View Full Version : Which size Wollensak SF for 4x5

20-Dec-2007, 17:23
After some reading I have gained an interest in the Wollensak soft focus lenses of yesteryear. Could I be advised of the appropriate sizes for 4x5.

Wollensak Vitax
Wollensak Verito
Wollensak Veritar
Wollensak Velostigmat series II (III ?)

Gene McCluney
20-Dec-2007, 17:34
7" to 10" would be ideal, in my opinion. That would be about 180 to 250mm.

20-Dec-2007, 18:53
I have a 9" Verito, a 9" Petzval and they "feel" just right. I love the older lenses in the 8 - 14" range but you need plently of bellows for the longer lenses for a close head shot.

I have a couple of 5 or 6" Petzvals and at portrait distance they work well but you need to work quite close to the subject.

For full length I like the 300 Velostigmat.

20-Dec-2007, 19:14
I have the 10" Veritar that I use on 4x5 and with a roll back for the 4x5. The 10" is designed to cover a 5x7 so there is a lot of movements available.

You can find a lot of info on these at www.Cameraeccentric.com in the information section. You'll see covers of many old equipment publications. Click on the one for Wollensak soft focus lenses and you'll find the data you need.

Good luck.


Gene McCluney
21-Dec-2007, 09:04
The longer the lens, the larger the format they will cover (as a general rule-except for telephoto design lenses). If you are wanting the type of lens that is sharp in the center and gets swirly on the edges, then you need to have a lens that "just" covers the format you are shooting with, so you can get the full effect of the swirlies. This really means a wider-angle lens than would normally be used for a given format for portraits. Some of the lenses listed in the OP are designed to show the "soft" effect over the whole image circle, and in that case, any focal length will show the effect.

Jim Galli
21-Dec-2007, 09:54
7" Verito is made to work on 4X5, but consider this phenomena. Soft focus lenses are at their best when the neg is contact printed. A 4X5 of head and shoulder portrait made with the 7" lens will not look like the same picture made on 8X10 with the 14" lens. What looks perfect in contact can begin to go to mush in an enlargement. Just something to think about so you don't spend a lot of money and get disappointed. Maybe others will dis-agree?

Ernest Purdum
21-Dec-2007, 09:59
If you are intending to use the lens for portraiture, a rather long lens is desirable to avoid the big nose problem.

The Velostigmats you list are not soft-focus. A few f4.5 longer focal length (9"-14"? Velostigmats, I don't remember for sure) have a soft-focus adjustment.

21-Dec-2007, 18:19
The Velostigmats you list are not soft-focus. A few f4.5 longer focal length (9"-14"? Velostigmats, I don't remember for sure) have a soft-focus adjustment.

I thought they were. Please put me right. I am looking for soft portrait, head and shoulder, adjustable lens. Am I right in saying that a larger lens (8x10) on a 45 will only utilise the centre therefore missing a lot of the softening due to excess coverage.

21-Dec-2007, 18:45
about a 10" for 4x5
about a 14" for 5x7 .....

or that is what i use ;)

Jan Pedersen
21-Dec-2007, 18:45
Otzi, It depends on the lens, The Verito and the Veritar is soft period. The Veritar is only made in two sizes, a 10" and a 14" The 10" covers 5x7 but will work really well on 4x5 and so will the various Verito's, believe there's a 7", 8", 83/4" a 9" 14" and i think 18" so pick your prefered focal length. They are not easy to find and prices have gone up over the last couple of years.
The designated portrait lenses (Petzval, Rapid Rectilinear) are often very sharp at the center but soft away from the center and those really need to be used with the focal length they were designed fore to get the best out of them.
Various degree of softness is controlled by stopping down on both the Verito and the Veritar. The adjustable Velostigmats can be soft even stopped down.
Hope this helps.

Ernest Purdum
22-Dec-2007, 12:30
I should apologize. My earlier response was kind of tossed off and should have been better. I'll try to do better now.

The Vitax This is basically a Petzval type, but with a means of varying the spacing of the rear elements for diffusion control. It was made in only three sizes that I know of, 10", 12 1/2" and 16". The 10" size was recommended for 5" X 7".

The Verito. This is a very popular lens at the moment. It is a design of its own with a single meniscus in front and a cemented pair in the rear. The diaphragm is the only diffusion control. Unlike the Vitax, its softness is over the whole field. It was made in a large range of sizes.

The Veritar. This was a post WWII variation on the Verito theme. It has the (rather slight in soft-focus lenses) advantage of coating, but in order to fit it into an Alphax shutter, the aperture was reduced from the Verito's f4 to f6.

Velostigmats. I should have said that you were right about the Series II Velostigmats, but only a very few of them. Most Series II are just f4.5 Tessars with the sharpness characteristic of that type. In early production, sizes 9 1/2" and up did have a diffusion control. Later on, this was available but not standard. Series III was the f9.5 wide-angle lens.

There is an article on this subject that might be useful to you amongst those listed at the bottom of the home page.

22-Dec-2007, 18:27
Keep in mind, many Wollensaks were designed to be convertible. The 7" Vesta petzval lens can also be converted to a 10" doublet that is equally good for portraits. The same is true for the Versar rapid rectilinear lens that is quite soft wide open. There is a lot of flexibility available in using these lens, particularly for soft-focus effects. I've never found enlargement to be a problem, nor using lenses designed for 8x10 on a 4x5 camera. In addition, you can experiment with sharp focus lenses by unscrewing elements, and employing filter effects.