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Thread: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

  1. #1

    Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    Occasionally deviating from landscape photography I like to try portraits when the opportunity presents itself. I'm pretty new to 4x5 and I currently am running a budget setup of a Calumet cc400 equip with a 6 3/8" (161mm) Kodak Anastigmat. I already have some sharp "modern" lenses for my Mamiya medium format systems so I figured that I'd take the opportunity of exploring the openness of large format to find a vintage lens with a unique "look" to it just for fun.

    Given the huge plethora of lenses out there with sometimes minimal information online about their characteristics, I was hoping this community might have some suggestions to look at. Ideally a more "budget" lens if such a thing exists. A nicer camera with modern lenses may be something for a later point.

  2. #2
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    As soon as we on this forum recomend a lens

    It goes up on eBay, FB, etc
    image

  3. #3
    (Shrek)
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    Re: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    Your current lens is an uncoated Tessar, a clone (I think) of my personal favorite, the Bausch & Lomb Tessar. Predecessor of the Commercial Ektar, which was used for some of the most iconic portraits ever. I suggest you get a longer one (10in should be ideal).


    If you start with the classic portrait lenses like the eidoscopes, dallmeyer portraits, veritos, etc, you'll have a lot of fun and spend a lot of money. For something obscure, try the voigtlander hemi-anastigmat.

    Sent from my LM-G900 using Tapatalk

  4. #4

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    Re: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Tin Can View Post
    As soon as we on this forum recomend a lens

    It goes up on eBay, FB, etc
    So glad Mr. "Plungercam" didn't sell any of his stuff.

    Not sure if anyone remembers him. He did some mods on his Hassy lenses and called it "Plungercam". This was about ohhhh 20 years ago?

    I've been a big fan of Holgas since oh, you know, when Zone VI were the first ones to sell them back in ....1989/90. I think sharp is too much on portrait lenses.

    cirwin, there's some writeup on www.largeformatphotography.info pages on portrait lenses. interesting read to start you off.
    --

  5. #5

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    Re: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    Suggest learning about and working on portrait lighting, pose, portrait sitter skills and all non-camera_lens related items and skills before speciality portrait lenses.

    Pressing a media coveted lens often appears to be the quick instant gratification way to non-typical portrait image making, yet speciality "sorta-focus" aka soft focus lenses image results are highly dependent on lighting and more.


    Lens alone is never the mystical magical ingredient to achieve expressive image making.

    Bernice

  6. #6
    Sean Mac's Avatar
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    Re: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    If you don't insist on "vintage" there are some other possible choices

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


  7. #7

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    Re: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    Dialyte , double gauss type uncoated lens worked well for golden age Hollywood portraiture. You can find them cheaply in barrels. Further reading is Bernice post.

  8. #8
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    For that camera you want a lens in a shutter.

    Big recommend on the classic Tessars / Xenar. Look for something mid-century or older with the many round blades in the shutter. Fujinar-SC is good for this too. The Kodak optar lenses are sometimes tessar too. I think the 190 optar is to die for. (as is found on graflex super D SLRs) Not a tessar, but the 203/7.7 graflex lens is very underrated.

    Fuji soft focus lens is also in a shutter and not actually very soft.. But a nice mild lens for not much $. To go softer, get an Imagon.. I like their look without the strainer (which reduces the light without sharpening the photo, but has a side effect in the highlights.

    Veritars are available in shutter and would be a newer version of the otherwise inexpensive and excellent Verito soft focus lens.

    In any case, don't buy it if the shutter is not working properly. Plan to budget for a shutter tuneup if you get a good deal.

  9. #9

    Re: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by jp View Post
    For that camera you want a lens in a shutter.

    Big recommend on the classic Tessars / Xenar. Look for something mid-century or older with the many round blades in the shutter. Fujinar-SC is good for this too. The Kodak optar lenses are sometimes tessar too. I think the 190 optar is to die for. (as is found on graflex super D SLRs) Not a tessar, but the 203/7.7 graflex lens is very underrated.

    Fuji soft focus lens is also in a shutter and not actually very soft.. But a nice mild lens for not much $. To go softer, get an Imagon.. I like their look without the strainer (which reduces the light without sharpening the photo, but has a side effect in the highlights.

    Veritars are available in shutter and would be a newer version of the otherwise inexpensive and excellent Verito soft focus lens.

    In any case, don't buy it if the shutter is not working properly. Plan to budget for a shutter tuneup if you get a good deal.
    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.

  10. #10
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Unique/ lesser known portrait lenses

    I use barrel lenses with synced Packard shutters, still in production

    If you must, make sure you get a functional COPAL all black shutter

    Parts and repair centers are out of parts and staff for 'standard' shutters
    image

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