over $3000 in shutter.

20-Jul-2006, 11:50

Thanks for clarifying your assessment of the relative differences betwen the lenses. Indeed, it is an "tangerines vs oranges" kind of comparison. I look forward to the day when I can try out another SF lens, especially an Imagon (mostly becasue the Cooke is simply too expensive for me to realistically consider).

I'm still intriqued about the differences in softness-adjustability and softness effect between the two designs. Intellectually I understand what you experienced and explain, but I crave a bit more visual or personal experience. Your point that much of this kind of evaluation is individual judgement and personal preference is well stated. For example, I'd very much like to see a a full series of "identical" shots at the same aperture (or equivalent notion for the Imagon) between the Imagon and Fujinon SF. Very costly do do, I imagine, and something that's not well suited for publication in a magazine article. Perhaps that is a good goal for my retirement... if I'm ever able to retire.

One of your well-stated points, above, I still scratch my head at the comparison of a SF lens with a non-SF lens. Aside from the potential for multi-tasking, I don't mind at all that my Fujinon-SF never achieves the quality of a standard lens. I use a 210mm Symmar-MC for detail and the 250mm Fujinon-SF for fuzziness. Am I missing an important concept?

Thanks again for your willingness to continue the discussion. I did like the article and learned from it. In fact, I saved that issue of VC just because of your article!


Ted Harris
20-Jul-2006, 12:10

Thanks for the kind words. Actually "a a full series of "identical" shots at the same aperture (or equivalent notion for the Imagon) between the Imagon and Fujinon SF" is exactly what I did and the images you saw in print were culled from those + the ones from the Cooke and a Fuji 240 A. There really is no way to share them that works short of your sitting here at my light table and looking at them or me printing and printing and printing. Yup, I burned a lot of film indeed. Originally I was going to do a studio portrait, studio tabletop, environmental portrait and landscape with each of the 4 lenses using the same f stops and shutter speeds (or equiv.) across the board and was then going to repeat it in color. Time got away from me and after I had done the two portraits and the landscape I wen tback and did a second landscape and second set of portraits and also a studio portrait using a 300mm Apo Symmar for additional control. The second landscape and second set of portraits was so that I could also do the comparisons between the normal 'softer' lighting one uses for portraits when using a regular plasmat and the 'harsh' light that works best with the Cooke and Imagon .... soooooo ... by then (bracketing to be sure I had it right) I had exposed 60 sheets of film and decided it was a good time to stop and start evaluating and writing.

21-Jul-2006, 14:13
I use the Fuji 250mm SF and it has produced some great images for me from 5x7 to 12x20. I usually use it at f8 to f11 but closed down it is sharp in contact prints. I have a 5x7 print printed on AZO G3 deep in the forest on a cloudy day which is stopped way down and the tones and sharpness are all there in spades. Emile/www.deleon-ulf.com.