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How to make a simple soft-focus lens
A loupe based single element lens

(2nd Edition)

Some time ago I found an interesting article by Mark Tucker. The author claimed to have manufactured the ugliest lens known to man. However, that soft-focus lens could produce very nice pictures. The idea behind that lens is simple. All you have to do is to find a suitable loupe and attach it to your camera.

In Russia, such kind of homemade lenses are quite popular. In this part of the world, single element lenses, also known by the name of monocle, are often used as a pictorealist instrument. Many amateurs and pros often carry a monocle in their photo bags. I also could not resist the temptation.

My lens is not that ugly as Mr. Tucker's. :-) I purchased a 2.5x loupe and attached it to an available lens mounting (see Fig. 1). Then I attached the final product to my 35mm Pentax SLR camera.


1 - 2.5x loupe (+10 diopters) that gives the focal length of 100mm (see the table in Appendix).

2 - M49/M52 adapter ring

3 - Mounting that represents
a Helios-44-2 lens (a cheap Russian lens that can be easily purchased on the second-hand market), from which all the glass elements have been removed. The built-in diaphragm is set wide open.

Fig. 1

In many cases, an external diaphragm may be a useful instrument to create better images. In this particular case, such a thing cannot be attached directly to the lens. You will have to attach it to a lens hood if necessary.

Can one take pictures with such kind of a lens? What images can be produced? Good questions. The following set of photographs gives an answer. No Photoshop tricks have been applied to the pictures.




1. Mark Tucker. The PlungerCam: The Ugliest Camera Known to Man.
2. A lot of professional photos taken with a monocle can be found on George Rozov's website. (The site is in Russian; however that cannot prevent you from viewing pictures.)

Many other interesting resources are available in the Russian language. Please load the Russian version of this page to get the corresponding information.


Magnification, focal lengths, and magnifying power
(f = 250 / K ; D = 4 K)


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