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Thread: Portrait Unar - B&L Zeiss

  1. #1

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    Portrait Unar - B&L Zeiss

    I have a 14" Bausch & Lomb Portrait Unar I have not shot yet (gotta do some rigging first). I've seen Jim Galli's "teapot blossoms" shot, but no others. A few people talk about owning these uncommon lenses, and a few say they love em. But no examples I can find. I would have started a "Post your Unar shots" thread like the "Post your Pinkham & Smith shots", but I have a feeling the Unar is even more rare that P&S lenses. It might be a short thread!

    Anyone have a few examples with the diffuser on max? Is it similar to a ____ (fill in comparible lens here) soft focus lens? Thanks!

  2. #2

    Re: Portrait Unar - B&L Zeiss

    I don't think these are as rare or collectible as a P&S. That said, they are not common. I had one many years back, and really liked it. I think they could be comparable to one of those defocusing Tessars, to which they are related. Sorry, I have no idea where my images are from that lens, deep in the basement pile I suspect.

  3. #3

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    Re: Portrait Unar - B&L Zeiss

    I don't think they're rare in the same category as Pinkham soft focus. I've had 4 of which I retain 2 and would probably sell either. They had weak aperture systems and I've seen several that the aperture was completely gone. Wide open is where the softest soft is at but it's always nice to have the choice. I have an 18" for parts that appears to have a complete aperture but you may have to get at it with a sawzall as the lens has had water in it during it's life and dissimilar metal corrosion had made it completely unworkable. The aperture is there, and it moved. Somewhere I have some pictures of a building in Goldfield done with my apertureless 14 inch one. Maybe I can locate those.

    Defocus is soft to very soft. Softer than a Pinkham Visual Quality at the same aperture. They are 4 elements 4 groups (you can look at a unar drawing) and the next to last element at the rear moves forward and backwards. It looks much softer and nicer than the standard Velostigmat at maximum fuzz-u-lation. More of a serious soft focus lens than that.

  4. #4

    Re: Portrait Unar - B&L Zeiss

    I agree that the PU lens is not rare...but perhaps uncommon. The fact that there are at least 2 versions confirms, at least for me, that a fair amount were sold ( keeping in mind most SF lenses never sold in large quantities). Also, given ads appear for it in 1904 and it is also found in the 1912 catalogue supports the idea that it sold fairly well.

    I wrote a bit about this lens at the bottom of this page
    http://antiquecameras.net/softfocuslenses.html


    Thanks
    Dan

    Antique & Classic Camera Blog
    www.antiquecameras.net/blog.html

  5. #5

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    Re: Portrait Unar - B&L Zeiss

    Hey, this is great info, I appreciate that. The P. Unar was the first uncommon soft focus lens I ever tried to get, but I kept just missing out over the years. I've been close to one about 3 times, so you're right, they don't come up much. I see about 1 a year on OhBoy, and about 2-4 P&S. But I don't hunt hard for either and more may be in the market than I see.

    The other thing I've learned and heard is like you say Jim, they are often broken. Kind of like those Wollensak studio shutters.

    But it's great to hear they produce more soft focus effects than say, the Velostigmat, which I would have guessed the most similar. With how I shoot, and want to shoot, a lot of SF is preferable to just "a touch."

    I guess I better get onto making a 9" board and pull out some of my last 8x10 film soon...!

  6. #6
    loujon
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    Re: Portrait Unar - B&L Zeiss

    Hi Garret

    I have have had a couple of portrait Unars an 18" & 14 3/4.Both had working apertures & working SF rings instead of the earlier pin style.
    I really don't put them on the super rare list but have a nice look.
    Igor has had one for sale for a year or two. It is a 14 1/2" I think around $600.

  7. #7

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    Re: Portrait Unar - B&L Zeiss

    Thanks Louis, I just went and checked and for price it reads "Sold", but when I checked the cached version of the Igorcameras Soft Focus page, it shows the price was $850. More along the lines of what I would expect....

  8. #8

    Re: Portrait Unar - B&L Zeiss

    Which version do you have - tab or ring adjustment ?
    Any pics of the lens ? Any images taken with it?

    Article ('advertorial") attached from the Photographic Times March 1906 on the Portrait Unar lens

    Thanks
    Dan

    Also see this recent ebay sale with a tele attachment? hooked up to the PU lens
    http://cgi.ebay.ph/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?...m=200524504957


    .

    Antique & Classic Camera Blog
    www.antiquecameras.net/blog.html

  9. #9

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    Re: Portrait Unar - B&L Zeiss

    Quote Originally Posted by CCHarrison View Post
    Which version do you have - tab or ring adjustment ?
    Any pics of the lens ? Any images taken with it?

    Article ('advertorial") attached from the Photographic Times March 1906 on the Portrait Unar lens

    Thanks
    Dan

    Also see this recent ebay sale with a tele attachment? hooked up to the PU lens
    http://cgi.ebay.ph/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?...m=200524504957


    .
    I bought the one in the Ebay link. It was a total loss. Yes, we gamble on this type stuff because there's certain things within our capability to clean, repair, restore, but there's a lesson here. Sometimes, no often, you lose those gamble. This is a $240 door stop. So for the folks who think we only turn a profit.............not. Anybody wants it for parts, contact me, I'd love to not have to step over it.

    Dan, I've had them both ways with the sliding pins, and the rotating collars. The one you have on your page showing the sliding pin version is actually a 3A petzval copy. The UNAR looks just like it but quite a bit shorter.

  10. #10

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    Re: Portrait Unar - B&L Zeiss

    Yep, that was one of the ones I got close to buying, but missed.

    Mine has the tabs. Have not used it yet.

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