In the past 15 years we've seen Soft Focus lenses gain
exponentially in both value and popularity in parallel
with the digital revolution.  And to most of us, the
Pinkham and Smith lenses are the benchmark that
all of the other players get measured against.


Recently a friend, the man who owns the lens in this
comparison, asked me to recommend a lens for a vision
he wanted to try to capture on film.  I told him about a
lens that happened to be available on E-bay and he
negotiated a price.


The lens is a Pinkham & Smith Semi-Achromatic Series I
 No. 3 lens. Holy grail stuff, and not cheap, even though
it is missing it's original aperture mechanism.  What's left
is the lens itself and the engraved barrel between the glass
and where the aperture originally was.


When the lens arrived he had some well founded concerns.
The glass was loose.  The retainer that holds the glass in
was stuck and even appeared as though it might have
been glued.  And to his eye he thought he was perhaps
seeing a bluish cast as if it had been coated some time.
Also he was concerned that the focal length seemed way
short in comparison to what the catalog said for a S1 no. 3


I immediately advised him of a couple of options.  1st,
was to see if the seller would allow a qualified 2nd party
opinion (mine), and if we felt it wasn't real refund options.
2nd, if the seller wasn't friendly to that, I said, I'd return
it, if it was me.  Simply too much money to be stuck with a
Pinkham barrel with an Edmunds Scientific doublet installed.


The seller was OK with him sending the lens to me for a
qualified inspection and opinion.  So that's what has happened.


Happily, I also own a Series I No. 3 Pinkham, so my plan was
to first check for obvious visual differences, then make some
images with both of the lenses.  Same subject, same conditions
side by side, if you will, and compare results.


I picked up the lens at the Post yesterday and was able to begin
my comparison work.  Things quickly began falling in place,
but not without some quirks.


I discovered that the retainer ring had been cross-threaded and
was able to get that repaired.  Out came the glass.  Then I
removed the glass from my own lens to compare.


First weirdness.  The glasses and the engraving are a dead
ringer ~ Pinkham.  Serial on mine: 1327.  Serial on the other
lens: 1476.  OH! how I wish Pinkham would have kept
good records for us.  My lens is noticeably physically
larger in every way, than the second lens.


My lens is 64mm across the glass, and my friends is 56mm.
Quite a difference.  And the difference in focal length is just
as pronounced.  Mine measures about 13 3/4" focus and my
friends measures 10 1/2" focus.  Quite a range.


But the physical shape of the glass and it's characteristics
convinced me that the 2nd lens is Pinkham of very Pinkham.
It looks just like mine.  But a bit smaller.


BTW you may question the way mine is set up with the Ilex
shutter, but the provenance is that I got it in the box as mailed
from Pinkham & Smith, about 1928, after they did the conversion
for the owner, and it came with the current (1928) Pinkham
price list.


The second lens could quite easily have a shutter mounted to
the front of it's barrel to again provide an aperture, etc.


So, without further ado, here are the 6 images made with
the 2 lenses.  Ready for your comparison, and I'll offer my
conclusions after that.


pic 1; his lens


pic 1; my lens


pic 2; his lens


pic 2; my lens


pic 3; his lens


pic 3; my lens

Conclusion:  Yes, it is a Pinkham Series 1 Semi-Achromatic
lens and the images it produced are just as magic as other
P&S Series I lenses I have used.

I vaguely remember Pinkham offering these lenses is a
semi casket config where a single barrel might be used
for several different focus lengths?  Anyone else remember
where I may have seen that?

So perhaps what we have here is the shorter of the focal
lengths in a "set".  Maybe.  One thing we can conclude for
sure.  P&S was neither married nor constrained by the printed
numbers in his catalog.  A 10 1/2" and a 13 3/4" could both
be a Series I - 3 lens.  Pinch yourself.  There they are.