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Thread: Late Wollensak Process Lenses: Designs and Specifications

  1. #11

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    now in Tucson, AZ

    Re: Late Wollensak Process Lenses: Designs and Specifications

    Thank you for posting this information, Whir-Click. There are (yet) many lenses out there that are not well-known and are poorly understood, and you're shining light into some previously dark corners.

    On the other hand, I think Wollensak's output in later years was perhaps... variable in quality. A story:
    When I was an industrial shooter for that other big lensmaker in Rochester, in my department we had numerous Omega enlargers. Some had modern enlarging lenses, several had their original Wollensaks. Once in the mid-80s, a set of 8x10 prints we sent upstairs was sent back down by the department head as 'not sharp enough' or something... my group leader had me (as the new kid) reprint the assignment using a 150mm EL-Nikkor. We changed nothing but the enlarging lens. The improvement in sharpness and contrast in the Nikkor-lensed prints was readily visible. And immediately thereafter, our department head mysteriously found the budget money to re-equip all of our 4x5 Omegas with EL-Nikkors.
    I'm certainly not contradicting Mr. Crisp's recent experience; I'm happy that he's getting good results. Just suggesting that it didn't always turn out that way.

  2. #12

    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Washington, DC

    Re: Late Wollensak Process Lenses: Designs and Specifications

    Mark, I enjoyed that anecdote, thank you for relating it! I’m a Wollensak enthusiast, but I can readily understand why comparing a razor sharp EL-Nikkor to a mid-century Raptar enlarging lens would have your department head highly motivated to scrounge up some additional funds.

    The part that I like best about your story is that even at the biggest, best resourced, most internationally renowned lens maker in Rochester, at some point they still chose to outfit those enlargers with Wollensak lenses. That those lenses were eventually eclipsed by better design and manufacturing technology is the commercial circle of life.

    Wollensak made millions of lenses over seven decades with hundreds of discrete optical designs. I’m ok with not every one being a world beater. I enjoy hunting the designs, catalogs, and references like truffles and sharing them with this community. As for the results, “Let the User Judge!”

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