View Full Version : R&J Beck Variable Softness Portrait Isostigmar Ser.VI

Jon Wilson
22-Jun-2010, 21:22
Does anyone have any experience with a R&J Beck Variable Softness Portrait Isostigmar Ser.VI barrel lens? I came across one and it seems like a design similar to the old cooke knuckler type lens. The one I picked up appears to be about a 9 inch FL I am getting some chromes back in a few days and hope to have a better idea as to how the diffuser/sharpness ring works. The image on the gg is really fuzzy when the diffuser ring is turned to the extreme.


Mark Sawyer
22-Jun-2010, 22:52
The image on the gg is really fuzzy when the diffuser ring is turned to the extreme.

Hi, Jon ~

I'm not familiar with this particular lens, but have studied and used these sorts of lenses for a while and offer the following: "portrait" in refering to a soft focus lens usually means it only goes slightly soft, enough to slightly ease the texture of wrinkles and pores, and not much more. But turning the softening adjustment often changes the focal length a bit, throwing things out of focus, and if you re-focus, much of the sharpness comes back. Have you tried refocusing it after dialing in the softness? (Just a guess on my part.)

It's most likely a wonderful lens, regardless. Beck was a very good lensmaker, often overlooked. We want to see pictures from it! :)

Steven Tribe
23-Jun-2010, 02:13
The use is well covered in Vade Mecum. It is a modified Gauss - with an extra central bi-concave lens. You probably have the 9.5" covering full plate. VM mentions soft lens surfaces as well as soft effects!

23-Jun-2010, 04:56
Produced in 1908. Optical Layout attached. The lens came in 6 flavors with Series VI being f/5.6 with soft focus feature.

One recently sold on ebay http://cgi.cafr.ebay.ca/R-J-Beck-Variable-Softness-Portrait-Isostigmar-Ser-VI-/300430280249


Jon Wilson
23-Jun-2010, 07:01
Everyone, thank you for your responses. I will post some pictures once I get them back from the lab. The images on the gg appear to have a greater range of sharp to diffusion with this lens than the ones I have with my wolly Velostigmats with the fuzzy effect at full bore.

I am excited about getting this lens for it fits nicely on my Pacemaker which has a focal plane shutter.


Jon Wilson
29-Jun-2010, 21:03
Here are some shots taken with this lens last week with my 4x5 (Pacemaker). http://photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=972568

The 2 tree trunk shots were both focused on the trunk in the lake, but the diffuser was shifted from sharp. It is interesting that the changing of the diffuser ring from sharp (picture #4) to diffused (picture #1) shifted the image so that the the branch in the foreground was sharper while the trunk in the lake became fuzzy.

I hope to get out the 8x10 or the WP camera and try it out on the larger formats.

Thoughts, suggestions, and comments welcomed. Thanks. Jon