View Full Version : Ilex Photoplastic soft focus lens?

Don Dudenbostel
10-Sep-2008, 13:30
I've been researching the photoplastic 4.5 but have had very little luck finding any information. Is it a variable diffusion lens and has anyone used one?


Paul Ewins
10-Sep-2008, 16:09
I've got a 16" version but haven't got around to testing it out yet.

10-Sep-2008, 16:13
I own the 10 1/2 inch version in a #5 shutter. When new they were offered with 3 different rear element groups, each one producing a different level of softness. The level of softness is controlled by f-stop, soft wide open and sharpening gradually as you close down the aperture. I find it a lovely lens, as nice or nicer than my pinkham. Wide open the out of focus areas are truly beautiful. Huge coverage, my 10 1/2 covers 8x10 at infinity with full movements.

Don Dudenbostel
10-Sep-2008, 18:11
lecarp, I appreciate the info. I found one on the auction site in 9-9.5 condition in a properly working universal shutter for $298. It's nearly new condition 10.5 in. and has the extreme soft back element. Thought it might be a fun lens and not a bad price for that condition.


Petzval Paul
11-Sep-2008, 08:40

To which P&S are you comparing the Ilex? I think that each model had its own character (and maybe variations within each version since they were hand-ground) and I'm just curious which one you are comparing.



11-Sep-2008, 15:45
Paul, First let me say, I love the Pinkham and have no complaints. The one advantage of the Photoplastic is a wider range of softness, the lens sharpens more slowly as it is stopped down.
My Pinkham is the 14 inch series IV. It was coated and re-lacquered by the Burke and James Lens Bank.

11-Sep-2008, 17:58
can we see an example of the photoplastic wide open???

Don Dudenbostel
12-Sep-2008, 05:19
can we see an example of the photoplastic wide open???

I would love to see a few examples. Which back element do you have? Extreme soft or what?

Jon Wilson
13-Sep-2008, 20:21
This shot was not taken with an Illex photoplastic, but by its brother, i.e., an Illex Portrait 15.5 inch f5 lens in a #5 Illex shutter. The shot was taken with out of date Kodak Pro100 negative 8x10 film and scanned by my local media specialities shop. The shot was taken at f8 and 1/2 second exposure. I would have preferred to set up for a closer shot, but this one does show how this lens will certainly create the diffussion outside the center of focus.

I hope to try it out more and compare it with my 15.5 inch Wollensak Velostigmat Series II with a diffuser ring in a studio shutter (just got the studio shutter working tonite...yeah!) :) and a 14.5 inch Verito f4 also in a studio shutter.

Don Dudenbostel
14-Sep-2008, 08:51
Thanks for posting the image. Very interesting DOF. When My photoplastic extreme soft arrives I'll post a couple of images at first opportunity. The curved DOF reminds me of a recently acquired petzval. No swirls but that curved DOF.

Jon Wilson
4-Mar-2009, 21:44
Here is another example of a portrait shot taken with a 5x7 Illex Portrait lens at f5.6 and a packard shutter.

Don Dudenbostel
5-Mar-2009, 17:40
Thanks for posting another photo. Wide open with the extreme SF back element the Photoplastic is really soft. At f8 it's starting to look something like your lens Jon. I have to scan some images and post them soon.