View Full Version : Lens making question

15-Nov-2011, 07:09
Let me start out by saying I have only an elementary understanding of astigmatism and chromatic aberration, but am of the impression that they are key to the production of "Galli" style images. What else is required to produce the soft and/or swirly look.

Assuming the advancement in optical technologies over the last 125 or so years, shouldn't we be able to buy off the shelf components from a source like Surplus Shed and assemble a lens giving a very similar effect?

Have any of you done this? If so, can you point me to some information where I could learn more about choosing the components for one? Better yet, if you have built one can you suggest some pieces and an arrangement that i could try. The end result doesn't have to be exactly like the multi thousand dollar lenses we see selling here and on the bay, but it sure seems like someone with a good understanding of optics and available components should be able to get very close.


15-Nov-2011, 07:24
There are a lot of choices in surplus lenses, etc... This book has a lot of info. If possible, take a class from the author.

15-Nov-2011, 07:37
The difficult to master soft focus lenses used spherical and chromatic aberration to create an effect combing softness with a little bit of crispness. More commonly, spherical aberration only was used as that's controllable by the aperture. Any magnifying glass can do this.

Swirliness is most commonly the result of a lens being used to cover a bigger piece of film than it's manufacturer intended. e.g. something designed for quarter plate being used for 8x10. This is the style of the peztvals, but some triplets can get swirly too.

15-Nov-2011, 18:20
Thanks for the book link. It looks very interesting.

Reinhold Schable
15-Nov-2011, 19:57
I've been making soft focus meniscus lenses based on Wollaston's original (1812) design in a variety of focal lengths as discussed here:


And here:


As jp498 says; this kind of lens is not "kindergarten simple" but is certainly capable of making unique and beautiful images.