View Full Version : Kodak Portrait Lens 16"

12-Mar-2004, 12:58
Can anybody provide more info on the 405mm (16") Kodak Portrait Lens? (Coverage, experience with it, etc.)

Ralph Barker
12-Mar-2004, 14:33
From a search of the archives here:




Ernest Purdum
12-Mar-2004, 17:32
I've never owned nor used one, so about coverage I can only tell you that it was intended for use on 8" X 10". As a portrait lens, it wouldn't need much excess coverage.

Have you seen it? It is a great big achromat, resembling a telescope lens, which sits behind an iris diaphragm - no front element. In this respect it is similar to an Imagon, but with the normal iris insted of the discs with all the holes. Like an Imagon, at full aperture it is very soft, but gets sharper as it is stopped down. It is physically too large for a shutter to be mounted, so the usual arrangement was to put it in front of a Packard shutter. This demanded a really large lensboard, since Packards outside dimensions are about double the opening size. Another possibility might be to hang a shutter on the front. "Luc" shutters were made for this kind of use, but I don't know if any were large enough for the Kodak.

At least some of these lenses were coated. Coating isn't as important, though, for a soft focus lens as it is for other types. Kodak used an "L" in a circle to indicate a coated lens.

Any soft focus lens takes some getting used to. It is hard to judge from the groundglass how soft the print will be. I imagine many people are disappointed with their first results in using a soft focus lens, but keeping on can be worthwhile. Soft focus is a specialized technique, but used on the right subject can be very satisfying. The fact that this is called a "portrait" lens shouldn't be interpreted as meaning that it is only useful for that class of work. Landscapes and other subjects may be possibilities also.