Going Soft

Canon EOS 350D with VPK Meniscus Achromat
(from 1915)

Veijo Vilva

While searching for information concerning Vest Pocket Kodaks (VPK), I bumped into an article describing the use of the VPK meniscus lens as a soft focus portrait lens (mounted on a Leica!) and decided to give the idea a try. I acquired a rather terminal state Autographic Vest Pocket Kodak:

The maximum aperture of the lens of this type of VPK is externally limited to a maximum of f/11 with a lens hood in front of the actual aperture mechanism in order to prevent fully opening the aperture, which would produce excessive image softness and lens flare. The lens hood can easily be removed to produce a quite reasonable soft focus camera, which possibility was utilised e.g. by the "Vesu-tan" group of photographers in Japan in the late 1910's.

I extracted the lens complex from the broken-down VPK, removed the for my purposes unnecessary aperture and shutter mechanisms, and fixed the lens to the focusing helicoid of the lens barrel from a no-good 135 mm M42 lens producing a focusable lens with a fixed aperture of about f/5.6 - f/6, i.e. roughly two f-stops wider open than the original maximum of f/11. I covered the inner surface of the helicoid tube with self-adhesive black flocked material (dc-fix) in order to prevent reflections.

Canon EOS 350D with the VPK Meniscus Achromat fitted inside the M42 helicoid
The lens barrel forms a handy lens shade. (Mounted with a red M42 to EOS adapter.)


The Result: An Extremely Useful Pictorial Lens

Producing Soft Photos with an Ethereal Luminosity and an Incredible Bokeh

Luminosity often acquires an almost ethereal dimension.


Two Mornings at the Pond

There is some mist above the water but none whatsoever anywhere else. (1024x768 Wallpaper)

ISO800 with a small amount of sharpening produces a very nice texture. (1024x768 Wallpaper)

(1024x768 Wallpaper)


There is no mist or fog, just lens flare! Note the whitish cows!    (1024x768 Wallpaper)

(1024x768 Wallpaper)


(1024x768 Wallpaper)





(1024x768 Wallpaper)

In this photo, the flare is minimal but still there.


This cannot be achieved with just a limited DOF. (1024x768 Wallpaper)


Almost Gigerian Bottles

(1024x768 Wallpaper)

(1024x768 Wallpaper)


Go, Bokeh, Go!

A Portrait

(Taken in an airport cafe, non-optimal lights)



Two Mornings, Clear and Foggy

These photos are very much like paintings (960x1440)

More EOS 350D + VPK Meniscus Photos:


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