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Sorin Varzaru
29-Jan-2001, 13:10
Somebody offered me a Wollensak 159mm f12.5 in very good condition for $250. I w ould use it on a 8x10. Anybody has any experience with this lens as far as sharp ness, color rendition, light falloff, etc. I shoot slide film.

Sean Billy Bob Boy yates
29-Jan-2001, 21:26
The price is reasonable, assuming it's in a working shutter. It is designed for 8 X 10 use. It will not be as sharp as modern glass and depending on vintage will not be coated. I only shoot B&W with my f/9.5 so cannot comment from experience on color rendition, but I wouldn't expect astounding fidelity or saturation from it. In fact, I bet it's less contrasty image might compliment the saturation of Velvia, nicely. Don't look to this lens for being accurate with a MacBeth. Use it for what it is, reasonably priced vintage glass.

The following was condensed from another forum:

"The table I have lists the 12.5 Wollensak as having a 379 mm image circle and 100 degrees of coverage. That sounds like it could be about right. I believe you need to stop right down to f16 or f22 when shooting to get rid of residual aberrations, but this is only a guess based on info provided on lenses of similar vintage (the Angulon) where the wide open aperature is for viewing only. I don't have access to pricing information of the period and was not aware that the 159mm f/12.5 Wollensak Extreme Wide Angle lens was marketed as a cheaper version of the f/9 specimen. It was my impression that the difference is somewhat like that of the Protar IV and Protar V, in that the later, though of smaller maximum aperture, has somewhat greater coverage."

"Many years ago I had an opportunity to compare the f/12.5 and f/9 versions of the two Wollensak EX. WA lenses (they were both Velostigmats) and the f/12.5 model did indeed have greater coverage. Since coverage is a really important feature this fact should explain why the f/12.5 model has a market value close to the f/9. In fact for my money the greater coverage would make the f/12.5 model more valuable."

Brian Ellis
31-Jan-2001, 21:34
There have been several of the Wollensak 159 mm lenses that have sold on e bay recently, some F 9.5, some F 12. You may be able to find them in the "completed sales" section of e bay. A friend of mine has the F 12. I've looked through it on a bright day and it seemed surprisingly bright on his plain ground glass. It probably would be even better with a Bosscreen. I paid more than $250 for my F 9 but I haven't yet mounted it on a lens board so I have no experience with it. I don't use slide film but my understanding is that coatings are more critical there than with negative film, especially the black and white that I use exclusively. I would think that with slide film you would want at least single coating and not all of the Wollensak 159s were coated at all. I don't think any were multi coated.

Geoffrey_1456
2-Feb-2001, 14:12
Sorin,

Sean is right. The f12.5 lens has a bigger coverage compared to the f9 lens. If your lens has a yellow dot, it has a coverage of 94 degree at f16 (at infinity), whereas the f9 lens is 90. Do you find your chrome slightly warm (a little pinkish)?

JBAphoto
24-Sep-2011, 16:34
First look through a friend‘s Wollensak 6” (159mm) f12.5 Anastigmat Extreme WA wide angle lens looked good and I was hopeful I had found a lens type where I don't have to mortguage my liver to replace the 165mm Schneider Angulon that has gone back to a collector

The barel mount version of the lens looks handsome on a 10x8" Sinar Norma with its polished metal matching well with the Sinar's. The practical difficulty is the tiny travel of the aperture ring, which makes setting apertures like f36 difficult and f50 almost impossible. These are logical aperture settings for accurate exposure. To use big negatives and then be sloppy with exposure or development is stupid. The next problem I found was that a small aperture wide angle is difficult to focus and working out what is happening in the corners is almost impossible. By comparison an f11 480mm lens is very easy to focus and frame

Two test sheets, with some sun to give a contrast to my shed wall at f20 and on a whale vertibra at f22 to look at bokeh shows it covers the frame well. The big problem with this lens is the curvature of field, about 4.5m forward at the edge of the frame at 3mtrs. Looking at negatives of interiors I see the 165mm Schneider Angulon is much better than the Wollensak. I made no specific tests on the Angulon as I perceived no problem. In turn the Wollensak is superior to the Hugo Meyer Rapid Wide Angle Nr4 I also have on loan at the moment. The Hugo Meyer needs the rear standard racked in 7mm to focus the edges and it has the astigmatism associated with rapid rectilinears, which might have been acceptable on whole plate in 1890s, but not now

The Wollensak has a smoother bokeh than the Angulon, which is coarse in this regard. Normally I don't worry about a wide angle lens’ bokeh, but with a 6” lens it starts to be noticeable. I was almost careful to guard against flare and I expect no flare problems in normal use

Day two test was to focus half way out from the centre and stop down to see when the centre became sharp again, which is around f40. Put another way, the Wollensak 159mm WA lens needs to be stopped down to f40 to get enough depth of field to cover a flat wall at 3mtrs. That is actually disgusting, so why am I considering such a lens? Have spent too much time on Jim Galli’s site?

Knowing the lens's faults and good points I would consider one if the price was right. To sum up the problems they are curvature of field, a very serious limitation, with the addition of a gloomy screen, a fiddly aperture ring and the need to stop down to f45 to get negatives that will print to 40x50" with the big DeVere for my 2012 exhibition

All old lenses have their foibles and their appropriate uses, but each photographer must work out the real usefulness of a lens

JBAphoto
24-Sep-2011, 16:40
I had never heard of these lenses until a friend asked me to look at one that arrived in a barel mount

First look through the Wollensak 6” (159mm) f12.5 Anastigmat Extreme WA wide angle lens looked good and I was hopeful I had found a lens type where I didn't have to mortguage my liver to replace the 165mm Schneider Angulon that has gone back to a collector

The barel mount version of the lens looks handsome on a 10x8" Sinar Norma with its polished metal matching well with the Sinar's. The practical difficulty is the tiny travel of the aperture ring, which makes setting apertures like f36 difficult and f50 almost impossible. These are logical aperture settings for accurate exposure. To use big negatives and then be sloppy with exposure or development is stupid. The next problem I found was that a small aperture wide angle is difficult to focus and working out what is happening in the corners is almost impossible. By comparison an f11 480mm lens is very easy to focus and frame

Two test sheets, with some sun to give a contrast to my shed wall at f20 and on a whale vertibra at f22 to look at bokeh shows it covers the frame well. The big problem with this lens is the curvature of field, about 4.5m forward at the edge of the frame at 3mtrs. Looking at negatives of interiors I see the 165mm Schneider Angulon is much better than the Wollensak. I made no specific tests on the Angulon as I perceived no problem. In turn the Wollensak is superior to the Hugo Meyer Rapid Wide Angle Nr4 I also have on loan at the moment. The Hugo Meyer needs the rear standard racked in 7mm to focus the edges and it has the astigmatism associated with rapid rectilinears, which might have been acceptable on whole plate in 1890s, but not now

The Wollensak has a smoother bokeh than the Angulon, which is coarse in this regard. Normally I don't worry about a wide angle lens’ bokeh, but with a 6” lens it starts to be noticeable. I was almost careful to guard against flare and I expect no flare problems in normal use

Day two test was to focus half way out from the centre and stop down to see when the centre became sharp again, which is around f40. Put another way, the Wollensak 159mm WA lens needs to be stopped down to f40 to get enough depth of field to cover a flat wall at 3mtrs. That is actually disgusting, so why am I considering such a lens, have spent too much time on Jim Galli’s site?

Knowing the lens's faults and good points I would consider one if the price was right. To sum up the problems they are curvature of field, a very serious limitation, with the addition of a gloomy screen, a fiddly aperture ring and the need to stop down to f45 to get negatives that will print to 40x50" with the big DeVere for my 2012 exhibition

All old lenses have their foibles and their appropriate uses, but each photographer must work out the real usefulness of a lens. On eBay this is often difficult as it can take some time to learn how to work with a lens and how much you can expect from it. Modern lenses, especially the new optics from Leitz, are reputed to be so seamlessly perfect there is nothing to learn, which is why another friend really likes the image quality of his old first series Summilux over his newer lenses