Wollensak Raptar 101mm f/4.5

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ProfHankD
ProfHankD Veteran Member • Posts: 8,941
Wollensak Raptar 101mm f/4.5
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The Wollensak Series II Raptar 101mm f/4.5 (circa 1955?) is a WOCOTEd 4-element Tessar type large-format lens... well, fairly large format. It really is designed to cover 2 1/4 x 3 1/4" film, which has a diagonal of just over 100mm. Despite that, I happen to know that it isn't all that dark in the corners of my 4x5" camera, so I figured I'd try it with Faboky and its 180mm screen.

Here's what this lens looks like on Faboky with a Canon PowerShot ELPH 180; I also used it with my Samsung S20 Ultra.

Wollensak Raptar 101mm f/4.5 on Faboky with ELPH 180

Just doing the math, this 101mm f/4.5 behaves like a 24mm f/1.1 on a full-frame body in terms of view angle and rendering characteristics. Of course, it isn't actually f/1.1, and it is effectively even darker than f/4.5 because the screen I'm using in Faboky is around 89% opaque -- which means the light level is more like using an f/45 lens. That's largely a bad thing, and for handheld photography it means high ISOs are going to be needed, on the other hand, it means that exposure times using modern digital cameras can be as long as the exposure times used over a century ago, which seems somehow fitting...

Anyway, here are some photos, some wide open, some stopped down. One big catch is that it tended toward exposure times that were a bit long to handhold and, even with it on a tripod, the wind meant that parts of most scenes suffered motion blur. Then there is the difficulty in focusing, both this lens and the lens on the digital camera.

ELPH180 -- about as sharp as this screen allows

S20 Ultra

ELPH 180

ELPH 180

S20 Ultra

ELPH 180

ELPH 180

So, is this a good lens?

It's a pretty ordinary "normal" Tessar for 2 1/4 x 3 1/4" film, and what I'm seeing looks pretty ordinary... although it sure looks like it's closer to covering the 180mm diagonal than we had any right to expect. It's fairly good for about a 160mm circle.

We're certainly not getting awesome contrast and sharpness. Still, it looks fairly pleasant. I'm not sure it's worth the trouble -- cheap old lenses on my Sonys generally do much better. Then again, I would say that these do look like large-format images despite being ultrawide view angles captured with tiny sensors.

Overall, I think this might be worthwhile if all you have is a small-sensor fixed-lens camera, but using this lens this way isn't special enough against directly using a good full-frame digital camera. I haven't tested this lens directly on my Sonys yet... I should. Of course, that way it will be a slow 101mm portrait lens.

 ProfHankD's gear list:ProfHankD's gear list
Canon PowerShot SX530 Olympus TG-860 Sony a7R II Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Sony a6500 +32 more
Canon PowerShot ELPH 180
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