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Mystery Pinkham and Smith

Visual Quality #1 Series IV B Soft Focus Lens

 Boston made Pinkham and Smith aka P&S lenses are among the most famous and prized soft focus lenses.

This particular lens is unusual and so far has its own mysteries.

Probably 95% or more P&S lenses were large format produced for 8x10 or larger film formats -- which made for very large lenses.

The is a comparatively small  #1 lens  for 4x5 with 9" focal length.  The diameter at both ends is 2 1/8," with a length of 3 1/2" including the mounted shutter. 

Although there are no marked F/stops,  as a Series IV its presumably F4.5.

# 3000 is a very high P&S serial number, perhaps the highest P&S serial number reported so far.  

You can find out more about Soft Focus P&S lenses here at Antique & Classic Cameras.

Here is a list of P&S lenses and serial numbers.

It will be fun shooting this lens.   Please let me know if you can help solve the its mysteries.


Wanting to keep the lens as original as possible, I left the non functioning Optimo shutter attached, adding a Hasselblad 55mm extension tube

plus another Hasselblad variable 63.5mm to  85mm extension tube.  Focusing range is from infinity to about 10 feet.

Adding another extension tube provides closer focusing.

Pinkham Smith fan Jim Galli helped fill in some of the blanks.  P&S lenses are known for their many, often inconsistent variations. 

Apparently the factory had  a very creative of looking at P&S designations.


For some reason is B said to indicate an uncatalogued lens ..  whatever that means.

This particular lens may be the highest reported P&S number so far reported at 3000.

The Series IV WITHOUT a # to indicate focal length is another oddity

# 1 = 9"  # 2 = 12" # 3 = 14  # 4 = 16"

Yet another oddity are the bright white engravings on a black paint lens barrel which might indicate a B&J aka Burke & James remounted lens barrel and lens coating from the 1950's. 

---- or maybe not......


At least for the shorter P&S lenses, Hasselblad focal plane shutter bodies make for easy quick and convenient Pinkham Smith shooting.



An Incomplete List of Pinkham & Smith Soft Focus Lenses

many unknown variations probably exist as the company was quite open to experimentation and customization

if you can add to this list, please let me know


Original Smith Series 1:

Semi-Achromatic F6  introduced about 1901

suggested by F. Holland Day.  7, 9, 12, 14 and 16 inch focal lengths


Series II:

Semi-achromatic Doublet F6 introduced about 1901

suggested by Alvin Langdon Coburn, 8, 9, 12 inch focal lengths


Series III:

Semi Achromatic Doublet F4.5 introduced about 1901

suggested by Alvin Langdon Coburn,  12, 14, 16 inch focal lengths


(Series 1 to  III were replaced by the Series IV and Series V and thereafter only made to order)

Series IV Visual Quality F/4.5

a doublet introduced about 1920 suggested by John Wallace Gillies       9, 12, 14, 16, 18 inch focal lengths

# 1 = 9" for 4x5  # 2 = 12" for 5x7  # 3 = 14 for 6 1/4 x 8 1/2   # 4 = 16 for 8x10"  # 5 = 18" for 11x14

described in P&S catalog as "approximately half-way between the extreme softness of the Semi-Achromat and the sharp precision of the fully corrected lenses"


Series V  Synthetic F/5

Single element suggested by J. W. Newton about 1920

7, 9, 12, 14 inch focal lengths


Series VI Synthetic F/5

Single element suggested by J. W. Newton about 1920

7, 9, 12, 14 inch focal lengths

the Series V lenses mounted in lens barrels for Graflex and similar reflex cameras


Series VII Motion Picture Lens F/3

# 1 = 2"  # 2 = 3"



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Revised: January 27, 2022 Copyright   2022  Stephen Gandy. All rights reserved.    This means you may NOT copy and re-use the text or the pictures in ANY other internet or printed publication of ANY kind.  Information in this document is subject to change without notice.  Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.