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View Full Version : ACME Wide Angle: what is it?



Oren Grad
13-Sep-2005, 20:18
I've just acquired a whole-plate Century. It came with an old brass barrel-mount lens that I've not seen before. It's labeled "ACME Wide Angle", and otherwise is identified only with the number 2 and a five-digit serial number. It's equipped with a revolving wheel stop with openings labeled f/11, f/16, f/22, f/32 and f/44. From a quick peek on the ground glass indoors, the focal length appears to be extremely short for the format though, amazingly, on first glance it seems to come pretty close to covering.

Can anyone tell me anything more about this lens?

Mark Sawyer
13-Sep-2005, 21:17
Acme was a name used by Ilex; I have an old Acme #3 shutter with no other manufacturer's markings, and a later shutter marked as an Acme #3 on the top and Ilex Optical Company on the bottom. They're obviously a generation apart, but close kin. Ilex later morphed into Caltar; I have a wonderful 215mm f/4.8 Ilex Acuton, and an identical 215mm Caltar Series S. All are related to Calumet, too. Don't know what that tells you about your lens.

There used to be a number of very short focal length lenses that covered very wide; I have a tiny 125mm (approximate) Neuhring lens in a brass barrel with wheel-stops, and it covers 8x10 nicely. I've seen a few other similar lenses, but don't know what they were originally for, (landscape? interiors?) Please, Oren, cut down some 8x10 film and let that camera and lens record the world once again!

I've also heard that Acme was the lens of choice for Wile E. Coyote...

Oren Grad
13-Sep-2005, 22:22
I'm familiar with Acme shutters - I've got an uncoated postwar 8 1/4 inch Dagor in an Acme #3, and I've used other lenses of comparable vintage in Acme shutters. I do wonder whether this is the same Acme - from the cosmetics, I'd guess that this lens is more like circa 1900, which would make it contemporaneous with the camera itself but 40-50 years older than any Ilex Acme shutter I've ever used. But that's a wild guess - I know very little about lenses of that era.

I doubt the lens was originally supplied with the camera, though - the focal length seems to be so short that I'm not entirely sure I'll be able to compress the bellows enough to focus it at infinity.

Please, Oren, cut down some 8x10 film and let that camera and lens record the world once again!

Truth be told, 6.5x8.5 is my primary focus (no pun intended :-) ) at the moment. I developed a batch of five negatives just the other day, working from my remaining stock of film cut to whole-plate by Photo Warehouse. My working camera right now is an Eastman No. 2, which is a delight to use once it's on the tripod, but which is also a heavy beast for the format. One of the charms of the Century is that it's a featherweight by comparison. The construction is a bit on the dainty side, though, and the rails a bit frayed at one end, so I'll have to think hard about whether it's up to being banged around in the field. I've added a Gundlach Criterion recently as well, which is intermediate in weight between the Eastman and the Century, and I may yet switch to that one.

I've also heard that Acme was the lens of choice for Wile E. Coyote...

It's the truth. Word on the street is that it was mentioned during the discovery phase for this famous legal proceeding:

www.ishkabible.com/coyote.php (http://www.ishkabible.com/coyote.php)