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Thread: Portrait & General purpose lens for 4x5? (Goerz vs Kodak)

  1. #11

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    Re: Portrait & General purpose lens for 4x5? (Goerz vs Kodak)

    I have an Arca-Swiss with extension rail, standard bellows is I think 40cm and I can pick up a longer one at around 60cm.

    Also have a APO Sironar-S in 210mm (plasmat), but is simply too contrasty/sharp for portraiture.

    So if Ektar is a tessar design, what lens design is Commercial Ektar? I know APO Artars are dialite designs, same as APO Ronars. The APO Ronar I saw recently (in barrel) was huge and heavy, quite different from the one shown here.

    Both candidates have round irises in the shutter. One is about 1 stop faster than the other.

    Both of the lenses I'm currently looking at are in #4 shutters, Ilex and Acme.

    It sounds like the Ektar is the preferred one, I've never heard about "harsh Karsh" before, his portraits are legendary.

  2. #12

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    Re: Portrait & General purpose lens for 4x5? (Goerz vs Kodak)


  3. #13

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    Re: Portrait & General purpose lens for 4x5? (Goerz vs Kodak)

    Quote Originally Posted by 6x6TLL View Post
    I have an Arca-Swiss with extension rail, standard bellows is I think 40cm and I can pick up a longer one at around 60cm.

    Also have a APO Sironar-S in 210mm (plasmat), but is simply too contrasty/sharp for portraiture.

    So if Ektar is a tessar design, what lens design is Commercial Ektar? I know APO Artars are dialite designs, same as APO Ronars. The APO Ronar I saw recently (in barrel) was huge and heavy, quite different from the one shown here.

    Both candidates have round irises in the shutter. One is about 1 stop faster than the other.

    Both of the lenses I'm currently looking at are in #4 shutters, Ilex and Acme.

    It sounds like the Ektar is the preferred one, I've never heard about "harsh Karsh" before, his portraits are legendary.
    "Ektar" was the name Eastman Kodak gave to their "best" taking lenses; they came in a variety of optical designs. In the reference that Brian cites from Pacific Rim Cameras the f/4.5 and f/4.7 Ektars are of the Tessar pattern as are the Commercial Ektars. On the other hand the f/3.7 Ektar on the same page as the f/4.5 and f/4.7 Ektars is a 5 element lens, I think I've heard it described as a Heliar. Then the 8 inch f/7.7 Ektar is a dialyte.

    Kodak publication 0-18 "Camera Technique for Professional Photographers" is a good reference for these lenses. It includes drawings of the Ektars, Commercial Ektars, Wide Field Ektars and the Kodak Portrait Lenses. This may be available on the camera eccentric website. I'm fortunate to have an original copy.

    Just checked, the portion of this publication containing lens data is available here: https://www.cameraeccentric.com/catalogs?page=15, it's mis-labeled " 'About Lenses' Eastman Kodak 1921." I see there is still a problem with the security of this website.

    David
    Last edited by David Lindquist; 2-Jul-2022 at 09:02. Reason: additional information

  4. #14
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Portrait & General purpose lens for 4x5? (Goerz vs Kodak)

    What specific camera are you using? Unless your 4X5 is built like a tank, how are you going to even fit and keep steady a 14 in lens in no.4 shutter on it? As for "harsh Karsh", all I was implying is that he gravitated toward highly detailed rather high contrast results. Looking at his prints is a totally different experience than, say, the manner Hurrell rendered the rich and famous. Some of that had to do with Karsh's direct lighting and specific printing; but no telling what lens he might choose today. It might make sense to try out a particular lens before committing to purchase it, or else have a guaranteed right to return it. Artars can be distinctly on the clinically sharp side. And unless you are thinking about moving up to 5x7 or 8x10 format, the angle of view a 14 inch lens on 4x5 will give you will be equivalent to a 720 mm lens on 8x10 ! You'd need to back way off to get "head and shoulders".

    As far the Ektar selection, the large format ones, that is, my brother once sold them along with Linhof cameras. "Commercial" Ektars meant just that - marketed for general pro usage, being somewhat sharper and generally higher contrast than the faster series of Ektars with wider apertures intended for mainly just portraiture. But there were also quality distinctions at that time - at least that's what he told me - with the best examples of the Commercial lenses selected out for Linhof. I've alway found the background blur of some Commercial Ektars a bit annoying, depending on the setting. In studios they generally had background fabrics without detail anyway, just to prevent background distraction. The last of the LF tessars were the uber-crisp and contrasty multicoated Nikkor M's. But portrait studios naturally preferred the single-coat Fuji L's instead.

  5. #15

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    Re: Portrait & General purpose lens for 4x5? (Goerz vs Kodak)

    Carefully made sheet film images will reveal (using a high quality optical microscope, NOT scanner or loupe) Kodak Ektars are equally "sharp" as any of the last generation production view camera lens, the difference is not in "sharpness" the difference is in contrast rendition and in to out of focus transition and out of focus rendition. Last generation view camera lenses like APO Sironar, APO symmar, CM-W fujinon (plasmat), Schneider Super Symmar HM and XL are specifically designed to produce higher contrast color images with the vast majority of the image in perceived focus optimized about f22. This was what the market for view camera lenses demanded/expected as the vast majority of images made were for commercial ADs.. which were much about hard edged "punchy" color marketing images. View camera lens manufactures simply designed and produced what that market wanted/expected.

    This hard edge, high contrast, majority in focus look might not be ideal for portrait work.

    Kodak f4.5 Ektar, Kodak Commercial Ektar Schneider Xenar (Tessar formula) and Many other Tessar formula lenses are from a different image goal era with different demands and needs. Kodak "legend" has it that one of their technical folks C.E.K. Mees
    https://iphf.org/inductees/c-e-kenneth-mees/

    did visual testing with large groups of folks to figure out what was visually appealing in still images. This figured into the design process for Kodak Ektar lenses which resulted in the lens personality of Kodak Ektars. There was a time when Kodak lenses did have a quality and production lens to lens variation problems until the arrival of Prof. Rudolf Kingslake as head of Kodak Optics. He altered Kodak lens production resulting in remarkable lens consistency and quality overall. Of all the view camera lenses owned/tested/used over the decades, Kodak Ektars have been the most consistent unless the specific lens has been damaged. These are a few from the pile:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Kodak Ektar set.jpg 
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ID:	228774

    Negative with all these "vintage" lenses are their shutters, they typically demand proper service upon purchase as neglect or abuse is very common. These older shutters will be slow at their highest dial speeds and not as accurate/precise as modern shutters like Copal, Prontor Pro and.. on the plus side, these vintage shutters commonly have a nice round iris, again reflection of market needs and expectations from that era.

    This is why these Kodak Ektars are in barrel used with a Sinar shutter on Sinar camera.

    Kodak Ektars used on the TK23s are in shutter, which is less consistent and desirable. These limitations are tolerated, just.

    Last item, Kodak Ektar/Commercial Ektar were specifically designed for color film as Kodak was into Kodachrome and other color materials were being developed. Kodak used Lanthanum optical glass lots, made little if any marketing"hay" about this, compared to Voigtländer marketing "hay" with their APO lanthar.. which has since become one of those "mythical lenses..

    This Kodak promo film might be of interest:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpziDTklPs0

    Kodak's Hawkeye optics division became Rochester Precision Optics.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTgX8u-_-rQ

    which also produced a mirror for the Hubble telescope, except their mirror was proper unlike the mirror produced by perkin elmer which was..defective.

    Regardless, do test lots the specific lens sample to be owned before committing to owning it. These days view camera lenses have become mix and blend of questionable results driven by what s posted on the web as the "ideal_legendary" view camera lens to have/own.


    Bernice





    Quote Originally Posted by 6x6TLL View Post
    I have an Arca-Swiss with extension rail, standard bellows is I think 40cm and I can pick up a longer one at around 60cm.

    Also have a APO Sironar-S in 210mm (plasmat), but is simply too contrasty/sharp for portraiture.

    So if Ektar is a tessar design, what lens design is Commercial Ektar? I know APO Artars are dialite designs, same as APO Ronars. The APO Ronar I saw recently (in barrel) was huge and heavy, quite different from the one shown here.

    Both candidates have round irises in the shutter. One is about 1 stop faster than the other.

    Both of the lenses I'm currently looking at are in #4 shutters, Ilex and Acme.

    It sounds like the Ektar is the preferred one, I've never heard about "harsh Karsh" before, his portraits are legendary.

  6. #16

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    Re: Portrait & General purpose lens for 4x5? (Goerz vs Kodak)

    Thank you for these links Bernice. In the Kodak promo film at 19:15 we get a good look at what must be about the biggest jig bore machine that Société Genevoise d'Instruments de Physique built being used at the Hawkeye Works. Would have liked to have gotten a better look at RPO's present day kit. I think I got a glimpse of a Mori Seiki... Anyway I'm glad to see the Hawkeye Works in a sense survived.

    David

  7. #17

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    Re: Portrait & General purpose lens for 4x5? (Goerz vs Kodak)

    Hi Drew,

    Arca Swiss monorail camera. One lens is 305mm (12") and the other 365mm (14").

    I don't mind detail, was just looking for a bit less contrast/smoother rendition compared to typical modern plasmats. From my reading and discussion with others it seemed that tessar and dialite designs would suit my needs well.

    Maybe you all have places where you can borrow lenses to try them out, I don't know of any places around here that will do that.

    It seems the 305mm (12") will be a better fit for my camera and use, although now I'm wondering if a regular Ektar might be better than the commercial version, if indeed it offers slightly lower contrast.


    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    What specific camera are you using? Unless your 4X5 is built like a tank, how are you going to even fit and keep steady a 14 in lens in no.4 shutter on it? As for "harsh Karsh", all I was implying is that he gravitated toward highly detailed rather high contrast results. Looking at his prints is a totally different experience than, say, the manner Hurrell rendered the rich and famous. Some of that had to do with Karsh's direct lighting and specific printing; but no telling what lens he might choose today. It might make sense to try out a particular lens before committing to purchase it, or else have a guaranteed right to return it. Artars can be distinctly on the clinically sharp side. And unless you are thinking about moving up to 5x7 or 8x10 format, the angle of view a 14 inch lens on 4x5 will give you will be equivalent to a 720 mm lens on 8x10 ! You'd need to back way off to get "head and shoulders".

    As far the Ektar selection, the large format ones, that is, my brother once sold them along with Linhof cameras. "Commercial" Ektars meant just that - marketed for general pro usage, being somewhat sharper and generally higher contrast than the faster series of Ektars with wider apertures intended for mainly just portraiture. But there were also quality distinctions at that time - at least that's what he told me - with the best examples of the Commercial lenses selected out for Linhof. I've alway found the background blur of some Commercial Ektars a bit annoying, depending on the setting. In studios they generally had background fabrics without detail anyway, just to prevent background distraction. The last of the LF tessars were the uber-crisp and contrasty multicoated Nikkor M's. But portrait studios naturally preferred the single-coat Fuji L's instead.

  8. #18

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    Re: Portrait & General purpose lens for 4x5? (Goerz vs Kodak)

    Contrast between the f4.5 Ektar -vs- f6.3 Commercial Ektar is the same, difference is in full aperture and the results of the larger full aperture.

    Might already have the lower contrast lens you're seeking in the 270mm f5.5 Tele Xenar. Get this lens mounted (Arca Swiss lens board sized to the shutter as needed, likely via the local machine shop), then try it before considering another lens.


    Bernice


    Quote Originally Posted by 6x6TLL View Post
    It seems the 305mm (12") will be a better fit for my camera and use, although now I'm wondering if a regular Ektar might be better than the commercial version, if indeed it offers slightly lower contrast.

  9. #19

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    Re: Portrait & General purpose lens for 4x5? (Goerz vs Kodak)

    Thanks Bernice,

    I'm still looking for a lens board to fit the new Tele-Xenar, looking forward to testing it out.

  10. #20

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    Re: Portrait & General purpose lens for 4x5? (Goerz vs Kodak)

    If the 270mm Tele Xenar is in a Compur# 2 shutter that requires a 52.5mm mounting hole
    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...14#post1649814
    Post# 4

    on the lens board. Finding an exact Arca Swiss lens board with a 52.5mm hole is not likely at all as it would be non-standard. Far easier to take a Arca Swiss lens board with a hole that is smaller than 52.5mm to a machine shop or machinist with a proper lathe to bore out the existing hole to 52.5mm.

    Then proceed to mount this Tele Xenar...


    Bernice
    Quote Originally Posted by 6x6TLL View Post
    I'm still looking for a lens board to fit the new Tele-Xenar, looking forward to testing it out.

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