View Full Version : More Soft Focus on the cheap

13-Jan-2012, 17:54
From a previous post (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=84840&page=3)..... and to continue....

To cheaply mimic a Pinkham and Smith wide open......open up those old landscape lenses !

Buy a Scovill Waterbury lens for your given format - these are f/15 lenses at their largest stop... Remove the glass (unscrews easily out the back)...remove the waterhouse wheel (held by a simple screw), find a wooden dowel/rod to place flush and firmly against the soldered metal aperture plate that remains in front of the lens - and firmly hit the dowel to punch out that ring, leaving you with a wide open lens barrel. Replace glass. You now have a Waterbury Soft Focus lens fixed at f/6. There are variations to this procedure. You can remove the waterhouse wheel and just drill a much larger aperture in the fixed, metal plate aperture that remains, perhaps leaving a very small edge around the perimeter for an f/9 or so lens...this would make the lens a bit less fuzzy than f/6, but perhaps more to your liking. These lenses sell for $ 100-250 fairly regularly on ebay....

An even simpler but much harder to locate option is to look for an early 1880's Nickel lens by Rochester Optical. These simple landscape lenses ("Single View Lens") were sold with a set of stops that were inserted in a slot based around the lens rim. In this case, no need for any modification - just dont use the stops. Voila, you have an f/5.6 lens thats going to have lots of Soft Focus character.... However, these are hard to find...they were only made a few years, about 1884-1886. But, I did just pick one up in 4x5 size on ebay for $ 139...

I recently posted about a little experiment I did with yet another small brass landscape lens that is built with one fixed stop at f/16....but the front unit containing the stop easily unscrews to make the lens about f/7. I was out X-Mas day with this lens and shot my inflatable Santa....

These are but 3 examples to get to Soft Focus land for cheap dollars. I hate to see an antique lens potentially get "altered," but if you want to experiement with Large Format Soft Focus and dont want to chat about paying $ 4K for a Pinkham or other sky high prices for these once forgotten about SF lenses..... be creative... there are lots of brass lenses out there that can be altered to try Soft Focus - well, at least one type of Soft Focus.


13-Jan-2012, 17:57
And here is my latest Soft Focus shot with that little brass lens....



14-Jan-2012, 00:16
Don't forget that Lancaster and Darlot made these style lenses also.

Steven Tribe
14-Jan-2012, 02:35
And Grubb and Dallmeyer and Ross and Underwood (bought in) and Marion and just about everyone in fact!

14-Jan-2012, 03:01
From a previous post (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=84840&page=3)..... and to continue....

An even simpler but much harder to locate option is to look for an early 1880's Nickel lens by Rochester Optical.

I found the same, labelled J.W. Queen Phila. PA, is about 10" and for about $25 on ebay a couple of months back (surprised no one else placed a bid). It was sold as "lens part" with another real and useless part.

14-Jan-2012, 04:38

Did Scovill make 7inch landscape lens or was that Nickel's?

I'm out of luck to find 7inch brand landscape meniscus. Got money but nowhere the lens.

14-Jan-2012, 04:58
Hi renes,

Not quite sure of your question. Scovill, Anthony, Rochester and all the other makers listed above made/sold simple landscape lenses of all sizes - usually 6", 9", 12", 15" and many times even larger...

Here are similiar examples on ebay


This one is just like the Scovill Waterbury's with Wheel stops...

and another that sold.... http://www.ebay.com/itm/130626264525?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

Check out ebay.... look for landscape lenses that front component just screws off (like example # 2 above ) OR like in the first example above, you would need to punch out the front plate holding the stop/wheel


14-Jan-2012, 05:41
Scovill, Anthony, Rochester and all the other makers listed above made/sold simple landscape lenses of all sizes - usually 6", 9", 12", 15" and many times even larger...


I have seen these linked sales. I look for 7" or 7 1/2", I know about a few makers that made 7" including Darlot, Voigtlander and Dallmeyer. Most made 6" and next was around 9".

26-Jan-2012, 20:19
And Grubb and Dallmeyer and Ross and Underwood (bought in)...

I JUST got an Underwood meniscus (about 200/210mm) with a nice iris diaphragm, which starts at f/11.
The FL is a little on the short side... nevertheless i am quite happy about it: the diaphragm assembly can be unscrewed!
It's the first cheap meniscus that can be used wide open without tampering with the barrel. The others i own are either stuck, or with a rotating diaphragm housing which looks to be assembled by interference.
After opening the barrel i tried the lens without the stop, on a simple sheet of paper: the image looks very promising :)

I have a Lancaster meniscus which looks to be the brother of the Underwood.
They are made with the same aesthetic, but the Lancaster is smaller, and has a different diaphragm scale (from 20 to 80). The FL is about 300/310mm, and it's engraved "Lancaster Patent 1/2 pt. narrow angle".
I guess that "1/2 pt." stands for half plate, if it's true the lens is REALLY narrow angle!
The barrels of the two lenses are very similar, but not the same. I tried my best to remove the diaphragm assembly from the Lancaster, to no avail.
The two barrels look to be made by the same factory though.

I have three questions:
- Any information about "E&T Underwood"?
- The meniscus of the Underwood is loose in the barrel. After opening the barrel i noticed that the glass was set in the cell with the aid of some grey plaster.
I don't know if that was original, or a later repair. Which material would you use to fix the glass?
I have some black silicon sealant. Is it a bad idea?
- Any advice about the construction of the Lancaster? Should i try to use more force?

have fun