What size lens boards does your camera take? A nice lens would be something like the Dallmeyer 3A. But you will need at least a 6x6 if not larger lens board to mount it on. When you're talking about F4 lenses they can get pretty huge. The 3A has waterhouse stops that will give you the depth of field needed for landscape and it will still cover 8x10 and 11x14 at portrait distances. Also a large Jamin Darlot would be nice for portraits.
I have an older Brass Dallmeyer Rapid Rectilinear 16x18 ( about 25") it is F8 and it will fit on a 5 1/4 x5 1/4 lens board, but barely. Its not actually a portrait lens but it very well could be used as one. Or a little more modern lens would be something like a Wollensak 14 1/2" Verito which would probably also work well.
I've got a Jamin Darlot that misses the corners of 11x14 at infinity, but fully illuminates at portrait distances. Not sure what the f-stop is, in part because I haven't been able to calculate the actual focal length- no waterhouse slot, so I can't tell quite what the nodal point is to measure from the ground glass. It appears to be something around a 14" or so, and I'll put it somewhere between f5 and f8. The barrel itself is somewhere around 10" long, and 4 1/2" in diameter. I've got it ghetto-rigged on a 6 1/2" sq. lensboard. With the lens being wide-open all the time, the depth of field is quite minimal. It should produce very nice swirly-whirlies in the background.
Scott, I see the guy also has an 8x10 Versar which he states is 20" focal length. The Versar is an F6 portrait and view and he also states that it is 20" focal length but the 8x10 is actually a 10 3/4" focal length. Now it may be 20" if he is using it as a convertible. I have a Versar 17x20 ( 22 1/2") which is the largest they made and I love it for film. I may give it a try on 11x14 wet plate, but I don't have enough bellows to use it for a head and shoulders shot.
Just and FYI on this. As Jason Motamedi has pointed out on similar threads, a Petzval is NOT a soft focus lens. They are in fact quite sharp (for their age) in the center. Those of us using them often use them on much larger plate (or film) sizes than they were designed for, so farther away from the center of the image you start getting the cool swirly bokeh going on. But, this is not the same as a true soft focus lens like the Verito, Pinkham and Smith, Kodak Portrait, Imagon, etc. Completely different animal. That said, my most used lenses for wet plate are a Derogy No. 3 Portrait lens (petzval design) for 8x10 and Dallmeyer 3A (petzval) for 11x14. But, also in heavy rotation are various soft focus lenses (18" Verito being the fave), a single-element landscape lens, Dagors, Artars, etc.
Originally Posted by schrochem
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Kerik, Isn't the Verito a petzval design? I mean as you stop down you get a sharper image out to the corners. Wouldn't that happen also with a Dallmeyer 3A if you used a small enough waterhouse stop? But the Verito is considered a soft focus lens and the Dallmeyer is not? I thought what made them a petzval design was the fact that there is one element up front and two in the back. Then again I'm no optics expert.
ewww....I knew talkin' bout lenses would wake yall up!
Thanks for the input. Kerik thanks for the clarification and for muddying the water....
Sheesh, now I just want to try all sorts of different lenses and see what I get.
The cool thing about wet plate is not worrying about a shutter!
When I was in LF before I just used modern glass.
I never ventured into this cool world of possibilities.
My entire style is changing with the wet plate process...and I love it.
There is this 'sterility' that my film and digital photography has in comparison.
It's just TOO precise, accurate, clean, whatever.
Anyway, back to the lenses...
I'm not sure about the lenseboards because the camera came with two lenses already mounted on the boards.
Definitely not 6X6 though. I also wish I had more bellows.
I did see that the wolly veritos were damn pricey and if I'm not mistaken so are those Dallmeyers.
I don't have a damn clue at all the different types of ____ars
I learned about dagors after I got one with the camera.
But other than that, artars, versars, protars, __ars ain't so clear.
I do like the very sharp thin plane with lots of bokeh look.
I know when comparing my Versar to my Verito, although the Versar has a lot of character it can never get the diffusion or abberations that the Verito will. The specular highlights that can be achieved with the Verito is unlike any other lens I've used. Of course the Versar is RR design with 2 elements up front and 2 in the back. The nice thing about them both is they can be used as a convertible without any loss of image quality. That makes a 18" Verito a 30" soft focus lens when using just the rear element. Using it that way Kerik can be doing 20x24 wet plate.
Can you imagine Brady and Gardner doing their Imperial plates 18x22 and 20x24. They were probably mixing collodion in 5 gallon buckets.
Another fun lens is a Vesta. I have a Vesta by another name (Seneca Portrait F5, 6 1/2 x 8 1/2). They were sold by Wollensak under a variety of names. There's one up on Ebay right now as a SeRoCo Portrait lens. As a Sears, most people won't recognize it as a Vesta, and so it will probably go cheap. At portrait (headshot) distances, it probably will cover 8x10, possibly missing the corners. It is also convertible, and covers 8x10 handily when converted, although I think it loses some of the soft-yet-sharp effect when converted. For some examples from it, everything shot on this page was done with it: