Mark Osterman - PS945 Observations
Scully & Osterman Studio
Rochester, New York
May 15, 2002
Here are some initial observations after using the Cooke Portrait lens.
While I was told that this lens was designed with the 4"x5" format in mind I found that it had more than enough coverage for the 6 1/2" x 8 1/2" collodion plates I was making.
The first thing I did after receiving the lens was to go into the field and try some landscape shots. With the lens stopped down to f.8 the image on the ground glass displayed great clarity. My assumption was that pushing the format would result in some falling off on the edges. In fact, they were remarkably crisp, and so I used camera movements to soften the upper portions of the negative.
After my initial experience of using the lens at f.8, I was skeptical about the designers' claims regarding the luminous effects at full aperture. I assembled a table top still life of both shiny and rusted metal objects lit from behind and from above. The camera was set about 40 inches from the composition. As I was opening the aperture I noticed something remarkable; the hard edges seemed to melt away and in their place appeared a subtle glow from both the highlights and the shadow details.
Additionally, where the difference between the areas of primary and secondary focus would be painfully obvious with other lenses, these optics seemed to allow a fluid gradation of depth without interruption, even into the background. I look forward, one of these days to using the lens for it's original purpose; portraits. In the meantime, I hope you don't mind if I continue to use it for everything else.