Last time, I looked at the Wollensak Velostigmat 85mm f3.5 briefly with some pictures taken with the Sony A7. I have since adapted the lens, which was taken from a broken Ciro-Flex 6×6 TLR, to be workable on Nikon as well, as the flange distance is long enough to do so. Today I mounted it on the Nikon D810 and took it out for a spin during lunch.
Without the AA filter on the D810, the Wollensak 85mm f3.5 produces much higher acutance, resulting in sharper pictures, than on the Sony A7. The edges, however, are still mushy at large to mid apertures. Even stopped way down, they are still nowhere close to the sharpness at the center. Clearly not a lens for landscapes, but I find it quite charming, and even a little enamor of it.
In typical American workmanship of lenses from the 1940s, this smallish lens is beautifully made, and a pleasure to hold and behold. You will forgive the less than perfect edges once you start actually using it to make photographs. Fortunately, pleasant looking photographs do not always require tack sharp edges. This little lens rewards you with subtle characters and nuances in images. It can produce excellent details when closing down the aperture a bit, especially at close distance. You might think a lens this old is hopeless for a high density sensor like the one in D810, but I wish you could see at 100%, uncompressed RAW file the tones and details in the picture below. It simply shutters the myths so many people hold as truth that old lenses are not good for new cameras. Well, not all lenses anyway.
In a future post, I will post the details on how to mount this American Beauty on Nikon cameras. It’s really quite easy and very simple, and requires no special tools.