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Mark Sawyer
28-Dec-2009, 23:40
Wollensak’s Velostigmat Series II is a Tessar formula lens introduced about 1909. Series II Velostigmats had an aperture of f/4.5, and came in barrel mounts, Studio, Regno, Autex, Optimo, Betax, and perhaps other shutters. The Series II was Wollensak’s most popular lens, recommended for portrait, group, landscape, and “general use”. It came in quite a few focal lengths, from 3.5 inches through 19.5 inches. The 9.5, 12, 15.6, and 19.5 all had an optional diffusion adjustment that is fairly common, and some of the shorter lenses were occasionally featured it, (I’ve seen a 5 inch model with the diffusion feature).

The Velostigmat Series II lenses were manufactured until just after WWII, with the later models being single coated (Wolcoated) by the factory. They were renamed the Raptar Series II and put into Alphax shutters in the late 1940’s, and production continued through at least 1957, though without the adjustable diffusion option.

The adjustable diffusion is one of the more interesting features of the Velostigmat Series II, and one that sets it apart from the many other Tessar lenses available. The adjustment was a rotating front ring that allowed the front element to be unscrewed one rotation, giving it slightly more distance from the other elements. There is some confusion as to how it should be used, but the 1916 Wollensak Lenses and Shutters Catalog explains:

“The amount of diffusion is variable at will and so places in the hands of anyone artistically inclined, a powerful means of expressing their individuality. It is by no means difficult to manipulate this attachment, by turning the front mount around to the marks 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, as desired, then focus. When the indicator is set at 0, the lens is ready for general work, producing negatives with snap and life; set at 1, you have a slight diffusion, at 2, a greater degree of diffusion, and so on, the higher the number, the greater the diffusion.”

In actual use, very little diffusion is evident, even at setting 5. This has led some to try focusing at the 0 (sharp) setting, then dialing in the softness. The rotation, however, causes the focal length to shorten slightly, so the focus-then-adjust method results in an out-of-focus rather than soft-focus image. But the Wollensak catalog makes it clear, set the diffusion, then focus. So what is the “artistically inclined” photographer to do?

There is a “cheat” possible that allows one to adjust the diffusion far past the factory limited setting of 5, to a setting that would be (by counting the rotations) of 40 or so. At that setting, the Velostigmat Series II has an obvious and (at least in my eyes) lovely soft-focus signature.

This modification to the lens involves removing one of two restraining screws inside the lens that restrict the rotation to a single revolution. I documented the process on my 15.5 inch Velostigmat Series II to show the procedure:

1.) Here’s the lens. The front element is to the left, and the seam just behind the front edge of the barrel is the giveaway that this lens has the diffusion adjustment.
http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g139/Owen21k/DSC00044.jpg

2.) First you need to unscrew the front “beauty ring”, the ring that's engraved with all the lens info and threaded in through the filter threads to hold the front element in. If your lucky, you can do it with the friction of your thumbs. If you can’t budge it and you’re desperate enough, you could drill two small holes on opposite sides of the beauty ring and force it with a spanner wrench. If the front rim is dented, forget trying to thread the ring out. Your best bet is to have someone with very strong hands force the rotation until one of the little screws shears off. I got lucky; mine unscrewed with my thumbs!
http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g139/Owen21k/DSC00048.jpg

3.) Remove the ring
http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g139/Owen21k/DSC00031.jpg

4.) Under the ring along the rim you’ll see a little screw. This bumps into another little screw down below it.
http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g139/Owen21k/DSC00032.jpg

(to be continued...)

Mark Sawyer
28-Dec-2009, 23:42
5.) Remove that screw. There’s the little bugger!
http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g139/Owen21k/DSC00039.jpg

6.) Now you can unscrew the front element as much as you want! Watch out it doesn’t fall off when you’re using it. I always have mine screwed in at least one rotation. Here it is completely unscrewed and off the main body of the lens:
http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g139/Owen21k/DSC00035.jpg

7.) Put it back together and screw the beauty ring back on…
http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g139/Owen21k/DSC00048.jpg

(to be continued...)

Mark Sawyer
28-Dec-2009, 23:42
8.) Now instead of adjusting it only this far…
http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g139/Owen21k/DSC00042.jpg

9.) …you can adjust it this far!
http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g139/Owen21k/DSC00043.jpg

A word of warning: this also removes the limit of rotating the front element the other way past zero, and over-tightening can jam the front element, making it very difficult to unscrew at all.

Mark Sawyer
28-Dec-2009, 23:49
...and a couple of images made by Velostigmat Series II lenses, both on 8x10, wide open (f/4.5) and waaaay past the factory limits on diffusion...

From my 12-inch Velostigmat:
http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g139/Owen21k/Jennasleeping.jpg

From my 15.5-inch Velostigmat:
http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g139/Owen21k/w155inchVelostigmat.jpg

David Karp
29-Dec-2009, 00:45
Mark,

This is great. It would be a good addition as an article in the LF Home Page. If you are interested, shoot a PM to Tuan and chat with him about it. It would never get buried in the Forum that way.

Mark Sawyer
29-Dec-2009, 01:33
Glad you like it, David! I'm hoping if we keep it here in the forum, people will add to the thread. And maybe we can start a few more threads on noteworthy lenses with "Info and Images" in the title to make them easier to find in a search...

The Velostigmat really is a wonderful lens, with all the qualities most people are looking for when they want a "vintage lens" look, sharp or soft. And Wollensak made so many of them, they are affordable and pretty easy to find, especially in the 9.5-inch and 12-inch focal lengths. (BTW, if you ever run across a 19.5-inch for sale, let me know!)

Steven Tribe
29-Dec-2009, 04:44
Well done - a very logical and well illustrated help to others. Just one question, though.
The locking screw looks as if the head of the screw is about to give up the ghost? Did you consider a replacement/deeper slot for the next time it needs a repair - or oil the thread?

russyoung
29-Dec-2009, 05:52
Mark, my experience with the lens exactly duplicates yours: if focused at the '5' setting, it was not soft-focus. If focused at '0' and then turned to '5' it was merely out of focus. I don't understand how this lens could be considered soft-focus... seems unremarkable that no photographer of consequence endorsed it, unlike Veritos, Graf Variables, P&S Semi-Achromatics, etc.

Kudos on your brilliant work-around. It may not be what the designers intended but the proof is in the pudding and those are wonderful images.

Russ

CCHarrison
29-Dec-2009, 06:00
Attached is an from 1918 for the lens

Dan

CCHarrison
29-Dec-2009, 06:01
And a 1921 Ad on the series

Dan

goamules
29-Dec-2009, 08:10
... I'm hoping if we keep it here in the forum, people will add to the thread. And maybe we can start a few more threads on noteworthy lenses with "Info and Images" in the title to make them easier to find in a search...



I appreciate your experimental method. Often, people answer questions on forums with the "guess and surmise" method or they just repeat misassumptions, leading readers astray. You on the other hand have actually explored the mechanics and use of this lens, and your information is factual and therefore indispensable.

I agree some of the other lenses should be explored, and written up in a scholarly manner for a useful database. I've seen more of this testing done with small format for some reason. You can find several lens tests for Leica Screw Mount, for example. I suppose one reason older lenses are harder to test, is the manufacturing variances in the 19th century, and the lack of documentation (and fewer lenses and users).

Garrett

Mark Sawyer
29-Dec-2009, 10:40
Thanks, all! Before I get too much credit, though, I want to credit Darryl Baird, another regular here, for turning me on to this modification a little over two years ago:

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=29047&highlight=velostigmat

And you'll note in that thread that Jim Galli had another way of getting to the restraining screw from the back side, but mine didn't work that way. There are a number of different barrel designs for the Velostigmat Series II, but the one I described seems to be the most common, at least in my experience.


Well done - a very logical and well illustrated help to others. Just one question, though.
The locking screw looks as if the head of the screw is about to give up the ghost? Did you consider a replacement/deeper slot for the next time it needs a repair - or oil the thread?

Yes, the screw was damaged when I opened it up, and it looked like the damage was done putting it in, perhaps at the factory. I damaged it a little more removing it, as it was very soft brass and a bit stubborn. I doubt I'll replace it, as I can't imagine wanting to cut off the option of using the diffusion past the 5 setting. But you did remind me: I did clean the exposed threads and used a penetrating graphite lube around the beauty ring to help remove it. I also washed the dishes before removing it, so my thumbs had a little extra grip. (Hah! Try finding a tip like that in the Ansel Adams Guide!)

Mark Sawyer
29-Dec-2009, 11:02
Mark, my experience with the lens exactly duplicates yours: if focused at the '5' setting, it was not soft-focus. If focused at '0' and then turned to '5' it was merely out of focus. I don't understand how this lens could be considered soft-focus... seems unremarkable that no photographer of consequence endorsed it, unlike Veritos, Graf Variables, P&S Semi-Achromatics, etc.

Kudos on your brilliant work-around. It may not be what the designers intended but the proof is in the pudding and those are wonderful images.

Russ

Thanks, Russ! That diffusion ring always seemed like a vestigial tail to me, just a useless historical appendage, til I found out about removing that restrictor.

The images from this lens really do stand beside the bigger names in soft focus. I've worked with Veritos, Imagons, Cookes, Portrait Plastigmats, Portrait Unars, and others, and the original prints from the Velostigmats stand comfortably beside them. (It's hard to appreciate such things on a computer monitor...) They each have their own look, but it would be hard to choose a favorite to use exclusively. Kinda like choosing a favorite food to eat at every meal for the rest of your life.

These are also very nice at the sharp setting too. My 9.5-inch Velostigmat II, (my only 8x10 lens for maybe two decades), has remarkable resolution at the 0 setting, but the 12-inch and 15-inch I'd class as "okay", which still resolves sharper than a good eye can see in a contact print. The tonalities run soooo smoothly from all of them at any setting, but I'm finding that to be the case with all the old uncoated Tessars I've tried. Lovely lenses...

Jon Wilson
29-Dec-2009, 21:18
Bravo Mark & Darryl.

I too have been perplexed as to how you had accomplished the removal of the set screw. I truly appreciate your posts pictures for they inspired me to examine my 15.5 inch Velostigmat II. After a little gentle persuasion and cleaning off the old lube, I have been able to make my diffuser ring unfettered. I can't wait to try this lens on my 8x10 and possibly the 11x14.

Jon

csant
8-Jan-2010, 09:13
Came across this note today on some experimenting with Velostigmat diffusion: http://wideopen1.squarespace.com/journal/2010/1/8/the-velostigmat-wdiffusion-control-its-full-potential-releas.html
Might be of interest to some.

Mark Sawyer
12-Jan-2010, 21:37
Two more portraits made with the ancient 12-inch Velostigmat, wide open @ f/4.5 with the diffusion set "fairly soft", on 8x10 format. I must confess, I like these lenses more and more...

http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g139/Owen21k/danaka1.jpg

http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g139/Owen21k/danaka2-1.jpg[/IMG]

Mark Sawyer
12-Jan-2010, 23:23
...a detail of the eye in the second image, just to show that even at a soft setting, the lens still holds detail underneath:

http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g139/Owen21k/danaka2detail.jpg

There are quite a few personality traits for judging what you like in a soft focus lens; how diffused it appears wide open, how it renders the out-of-focus areas, how the aberrations make the highlights glow, how the corners vary from the center, whether coma rears its ugly (or beautiful) head)... One of the big ones for me is whether it keeps good resolution under the softness. The modified Velostigmat shines there.

Jim Galli
13-Jan-2010, 17:07
Just to keep the Ebay prices of Velo's somewhere in the local stratosphere, here (http://tonopahpictures.0catch.com/BandLTessar/11X14BandLTessar.html) is a similar test done with the ignoble Bausch & Lomb Tessar. The B&L was ford and chevy to the Velo but for some reason no one cares much for them. They go begging on Ebay rarely getting past double digits. I think the results are similar. They never offered a diffusion ring, but you can accomplish the identical effect by seperating the 2 front elements and carefully reinstalling in the barrel. So before you spend $XXX on a Velo, tinker with the old B&L. What say ye Mark?

Mark Sawyer
13-Jan-2010, 22:57
Well, Jim... I have a couple of 12-inch B&L Tessars around, and a few other Tessars as well. I've thought of modifying them, but with such nice, easily adjustable Velostigmat Tessars doing so nicely, it's become a "why bother" situation. But to be honest, in my darker moments I've thought of butchering my 450-M Nikkor Tessar, or a 600mm Aero-Tessar to accomplish the same thing. Perhaps one of these days... but for now, I like the idea of pushing an existing design just a bit beyond its design limits in a way that still meshes with its original aim, and that can be fairly easily replicated by others. I'm watching the Velostigmats, curious what the prices will do. I doubt I'll have much effect on the market, though.

Still, the observant bystander will note that I didn't start this thread until just after I bought my 15-inch Velostigmat! :D

Jim Galli
14-Jan-2010, 07:13
Well, Jim... I have a couple of 12-inch B&L Tessars around, and a few other Tessars as well. I've thought of modifying them, but with such nice, easily adjustable Velostigmat Tessars doing so nicely, it's become a "why bother" situation. But to be honest, in my darker moments I've thought of butchering my 450-M Nikkor Tessar, or a 600mm Aero-Tessar to accomplish the same thing. Perhaps one of these days... but for now, I like the idea of pushing an existing design just a bit beyond its design limits in a way that still meshes with its original aim, and that can be fairly easily replicated by others. I'm watching the Velostigmats, curious what the prices will do. I doubt I'll have much effect on the market, though.

Still, the observant bystander will note that I didn't start this thread until just after I bought my 15-inch Velostigmat! :D


I think the mechanical limits on the Velo are greater too. 1/8th inch seperation was about maximum on the BnL while the Velo seems to have a LOT of threads in the front ring. Sure does look good. I'm wishing for a 14" but they're somewhat scarce.

Steve Hamley
14-Jan-2010, 07:18
Jim and Mark,

I've had a thought in the past that I might make a spacer for a Cooke triplet Series II with the ring diffusion, which seems to have much less travel than the knucklers. I got this idea by removing the front cell and moving it back and forth in space while looking through both glasses. I guess you could cannibalize an old 35mm or MF lens for the focusing mount and use that to move your glass back and forth.

Cheers, Steve

Ramiro Elena
7-Feb-2010, 13:22
Are the shorter versions of Velostigmats II the same in quality as the ones with the soft adjusting ring?
Or do they just miss the ability of adjusting softness?

Toyon
7-Feb-2010, 14:01
One correction - the diffusion feature was phased out in the late 20's or very early 30's. Later Velos do not have it.

Secondly, the most interesting variation of the Velostigmat is the "Beach Multifocal Lens." Two non-diffusing versions were built and marketed by Wollensak for Mr. H. Beach, a photographer, inventor and holder of patents, the Series A, a classic soft focus lens, and the Series B, which was only slightly soft. Beach was very interested in increasing the depth of field of lenses, he achieved this by introducing a hand-ground aspheric lens as the front element in the Velostigmat Tessar formula. The induced axial aberration was enough to increase depth-of-field somewhat at the cost of some sharpness overall - hence the term, multifocal. The Series A had the addition of a unique element with concentric ripples built into the surface. The optical principles behind his patents are explained by the legendary optical scientist, Rudolph Kingslake, in his book, "Lenses in Photography...The Practical Guide to Optics." The Beach Multifocal lenses are almost forgotten today, but were well respected (and used) by the most well known studio portraitists of the mid-20th century. I'll add as well, that the more ordinary non-diffusing Velostigmats, and the later Raptars are terrific portrait lenses, appearing not over-sharp when wide open and producing a very smooth rendering of out-of-focus areas.

Darryl Baird
18-Feb-2010, 23:23
Thanks, all! Before I get too much credit, though, I want to credit Darryl Baird, another regular here, for turning me on to this modification a little over two years ago:

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=29047&highlight=velostigmat

And you'll note in that thread that Jim Galli had another way of getting to the restraining screw from the back side, but mine didn't work that way. There are a number of different barrel designs for the Velostigmat Series II, but the one I described seems to be the most common, at least in my experience.


wow, your method looks a lot less trouble and dangerous... I managed to scratch the lens while performing this on one of the two I modified. I hope this coming summer will allow me more time to experiment with focus/fuzz/aperture combos.

One thing I love about these lenses is their incredible functionality. I use mine for normal, macro, and portraiture shooting. That's a different kind of (triple) convertible.

Here is a approx. 2:1 shot with the 9" Velo II
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2436/3589339750_a98430e5cd.jpg

Mark Booth
31-Mar-2010, 21:05
First a special thanks to Mark Sawyer & Darryl Baird for sharing this very valuable "Velo" modification information—it works wonderfully!!!

Guys a few months ago, I had a question on the best lens (purchase) options for vintage soft focus lenses. Numerous lenses were discussed but the Velostigmat Series II defocus stood out strong in my mind. Besides Mark Sawyer had recommended its consideration and then later pointed me to this thread.

Since that time, Jim Galli was kind enough to give me some additional guidance. In fact, I bought a "minty" Wollensak 12" "Velo" thanks to Jim!!! I've included a picture below of this fine lens. In addition, I sold my 4x5 camera which had a small 4"x4" lens board and moved up to a really nice Deardorff 8x10 which allows me to handle the "Velo" lens with ease.

Tonight, I conducted "minor surgery" on my "Velo" lens and followed the defocus modification directions as per Mark's instruction. The beauty ring on this lens was VERY tight and wouldn't budge until I took an adjustable spanner wrench to the lens to loosen the beauty retainer ring, which then loosened right up. I'll mention the source in case someone needs a good spanner wrench. Ebay store: http://myworld.ebay.com/heavystar/

Now I have about (17) rotations instead of just the former "maximum" (5) settings. So needless to say, this seems to have been a great success and will put it to use very soon!

Thanks again to the Large Format Photography community for sharing "good stuff"!!!

Alex Wei
1-Apr-2010, 09:54
wow, your method looks a lot less trouble and dangerous... I managed to scratch the lens while performing this on one of the two I modified. I hope this coming summer will allow me more time to experiment with focus/fuzz/aperture combos.

One thing I love about these lenses is their incredible functionality. I use mine for normal, macro, and portraiture shooting. That's a different kind of (triple) convertible.

Here is a approx. 2:1 shot with the 9" Velo II


Very nice shot, Darryl.

I use my 12" for everything also and I really like the lens. My soft focus surgery was done some time back after reading Mark's thread about this lens. It's not so hard to take the little screw out, but need to be careful. Well doing that, I cleaned the thread, add a little bit grease to it, now it turns silky smooth.

I will tape the front together if I want to use the most soft setting (which is the front element is about to fall off :) ).

Alex W.

benrains
13-Apr-2010, 16:09
Just modified a 12" Velostigmat w/diffuser in a barrel mount. I'll add a few notes:

[1] The beauty retainer ring actually holds the front element in place, so be mindful you don't accidentally drop out the front element.

[2] I didn't have to completely remove either screw from the lens to make the modification. Once you get the retainer ring off the front of the lens, the "set" screw that's in the front mount just needs to backed out enough to clear the catch screw in the mount below it. The screw will stick out a little from the mount, but the backside of the retainer ring is beveled and has enough clearance to accommodate it. The benefit of leaving the screws in place is that it's easy to put the lens back to its original state, and you don't have track down the screw to do it.

[3] On the 12" focal length lens the front mount comes out after 4 full rotations, so I limit mine to around 3 max. Otherwise it gets a little dicey. The soft-focus effect at 3 rotations looks very good on the ground glass.

benrains
25-Apr-2010, 17:37
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4044/4549515190_2f6fb90cda_b.jpg
B&J 5x7 Rembrandt Portrait Camera Model II
w/4x5 reducing back and Polaroid 545 film holder
Wollensak Velostigmat Series II 12"/4.5 (modified), diffusion at 3 full rotations
Polaroid Type 59
1s @ f/4.5

The focus was on the stem of the apple.

Darryl Baird
25-Apr-2010, 19:56
I reread the thread but didn't find any mention of Johnathon Brewers site entitled "Wide Open" (http://wideopen1.squarespace.com/journal/2010/1/8/the-velostigmat-wdiffusion-control-its-full-potential-releas.html)

more good info and some lovely images as well

Darryl Baird
25-Apr-2010, 20:02
...
Since that time, Jim Galli was kind enough to give me some additional guidance. In fact, I bought a "minty" Wollensak 12" "Velo" thanks to Jim!!! I've included a picture below of this fine lens. In addition, I sold my 4x5 camera which had a small 4"x4" lens board and moved up to a really nice Deardorff 8x10 which allows me to handle the "Velo" lens with ease.

Tonight, I conducted "minor surgery" on my "Velo" lens and followed the defocus modification directions as per Mark's instruction. The beauty ring on this lens was VERY tight and wouldn't budge until I took an adjustable spanner wrench to the lens to loosen the beauty retainer ring, which then loosened right up. I'll mention the source in case someone needs a good spanner wrench. Ebay store: http://myworld.ebay.com/heavystar/

Now I have about (17) rotations instead of just the former "maximum" (5) settings. So needless to say, this seems to have been a great success and will put it to use very soon!

Thanks again to the Large Format Photography community for sharing "good stuff"!!!

great looking lens, I'm a little jealous

Mark Booth
5-May-2010, 15:29
The Wollensak Velostigmat Series II 12" Defocus has been one of the best purchases I have ever made and a pure enjoyment. I only wish I had a professional scanner at home, so I am limited at what I can show of my photographic results with the "Velo" lens at this time. What I love about the lens is its versatility to handle about any job from traditional landscape (with sharpness at zero (0) setting) to a portrait or table-top image utilizing selective focus with the defocus control. The modification step is worth ones time for sure. I am using this lens with my Deardorff 8x10 camera and printing silver gelatin with some alternative process work.

A new "toy"... or best stated, "TOOL" of the trade is a newly acquired Wollensak Vesta Portrait 11 1/2" f5 (Petzval type) in a nicely working Studio shutter. It will be a couple of weeks before I can report on this lens, but I am very excited to put it to use on several projects.

Thanks to everyone's previous comments and recommendations at the beginning of this discussion, Since this discussion, I have totally reexamined my large format photography approach and have become "HOOKED" much thanks to all!

Here is a (snapshot) pic of the Wollensak Vesta Portrait lens. (see attachment)

—Mark

goamules
5-May-2010, 15:39
Ah yes, the Vesta. Wollensak made some great lenses, didn't they?

SAShruby
5-May-2010, 17:31
Mark,

Can you apply same adjustment process for non-variable focus velos?

Mark Booth
5-May-2010, 21:17
Peter,

The answer is NO if I understand your question correctly. While active in photography for about 35 years, I am new to the vintage defocus or soft focus lens and the options or workarounds that others may be aware. Perhaps someone else can speak to your question more effectively than myself?

HELP MARK SAWYER or one of THE OLD SCHOOL GUYS... JIM GALLI we need your help!!!

What I would say, is that some Velostigmat Series II lenses did not have the defocus control, (as you're aware) so the ability to achieve or modify the (defocus) control would be difficult otherwise and dedicated to the adjustable front ring feature.

I am aware that the defocus control was offered in (9 1/2", 12", 15 1/2") focal lengths, but not sure of the exceptions.

The one thing I can say, is that I've worked with probably a hundred different lenses over the years and numerous (high-end optics/camera combinations) but I have never had such fun as with this lens. Now, don't get me wrong, fun does not mean frivolous activities whatsoever. I am working on several significant projects and don't have time to mess around—I must have 8 months of conventional printing as a backlog awaiting my attention. One of these projects has been a historical documentary in the State of Washington, which I am well into shooting for the last year, and have perhaps a full year or more to go before being done with this project—having hopes for this photographic labor to become a permanent collection someday within an institutional setting regionally.

What I noticed as a fine art photographer and avid reader (of serious discussions worth my time) is that certain things were being achieved by other photographers which captured my vision, and I desired to incorporate such things into a portion of my work as well. Jim Galli's work first caught my attention, but then I began the earnest study of others and their collective experiences.

Everything photographic is based on light, form, and composition. Based on this premise, I ask myself, what can I do better or differently, that will challenge me to see or respond to my subject or scene differently? I began my serious work in photography by saving up extra money doing an adult paper route to purchase my first Leica-M camera, then in time, realized that imaging on ground glass help me to develop my eye even better in terms of composition and attention to detail, so I transitioned into large format photography.

All of us have similar experiences to share, but what I like about vintage glass and the use of soft-focus lenses are the nuances of achievement that display character and distinctiveness within an image, that complement the tactile qualities of conventional photography so very well.

While most other photographers have migrated (by desire or necessity) into such things as digital capture and advanced post-capture editing, I have ventured back into time, having a quest to discover the essence of what photography as it was originally experienced or historically shared. This journey has been so rewarding to me, and I am sure that my experiences are not unique whatsoever.

Thanks for allowing me to reflect about why I love this medium of photography.

David Aimone
13-Jan-2011, 07:13
Since I am now the proud owner of a shorter length VSII without the diffusion control, I am also interested in the answer to this question:

Can the lens be utilized beyond adjust f-stops by some modification or removal/rearranging of lens elements? I am also new to old, vintage lenses and their modification.

Thanks!


Mark,

Can you apply same adjustment process for non-variable focus velos?

Jim Galli
13-Jan-2011, 08:01
Since I am now the proud owner of a shorter length VSII without the diffusion control, I am also interested in the answer to this question:

Can the lens be utilized beyond adjust f-stops by some modification or removal/rearranging of lens elements? I am also new to old, vintage lenses and their modification.

Thanks!

David, yes. It's just a mechanical thing. If you can figure out how to introduce space between element #1 and #2 mechanically somehow you've achieved the same thing, albeit with much less convenience since you can't 'undo' the mod every time you wish for standard sharpness. A black rubber O-ring of perhaps .015" the perfect size to hold the glass pieces apart from each other is a possibility. Remember that if you space the element next to the aperture blades 'out' you also need an identical spacer in the barrel threads so the glass next to the aperture lands in it's original place and the front is effectively further forward.

David Aimone
13-Jan-2011, 08:19
Remember that if you space the element next to the aperture blades 'out' you also need an identical spacer in the barrel threads so the glass next to the aperture lands in it's original place and the front is effectively further forward.

This last part isn't clear to me, but I'll take a closer look at the lens when I get home and perhaps it will be obvious. I'll let you know, Jim. Thanks!

Nice lens though...

David Aimone
13-Jan-2011, 15:28
Jim,

After inspecting the lens, there are two elements in front of the shutter. Does the rear one nearest the shutter screw out (making it closer to the shutter)? If that's what you're referring to, then it makes sense--since I'm moving that one closer to the shutter, I have to move the entire front barrel away from the shutter?

If I'm on the right track, how DO you unscrew that lens in the back? I haven't tried hard, but there's nothing to grab on to.

Thanks!

David

Jim Galli
13-Jan-2011, 15:32
Jim,

After inspecting the lens, there are two elements in front of the shutter. Does the rear one nearest the shutter screw out (making it closer to the shutter)? If that's what you're referring to, then it makes sense--since I'm moving that one closer to the shutter, I have to move the entire front barrel away from the shutter?

If I'm on the right track, how DO you unscrew that lens in the back? I haven't tried hard, but there's nothing to grab on to.

Thanks!

David

You're on track. Get a rubber jar lid grip and give that end piece a twist.

David Aimone
13-Jan-2011, 15:44
Interesting soft wide angle effect if I just remove the entire front piece too. I suppose there's some adjustment to exposure doing that.

I see why you like playing with lenses.

Doug Howk
14-Jan-2011, 06:04
14" Velostigmat Series II has a defocus ring. The Studio shutter works. However the Iris/Aperature is stuck in fully open position. Its OK for soft-focus portraits, but I'd like to use it also for normal work.
Any recommendations as to what to do with the lens?

Mark Sawyer
14-Jan-2011, 13:34
Doug, it would be worthwhile to have the Studio Shutter repaired, (if all the parts are still there). They're pretty simple, and work well within their limitations. Add a Packard shutter (or similar) and a neutral density filter or two if you're planning to do any bright-light shooting. Older big, fast tessars won't be quite as sharp as more modern "general" lenses, but they're more than sharp enough for contacts and slight enlargements, and they have a lovely smoothness of tonality, sharp or soft.

Jim collum
11-Feb-2012, 23:03
playing around with the different settings

a 12" with the diffusion ring mod
all shots at f4.5

f4.5, setting 0
http://forum.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/2/20120205_roaringcamp_35-edit-2.jpg

100% crop
http://forum.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/2/20120205_roaringcamp_35-edit.jpg



f4.5, setting 3
http://forum.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/2/20120205_roaringcamp_36-edit-2.jpg


100% crop
http://forum.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/2/20120205_roaringcamp_36-edit.jpg

Jim collum
11-Feb-2012, 23:06
f4.5, setting 5
http://forum.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/2/20120205_roaringcamp_37-edit-2.jpg


100% crop
http://forum.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/2/20120205_roaringcamp_37-edit.jpg



f4.5, 3x around position 5
http://forum.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/2/20120205_roaringcamp_38-edit-2.jpg

100% crop
http://forum.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/2/20120205_roaringcamp_38-edit.jpg

Darryl Baird
12-Feb-2012, 06:14
Nice series, Jim.

Looking at the grain I'm wondering if you are using fp4 with Rodinal again or are you capturing with a digital back?

Jody_S
12-Feb-2012, 08:11
Interesting. And like everyone else I guess, I happen to have a couple of B&L Tessars lying around on a shelf somewhere, I'll have to see what I can do.

Question: I would think this would work exactly the same way on a Heliar type lens? I'm pretty sure I have a large process lens with this configuration, with a factory-installed Waterhouse style aperture. I was going to attempt soft focus discs to insert in it's place, but perhaps there's an easier way.

Jim Galli
12-Feb-2012, 09:38
What - a - lens! Thanks Jim

Jim collum
12-Feb-2012, 10:03
Nice series, Jim.

Looking at the grain I'm wondering if you are using fp4 with Rodinal again or are you capturing with a digital back?

those were done with the Betterlight (IR mode, which captures both IR and visible light). The grain was added post (i've never liked grain/noise free images.. reality just doesn't seem that 'smooth' to me :)

Jim collum
12-Feb-2012, 10:04
What - a - lens! Thanks Jim

Hey.. you're the one who sold it to me.. thank YOU!!!

(btw.. if you're ever interested, and in the area, let me know.. i have full access to the train yards here (parts with no public access)

Jim collum
12-Feb-2012, 11:31
This is from a 10" f4.5 Velostigmat Series II, without the diffusion ring. This was modified to add more diffusion. I'm not sure of the specifics (how much of a space was put there)... I bought this one from Jim (the pusher) Galli as well. This and the 12" have become a couple of my favorite lenses as of late

[http://forum.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/2/_838216.jpg


100% crop
http://forum.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/2/20120205_roaringcamp_43-edit-edit-3.jpg

jp
12-Feb-2012, 11:47
Jim, that series looks really nice!

Jim collum
12-Feb-2012, 12:11
This is the 10" Velo SeriesII, shot with the Betterlight.. this time with an IR block filter.

This would be the effect on color film

http://forum.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/2/20120205_roaringcamp_54-edit.jpg

Mark Sawyer
12-Feb-2012, 15:25
I've seen lots of 9.5" Velostigmat II's, but never a 10". Interesting! I love my Velostigmats, and it's always good to see them at work. Lovely images, Jim!

Jim Galli
12-Feb-2012, 16:02
This is from a 10" f4.5 Velostigmat Series II, without the diffusion ring. This was modified to add more diffusion. I'm not sure of the specifics (how much of a space was put there)... I bought this one from Jim (the pusher) Galli as well. This and the 12" have become a couple of my favorite lenses as of late



Jim, that was an 8 1/4" iirc, and I used a piece of .032 solder to make the spacer to hold the 2 front elements apart from each other.

That one really seems to 'sing' too. What was I thinkin' about lettin that go :~'))

I'll definitely take you up on that offer one of these days.

murphy
8-Oct-2014, 11:06
What is the chance I could add more space with a 8.5-9 Graf Variable I own. Don't know much about this len's, has similar separation, with rotation of front element, but like the Velo II soft focus it is minimal. All this info hooked me when Mark & Jim's original info came out, these days I choked at the $700-800 price tag I see for the Velo II soft focus. Thanks

Mark Sawyer
8-Oct-2014, 11:31
It should work, Murphy, as the front element separation introduces the spherical aberration, just like on a Tessar. The Graf Variable is a Dialyte, or very close to it, but it sounds like the same idea. The big question is can you do the mechanical modifications to the front of the barrel. Keep us informed!

And yep, the Velostigmats with the blur-o-matic option are up there these days, but they're worth it. And every once in a while, a bargain comes along. My 12-inch is pretty scruffy, so I keep watching and hoping...

murphy
8-Oct-2014, 15:21
Thanks Mark, I've worked as a metal smith most of my life, usually jewelry, model making Ect. I can figure a way, just want to try to keep it stock. Have you thought of adding a shutter, or finding one with a shutter? They look fairly chunky for that, not sure I can get a Packard on my 8 x10. New to 8x10, can't believe I waited so long. I remember reading your original info on the Velo II, I think it truly opened up

murphy
8-Oct-2014, 15:28
Woops, sent prematurely. Your info on the Velo II opened up a new look for a lot of us that wouldn't venture into the "new" look that these expensive SF lenses offer. I just ran into Ken Lee's articles on Tessars, on the top of my list..

Jim Galli
8-Oct-2014, 15:53
Mark gets credit in the Oxford New Dictionary for the word "fuzz-u-lator" which by the way could be worth about 300 points if you hit a triple word score on Scrabble with it. (I think you'd have to carry a second Z around in your pocket for just such an occasion though)

murphy
8-Oct-2014, 17:56
Mark, new to this & hope it is on topic. I drug out the Graf Variable to get a idea of what it will take to allow more revolutions as in the Velo IIs. One question would be about "haze". Not sure if that exists, needs cleaning, if it is what can be done about it. Beautiful lens altogether. It is a 8.5-9.5. Anyone know about this guy?

goamules
8-Oct-2014, 19:17
There should be a lot of posts on Graf Variables here, and the internet at large.

On Velostigmats being more expensive, I don't see that. The last two 12" ones sold for less than $410 on ebay. Also, yes, they are in shutters often. Mostly Betax and occasionally other shutters. I have a 12" in a well timed Wollensak pneumatic shutter.

ImSoNegative
8-Oct-2014, 21:42
I had one of these but sold it recently, excellent lens, wide open did beautiful portraits, stopped down it was razor sharp

Mark Sawyer
9-Oct-2014, 11:53
Mark, new to this & hope it is on topic. I drug out the Graf Variable to get a idea of what it will take to allow more revolutions as in the Velo IIs. One question would be about "haze". Not sure if that exists, needs cleaning, if it is what can be done about it. Beautiful lens altogether. It is a 8.5-9.5. Anyone know about this guy?

The Graf Variable design doesn't have any cemented surfaces, so any internal haze should wipe right off, as long as it's not some really aggressive fungus. Good luck with opening it up!