View Full Version : Emil Busch Petzval Lens Info

anton orlov
14-Jun-2017, 02:07

I'd like to ask if anyone has any info (or knows of a place online where some is tucked away) on Emil Busch lenses. In particular I'm looking for info on larger than average Pezvals, but of course any catalogs are always educational. The only thing I found is the 1904 lens adds on Antique Cameras site - http://antiquecameras.net/petzvallens.html However, largest one I see in Petzval designs there is a Seris I 12.5in FL, which is just over 3in glass diameter... I know I've seen these lenses much larger before, so how does one go about researching them?

Thank you.

Steven Tribe
14-Jun-2017, 10:33
Not a lot of help from me. But Lens VM notes the three series , I, II and III - all of which I have seen in the last ten years.
I have also seen the earlier Petzvals marked as Preussen (Before German unification) but only at auctions. Lens VM says they were specialists in the bigger sizes - up to 10" in glass diameter!

series I F4 to 4.5 max size 12.25"

series II F3.5 to 4 max size 11"

series III 3 to 3.5 max size 10"

This range suggests they were using identical brass barrels for all the series! Looking through the Busch entry in lens VM, I would give credence to most of what is written there.

I am sure that Westlicht or Breker have sold these bigger Petzvals, so a search perhaps? They are not very good at giving focal lengths or glass diameter, though. Early Busch lens ( and just about everyone else )have very little specification data engraved.

There is this one, which at bit longer in focal length. Note it has the soft adjustment as used on the Darlot Universal,


anton orlov
11-Jul-2017, 00:45
OMG Steven - you really think it's 10in GLASS Diameter? I think it's focal length.... I mean in a museum in Rathenow there's a 6in glass diameter lens and it's said to be either the only one ever made by them or like one of two...

anton orlov
11-Jul-2017, 00:48
Also bummer they apparently didn't put serial numbers on any of their lenses - I mean what gives?...

anton orlov
11-Jul-2017, 00:50
Also in the ads here you can see that that's not glass diameter that was 10in - that was focal length :D http://antiquecameras.net/1904buschlensads.html
A 10in glass f3.5 lens would be 35in long - that would be quite something though...

Steven Tribe
11-Jul-2017, 02:02
VM has mistakes, especialy outside the anglo-saxon "comfort and language zones".

I was about to start a new thread about Busch Petzvals in a few minutes, but this thread suddenly popped up again!

I have now two of the aforementioned series 1 Petzvals. These are from the late 90's or early 00's. No serial numbers - as usual - but one is 21cm (ROIA) and the other is 260mm. Sizes 2 and 4. Busch was still using the Portrait Doppel Objectif engraving which had been given up by others decades ago.

Amyway, the interesting thing is the rack and pinion drive. Unlike all others I have seen with the tangential system, these have the rack gears cut at an angle. I have seen these oblique cut racks on many German cameras, both reisekameras and Gorlitzer type studio cameras. Sometimes the pair of tracks on the two sides of the camera are oblique at the same angæe - but they can also be mirror images.

My logic tells me that oblique cut tracks will provide less starting friction and easier movement. Certainly, the movement on these two Bush Petzvals is far better than anything I have had before!

photos are reisekamera, two Busch Petzvals

anton orlov
11-Jul-2017, 09:59
Oh, so THAT'S what lens my extra pinion is from. :)
The only other lens I've seen that does that is Zeiss Tele-Tubus. My guess id that angle cuts are more precise and also don't slip at all.

The Busch Petzval I have is a 20in or so f5 - I still need to test it, but that' my guess based on the fact that it's set in a Wollensak Studio shutter (a very early version with brass finish) and shutter is marked to f5 while the glass on the lens is 4in across. So I'm thinking it may still have been considered a series 1 but would have been a custom order... It doesn't have an R&P mechanism, but what it does have is a radial lock like the one you previously linked to. I am no sure if that system, which allows you to pull the front lenses out away from the rear, was meant as SF or was it meant to help correct aberration at various focusing distances.

Steven Tribe
11-Jul-2017, 10:32
The Darlot Universal has the same pull and lock system - but with only 7mm of expansion. The english language guide I have says:

- with the portrait combination, the adjustment of the barrel length controls the "flou".

anton orlov
11-Jul-2017, 11:36
On the Busch I have that extension is like 3in at least. I'm gonna mess around with it once I get the studio set up and can actually play with the 11x14 Century that's been awaiting in the wings....

11-Jul-2017, 14:24
as far as i know the biggest Busch lens (petzval) is the 10 Zoll Mammoth which had a front glass diameter of 275mm and a focal lenght of 860mm. probably at least 2 of those were built. so i guess there were more inbetween, which didnt belong to any series (like there are many Voigtländer lenses which didnt belong to any series). they were made for special customers or showcased (like the mammoth lens).

@steven: the lens you described can be found in D'Agostinis book as the Busch convertible lens.

there is also this thing ghosting on ebay for a long time now, Emil Busch Ratenow, Preussen (so before war):


seems to me like at least a 20" Fl petzval. the design is rather interesting and something i have never seen before. to sad its completly overprized to just take a look there..

Steven Tribe
11-Jul-2017, 16:03
yes, i have watching that one for years, I think!

it was a time of international exhibitions. Everyone was trying to repeat the original PRince Albert exhibition of 1851 in London. And makers made "exhibition" size lenses!

anton orlov
11-Jul-2017, 20:02
Wow - I think the one in the eBay link above there is going to be either longer than 20in or 20in but faster than mine (assuming of course that my assumption that f5 marking on my shutter and 4in glass means mine's 20in LF is correct)

Here's my baby - fully extended it's almost 15in long - the extension section is just about 3in.

Good point about the larger ones not being part of the catalog. I wonder if this was also a custom job.

anton orlov
11-Jul-2017, 20:03
Ok, so maybe there the section is 2.5in or so, but it extends a little longer - totally looking forward to seeing what it does.

12-Jul-2017, 00:10
i think its rather faster, guessing from the proportions (lenght/width).

nice specimen you have there anton. wonder how such a big busch lenses ended up in the US, but in the end most of those big 'guns' can tell an interesting story by now...

Steven Tribe
12-Jul-2017, 00:54
Surely the F scale on the (early) Studio Shutter is just a standard which came ex-factory ready for the big American lenses it was designed for?

I don't remember seeing the SS mounted in a french or german lens before.

The separation which is possible is because it is a copy of the the French Derogy and Hermagis Convertible. The locking screws are an easier solution to the rather complex internal barrel screw of the Hermagis.

As someone has already pointed, it is included in last section of Corrado's "French lenses" book. Pages 359-60.

12-Jul-2017, 01:19
its german steven, but i think youre right there. i dont think the studio shutter belongs to this lens. probably was mounted on it later...

Steven Tribe
12-Jul-2017, 03:54
First of all, I didn't react to your comment about Corrado's mention of the Convertible because it was actually Anton's lens you were thinking about - not mine - which are straightforward Petzvals.

Anton's is not the same as the under-described ebay monster, as that one has 2 alternative mounting threads around the barrel, whilst Anton has just the flange fitting thread on the hood.

Anton's is also a generation later as the engraving has the longer "Insititut" ROJA engraving which was only used at the turn of the century.

12-Jul-2017, 08:04
there must have been some confusion. i didnt say the lens on ebay has anything to do with antons lens. it was just an example for a Busch petzval which didnt belong to any of the series mentioned in the books, nothing more and nothing less.

would love to test both, but one is in the US in antons hands and the other will have a sad live on ebay for the next decades...

anton orlov
14-Jul-2017, 00:18
Thanks for keeping the thread going guys!

Steven - great info in that book. So it reads to me as if the sliding part is not really meant to adjust focus imperfections of change focal length of the whole combination, but just to remove that front combo as to use it for landscapes? I'm wondering then why the sliding brass section behind the front lens is so long (like 3.5in at least in mine). Couldn't they have gotten away with putting the lock farther up and having a shorter collar slide in? Hmm...

As for the Studio shutter. The later turn of the century inscription places it around the same time as the shutter was made, right? And didn't Studio shutters went to black pretty quickly? And weren't a lot of those (and other shutters) made rather custom for various lenses and thus engraved with proper largest aperture? I mean I only have two other lenses with them on and neither are rare lenses (Verito and Vitax), but on those it's marked correctly... I may be digging too hard, but I'm still hopeful that it was a custom job and is properly marked.

Shucks - now I really want to test that baby... Just need to Dremel out a large enough hole... More to come!

Steven Tribe
14-Jul-2017, 01:53
3.5" sounds about right!

I have both a Hermagis and the Auzaux et Francais double enders and their 1/2 barrel are over 4" - but they are somewhat larger than yours.

14-Jul-2017, 16:50

Saw it on Facebook

Steven Tribe
15-Jul-2017, 00:26
A lovely use of Google to find original correspondence from someone who actually visited the Exhibition where the 10" Petzval was on display!

15-Jul-2017, 11:32
This one, really big, at the Deutsches Museum...

http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/1024x768q90/923/udXUIn.jpg (https://imageshack.com/i/pnudXUInj)

http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/1024x768q90/923/CYpzxU.jpg (https://imageshack.com/i/pnCYpzxUj)

An original catalog from 1859.

http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/1024x768q90/922/wCFhpP.jpg (https://imageshack.com/i/pmwCFhpPj)

Steven Tribe
15-Jul-2017, 15:01
Obviously, Prussia had problems with making the join correctly in big dimension brass tubing.

Any confirmation of the meaning of '' and ''' shorthand in Prussian Imperial Measurements?

I note they confirm the Petzval modification - " now with no focus difference ".

anton orlov
15-Jul-2017, 15:12
OK, so I put my lens on a camera today. Indeed it is 20in FL (at infinity from aperture point) and so the f5 mark on that Studio shutter is correct.

One surprise to me was that moving the lenses apart makes the focal length SHORTER rather than longer, which is what I was expecting. I moved the front lens out by about 3in and the focal length became 19in, so not much change.

The lens is nutty sharp, so I'm stoked.

Anachrmoatic - thanks so much for that brochure listing, but indeed - what does ''' indicate? That's not inches is it? Mine's still not in there - I mean my glass is 10cm (maybe 10.5) and FL of 20in is 50cm...

15-Jul-2017, 16:18
OK, so I put my lens on a camera today. Indeed it is 20in FL (at infinity from aperture point) and so the f5 mark on that Studio shutter is correct.

One surprise to me was that moving the lenses apart makes the focal length SHORTER rather than longer, which is what I was expecting. I moved the front lens out by about 3in and the focal length became 19in, so not much change.

The lens is nutty sharp, so I'm stoked.

Anachrmoatic - thanks so much for that brochure listing, but indeed - what does ''' indicate? That's not inches is it? Mine's still not in there - I mean my glass is 10cm (maybe 10.5) and FL of 20in is 50cm...

I'm not sure about what does '''indicates, but I'm 100% sure are not inches. It's the usual way to indicate lens aperture in many german catalogs from the 19th. century. I will try to find more info about, but I think are german or austrian "lines". In a similar way that the movement diameter is expressed in the watch industry.

18-Jul-2017, 16:08
I was crossing with other german catalogs and a big Busch lens and I think that the triple apostrophe(''')are old german lines.
One old german "linie" is same than 1/12 inch or 2,116mm.
My lens is marked 60'''(60 linie), and his front glass diameter is around 127mm.
60 linie are 127mm. The focal length from the rear glass(as was common in the 19th century)is around 440mm.
All this data match with the 60'''/17'' lens, that can be seen in this 1862 catalog.

Emil Busch catalog of 1862.
http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/1024x768q90/923/cFIz3A.jpg (https://imageshack.com/i/pncFIz3Aj)

Catalog detail.
http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/1024x768q90/922/SdUTyO.jpg (https://imageshack.com/i/pmSdUTyOj)

Steven Tribe
19-Jul-2017, 03:31
Well done!

I did a bit of research on the linie (''') Some years ago. and found that the linie was slightly different in the various mini nations of Germany. That problem was solved by Bismarck ( and Napoleon!).

The conversion of Anton's lens into old Prussian measurements gives a lens diameter of 48''' which is one of the "standard" lens sizes in the old tables. But it is a lot slower than these series.

anton orlov
3-Mar-2018, 14:18
Fantastic info Anachromatic! Thanks so much! Very much looking forward to soon testing this lens too - fitting a spring back onto the swinging-style Century 11x14 and then it'll be ON!