View Full Version : Cooke Portrait 13" f/5.6

W K Longcor
27-Jun-2008, 19:50
I have checked a few of the threads on lenses and found mention of lenses with a similar name -- but they don't sound like the same lens. So, I'm asking -- what do I have ? quality or not? Something to just have fun with -- or is it worth enough that I should sell it and pay next winter's heating bill?

Cooke Portait lens. 13" series VI f/5.6
weight = 2lbs. Brass barrel. Iris stops. Ring that says "revolve for soft" --- "sharp" then 1 thru 6 for various softness. Would need about a 3" flange ( don't have it). and it is about 3 " long. marked Taylor, Taylor & Hobson Ltd. Ser # 42XXX.

If a picture of the lens appears here - I'll be very happy. If no picture - somebody tell me how to do that?

Any way - what ever info you might have , would be greatly appreciated.

Mark Sawyer
27-Jun-2008, 20:12
It's the lowest priced and slowest of Cooke's line of soft-focus portrait lenses. The Series IIa f/3.5 was the Portric, the IIb and IIc f/4.5 was the Portrellic, and the Series VI f/5.6 was the Portronic. It's still a high quality and very desireable lens, especially for someone interested in a pictorialist style of photography.

I'd say keep it and use it, at least for a while, unless you're really hurting for funds now. Should be great on a 4x5 or 5x7, only at "portrait distances" on an 8x10. My wild guess on the price you'd get on the auction site, if it's in pretty nice shape: $250-$350.

Here's Cooke's write-up on it:

Don't be surprised if the illustrated example doesn't look exactly like yours; they went through several styles of mounts, some brass, some black laquer, some with or without the "knuckle rings"...

W K Longcor
28-Jun-2008, 05:00
Thanks so very much for the info. No, I'm not hurting for funds right now -- so I guess I'll dig out the E.K. Master 8x10 , put the 5x7 back on it and have some fun.:D

Jim Galli
28-Jun-2008, 08:16
ANY Cooke Portrait lens with diffusion control is desireable. They have an effect on the photographer that is rather the same as when superman steps into the phone booth and puts his outfit on. Nothing really changes except all of a sudden you feel you have super powers because you've got a Cooke! Sometimes that makes all the difference. I think Mark is conservative on his numbers. These and any soft focus lenses are changing rapidly.

Ernest Purdum
28-Jun-2008, 08:29
These are very versatile lenses, but it isn't easy to choose the results you want by looking at the groundglass. I think it is a good idea to make a series of test shots at the full range of softness settings and at all the f stops you think you might use. You'll have a better idea of what to expect from then on.

Mark Sawyer
28-Jun-2008, 15:53
Jim is right that I may have been conservative on the value; the slower speed lowers the price, but perhaps not as much as I thought. A Cooke, excuse me, a <b><i>Cooke</b></i> lens carries a great legacy and reputation, and whether you ultimately sell it or not, you owe it to yourself to use it a while. The prices on soft focus lenses don't seem to be falling!

Ernest is also right that you'll need some experience with the lens to predict the effect at varying apertures and softness settings, and I'll add that varying the working distance also varies the effect. But the challenge is half the fun, and you'll likely make some beautiful images along the way.

BTW, as a "full disclosure" sort of thing, I'll mention I recently bought an almost spotless Cooke Series IIa Portric f/3.5 Knuckler in lacquered brass for $675. I can't put it on a camera without smiling...