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Re: dreamy Nikon lenses

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  • Subject: Re: dreamy Nikon lenses
  • From: Richard Knoppow <dickburk@ix.netcom.com>
  • Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2008 10:46:16 -0700
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----- Original Message ----- From: "Christina Z. Anderson" <zphoto@montana.net>
To: <alt-photo-process-l@usask.ca>
Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2008 6:57 AM
Subject: dreamy Nikon lenses

Good morning!
Some of you are quite knowledgeable on lenses. Do you know of a Nikon 35mm lens that would have been in use in, say, the 40's, that produced really dreamy, glowy images?

The slides I have are from the 40's to the 70's and there is a major difference in lens between earlier and later. Or was it the film? I pulled apart one of the glass slides and it is Kodak "safety" film.
A couple of questions:
Are these definitely 35mm slides?
Why do you think a Nikon was used?
The effect sounds like a soft focus lens but I don't know of any specificallyl made for 35mm still cameras during the period. Nikon did have a version of the lens made by Rodenstock and called an Imagon but that was later.
Uncoated lenses do not produce fuzzy images due to the lack of coating. The most common result is an overall haze which for color film lowers saturation and can affect color purity. Some uncoated lenses also produce "ghost images" of bright objects. The most common reason for haloes around bright objects is residual spherical aberration. Very few lenses were coated up to about 1946 when the vacuum coating methods developed during WW-2 became widely available. Kodak did coat some of its premium quality lenses using a different method as early as about 1940 and lens coatings were used for some lenses made for the Technicolor company in the late 1930s. For instance Technicolor supplied coated projection lenses for _Gone With the Wind_.

The film was certainly Kodachrome if the slides were made before 1946 and very likely to be Kodachrome if made later. Kodachrome is still available although Kodak has been trying very hard to kill it for several years. Early Kodachrome was known for brilliant colors and high contrast. No other film looks quite like it. The effect was similar to Technicolor of the period.
One property of Kodachrome is excellent dark storage longevity. Compared to Ektachrome or Anscochrome its dark storage lifetime is many times as great and much Kodachrome made in the 1940's still looks pristine. Ektachrome has better resistance against fading during projection but the older stuff was quite short lived.
Because Kodachrome does not have the dye producing couplers incorporated in the emulsion layers it requires a very elaborate processing method. Originally this was done exclusively by Kodak although in later years they licensed independant labs to process it.
AFAIK all Kodachrome in all sizes was coated on safety (cellulose acetate) support.

Richard Knoppow
Los Angeles, CA, USA