Yoshizen's Blog

Moon by Non-telephoto lens

I took a picture of the Moon too many times = It’s the same moon for the millions of nights = So,  I’m rather weary to take out my 500mm lens = I just clicked a camera with the lens happen to be on.


The camera happen to be the Sony A7R with a modified Kodak Vest Pocket Camera lens on.  With this structure of the lens, we can not hope a good focus.  Still, whatsoever the picture was made as this.  (Since the Vest pocket camera had no focusing mechanism, I wonder how the picture of the moon looked like on the original camera ? —– I haven’t tested it yet.  Sorry.)


As the lens on A7R is easy to change, I put (yet again a modified) Zeiss Baby Ikonta camera’s 50mm lens. (This lens has front-focushing = And, it was set to infinity though, the image was not sharp at all. = You may say Don’t ask too much to 90 years old antic. —– generally this lens works well = but may not for a real infinity subject.)

(In both shots, the F-aperture was fully open,  VP = F6.6 / Ikonta was F4.5 and  1/250 or so shutter speed —– because I was not intended to make any sharp image = otherwise why do I used junk lens ? )


Vest Pocket image on the 6×7 camera

Vest'P6x7(1)-A09A8379In the previous post, you might have seen the Vest Pocket lens’ image captured by a 35mm full size digital camera.  Though, the original size of the Vest Pocket camera was 6×9 (43mm x 65mm exact) —– so that, the image only on the cropped center wouldn’t show the full character of this 100 years old lens. —– (Strangely to say, don’t you agree this picture above looks like 100 years, even 200 years old painting ?)  

—– The fact, you must be noted is, 100 years ago then, the user of Vest Pocket camera seeing their picture contact printed on 6×9, card size B/W print.  Today’s reader of this blog can see the picture’s detail / sharpness easily enlarged, though there was no such luxury in old days = people just accept the picture made by the camera (with no focus adjustment).  As long as the picture showed the face looks like your boy, it was a good picture ! 

A funny story was,— there was a Photo-club in Japan,  namely “Vest Pocket camera appreciation club” (Ves-tan Club”/ べス単クラブ — Ves-tan stands, Single lens Vest Pocket ) of which the photo enthusiasts of the photo image made by the Vest Pocket camera was associated together.  And among the members, there was a special practice = use the camera while lens’ front hood which restricts the aperture smaller was removed (— See the previous post =  Lens was originally F6.6 but with the front hood makes it to F11). So, they appreciated the images with soft bokeh by the spherical aberration, the most.  In today’s standard, they might be branded as “Otaku”  (It was almost like a religion, same to prefer the images made by the Canon or Leica lens than the Nikon, saying that the Canon shows the atmosphere / or taste (aji / 味) more, but the Nikon lens pick-up just clinical flaw of the skin.  —– mind you, this was the story of 40, 50 years ago.   😀 )  

Vest'P6x7(2)--004I mounted the lens on the Pentax 6×7 body using a camera’s body cap and tested its image character.  (You may say, 6×7 is not 6×9 though, don’t be too fanatic = it wouldn’t kill you anyway) 


(In order to mount the Lens unit to the body cap, an aluminium ring was cut out.  Because the lens has to be very close to the camera body, there was no space to put a focusing mechanism.  So that, the close focused image was made by adding an extension ring. )

Vest'P6x7(4)-A09A8359So, I took some photos on the 15 years old,  Fuji, Provia  ISO400 film — but exposed as ISO160 as I anticipated the film’s loss of sensitivity in time. — (Since, the lens was set to maximum F-aperture (hood was removed = F6.6) the image was pretty fuzzy on the 6×7 Pentax view finder too = rather difficult to see the definitive focus.)



(Since the 100 years old single grass lens has no coating, image has a lot of halation as well.)




(Fussiness was created by not only its out of focus bokeh but by its aberration too.)


It seems, this photo above is the most peculiar image, unique to this Vest Pocket lens while its hood was removed ( = effectively, F 6.6)  —– in other words, this unique softness is the softness what Japanese Ves-tan Club members appreciated the most. (generally, the softness appeared around the well focused sharp image as “not well focused image” ( = so-called aberration) –—- though, this photo has no sharp core image even on the focused area.   I would only say “Strange ?”   😀


(In here you can see a lot of bokeh by the spherical aberration.= unlike the intentionally created bokeh of Helicoid Lens (A) or (B) kind, Vest Pocket lens’ fussiness looks more natural.)


So the painterly effect of this Vest Pocket lens looks rather subtle and looks natural. And the image has more atmosphere which gives more depth to the image too.  A depth of its image was induced by the emotional resonance (something like = I’ve seen this long time ago), not from the detailed data which will talk to the intellectual brain —– in fact, too much data in the image distract an emotional response, exactly like a noise in the music.

(Which the members of the “Ves-tan Club” most appreciated.)


Kodak Vest Pocket Camera


  (Photo left = Vest Pocket A-127 camera.    Photo middle = Insert + Lens unit was pushed out. The round cup on the front panel is the Hood ring removed from the lens front.  Photo right = the half of the Vest Pocket camera was attached on the Sony A7R body)

Probably the most iconic vintage camera must be the Kodak A-127 Vest Pocket Camera.  Among the thousands of cameras, this camera was designed on the almost revolutionary “Cut the corner” philosophy.  On the surface, you might think that this camera was a toy though, actually the camera was 6×9 medium format (43mm x 65mm exact).  In today’s sense, if the camera was a medium format, it could produce quit high-resolution high quality picture —– but, you were wrong.  Virtually all the user of this camera had only seen their picture on a tiny 6×9 size contact print.  Think, how much a name-card size tiny picture could show the details ?  Imagine, to make a picture of photo-booth instant print, how many pixel was needed ?  (I guess, Kodak must have had many consumer test and found “good enough” compromise.)  The size of the picture to carry in a wallet (to show his baby or give his picture) IS 6×9 = card size.  To make 6×9 photo, lens focal length got to be at least 80 mm, and the size of the lens should be about 10mm.  So, on this Vest Pocket camera, the single glass lens was 12mm diameter though, a ring or hood which is restricting the aperture to 7.3mm was placed on front of the lens. (It’s mean, the lens was F6.6 but with the ring, F11. —– with this rather small aperture, a kind of pan-focus = focus-free was created = a bit of out focus may not to be a matter in a small print. ( = hence camera has no focus control) 

So the structure was designed in the same minimalist approach.   The camera consists  1) Outer shell    2) Insert with film gate   3) Lens / Shutter unit and the bellows to connect  Lens unit to Insert and the supporting pantograph   4) Bottom cover —– other than in the Shutter unit, very few screw was used, hence the Insert will be slide out with a simple push  (photo above middle)  Technically, Lens unit and the Insert, connected by the bellows and the pantograph can be seen as the Lens with focusing mechanism = it’s mean, just place the Lens unit / Insert to the front of a digital camera, we can make the pictures of Kodak Vest Pocket Lens, (which I did) — provided,  pantograph should be press-down to the correct point to have an image in focus. (photo right)

K-vest  F'open /  F13 ?The test shot showed rather promising results. (But shoot with an extreme  care ! —– Photo above left = the iris of the lens (without front ring) was fully open = F6.6.    The next, with the front ring which makes F11  (Photo right ) —– F6.6 showed nice softness and when it was stopped down, the image became more solid ! —–  though, the field test showed the other trouble of this optics —– because of not very solid lens support structure, they are pretty susceptive to the vibration =  image get easy to blur = considering the shutter shock made by the small lens shutter (when it was on the Vest Pocket) and the Square shutter in the A7R’s body, the effect seemed to be completely different, especially if there was a funny resonance on the wobbly pantograph  frame. So, I’ll show you the field test shot on the next post.



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