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Novoflex 400mm f/5.6 and 600mm f/8.0 for UV-photography

UV Lens
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#1 UlfW

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 19:42

I have begun examining how well suited the long lenses Novoflex produced are for UV-photography.

The results so far is quite promising.

Novoflex started producing photographic equipment in the early fifties. https://photobutmore...ktive/novoflex/

The first long lens type produced was a 40cm f/5.6 Fernobjektiv.
It was followed a few years later by a 64cm f/9.0 and soon after with a 60cm f/8.0

The optical design used in all three types of lenses was simple, a cemented two-lens achromat.
Mechanically the focusing was solved with a rear-mounted bellows-unit.

Later an optically improved T-Noflexar 400mm/5.6 with a three element two group design was added to the lens head program.

The optical design of the first three lens-heads was similar to the Leitz Telyt-R 400/6.8 and 560/6.8
These Leitz lenses were later also available for the more modern Novoflex Schnellshuß gun-shaped focusing units.

I have measured the relative transmission of these four tele lenses:
Fernobjektiv 1:5,6 40cm, early version with different thread mount for an older lens tube design
Noflexar 1:5,6 400mm
T-Noflexar 1:5,6 400mm
Noflexar 1:8, 600mm

As a reference for UV-usability I included the Noflexar 1:3,5 35mm in the transmission measurement.
I believe many members here consider that that lens has an acceptable UV-transmission.

Attached Image: Novoflex 400 & 600mm 2.png

The simple lens design give some transversal chromatic aberration visible both in UV and VIS.
It is improved by stepping down.

There is no huge focus-shift between UV and VIS and with the older lens tube and bellows-design it was possible to reach infinity directly without any Dremel-action. :)
The bellows also allowed to focus rather close.

There is no usable UV-light or flowers outdoors here this time of the year. :(
I had to try to use my UV-modified Godox AD200 indoors instead.

Attached Image: _MG_0874.jpg
Noflexar 1:8, 600mm at f/16, Baader U internally in the lens-tube

Attached Image: _MG_0949.jpg
T-Noflexar 1:5,6, 400mm at f/16, Baader U internally in the lens-tube

Edit: text labels in graph.

Edited by UlfW, 16 December 2018 - 20:39.

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#2 Andy Perrin

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 19:59

Wow, that looks better than the 35mm results even? Am I reading the graph correctly?

Pretty choice of test flower.

#3 UlfW

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 20:20

Yes Andy, you are reading the graph correctly.
Transmission-wise they are all better than or equal to the 35mm Noflexar.
The T-Noflexar 400mm is slightly sharper the the Noflexar 400mm achromat.

The test flower is a phalaenopsis with deep wine-red fields, grey in UV and white patterns, bluish in UV, above.

Edited by UlfW, 16 December 2018 - 20:25.

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#4 nfoto

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 22:24

Interesting documentation on the UV capabilities of these vintage, long lenses.

Many moons since I used a Novoflex 400/5.6, by the way. To get anything close one needs adding a lot of extension to it.

#5 Cadmium

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 00:37

Indeed, nice results and tests!
I see the 400mm and 600mm, on eBay, but there seem to be several different looking versions.
What do your lenses look like? Any pics?

#6 OlDoinyo

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 02:23

The Schnellschuß lens was a popular rental item in the 1970s--I remember my parents' renting one for a foreign trip for bird photography because they did not own any long telephotos. The bandpass information here is striking if true; not many optics in this range have thin enough glass to pull this off. The Makowsky 500 does it by having just mirrors and no glass, but these are refractors.

#7 UlfW

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 05:24

View Postnfoto, on 16 December 2018 - 22:24, said:

Interesting documentation on the UV capabilities of these vintage, long lenses. Many moons since I used a Novoflex 400/5.6, by the way. To get anything close one needs adding a lot of extension to it.
The very long physical length of lens and camera with the main masses in the ends works stabilising just as a line dancer's balance pole.
That improves the hand-holdability a bit for VIS-images.
The full extended length of the 600mm set with shade and camera is around 70cm!
The 400mm-set is just around half a meter long.

The standard focussing bellows accessory or the built in extension tube for the later C- and D-versions let you come reasonably close.
There was a short fixed extension tube, to be used with the Schnellshuß focussing grip if no close-up capability was needed.
However the lens tube I used here is a fixed tube without any pistol focussing grip. It must be paired with a bellows-unit for focussing.

The images above are only cropped by the APS-C sensor.
I was ca 2.5m from the flower for the 400mm shot without any extension except the original focussing bellows.

This is a quick screen-shot from my Raw viewer of a detail in focus in the second image. (100%):

Attached Image: Screen Shot 2018-12-17 at 06.27.18.png
(T-Noflexar 400mm)

Just white balance, no noise-reduction or any other processing.
The focus depth is really shallow due to that the front lens element is close to Ø74mm.
Yes there are a few hot pixels and my camera sensor is a bit noisy at ISO1000. :(

Edited by UlfW, 01 January 2019 - 09:05.

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#8 UlfW

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 05:45

View PostCadmium, on 17 December 2018 - 00:37, said:

What do your lenses look like? Any pics?
Will come back with pictures of the lenses and more information within some days.
It is a bit busy now before the holidays

Edited by UlfW, 17 December 2018 - 05:45.

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#9 UlfW

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 07:01

View PostOlDoinyo, on 17 December 2018 - 02:23, said:

The bandpass information here is striking if true; not many optics in this range have thin enough glass to pull this off. The Makowsky 500 does it by having just mirrors and no glass, but these are refractors.

I am quite confident that the transmission information I posted is true.
There might not be a need for thick glass in lenses with such a long focal length as the surfaces are rather flat.
Possibly the types of glass used also have a reasonably good UV-cutoff behaviour.
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#10 nfoto

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Posted 18 December 2018 - 06:04

Plus, these lenses are true long focal designs, not telephotos.

#11 UlfW

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 14:23

View PostCadmium, on 17 December 2018 - 00:37, said:

What do your lenses look like? Any pics?

The oldest one, the Fernobjektiv, 40cm, from ca 1954, came together with a bellows unit and a 135mm bellows macro lens:
Attached Image: _MG_3851 fern w1200.jpg
The bellows has a lower focussing deck. It is nice for macro focussing, with a bellows macro lens.
The connection between Bellows and Lens-tube is a M39x1 thread mount.

On the camera side the connection to the belows is for a strange Wrayflex camera with an odd thread-mount: 41.2mm OD thread at 26TPI.
By covering the Wrayflex-thread with some thin tape, it became big enough and made it possible to firmly add a short M42 extension tube, some step rings and camera mount.

Wrayflex has an interesting history: http://www.novacon.c...as/wrayflex.htm


A bit more modern lens tube, ( pre.1965? ) equipped with the achromats, 400mm f/5,6 (top) and 600mm f/8, (bottom):
Attached Image: _MG_3846 40 & 60cm w1200.jpg

Focussing-bellows on the tube with the 600mm lens head is fully extended to show the monster length of the contraption.
For good mechanical stability it is a good idea to support the lens with a second tripod by the camera or lens shade.
The camera is rotated to a portrait position, click-stopped by the bellows to camera adapter ring interface.

The connection between bellows and lens-tube is M39x1
The connection between camera and bellows is done with an exchangeable bayonet-mounted adapter ring.
There are adapter rings for most major camera mounts.
The rings are handling the back flange distances of the different camera types.


The mechanically bigger T-Noflexar 400mm triplet lens-head, mounted on a rather early Schnellschuß focussing pistol-shaped lens-tube:
Attached Image: _MG_3857 400pist w1200.jpg

This Schnellschuß, (type B?), connects to the focussing bellows with a special Novoflex bayonet-locking. I have not yet been able to separate them.


The two first lens tubes reach infinity in UV with some margin on my Canon EOS.
I have not been able to verify if it is possible to reach infinity in UV with the Schnellschuß B-type yet.

Edit - grammar and format.

Edited by UlfW, 31 December 2018 - 14:20.

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#12 Andy Perrin

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 17:16

...well that will make you popular with airport security!

#13 dabateman

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 23:46

For airport make sure you only use the pistol grip.
That should make you really popular ;p

#14 nfoto

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 11:29

Apparently there is an old Novoflex 40 cm f/5.6 on its way over here. Would be interesting to compare it against other long focal lengths available to me for landscape type UV.

#15 UlfW

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 12:27

View Postnfoto, on 27 December 2018 - 11:29, said:

Apparently there is an old Novoflex 40 cm f/5.6 on its way over here. Would be interesting to compare it against other long focal lengths available to me for landscape type UV.
I am looking forward to hearing about your results.
What version is it you will get?

It seams like the lens heads has not changed much optically over the years for different models.

I also have a T-Noflexar 400/5.6, fitting the latest Schnellshuß type-D focussing grip that I think give a similar transmission as the older one I tested above.
The lens heads for Type-D are not mechanically compatible to older focussing grips. Type-A to type-C have the same thread mount of the lens-heads.
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#16 UlfW

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 13:05

The lens-tube I prefer is quite modular:
Attached Image: _MG_3887 sep 1200w.jpg
From left to right: Focussing belows, Tube-module with 1/4" mounting hole and added Arca-plate, Aperture-module, Lens-Head, Shade

The three lens heads has the same type of thread matching the thead on the front of the aperture-module:
Attached Image: _MG_3889 400,T400 600 split.jpg
The 600mm lens head, at bottom left, consist of two separable parts.
Bellows rear end, Tube module with Baader U, inside view of the aperture module
Attached Image: _MG_3892 Baader unimount.jpg
The universal bayonet mount for camera adapter rings was introduced rather early and have never changed.
It is used on the latest Model-D focussing grips too.

For the tests I putty-mounted a fittig step ring in the tube-module, against the diameter-step shoulder, just behind the 1/4" mount.
That gave me a m52 thread for mounting my Baader U.

The aperture has 24 blades. The opening is always almost circular.

Edited by UlfW, 31 December 2018 - 14:22.

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#17 nfoto

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 18:31

View PostUlfW, on 27 December 2018 - 12:27, said:

I am looking forward to hearing about your results. What version is it you will get? It seams like the lens heads has not changed much optically over the years for different models....

This is apparently a late '50s or early '60s version as the lens is engraved 40 cm not 400mm. Last time I used one of these must be in '68 or '69 :D

#18 Cadmium

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 19:18

Ulf, Thanks for the lens photos! :-)

#19 UlfW

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 07:02

View Postnfoto, on 27 December 2018 - 18:31, said:

This is apparently a late '50s or early '60s version as the lens is engraved 40 cm not 400mm. Last time I used one of these must be in '68 or '69 :D
OK, then it might even be like the Fernobjektiv lens-head I measured above.
It too is marked 40cm.

I made some preliminary UV-image tests in october, when the lens just had arrived.
This is a 100% crop of a a picture showing a cell-phone base-station, situated on a roof-top, 135 meters away:
Attached Image: _MG_0665.jpg
1.6s, f/11
Likely the air turbulence gave sharpness-variations between different images with the same settings. This one was the sharpest.
At f/16 and beyond the images were more blurry due to the longer exposure times.

Edit: Corrected distance.

Edited by UlfW, 28 December 2018 - 12:28.

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#20 UlfW

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 13:20

A second UV-test image with the 40cm Fernobjektiv:
Attached Image: _MG_0677 1200w.jpg
5.0s, f/11, ISO200, Baader U, Canon EOS 60D

It is interesting to see the increasing haze and colour-change, changing with increasing distance.
I used the distance measurement tool in Google Maps to get the distance data correct, within a few meters.
It is a coincidence that they are close to multiples of 100m.

The white horizontal safety rail at the rooftop in the foreground is ca 100m away.

The building in the center, 500m away, was the main building of a farm, then outside Malmö, built in the late 19th century.
Ca 1925 it became a refuge home for unfortunate single mothers and their children. It was run by a local priest.
Later the farm area was turned into small plots, sometimes with tiny cottages.
Plots and gardens was rented by town people and used as summer houses and/or for growing vegetables and fruit.
The area is still active in that form and the old farm house can be rented for finer parties.

The building in the top right corner, 1000m away, was built 1958. I lived there with my parents, my first nine years. :)
A 100% crop, (with increased contrast), show reasonable sharpness in the corner, even if the focus is set at the farm house in the center, in the image above.
Attached Image: 49B gavel.jpg
In the image at the top left at the edge of the building, show the light refracted by air turbulence and different air temperature.
The edge of the brick wall is indeed straight.

Edited by UlfW, 31 December 2018 - 14:25.

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