I've been looking through my viewfinder at different subject matter w/this lens since I bought and restored it, a restoration which took about 7 months. The Ser. III is the softest lens I've ever had on a camera, when looking at something illuminated by bright light, and pointing it in certain directions, I wasn't able to make out anything I was looking at but a garish/blown up/blown out mess. There are lighting scenarios where using this lens isn't going to work, and the challenge of using this lens is matching a lighting scheme to this lens where the lens can perform its best.
Over the course of having the lens, I started playing around w/lighting schemes and I gradually started to think of subdued light as the way forward for me and this lens, and while juggling around low light schemes and checking 'em out w/this lens on my Toyo, l began to see whiffs of this lens potential.
The Ser. III is the most extreme example of how lenses like these are really 2 lenses, they're one type of lens giving a soft dreamy rendering w/a lot of pop around the highlights in scenes w/very bright lighting, they become a more subtle type of lens capable of more nuance in more subdued lighting situations w/more subdued highlights.
The lens is very difficult to focus under the best of circumstances, and you really have to fish for where the focus is. Since the lens is so soft you can be looking through the groundglass and not realize you've passed by that 'sweet spot' where there's a sharp image overlaid w/a soft one. The plane of focus is ever so thin, as it was on this shot, where I'm at 4 feet away from the Subject Matter w/a 16 inch lens.
I shot this w/some very old Polaroid 804(8x10 instant) using natural light and a single modeling light from one of my strobes. I went through about 7-8 Polaroids, until coming onto the lighting scheme you see here. Shutter time for this shot was 'one thousand one, one thousand two, and then since the light coming through the windows wouldn't wait, I immediately shot a sheet of both FP4 and Porta 160 color to see what that would look like.
What I believe you can see in this image is the sharp image overlaid with a soft one, particularly on camera right as you look at the edge of the glass globe, either that or I'm seeing things. You tell me.
Focusing this damn thing for the better part of 15 minutes straight before taking this shot gave me a headache, but I think I learned some things about the lens.