Yearly Archives: 2021

3 posts

Pinkham & Smith VQ IV vs. Cooke Portrait lens

If you find a 100 photographers on the street and shake them and ask: “What is the most famous portrait lens?”, they would probably call the police and charge you with not abiding by safe COVID protocols. There is that one person though, especially if you are in Tonopah, NV, and happen to meet one Jim Galli, he might say “Come on over to my truck”, and pull out half a dozen 100 years old portrait lenses under the front seat. { Disclaimer: I have never met Mr. Galli, but if I do, I full expect this scenario to play […]

Cooke Series II Lens

Note: this was originally published at Medium on Sept 1, 2018. I have since gotten, um, even more soft focus lens, see and Dennis Taylor patented the first triplet in 1893 for the company “T. Cooke and Sons”. Its design eliminated most of the optical aberrations using just three elements. The patents eventually went to Taylor Taylor Hobson (no relation to Mr. Dennis Taylor). TTH, or Taylor Hobson Cooke lens, created some of the most beloved images from the 1920s to 1950s through the expert hands of Alfred Stieglitz and other studio photographers. The Cooke Triplet design lens […]

The (late-)Mother of All Portrait Lens, 13″ Cooke Series II

Earlier in 2020, before the Pandemic put us in a lock down, I came upon a rare soft focus portrait lens, the Pinkham & Smith Visual Quality IV Series 2. Made in the 1920s, these lenses are highly praised for the soft focus images they produce. The images are smooth, like butter, with glowing highlights: The P&S is a lens that I didn’t expect to ever come across, so it was a pleasant surprise to be able to find this lens. Well, imagine my even greater surprise when I come across this: This is the Cooke 13″ Series II soft […]