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Thread: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

  1. #11

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    Re: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    Difficulty and challenge with vintage or non-modern view camera lenses are their shutters. Majority of these lenses in shutter will have shutters that need service or have died. Older shutters like Ilex, Compur, and such have round iris apertures. This aids significantly to out of focus rendition beyond the innate out of focus rendition of the lens formula.

    Modern Copal, Compur, and similar shutters have non-round iris aperture putting them at a disadvantage for aiding with the designed in lens out of focus rendition.

    Barrel lenses from that era like kodak Ektar and more will have a very nice round iris aperture. Some of the very best lenses of this variety are in barrel and were never made in shutter. This is why a camera system with shutter like Sinar is and has become highly desirable today. It is directly due to the awareness of the innate optical goodness only barrel lenses offer that lenses in shutter cannot.

    Tessar lens formula goes back to about 1902 by Paul Rudolf at Zeiss. Since time the Tessar has become one of the great and very common photographic lens design to this day. Typical Tessar offers GOOD out of focus rendition at full lens aperture (typically f4.5 and smaller) with near ideal performance two f-stops down from full aperture. There is ZERO modern lens design have over this appearing simply lens design from over a century ago. Newer is not always better, there are SO many factors that influence out of focus rendition.

    Kodak f4.5 Ektar, Kodak Commercial Ektar f6.3 are Tessar designs using Lanthium glass which aid much in color correction and color rendition.
    Take the time to read this previous discussion:
    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...r-lenses/page3

    Multi-coated lenses are not worth obsessing over with many view camera lenses. In the specific case of a Tessar design, it has GOOD performance due to it's simplicity and limited number of glass to air surfaces. Single coated Tessar (Kodak EKtar, Xenar and ..) are excellent performers for this and other reasons. Softer contrast rendition of Tessar designs like Kodak Ektar, Xenar and ... can be a image advantage over modern multi coated Plasmat lens designs that tend to offer higher contrast rendition but not higher resolution than a Tessar lens design. Typical Tessar has about 60 degrees angle of good lens image circle performance. Know the modern multi coated Plasmat has been specifically designed to produce high contrast images optimized at f22 intended to render most all areas of the image area in apparent focus. Tessars can and are often used at full aperture for their out of focus rendition qualities.

    From a previous LFF discussion:
    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...t-work-on-8x10



    Bernice


    Quote Originally Posted by cirwin2010 View Post
    I definitely agree on getting a lens with a working shutter and I'm not interested in barrel lenses. I guess I don't want much fuss.

    I was eyeballing some of the Kodak Ektar lenses like the 10" which I believe is a tessar like a previous commenter mentioned. I know a little about the tessar type lens design such as it was a revolutionary jump in lens technology at its introduction and that it is a relatively simple optical design by today's standards. Looking at the way some new M mount lenses are advertised and how the name tessar is thrown around, it appears to be a desirable feature to some people. Is there something about that particular type of design (or similar like xenar) that has notable characteristics?

    Usually with landscape I strive for a large depth of field for most subjects so I've never really paid much attention to the architecture of my usual lenses. As long as I can get the subject in focus and with adequate sharpness for my desired enlargements (up to 16x20") that is what is important. However, when a subject does call for shallow depth of field there are lenses I own (and used to own) that I avoid using. Some can have "busy" bokeh with the wrong background and can be a bit harsh. Others, like my Mamiya TLR lenses, only have a 5 blade iris which creates pentagonal shapes from speculator highlights if the lens is stopped down a bit. Those two characteristics are what I want to avoid if I am getting a lens specifically for portraits.

  2. #12
    multi format
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    Re: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    Hi cirwin2010
    you might look into getting a folding camera that took a largish roll film size like a kodak autographic 3a post card camera
    and take the lens off of it ( when you open the back you can unscrew the retaining nut ) and use that. you will have a shuttered lens ..
    maybe an ancient anastigmatic flavor, probably uncoated. it might give you the look you want. Consider taking one of the lenses you already own
    and screw on a dirty filter or something on it to permeate / disrupt the viewing field.
    A lot of people like vintage lenses, its kind of a fun thing to say you have some obscure French or German or American lens that some obscure or not so obscure
    photographer might or might not have used. Have fun searching and finding what works for you
    John
    enjoy your coffee

  3. #13
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    Tessar and it's contemporaries are simple designs (in that there are not too many chunks of glass) and it looks good. They barely need to be coated as a result. Single coated is plenty.

    Newer lenses are technically sharper, have wider coverage (for landscape wide views or bigger camera movements for architecture).

    I love the old lenses, including barrel lenses and lenses with bad shutter. I use an older speed graphic mostly for it's focal plane shutter and then I have 1/10-1/1000 sec with any lens. Many nice soft focus and triplet lens options for this.

    Along the lines of Jnantz
    The rapid rectilinear lenses are quite nice for portraits too.... Look for a lens with a pnumatic shutter (cylinders) and perhaps an unusual aperture scale that does not follow the same steps as lenses usually do. B&L was a popular maker. They are generally reliable shutters but don't have too many speeds. https://flic.kr/p/ed8Ttq on one of my cameras. The RR lenses were very nice but were not able to be made wide angle so they fell out of favor as a general purpose lens. These and tessar are dirt cheap compared to other LF lenses. Just because they are not rare.

  4. #14

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    Re: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    Put a glass filter on whatever lens you have and apply a schmear of K-Y or Vaseline (K-Y is easier to remove afterwards) to the edges and see how that works out for you
    "I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for men if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority"---EB White

  5. #15

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    Re: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    Here are some candidates to be on the lookout for:
    200mm f/2.9 Dallmeyer Pentac
    200mm f/2.9 NOCO (Helar formula)
    a Graf lens
    200mm Pinkham & Smith Portrait
    210mm f/3.5 Rodenstock Portrait or f/5.4 Imagon
    210mm f/4.5 Rodenstock Eurynar
    215mm f/8 Wollensak Voltas
    225mm f/4 Wollensak Verito
    240mm f/4.5 Wollensak Series II
    any Heliar
    250mm f/8 Rembrandt Super Portrait
    Multi dealer antique stores are great places to keep checking on. Over the years within an hour's drive from my house, I have found a 5x7 Linhof, several Petzvals, a stash of unopened 4x5 Eastman glass plates, a prototype Zeiss lens, and more for under $200.00. A friend once told me of a huge Petzval brass lens that he saw FS. Drove up to that multi dealer antique store the next day, but it was gone...

  6. #16
    Jim Graves Jim Graves's Avatar
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    Re: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    A $0.99 magnifying lens actually takes very nice photos. There is a thread on this site somewhere ... of several gorgeous portraits that Mark Sawyer took in the photo class he taught. You can find them in several sizes ... I have one for 4x5 and one for 8x10.

    He sent me one of the lenses, I cut the handle off, glued it to a 4x5 Speed Graphic lens board and took this candid photo of my son.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  7. #17
    Foamer
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    Re: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    Assuming 4x5, my two favorites are 240mm Dagor and 210mm Heliar. I love Heliars so much I have a 150mm for 4x5 (groups) and 360mm 8x10. The Heliar 360mm is from 1900, the Dagor from 1908, and the Heliar 150mm from 1928. These are uncoated so the image has more of a "glow" to it and contrast is reduced. The iris on these lenses has something like 20 leaves and makes a nearly perfect circle. This gives a very smooth look. Very smooth, and sharpness falls off from center very nicely for portraits.


    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  8. #18

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    Re: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Graves View Post
    A $0.99 magnifying lens actually takes very nice photos. There is a thread on this site somewhere ... of several gorgeous portraits that Mark Sawyer took in the photo class he taught. You can find them in several sizes ... I have one for 4x5 and one for 8x10.

    He sent me one of the lenses, I cut the handle off, glued it to a 4x5 Speed Graphic lens board and took this candid photo of my son.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Willwebcopy.jpg 
Views:	40 
Size:	19.8 KB 
ID:	220144
    Here’s one:

    https://www.photrio.com/forum/thread...n-a-4x5.79335/

    Good stuff!

  9. #19
    Sean Mac's Avatar
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    Re: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Graves View Post
    A $0.99 magnifying lens actually takes very nice photos. There is a thread on this site somewhere ... of several gorgeous portraits that Mark Sawyer took in the photo class he taught.
    There is a link in post #6 of this thread

    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...ctorial-lenses!

  10. #20

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    Re: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kasaian View Post
    Put a glass filter on whatever lens you have and apply a schmear of K-Y or Vaseline (K-Y is easier to remove afterwards) to the edges and see how that works out for you
    K-Y comes off easy after a cigarette and a shower... :-0

    And plenty of soft filters from the ages now inexpensive...

    Steve K

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