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  1. #1
    Jim Moore's Avatar
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    Is anyone using a Wisner Convertible Plasmat Set?

    If so I'm interested in your opinion.

    It seems to me that these would be a "backpackers" dream

    Thanks!
    Jim

  2. #2
    clay's Avatar
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    The only person I know who has any experience with this set is a local photographer who ended up sending the set back to Wisner because they would not create a sharp image, no matter what the cell configuration or what f stop he used.

    He was tremendously disappointed. I don't know whether he just got a lemon, or whether the design is inherently lacking. But I trust his evaluation enough to realize that this is an awful lot of $$$ to spend on a lens set that just 'might' work. Caveat emptor.

    If the focal length is right, I would look hard at the new Cooke convertible lens. I think Badger Graphic and the View Camera Store carry them. And I know Cooke is a full time lens manufacturer that has an excellent reputation.

  3. #3
    Jim Moore's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info clay.

    I sure hope that he just got a "lemon" and they are all not like that because I won a "Mint" 5x7 set last night on eBay.

    I can't find much info on them, but what I have found sounded good.

    I guess I'll find out

    Jim

  4. #4
    mikewhi's Avatar
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    So, it ws you! I wondered who snapped that set up. I hope it works out. Please post when you've tried them out and let us know, ok? View Camera Magazine had a review of them a few years back. You might go to ther site and check their article archive. If you can find the issue it was in, I'll look it up and send you a copy of the review if I can find it. As I recall, it basically reiterated what has been true about convertible lenses, that no convertible folcal length will be as sharp as a fixed focal length made around the same time. So whatever focal length you select will not be as sharp as a modern Schneider of the same focal length. That's just the laws of physics at work, not something inherently wrong with the convertible lens. You have to trade off performance for the convenience of so many focal lengths in a small set. If that's ok with you, then you'll be happy. Just don't expect the best of both worlds. Besides, you probably won't notice much if you don't enlarge very much.

    Good luck with the lenses!

    -Mike

  5. #5
    Jim Moore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikewhi
    So, it ws you! I wondered who snapped that set up. I hope it works out. Please post when you've tried them out and let us know, ok? View Camera Magazine had a review of them a few years back. You might go to ther site and check their article archive. If you can find the issue it was in, I'll look it up and send you a copy of the review if I can find it.
    -Mike
    Yep, it was me.

    It's kind of strange. I remember one of these sets on eBay sometime last year, but I didn't have to funds to purchase it. I was thinking about that the other night and wishing that another would be listed.

    As I was browsing the listings there it was! I hit the "Buy-It-Now" button without any hesitation

    I print mostly 8x10 and have never made a print larger than 11x14, so I'm not overly concerned about the sharpness issue. The main reason I wanted this set is for it's light weight while backpacking.

    I checked the View Camera Magazine web site and couldn't find the review. If you would send me a copy it would be GREATLY appreciated.

    Thanks!

    Jim

  6. #6
    mikewhi's Avatar
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    Well, congrats on your purchase. When I saw it, I was tempted to hit BIN, too. But I had just bought a Canham camera and some other stuff on eBay so I couldn't do it. I wasn't surprised to see it gone before the end date. I will look for the review. The mags are boxed up right now, but as I unpack my books I'll go thru them and photocopy the review for you when I find it.

    I got to know Ron Wisner some when I lived back in Connecticut. We had him down for a few workshops and afterwards we'd go out for dinner and talk. He brought along some contact prints he'd made from older lenses and I commented that they weren't very sharp (I look for those attributes). He said that if you put your nose right up to them like I did,that no, they weren't sharp as modern lenses. But when viewed from an appropriate distance they were accceptibly sharp. I think he may have brought those values to the design of the convertible lens - acceptible shaprness and contrast with the convenience of convertible lenses. I don't recall him discussing plans or even the idea of this set, but it seems completely logical that he would. He knows more about the subject than anyone I know of and is a very bright guy.

    Regards,

    -Mike

  7. #7
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Regarding the "acceptible sharpness" issue--I really like the look of many classic lenses (Dagor, Apo-Artar, Heliar, WF Ektar, and Verito are the ones I use) for 8x10" and larger negs that I plan to contact print. This is really the way they were meant to be used, and they are more than acceptibly sharp for that purpose. The aberrations that make up the characteristic look of these lenses for contact printing can become "defects" when enlarged.

    If I were to get a plasmat set, I'd be looking at it for 8x10" or 11x14", where the weight savings would be substantial and they would be sufficiently sharp at shooting apertures for contact printing.

    For negs 4x5" and smaller, I generally prefer more modern lenses--at least from the 1960s, with the exception of a few shorter focal length Heliars that I like for portraits.

  8. #8

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    Hello all,

    Without commenting on specific examples (there will invariably be bad examples about), the idea that some of these classic lenses can ony just cope with contact prints is not fair to them in general. I will always go for a modern lens when affordable for the better shutter and betters overall lens performance, but there are many older lenses that are truly amazing (ektar 203 f7.7 being one I own - and it is as sharp as the best of the rest including a 90mm f 8 nikkor sw and a 65 f4.5 grandagon....). I find it hard to beleive that the wisner plasmats (if made by schneider) can only just push out an OK contact print. Can this be right? Even if resolving only a pathetic 15 lines per mm on film this would appear razor sharp as a contact. I suspect that soft contact print are either down to a dog lens, poor film register, or a poor choice of neg developer that has not produced the required acutance to give good apparent sharpness at zero enlargement. After all, Ansle Adams' moonrrise over hernandez was taken with a single element of a cooke convertable (I think) and is more than sharp at a roughly 20x16 enlargement - having seen originals. I would suspect that as mentioned in one review, the 5x7 plasmats will produce 20x16 prints with 'no excuses'. PLease let us know as I have my eye on the new cooke convertble too!! Good luck!

    Tom

  9. #9
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    It's not that you can't get a decent enlargement from a classic lens. I sometimes use a Goerz 168/6.8 ser. III Dagor on 4x5" when I want the big image circle, and the enlargements are fine when viewed on their own, but put it side by side with even an old single coated 150/5.6 Symmar convertible, and the Symmar will look much sharper from corner to corner.

    On the other hand, I wouldn't trade my 12" Dagor that I use for 8x10" for anything. It's got excellent contrast, is very sharp with a very smooth look. But if I started enlarging 8x10", I might start thinking otherwise.

  10. #10

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    I just tested 2 new lenses of recent purchase, a used and uncoated Protarlinse 305/480/590 convertible at 305mm against a new and unused 360mm WA Apo Nikkor process lens of reputedly great sharpness and coverage with the focus point at about 75 feet. The results surprised me. I expected the 60+ year old Protarlinse to be thoughly trounced by the Nikkor. Not so.The contact prints were slightly different but this was really splitting hairs. I needed maximum DOF on the ULF shot and stopped the Protarlinse down to f90 and the Nikkor to f128. Both lenses tested very similar in the prints. Maybe an enlargement would be more telling. Or used with the optimum f stops instead of all the way down. I think for contacts though that these convertible lenses might just be the answer for overall convienence as well as low weight. The Protarlinse will get a lot of use!

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