Uncoated lens

Discussion in 'Talk About Large Format Gear' started by Ian-Barber, Dec 17, 2016.

  1. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    When I started to become interested in black and white film, it was photographs made by people such as Joseph Sudek that interested me. Not only the genre which he was known for (still life) but also the overall look to his images.

    The more I studied other photographers of his era, the more I was seeing something about the photographs which was appealing to me.

    It's hard to explain, but they appear to look low in contrast but at the same time have good blacks and whites. During the past few weeks, martin and I have been discussing this and we have more or less come to the conclusion that the lens plays a big part in the overall look.

    Martin has been making some photographs with his 1930's Voitlander Bessa which also has an uncoated lens and this look is starting to show in his negatives.

    Question:
    I have been trawling eBay to see if any un-coated lens pop up for 5x4. How difficult would it be to mount one of these lenses to a modern lensboard and is there anything I need to be aware of incase I see one for sale.
     
  2. Stephen Batey

    Stephen Batey Well-Known Member

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  3. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    Thanks Stephen, looks an interesting book
     
  4. Stephen Batey

    Stephen Batey Well-Known Member

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    It is; I got one free from Robert White when I bought something.

    All lenses reduce the subject brightness range (don't think "low contrast" so much as "lift the shadows" as you'll still get a full run from black to white). A good multicoated one will reduce the SBR by a factor of two and the factor increases as coatings are reduced and lens elements go up. Very few old lenses will have more than 4 elements - I don't count the six element uncoated Symmars as old because they are from within the last 70 years or so.
     
  5. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    From my understanding, multi coating was introduced around the time WWII finished so I guess I need to be looking for one which was made prior to say 1940.

    Does the book recommend any in particular for general purpose work like the 150mm
     
  6. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member

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    Ian,

    You don't have to go all the way back to 1940's era lenses, depending on what you're looking for. Fuji made many of their LF lenses back in the 60's and 70's with single coating (kind of halfway between uncoated and multi-coating) and many of the early run Schneider G-Clarons were uncoated. I own an uncoated 305mm G-Claron, for example. FWIW, anyway.
     
  7. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    Thanks Alan. Do you have any example photographs from this lens
     
  8. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member

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    Sorry, I don't believe I do. If I do, I'm terribly lax at keeping records so wouldn't know which neg was exposed using that lens. That said, basically what you have to watch for with an uncoated lens is: slightly reduced contrast (when compared to a multi-coated lens) and reflections/light sources hitting the front lens element. Both can be easily resolved by developing the neg slightly longer and shielding the lens from light sources.

    If you're just a bit more careful with your technique, I'd be willing to bet you couldn't tell the difference between an uncoated and a multi-coated lens in a blind print test.
     
  9. alexmuir

    alexmuir Member

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    Ian, if you look on eBay, and at the websites of some dealers like Ffordes, for example, you sometimes see older LF lenses for sale. I usually don't pay too much attention to them, but they tend to be cheap compared to more up to date models. It might be worth a look as the lenses I've seen look like they could easily be mounted on a modern board. One thing to watch, though, is coverage to make sure you get something suitable for 4x5. I'm not sure they will give you what you want, but you're probably in the territory of experimentation and trial and error anyway. Flare is the thing to watch out for with older lenses. Early coatings don't seem anywhere near as efficient as current types, so lens shading of some sort is necessary if there are strong lights in use. I can only imagine uncoated examples will be even more susceptible. The good thing with still life, however, is that you can take control of the lighting to minimise flare. I'm going to look at the work of Joseph Sudek to get a better idea of the look you're after. It sounds really interesting.
    Alex.
     
  10. alexmuir

    alexmuir Member

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    I had a look online at Sudek. There seems to have been an exhibition in Paris earlier this year called 'The intimate World of Josef Sudek'. The outdoor pictures from his early career seem to be affected by flare, but in an intentional way, obscuring some level of detail. I also note from the text that he utilised a variety of printing techniques which would have contributed to the look of his images. I must look for a book of his work.
    Alex.
     
  11. Stephen Batey

    Stephen Batey Well-Known Member

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    Not really. The book discusses a large number of lenses and lens designs, and has many tables of covering power etc. It's not so much a book of recommendations as a general description of lenses and lens types, and the differences between them. You can find (for example) that the older 150mm Symmar that I have will just cover (without movements but with a small amount of vignetting) 10x8 when stopped down. That falls short of a recommendation, but it is the sort of practical performance related material that you'll find.

    I would recommend reading it if you can.
     
  12. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    Thanks Alex.
    The more I research this subject, the more I am starting to build up an idea about these different lenses especially the lower contrast type lens. The Dagar seemed to a popular lens used for portraits.
     
  13. martin henson

    martin henson Administrator Staff Member

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    There is a differance that's very noticeable in my pictures, I am doing a project at night around were I live, using a 1937 6x9 Bessa with an uncoated Heliar lens, I have also used in the same project a Rolleiflex with a coated Planer lens.

    The Planer lens is more contrasty, its not sharper if anything the Heliar is, but the contrast the Bessa lens produces to my eyes is more pleasing and natural to view, flair can be a problem with the uncoated optic however in certain shots its improved the overall look, never had one ruined with it.

    The question is, does the Heliar lens have a unique look, is it the non coating or is it both that give such a pleasing look.

    Anyone else have a Heliar lens design.
     
  14. Richard Warom

    Richard Warom Member

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    I have an old 6x9 Bessa that has a Voigtlander Volgtar 1:3.5 10.5cm uncoated lens so not a Heliar but I managed to find an aluminium push on lens hood found on e-bay this helps cut down flair. I also have an Agfa 6x9 that has a Agfa Apotar 1:4.5/105 coated lens and planned to do a trial with both same time same subject both with HP5+ to really see the difference in the results between them, hoping the weather is kind over Christmas to get this done.
     

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