View Full Version : Question for owners of Cooke VX/a and PS945 lenses

Don Dudenbostel
29-Aug-2009, 12:09
I've hear so much about Cooke lenses but have never owned or used one. I have nearly five decades of experience with Schneider, Zeiss, Goerz, Nikkor, Fuji and a handful of Ilex, Rodenstock, Wollensak, Protar, Kodak and Turner Reich lenses. I think most of us would agree that all of the above are quality makers with some lenses better than others but within modern lenses they are all pretty much top notch lenses. Only in some of the older lenses do we find any real dogs.

I noticed that Cooke is about to reissue the VXa and started thinking about condensing some of my 8x10 lenses down to a smaller package. I have experience with a few convertibles and owned a triple convertible Protar for many years and used it regularly on my 8x10. I owned it when triple convertibles weren't in style and sold it about twenty years ago. (sad to say) I also had a couple of Turner Reich lenses for 5x7 and 8x10 but saw no magic in them and currently have a 8-1/2 Wollensak that's OK but again nothing special.

For those that have Cooke VX or VXa lenses why do you like them so much assuming you do? What makes them any better than any prime like a Symmar S, Dagor, Artar, Fujinon or Nikkor of similar focal length? I understand the convenience of a convertible but how optically does it compare with both elements and single elements? For a person with high quality as a priority would I be disappointed? I'm aware that AA used on and many other great masters but they also used Goerz, Schneider, Kodak and so on. Is resolution up to a prime when using one grouping? Are chromatic aberrations a problem or do you need a yellow filter for B&W? How is flare?

Please don't tell me it character. Please define in tangible terms what sets them apart. I would be replacing a 12" dagor and 24" Fuji C and possibly on other.

I would like to know more about the PS945 portrait lens. Why is is so highly regarded?


Walter Calahan
29-Aug-2009, 14:01
Can't speak about the PS945, but I do own an XVa.

The XVa is simply a great lens. Three focal lengths in one without any loss of quality from focal length to focal length. I find I use the 476 mm configuration a lot. What's not to like about carrying only one lens instead of three.

I have Schneider, Nikkor, and Rodenstock in my 8x10 kit as well.

Don Dudenbostel
29-Aug-2009, 18:56

Do you experience any focus shift when stopping down? Do you feel the overall image quality is equal to your prime Schneider, Nikkors etc? Do you use a yellow filter with the single components? The convenience factor seems to be the big thing in my mind but I want to make certain a triple convertible will approach the quality of my Nikkor 450 M, 14" artar, 12" Dagor and 24" Fuji C.

David A. Goldfarb
29-Aug-2009, 21:48
I've asked this question, mainly considering whether the Cooke XVa would be better than the three Fujinon-C lenses in similar focal lengths, which are less expensive than the Cooke, and there were responses from one or two people who had used both and the impression I got was that they thought the three individual Fujinon lenses were sharper than the single Cooke lens. I forget whether this was on this forum or on apug.org, but you could search both and see if that thread turns up.

I've also used lenses that share a shutter and there are advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is having consistent shutter speeds, I've found, as well as reducing weight and bulk in the case. The disadvantages are the need to screw and unscrew lenses in the field, and if you have a shutter problem, that's three lenses out of commission instead of just one.

30-Aug-2009, 02:07
This is the sort of question which can get one quickly wrapped around an axle. By that I mean there is no answer to the question. Better? A great deal depends on the eye of the beholder.
Taylor, Taylor & Hobson made and make fine lenses. Perhaps you'll find their characteristics 'better' than the other lens manufacturers you mention. I've used TT&H lenses over the past 40 years and have found them excellent. That being said, I don't use them exclusively; nor would I use any mfr. exclusively.

30-Aug-2009, 03:33
I have an XVa, as well as Fuji 300C, 450C and 600C. Honestly, I find it hard to tell the difference between the 450C/600C and the XVa. But the XVa has better color rendition to me. The Fuji 300C and the XVa is no comparision the XVa wins hands down. The 300C is a great compact lens, but its no match for the XVa for me. The XVa really shines at 312mm.

I have not noticied any appreciable focus shift with the lens when stopped down, but others claim to have seen it. At f/64 and down you are going to be hard pressed to find any real differences between the lenses I suspect.

If you do alot of hiking or traveling the XVa is a great lens: ie one lens and three focal lengths. If not then it may not be worth the cost.

I don't have a PS945, but I have used one. Its an awesome hunk of glass....If I can find a way to scrap the cash together I am going to order one.


Don Dudenbostel
30-Aug-2009, 10:51
Thanks very much. These are the answers I wanted.

Walter Calahan
31-Aug-2009, 18:55

I have not noticed any focus shift. Not saying there isn't a shift, but I'm not an optical engineer who looks for such things. If there is a shift, it has not ruined any of my images. The XVa is equal to all my other lenses in the way I use them. Since I shoot color negative, I've not mounted a yellow filter to the XVa.

Don't know what the price for the next round of XVa's will be, but when I bought mine, there was a cost savings over buy three individual lenses, as well as the convenience factor.

Here's a gallery of my 8x10 work. The Water Tank Road image was made in the 646 mm configuration. http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Cheers/Projects/Pages/Carroll_County.html#1

George Kara
3-Sep-2009, 22:20
I have the PS945 and find it to be a wonderful controllable and very easy to use lens for color and black and white. Stopped down it sharpens right up. The level of control over diffusion is a joy to behold. 229mm on 4x5 is the perfect portrait size in my opinion. I just cant see how you could go wrong with this wonderful modern lens.