Steve Cushing Impresionist Fine Art Photography

Steve Cushing Impresionist Fine Art Photography

Embracing imperfection, recording emotions, one impression at a time…

Rayxar e50 f0.75 De Oude Delft

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The Lens details of a series of images taken by Steve Cushing on a mirrorless camera.

I suppose some folks would say maybe I should not be tinkering with projection lenses that aren’t designed for photography so I can put them onto my digital camera. But I am a creative person who loves the unusual and playing with imperfections so I can't stop just with projection lenses. I need to try to take pictures with everything else that contains glass! This irresistible desire was the perfect starting point to play with X-ray optics. So after the "projection lenses", next to play with a few x-ray lenses! Originally these lenses were very, very expensive (on eBay at about $ 250,000) but now you can pick them up for a couple of hundred dollars.


Old Delft or Oudelft was an optical company in the Netherlands and was founded in 1939 as NV Van Leer's Optische Industrie by Oscar van Leer , who was a son of Bernard van Leer . The company was initially located at the Oude Delft in Delft as an optical and precision mechanical factory. Soon afterwards Professor Dr. Albert Bouwers joined the company and the name was changed to "Optische Industrie De Oude Delft”.

Oudelft's logo included two semicircular arcs. These symbolized the arch of a bridge over the Oude Delft and its reflection in the water.

The "Oude Delft" produced optical and related fine mechanical products for the photographic, medical and military markets. The Oude Delft line of lenses were highly respected though not so well known as other after market lenses.

Soon after its foundation in 1939, the Netherlands was occupied by the Nazi regime and the companies that the Van Leers owned were taken from them because they were of Jewish descent. Because the owner was Jewish the company was in danger of being liquidated. They were to keep the company, but the Jewish workers were arrested. When nothing more could be done, they made kaleidoscopes , a children's toy consisting of cardboard and a few mirrors.
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Philips employee and inventor Albert Bouwers had just developed a system for optical X-ray monitor photography and he was put in charge of the company, which was given the name: NV Optische Industrie "De Oude Delft" . Also Frits Philips has mediated in this matter. He also became a supervisory director of the new company. Oscar van Leer was given the rights to sell the system in the United States. The activities were expanded and medical, defence and industrial products were developed. A division of work area between the Oude Delft and Philips continued to exist. From then on, Philips bought its optical supplies from De Oude Delft.

After the liberation, protracted and complicated negotiations were conducted to review relations with Philips, which succeeded in 1947. The Recovery Bank became one of the financiers and the well-known physicist Ralph Kronig joined the Supervisory Board, while Frits Philips stepped down. A new building was built on the Oostsingel in Delft and in 1948 the first hall was put into use. However, a few loss-making years follow, marked by numerous internal quarrels. After some reorganizations things got better again. The product range now consisted of X-ray cameras, night vision goggles , scanning stereoscopes for the study of stereographic aerial photographsPhilips film projector lenses, camera lenses, school microscopes, and Cinemascope widescreen projection systems . There was also defining , a process to provide lenses with an anti-reflective layer.

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Lens polishing in the Delft factory after the war.

The company was more recently mixed up in a controversy, because their night vision goggles were supplied to and used by Iran during Saddam Hoessein's reign in 1981. In 1990 they fused with Enraf-Nonius to form Delft Instruments.

This Aude Delft Lens

You will not have an easy time to track down this lens, as it’s basically not designed for photographers, so most places show either no or incorrect information about it. In the Allphotolenses' database, for example, it is given a straightforward "large format" flag, which could not be further from reality, as it only draws a much smaller photosensitive surface than APS-C in its basic state. An article about it was published in Petapixel in 2014, but a clear sign of the "deep" "professionalism" of the page is that they didn't particularly follow the subject and took only a few contrast-free, very close-up shots leading to comments that a lens baby is cheaper and better quality.

So we need to make quite a few modifications to be able to use the lens.

Read this about "equivalence" aperture as I estimate this lens to be f0.95 on a 35mm camera. Click Here

The optics of this lens has a total of 8 elements in 5 groups. Built for digital x ray machines some years ago.

The lens does have a screw focusing mechanism, but, its housing is very wide The biggest problem however is that you'll soon realise you can't focus more than 1-2 inches. The problem escalates further if you put it in front of a mirrorless machine, because you will notice that you are far from reaching infinity.

The reason you have a hard time focusing indefinitely is simple: the rear lens element must be less than 1mm away from the sensor / film . At this point, you may feel for a moment that this is why it was written on the net that this lens is really “useless” for the sublime artistic purposes of photography.

So what did I do.

I took off the rear elements and threw them away (well stored them for future use in my future use optics box). Next I made an extra plastic ring on the back of the optics housing that was able to accommodate and hold in place the rear lens section of an SMC Takumar 1.8 / 55. I could rightly expect it to boost a bit in the performance of the optics and Voilà I have a fully working lens!

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Lens In Use

The great news is that when modified it covers full frame without any vignetting!

For creative reasons! To wallow in creamy, soft, millimetre-thin Bokeh. To creatively isolate an image detail. To make backgrounds and foregrounds vanish into dreamy hazes of colour.

These characteristics can be further emphasised by making deliberate use of the exposure: a moderate overexposure will give a slight glare effect with softly gleaming out of focus areas. A slight underexposure will give you razor sharp in-focus details and perfectly round out of focus highlights.

Will be completed once images have been uploaded


Lens behavior in two words: weird and unpredictable . On the one hand, it can take very nice sharp and high-contrast images (especially towards its close-up point), and on the other hand, it tends to lose contrast and, for more distant purposes, a much weaker design.

For general information on lens design and lens elements go to the homepage HERE


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