View Full Version : Buying soft focus lenses in Europe

Darryl Baird
17-Jul-2007, 12:16
Does anyone have sources, suggestions or leads on where I might find soft focus style portrait lenses in either London (anad westward into Wiltshire) or Paris. I'm interested in lower prices (of course) and maybe something fun to do while the wife and kids are shopping.:)

I'd planned on cruising Portobello Market next Saturday... I recall a couple of photo shops on that street, but that's all I know.

I made a cheat sheet of all the lenses for sale on Igor's camera site... so I have a reference point.


Ole Tjugen
17-Jul-2007, 13:02
They show up quite often on ebay - .co.uk, .de, .fr, and so on - if you happen to know what you're looking for. The American lenses you mostly find on Igor's are rather rare here. :)

Miguel Coquis
18-Jul-2007, 06:15
If you come to Paris, try "le grand format" au boulevard Beaumarchais (use to be the photo-street). Ask for Daniel. Serious guy. He is LF cameras and lenses specialist and have lots of second hand.

18-Jul-2007, 08:44
Darryl, last time I went to Portobello (a couple weekends ago) I found it a nightmare. You'll also pay over the odds, from what I found simply because they are 'vintage' or because they're on one of the most famous market/streets.

MW Classic occasionally have some nice lenses. Their customer service (mail order) can be a bit rubbish, but generally for the price they're worth a gander.

Pete Watkins
18-Jul-2007, 09:19
Don't mess about, go to Camera Eccentric. Nice products and a great bloke to deal with. Just remember that some of those lenses are massive so it could be worth asking for the dimentions before buying. According to my son Portabello Road is good for its fruit and veg and not much else.
Best wishes,

18-Jul-2007, 09:36

That, and street photography: http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendid=9040683&blogid=282788284

Pete Watkins
18-Jul-2007, 13:25
Hi Ash,
I couldn't live with that stuff on me wall though. I must be honest I've not been there since the '60,s though my son did shop there in the last couple of years. Three Repromasters went for less than £25-00 on U.K. E-bay a couple of days ago, where were you?
Best wishes,

18-Jul-2007, 13:46

It was a horrible dismal rainy day too. Typical English weather :)

I was tempted by a pair of old RAF flying goggles (blame the video for Closer by NiN).

Darryl can't be far from me (mentioning Wiltshire in his post) - I'm in Swindon, and I still keep missing those cheap lenses on the bay.

Darryl Baird
21-Jul-2007, 15:27
Portobello was fun, but rainy off and on. Not much of what I wanted, but did manage to find an old lens (unmarked, unknown focal length) with f/6 waterhouse stop.

Ash how are you with the flooding? ... Swindon was in the news as badly hit by the rains.

Stonehenge was cold and soggy, but the grandkids still had fun. Ice cream works wonders. We got stuck on the M4 for a long time, but managed to escape any real problems.

Thanks for the au boulevard Beaumarchais suggestion, looks good from a Google Earth search.

Richard Kelham
23-Jul-2007, 10:44
You could try Mr Cad in sunny Croydon. Good stock, but rarely any bargains.


23-Jul-2007, 11:30
Darryl, glad you had some fun.

Our house is high-ish so there was no flooding although the roof began leaking (in my room, and my father's office directly below) which is no fun at all.

I was meant to make my way to girly's house on Friday, the torrential rain caused the road to become a river halfway between Swindon and Lyneham. Huge delays and queues for a lot of the bus services as a big part of Swindon was flooded.

It took twice as long as it should have to get into Calne from Swindon. Her mother works the night shift at the hospital and found 3 of the 4 main routes were impossible to get into Swindon. My father had to travel direct to Bath to pick up my mother and sister as the trains were cancelled.

So the bus had to plow through a huge flooded area, most of the cars that made it through would pull over on the other side as the engines started steaming!

The front of the double-decker bus was all rainy so the phone-camera picture is rubbish, on the left is the flooded road that was pouring across onto the main road. All the blurry area ahead of the bus is underwater.


And here's a friend from Calne who decided to stand on the bubbling drain cover on the flooded road by the shops/library,


Aaaand because I had nothing better to do, here's a really crummy quality video of the bus going through the river/road. Shows how much was flooded!


Darryl Baird
1-Aug-2007, 18:47
Finally got home and have managed to test the lens I got at the Portabello Market. It's a tiny brass lens, with a single waterhouse stop (f6), yet it seems to be equivalent to my 375mm Ilex-Caltar in lens angle. It looks very soft on the GG, but even at wide open it can render some decent detail. I haven't fully tested it yet, I want to see of it has any of the wonderful glow of the portrait lenses. I've nicknamed it "Portagon"

First (left) is the "Portagon", then (right) the Caltar. Both are wide open.