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Thread: TTH Cooke Soft focus lenses - pamphlet "Pleasing Portraiture"

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    perptual newbee
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    TTH Cooke Soft focus lenses - pamphlet "Pleasing Portraiture"

    I have recently acquired a pair of cells for a f/6.3 330mm Cooke Series XIV lens and am trying to get more info on it. VM has little to say other than it is something between a portrait and process lens. I have however come across an interesting little information pamphlet from TTH which contains a little more detail and which I would like to share. I couldn't find a reference to it searching here. It is only 8 pages, including the cover , five of which are example images. The last three give principle characteristics of Cooke Series IID f/3.5, Series IIE f/4.5, Series VIa f/5.6 and the Cooke Series XIV f/6.3.
    If anyone has used one of the Series XIV I would like to hear of their experience. I have scanned the document to a PDF which I will try to attach here. If that does not get through the filters I will put it on my web site and post a link here.
    Attached Files Attached Files

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    Re: TTH Cooke Soft focus lenses - pamphlet "Pleasing Portraiture"

    Very interesting - Thanks

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    Re: TTH Cooke Soft focus lenses - pamphlet "Pleasing Portraiture"

    x2. Those pics look like some really nice 1920/1930's photos I have of my grandma.

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    William Whitaker's Avatar
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    Re: TTH Cooke Soft focus lenses - pamphlet "Pleasing Portraiture"

    Thank you for that post and for including the scan of the Cooke Literature. That is an interesting piece of paper as are the included images, especially the first image which is rather "gripping".

    I share your interest in the series XIV lens. I acquired one several years ago from another forum member and it is among my favorite lenses for the 8x10. It came to me mounted in a Compound shutter as shown here.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Fairly early on I made an 8x10 chrome (reversal) with it. It had all the sharpness I could want, yet it retained a warmth and a roundness which is extremely pleasing. In later years I had added a Cooke Series XV lens to the menagerie (this is the original XV and not the XVa, which is the reissued version. And that's not to compare the two, but only to be clear about what I'm using.) The Series XV in its 12" configuration looks very similar to the series XIV in terms of the qualities I described above.

    So, the cells you have are from a fine lens and would be worthwhile to have mounted in a reliable shutter.

    Since owning my XIV I have tried to find information about it using usual internet resources. But little has come to light. I thought I had written to Barbara Lowry at Cooke Optics to inquire, but I can't find anything in my email archives, so maybe I didn't get that far with it. If you go to www.cookeoptics.com, you should be able to find her listing and contact information.

    Good luck with your search and with your lens! Keep us apprised.

  5. #5
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    Re: TTH Cooke Soft focus lenses - pamphlet "Pleasing Portraiture"

    Quote Originally Posted by Will Whitaker View Post
    I share your interest in the series XIV lens. I acquired one several years ago from another forum member and it is among my favorite lenses for the 8x10. It came to me mounted in a Compound shutter as shown here.
    < snip, snip >
    Good luck with your search and with your lens! Keep us apprised.
    Thanks for that info and the photo Will. I see you have your XIV in a Compound 4. I had calculated that that would probably do and bought one on the strength of my measurements. So I will contact Steve Grimes shop and see about getting the glass mounted.

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    Re: TTH Cooke Soft focus lenses - pamphlet "Pleasing Portraiture"

    Interesting how some of the portraits have artistically survived, whilst others really jar modern tastes!

    The series XIV was a slower F.6.3 non convertible design which was made in 13", 16.5" and 21" and priced only a little under the pictorial VIa, F.5.6.

    The convertible XV (F.6.8) was only available in the 12 1/4" size in 1934 (Kodak agency in Kingsway, London). It cost as much as the Pictorial IIe 12 3/4" !

    Some other comparisons from 1934 for fun!

    cooke

    series XV 12.25". £25
    series IIe 12.75". £25

    ross

    portrait no.3 12" .£27.75

    dallmeyer

    3A.£30
    3B.£22 !!
    5D.£18 !!


    Unfortunately, Cookeoptics is not a good source of information about their history.

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    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: TTH Cooke Soft focus lenses - pamphlet "Pleasing Portraiture"

    My thanks as well! A great read!
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

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    William Whitaker's Avatar
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    Re: TTH Cooke Soft focus lenses - pamphlet "Pleasing Portraiture"

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Tribe View Post
    Unfortunately, Cookeoptics is not a good source of information about their history.
    How do you arrive at that conclusion? Who would be better?

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    Re: TTH Cooke Soft focus lenses - pamphlet "Pleasing Portraiture"

    Quote Originally Posted by Will Whitaker View Post
    How do you arrive at that conclusion? Who would be better?
    Cookeoptics are a comparitively recent organisation. Other than the trademark "Cooke", there is little or no continuity between the company Taylor, Taylor & Hobson which developed the "Cooke" triplet and the present company. Post WW2, there were lots of buy-outs, mergers, rationalisation and an unsound market situation which lead, I believe, to specialisation around the growth markets of Cinema and Television production - as well as Contract optics (Military, NASA, Scientific).

    All this means that there is no special knowledge (People or Documentation) about earlier large format designs in the organisation which now owns the trademark "Cooke". I am sure that if there was, it would have been shown in their few pages of Cooke history on their website.

    An even worse situation exists for the even older name of "Ross" which has been passed on legally to a very poor maker of cheap telescopes.
    Last edited by Steven Tribe; 1-Mar-2017 at 03:37. Reason: Ross

  10. #10
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    Re: TTH Cooke Soft focus lenses - pamphlet "Pleasing Portraiture"

    Quote Originally Posted by Will Whitaker View Post
    How do you arrive at that conclusion? Who would be better?
    I had heard that requests for info had been an apologetic refusal. Time is money and I guess they have other objectives (!). We will find out as I am mailing them for some more detailed info in the XIV. There is also the fact that archives disappear or are consigned to the bin with time. I did go on the cookeoptics site and found some info which is worth noting, even for silver nuts. The first was that for their cinema lenses, they are introducing an option of uncoated , yes UNcoated frontal elements to re-introduce "lower contrast, milkier shadows, flares, streaks and other aberrations that give a ‘vintage’ look. ". Wow all those characteristics that lens designers have spent years trying to get rid of and that I love.
    The second is an article describing how they get the "Cooke look" in their cine lenses. For those interested in that, you can also go to the cinema, or Utube . I know that if I had a couple of grand to spare I would love to have a panchro adapted for my Leicas.

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