Saturday, August 23, 2014

Kodak Soft Focus Portrait Lens 16" (405mm) f/4.5

After searching for what seemed forever, for a reasonably priced 16" Kodak Portrait lens in good condition, I got me one. I am overly exited to blog about this one. So much so that I'm doing it even though I have not been able to shoot with it yet. Just got back from vacation and I need to mix some chemicals before I can shoot anything.

The lens is too big to fit a Deardorff lens board, if you use the flange that came with it, so I got Zbyszek to make me a custom lens board. He sells lens boards and adapters on eBay and he can make any size lens board you need, great quality. I had him make the hole the size of the threads on the lens (126mm), this way I was able to screw the lens onto the wooden lens board without using the huge flange. It was challenging to get it on - it's a tight fit. I had to lightly sand the hole to get it started - be careful, you don't want to sand it too much and risk it being too loose. I used a strap wrench and big table-top vise. It's on pretty tight, at least three or four threads deep.

Aperture exposed, and in front of lens
The Kodak 16" Portrait lens is a rare soft focus lens. It has the unusual feature of having the iris or aperture in front of the lenses. Not very common, usually the iris or aperture is between lenses and definitely behind the most forward lens. This 405mm f/4.5 lens is short and fat. It weighs just shy of 4 lb. with a 5" diameter.  So far the Deardorff seems to handle the weight fine. 

Kodak 305mm f/4.8 comes with shutter
You would likely find a Kodak 305mm f/4.8 portrait lens before one of these. The 305mm comes mounted on a shutter, while the 405mm is too big and has no shutter. I don't mind shutterless barrel lenses. I use barrel lenses for my wet plate portraits exclusively. Besides, I needed a portrait lens that would work with my 8x10 as well as my 11x14 and the Kodak 405mm f/4.5 just might fit the bill. We'll see.

I'll get back to you after I shoot some portraits with this lens
 - I'm getting ready to shoot 11x14 wet plates - waiting on the guys from Lund to send me my 11x14 silver tank. I'm exited!

Kodak portrait lens mounted on an 8x10 Deardorff
Serial number RM160 (1953) L (Lumenized)

Many thanks to Brian Wallen for his help finding data on this lens, click on his name to go to his website. According to serial number data my Kodak Portrait Lens, 16" (405mm) f/4.5 was made in 1953. Below is a page from Kodak's 1952 - Professional Handbook / Cameras.

Click on page to enlarge

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