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Thread: Help choosing a "soft focus" lens, please.

  1. #11
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Help choosing a "soft focus" lens, please.

    I really liked the Wollensak Series II Velostigmat with adjustable soft focus ring. The possibilities were seemingly endless as you could mix the softness of the lens with the sharpness of a smaller aperture.
    For 8x10, I found that the 9 1/2 covered nicely, though the 12" is probably better-suited to the format because of its FL.

  2. #12
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Help choosing a "soft focus" lens, please.

    I love the Kodak Portrait 305 for 8x10. It's meant for 5x7 which makes it a little swirlier and wider than intended when used for 8x10. But it's a good character. You can subdue that a little by stopping down. Only issue with the lens is that the Ilex5 shutters are often in need of repair.

    Aside from that you might be able to get a verito which is a good choice in an even older and crappier shutter. Then you might be able to get a Imagon with a great German shutter; I don't like the strainer look, but it's not a necessary part for good soft focus.

  3. #13

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    Re: Help choosing a "soft focus" lens, please.

    For those of you with experience using the Wollensak Series II Velostigmat, can you obtain a soft-focus image at smaller apertures (f.16, 22 ex.) if you adjust the front ring well past number 5, as Mark has described doing? Thank you!

  4. #14

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    Re: Help choosing a "soft focus" lens, please.

    Mine appears to sharpen. I don't use it like that, so I'm just looking at the GG.

    In my opinion, for 8x10 portraits it's a bit short. Laying on the soft focus shortens the FL, also, to around 11.5". I'd want a 16" Verito, in that case. Also, the Verito is softer than the Wolly at max, as I remember.

    Really for 8x10 I would choose the longer Kodak lens, if you could find/afford one, but they're both scarce and expensive.
    Thanks, but I'd rather just watch:
    Large format: http://flickr.com/michaeldarnton
    Mostly 35mm: http://flickr.com/mdarnton
    You want digital, color, etc?: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stradofear

  5. #15

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    Re: Help choosing a "soft focus" lens, please.

    I forgot to mention the 3 Wollaston Meniscus. Wide open they are hard to beat for softness. Although the effect goes away with smaller apertures, it is still evident at f16. My favorite for portraits is f-11. I have a large front mounted Packard shutter which I am able to easily to move to any of my lenses which need it.

  6. #16

    Re: Help choosing a "soft focus" lens, please.

    What practical differences are there between the Verito and the Velostigmat Series II?

  7. #17

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    Re: Help choosing a "soft focus" lens, please.

    Just some info if this matters to you. You can get the 305mm Kodak portrait lens in a shutter or barrel. The 405mm only comes in a barrel.

  8. #18

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    Re: Help choosing a "soft focus" lens, please.

    There are a few others that come up from time to time that give a similar affect to the two or three mentioned. The B&L Portrait Plastigmat for example, the Unar Portrait, Graf, and 4-5 others.

  9. #19

    Re: Help choosing a "soft focus" lens, please.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Gales View Post
    Just some info if this matters to you. You can get the 305mm Kodak portrait lens in a shutter or barrel. The 405mm only comes in a barrel.
    Based on my research, there's no way I am going to afford myself the 405mm. I prefer a lens that's barely going to cover the format anyway, so that's the 305 for my needs. It doesn't much matter to me if its in a barrel or a shutter, as this will be mostly for making wet plate negatives. Thanks!

  10. #20

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    Re: Help choosing a "soft focus" lens, please.

    Quote Originally Posted by paulbarden View Post
    What practical differences are there between the Verito and the Velostigmat Series II?
    The Velo may come in a nice Betax shutter (one of my personal fave shutters).
    The Verito may have more fuzz and glow, but often no shutter. The 11.5" Verito is a large, but not heavy, lens.
    The Velo wasn't really intended to be a soft focus lens as such--it's use was as a general purpose lens that would also work blur skin defects and pores to avoid retouching. The idea of taking the stop off so it goes a couple of turns beyond 5 is because they didn't intend it to be used as a real SF lens, and dialing it to 5 doesn't get you much.

    That's part of the intent of the Verito, too, the pore blurring, but it was from an earlier era when soft focus was more of a thing. A Verito wide open is pretty fuzzy, with a LOT of glow for pictorialists (a breed that was gone by the time the Velostigmat came out, I believe) and it wasn't intended for use that way as a normal portrait lens--portraitists stopped them down, mostly, based on what I see in old portraits.

    I'm with Jim. The Wollastons are a fun introduction to SF. But they're not quite the pictorialist look, if that's your intent.

    If you flip through my LF Flickr stuff there's a small abundance of SF portrature with a couple of different lenses. I haven't yet found a place in my heart for the Velo II, so no examples.

    Others' impressions of these lenses may not agree with mine!
    Thanks, but I'd rather just watch:
    Large format: http://flickr.com/michaeldarnton
    Mostly 35mm: http://flickr.com/mdarnton
    You want digital, color, etc?: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stradofear

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