Hi all --

After having exclusively shot b&w film on 135 and 120 film since the 1980s, I recently got into LF photography and love it! Got me a nice Linhof Technika 4x5 and a couple of lenses. My frustration -- which is ironic! -- is that I find those more modern lenses way too sharp and clinical. What I am after is a more vintage look, moderately sharp in the middle, with a drop-off in image quality as you go further from the optical axis, a tiny DOF (being aware that focal length beats aperture), and use the movements of the camera to place the focal point where I want it. Sally Mann's images come to mind, even though I am aware that she uses collodion plates and ULF, a look that is hard to achieve with 4x5.

In other words, I am looking for a lens that is far from perfect.

Over the past weeks I have studied various lens design (e.g., Artar, Dagor, Plasmats, Petzval, Tessar ...) and did some search which images were taken with those lenses. Short of actually owning vintage lenses, I'm still not entire sure how these lenses actually perform. The closest I have gotten to the look I desire is by removing the rear group of two Dagor-design lenses that I have (two Schneider Symmars, one modern, one un-coated from the 60s, which I like best).

What options do you think I should pursue? Get a vintage brass lens, mount a Packard Shutter behind it, use it wide open and use ND filters to regulate exposure? Maybe a triplet or an old Tessar?