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  1. #11
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    At very small apertures, the design of the lens is increasingly less relevant, since diffraction becomes the major limiting factor. At f:90 on 8x10" two lenses of the same focal length should produce virtually identical results, as you noticed.

  2. #12
    Jim Moore's Avatar
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    I went home for lunch today and the lens set had arrived!

    Can't wait to try it out this weekend. Hope the weather's nice.

    Jim

  3. #13
    mikewhi's Avatar
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    I did find that in the View Camera index on their web-site they did review the lens in the Jan/Feb 1998 issue, pages 48-53. I found the issue in my collection. I will photo-copy the article and mail it to you if you send me you mailing address. My e-mail is mikewhi@comcast.net.

    Perhaps someone out there has a back-issue they'd be willing to give\sell you (it has a portrain of Humphrey Bogart on the cover)? It is a long review and well worth reading. BTW, it has a happy ending<g>.

    Good luck with the lens.

    -Mike

  4. #14
    Jim Moore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikewhi
    I did find that in the View Camera index on their web-site they did review the lens in the Jan/Feb 1998 issue, pages 48-53. I found the issue in my collection. I will photo-copy the article and mail it to you if you send me you mailing address. My e-mail is mikewhi@comcast.net.
    -Mike
    Thanks Mike!

    Jim

  5. #15
    mikewhi's Avatar
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    I bought this plasmat set on eBay and I picked up it up today.

    It is simply beauitful. Right after I picked up the package, I went for my regular weekend morning coffee at Starbucks and opened it up and examined it. I got a lot of attention from other customers and a nice lady even came over and talked to me about the set. She had no idea what it was and was attracted to it like a bass to a shiny lure<g>. I didn't know the lens set was a babe magnet, too!

    I haven't photographed with it yet but I have set it up on the 5x7 and pointed it at a bright contrasty subject and examined the projected image with a 10x loupe and 1.75x reading glasses - that's a lot of magnification.

    When 2 elements are used, it is very sharp and compares well to any modern fixed focal length lens that I have of similar design, etc. When I use a single element (e.g. 350mm) the quality does drop off but still is more than acceptible. I put on a Nikkor-W 360mm and it was much better than the single element at the aperture, but not so much better that I would totally dismiss the plasmat by any means. One big advantage the Nikkor has is that the front glass is so huge that it gathers a lot more light and projects a much brighter image so it's a lot easier to see image detail. Still the single-element shows a lot of detail. I pointed it at a lamp with the shade removed. It projects a sharp edge around the bulb and fixture. Shadow detail is good but not as contrasty as the Nikkor.

    I think the one drawback is that when the single elements are used on the back, you are really limited to how much light enters the lens element - limited by the size of the Copal 1 shutter basically. The Nikkor is in a Copal 3 and the front element is about 4-inches in diameter - so the comparison isn't really fair. The fact the single-element 350mm looked so good compared to the Nikkor really says a lot about the Wisner, in my opinion. I'll try comparing to more like-sized lenses like some Schneiders and Fujinon's that I have.

    Since I own the set and have other modern lenses (Schneider, Fujinon, Nikkor-W to compare it to (and a 19" Red Dot Artar and 9 1/2" Dagor) I can do a lot of comparison.

    But so far, my impression is that when used with 2 elements, it is a very good lens. When used with single elements the quality really does not drop off so drastically. I'm sure it would not only make good contacts, but enlargements, too. I need a lot of field experience with the set, but given the chance I will use the fixed-focal lengths when I can over the single-elements but I'll use the 2-element configurations without worry. Also, it is a slow lens with a max aperture of f\9.6 (or slower) for a 2-element configuration and a max of f\13 for all single-element configurations.

    If you have any questions, please let me know. For the one person who return his, I have to believe it was some sort of abberation - this lens set is just too good to not form a good image.

    -Mike

  6. #16
    darinwc's Avatar
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    Mike, for us amateurs talk of these lenses is the stuff of legend.
    Allthough I have compared enough lenses to know that the image on the GG is not indicative of what the lens can do. So for all reading this take the initial review with a grain of salt. However I am excited to hear the results and I wish you the best of luck.

    As far as a comparison of modern vs. classic lenses, I believe that sharpness is the least important factor. Lens designs like Artar, Dagor, Heliar, Tessar, etc have been around for allmost a century. I beleive the big differences are in coverage, coatings, and condition.

    Allthough one exception to this is the wide-angle lenses. The modern designs allow for shorter focal lengths or less light-falloff and more movements. I really havent taken the wide-angle raptar, optar, ektar, and dagors seriously.There isnt much of an argument for using the old wides except for weight and maybee cost.

  7. #17
    mikewhi's Avatar
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    I worked with the len set a little more tonight and I'm liking it even more. I put some of the elements onto my 8x10 (I have the 5x7 set) and the smallest element, the 250mm, easily covers the 8x10 with lots of room for movements. The largest single element, the 500mm, does too but really calls for a lot of bellows draw to focus on something in the same room! Still, my Canham managed it. The quality of the image for the single elements really does improve at f45 and beyond - in fact the improvement is quite dramatic. I'm sure the difference would be noticable even on an 8x10 contact print. I'm glad I have a fresnel on my gg as I'm sure focusing in the field will be relatively dark with the widest aperture being so small and getting even dimmer when stopped down to f45. I did not notice a focus shift when stopped down, btw.

    I'm re-reading Gordon Hutching's review of the plasmat set in VC when it was first introduced and I think his assessment is fair, although I can't compare to vintage convertibles (or any convertible since this is my first). I beleive that Gordon basically says that these lenses are not the greatest, but they are very good and their real value will prove to be their compactness and ability to cover a wide range of focal lengths in a compat 5x7 package. They will make very good contact prints and moderage enlargements (say, 4x). 4x enlargements is the highest I ever go, so this is good enough for me.

    Now, if my Cooke Series XVa would just arrive!

    darwinwc: what do you mean when you say that sharpness is the least important factor? If I'm going to enlarge, isn't sharpness and resolution important? If I can see resolution and sharpness on the gg, why isn't that indicative of how the lens will perform in terms of those qualities? It seems to me that if the lens won't resolve beyond a certain point and this is easily seen on the gg, then I will know what to expect in the field. If I photograph a boulder with detailed cracks and lichen on it, I will want to know if the lens will resolve all that detail or not. Why isn't studying the aerial image a good indication of that? I agree that if I'm just making contact prints, then sharpness isn't as great of a concern. Since you mention coatings, these lenses are coated and my set is in perfect condition. The coatings are different when I compare them to my Symmar-S 210, though. The coatings on the plasmat set seem lighter and have a different (greenish) color cast compared to the Symmar-S. Still, they are coated.

    -Mike

  8. #18
    darinwc's Avatar
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    "what do you mean when you say that sharpness is the least important factor? If I'm going to enlarge, isn't sharpness and resolution important?"

    -I mean that im not going to quibble over small differences in sharpness. I am not going to take a microscope to a negative. Considering a 16x20 print from a 4x5 negative is only a 4x enlargement, a small difference in sharpness is not very important.

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by darinwc
    "what do you mean when you say that sharpness is the least important factor? If I'm going to enlarge, isn't sharpness and resolution important?"

    -I mean that im not going to quibble over small differences in sharpness. I am not going to take a microscope to a negative. Considering a 16x20 print from a 4x5 negative is only a 4x enlargement, a small difference in sharpness is not very important.
    Hmmm, I thought an 8x10 was considered a 4x enlargement from a 4x5 neg. Isn't it calculated by area? That would make a 16x20 a 16x enlargement. That would imply to me that if you can see differences under an 8 power loupe, those differences would be pretty obvious with a 16x20 print...

    Isaac
    See my adventures in Yemen here:
    www.isaharr.com

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