Thursday, May 5, 2016

ISCO-Göttingen Westanar 50mm f2.8 - Art Lens

My friend Paul used to tell some of his customers to use a cracked UV filter to achieve soft/weird effects.  Well, I now have a lens that has this special capability built-in!

This ISCO-Göttingen Westanar 50mm f2.8 lens, in Exakta mount, was a free bonus from a few other phonographic items I bought.  There are few things wrong with this lens.  It won't mount on any of the EXA-Emount or EXA-EOS adapters I have.  The rear element(s) appear to have cracks along the edges, and in the middle of the element, heavy scratches.  To top all that off, the lens has a healthy growth of fungus.  What makes this heart-breaking is that the lens is mechanically excellent.  It focuses very smoothly, and the front element group is nice and clear.

Westanar 50mm f2.8 with Exakta Mount. Note the "imperfections" on the rear element.

With the mount replaced and on focus helicoid.

Rather than giving it a death sentence, I thought, why not use it as a soft focus lens? The pictures might even come out artsy without doing anything special!

I had to remove the mount, since it won't work on any of my adapters, but it was easy, as it was held on by three screws.  These old lenses were made with different mounts in mind, and they designed it to be easy to swap a different mount on it.  For me, I just glued a 37mm-52mm step-up ring on the lens, and then mount the lens to the Yeenon focus helicoid.  This lets me focus extremely close, as the lens itself already has its own focus, plus the focus helicoid.  Now it's all good to go.

Pretty nice soft focus effect, no?

Soft Focus Effect #2

This one has a healthy dose of contrast boost, which is actually not too bad.

With this much artsy ingridient done to the lens, I was surprised to find that the lens actually produces usable images, abeit very low contrast.  Even stopping the lens down to f8, the contrast hardly improved, though sharpness spread more to the edges.  The lens has a slight soft focus effect, but I was hoping for something more dramatic.  Perhaps, it needs more "artsy" elements, like crack lines in the middle of the rear element, or deeper scratches!



  1. Hi there, I have the same lens and it is very soft even without such dramatic extra features your speciments has. Mine also had some fungus that I removed. thanks for your great infos on all that vintage stuff I already bought several lenses because of your reviews :-)