The Petzval Madness Continues...

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by bobfowler, Feb 5, 2006.

  1. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    Last night, Liz and I did a banquet portrait gig. It's sort of like doing prom pictures, but for adults. :smile: The event was for the St Barbara's Day celebration (the Patron Saint of the Field Artillery), and we posed couples in front of the fireplace in the officer's club. Shot it in medium format (Bronica SQ-Ai) and 3 lights. A piece of cake gig with good reward$.

    Anyway, we knew that we'd have some down-time during the event, so I brought along the 5X7 Eastman and the 10" Petzval so I could shoot some pix of Liz while the attendees were doing their (wacky) ceremonial stuff. I shot 6 sheets of 5X7 J&C 200. The first 2 have been souped and I'm rather happy with the results. Here is a scan of sheet #2.

    I'm going to make some waterhouse stops (for f/8, f/11, and f/16) so I can get a touch more depth of field. I used a 4X N.D. filter to get the exposure in the ballpark. The film was souped in Microdol-X 1:3 for 16.5 minutes @ 68F in a Unidrum. I probably could cut back the development to 15 minutes (which I'll do on the next 2 sheets) to lower the contrast a bit.

    Jim G. - You really have created a monster! (but Liz loves the results).
     

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  2. vet173

    vet173 Member

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    Acute Galli syndrome is quite contagious, I've been feeling the symptoms myself as of late. If not not treated properly it can lead to the chronic version.
     
  3. vet173

    vet173 Member

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    Nice shot by the way.
     
  4. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I know those symptoms. But as long as Aplanats cost a fraction of a Petzval (my latest aquisition is a "Portrait Rectigraphic 18x16"), I'll leave the Petzvals to Jim. But don't quote me; I've been blamed for driving up the prices of old Angulons on German Ebay - and I've only ever bought ONE there!
     
  5. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    That's my other weakness... the Rapid Rectilinear. Been building up a nice collection over the past couple of years!
     
  6. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    I am under the assumption that the Aplanat/Rapid Rectilinear design evolved from the Petzvals. The rear doublet is air-spaced in the Petzvals and cemented in the Aplanats/RRs, and the latter have less curvature of field. Still, the RR design provides for a sharp center with a rapid falloff in sharpness towards the edges, but not as extreme as the the Petzvals. They also tend to be less expen$ive. Are these assumptions correct?

    Joe
     
  7. dmax

    dmax Member

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    With all these APUG goings-on with brass lenses, I now have a defensible reason to give my wife. The next time she sarcastically asks why I keep accumulating brass lenses, I can tell her that its actually a disease with a well-documented name, one that I caught early on and still have not recovered from. And that given the tenacity of the syndrome and its strong associations with large cameras with bellows, folks with even the most sturdy constitutions often fall into severe periods of relapse.
     
  8. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Not really. Petzval calculated the lens to give acceptable sharpness with a lot of speed - f:3.5 was a great improvement over the f:16 landscape lenses!

    The Aplanat/RR was calculated independently to give a flat field over a larger image circle than the Petzval - it was made to do the job that Petzval lenses couldn't. It was probably based on the Grubb aplanatic landscape lens, a double cemented meniscus. Making this into a symmetric "double doublet" flattened the field, eliminated distortion, and allowed increased aperture up to f:7.2 or thereabout.

    According to Kingslake there is reason to believe that Steinheil may have calculated the lens, while Dallmeyer used the more familiar empiric method of putting two Grubb lenses together to see what would happen.

    One of my "brass cannons" happens to be what I believe must be one of the very first Steinheil Aplanats - it's marked "Steinheil in München Patent", with no mention of "Aplanat" which it definitely is - and it's a very fine lens. It is every bit as sharp as much later Aplanat lenses, so Steinheil must have got it right in the first try!
     
  9. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Something, I'll never understand. I prefer the newest, sharpest lenses I can get. :tongue:
     
  10. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    You don't need anything else to get the desireable sharp center fuzzy rest of image effect IF your sharp modern lens doesn't have a field stop built-in. Just use a sharp modern lens that doesn't cover the format you're shooting on. Practice lens abuse, like the others. Pretend that "illuminates" means "covers."
     
  11. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    Correct,

    experiment with a modern lens wide open.
     
  12. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    And then compare the center sharpness with that from a 100 years old RR or Aplanat...
     
  13. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    Why?
     
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  15. robsoe

    robsoe Member

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    Think painting, film/paper is your canvas, lens is your brush, and light is your ink/paint. Different brushes gives different looks, so are lenses.
     
  16. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Because, I want the sharpest, most detailed images I can possibly get. One of the reasons I shoot Velvia 50/100 all the time. I even bought a Schneider 80mm XL lens for this reason, and this summer I'm going to get the Schneider 110mm XL as well.
     
  17. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    Bah - sharpness is SO 1990's... It's too much like digital for my taste. :tongue: One of the things that Photoshop does very poorly is soft-focus. It always looks sooooo... synthetic. A 100+ year old Petzval image looks ORGANIC to my eyes. Long live Swirly Bokeh!
     
  18. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    And I guess I like mimicking normal human visual perception as closely as possible. Personally, I'm looking for a Dallmeyer Extra Quick-Acting Portrait Petzval Miniature lens so I can get that swirl and vignetting on quarter-plate. And my all-time favorite emulsion was Kodak High Speed recording Film 2475.

    Chances are I cancelled your vote in the last election. :wink:

    Joe
     
  19. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I've enjoyed reading this thread though. I think what I find fascinating about it is the excitement it generates among some people. But, I still don't understand it. :tongue:
     
  20. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    again correct.

    Robert,
    you need the resolution of a modern lens, as you shoot color landscapes and then have them greatly enlarged to compete with that gallery market.

    Note the recent National Geographic Portraits publication....the cover is from a recent photo using a wet plate neg with a period lens, to me it is a most lovely portrait and exhibits great detail....it has a look and beauty all its own, the "center" has a smooth tonality that glows, yes looks human, more like maybe we see and interpret with our eyes naturally, I do not view this as unsharp....many photographers are beginning to appreciate and exploit the characteristics of these lens formulas, if that is the image you are hoping to present, then these period lenses present a facinating study.
     
  21. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The author of my "contemporary source", the 1910 "Photographisces Hilfbuch für ernste Arbeit" was not afraid to state his opinions in very clear ways. While he disliked Aplanats, he also stated that "Anastigmats have much better overall sharpness and greater coverage, and in the center are almost as sharp as the best Aplanats" :smile:
     
  22. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    Well, it's kinda hard to explain, but...

    There is a certain "warmth" in B&W portraiture that you can get with a Petzval that you just can't get any other way. Maybe "warmth" isn't a good word.... how about glow? While I wouldn't use a Petzval for landscapes, I also wouldn't use a chainsaw to carve a turkey. The Petzval is just another tool in the box...

    But, like Ole, I'm a big fan of the RR/Aplanats as well. If you don't need a lot of movements, they can be painfully sharp lenses.
     
  23. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    This is interesting. I think of this as a resurgence of pictorialism, perhaps in response to the "digital clarity" that those who moved to that medium so often speak about. In the debate about Impressionism and it's sources, there is an argument that states this move to softer, less precise painting was in some ways a response to the spread of photography, with it's spectacular sharpness and attention to detail. There is often, it seems, a revived interest in the particular and sometimes ancillary strengths of one medium when another comes to challenge its role - in this case, accuracy and sharpness.

    Please understand, I'm not making a case for blurry pictures, old lenses or, Adams forbid, "digital clarity". I am also still quite fond of razor sharp photos - like your landscapes, Robert. I simply am fascinated by the rise of old glass, bromoil printing and soft focus in this group. Personally, I love it. I find that the nuanced edge treatments that these old lenses give to different parts of the image bring a life to the work that is emotionally loaded and personal.

    My own tastes in painting tend toward John Singer Sargeant, the naturalists and the Boston school, people who learned a lot from the Impressionists but never relinquished accurate drawing and sharp focus. They simply used these tools discreetly as attention getters- ways to direct the eyes of the viewers.

    Here's one from one of the petzvals I finally got an 8x10 camera to try.
     

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  24. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    A Petzval is not a Chainsaw

    I love "petzvals" and other soft focus lenses for landscapes as well as portraits. I also use modernish, sharp lenses, but more and more my primary rig is a 14"x17" camera with a 18" Verito up front. Kind of the great-granddaddy of the Diana...

    Here's a few, although the beauty of the softness is suppressed by these small JPGs:
     

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  25. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    What Whitey said above and Kerik, there you go again with your beautiful photographs! I recently picked up a 14" Verito and a 21" (14 x 17) Versar...the darkroom is nearing completion and I am looking forward to hooking up the horses to the 14 x 17 and doing some portraits and yes some landscapes....I have seen Kerik's photographs up close and personal and what a joy...

    Whitey I agree, remember that Weston and Stieglitz were pictorialists!

    In subsequently rejecting impressionism, they along with Adams , the f/64 group, made an about face to the extent of even politically discriminating against pictorialist photographers and photography. It is not only on this forum that there is a revived interest in impressionistic photography but also in galleries and among contemporary artists as well. Indeed Whitey, as to Sargeant, the naturalists and the Boston school, for quite a while it was not considered "cool" to appreciate their contributions....

    could it be that in a world so out of sync with the thousands sharply focused images we are bombarded with on a daily and even minute by minute basis...that another focus, another look, another reflection becomes a more meaningful and personal and a more human experience? Does it cause us to pause and reflect....and say wow, what is going on here...it certainly does to me... Look again and again at Sally Mann's recent wet plates, look at Degas, look at the Boston school, look again at contemporary gum oil portraits, portraits in platinum, look at those old albumen portraits your grandmother just might have on the mantle. It is much more than a lens formula, it is what it does to us that we are at a loss to explain...it evokes emotion...

    it is here to stay
     
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  26. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Very beautiful images.

    Whiteymorange mentions digital clarity as one of the factors leading to this revival, but I don't find digtal images clear at all.