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Thread: Petzval type portrait lenses for 4x5 and 8x10

  1. #1

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    Nov 2011
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    Petzval type portrait lenses for 4x5 and 8x10

    I have been seeing images shot with these lenses for quite some time (apparently my whole life, if I really think about it) but have never owned any. I thought that they were only used for older, alternative process work, such as wet plate.

    But I now would like to explore using one or two on my 4x5 and 8x10 cameras. I have only used Rodenstock or Schneider lenses so far, all mounted in Copal shutters. I have no idea how to even get started with this. I ran a couple of searches, but I'm starting to feel a bit overwhelmed.

    How do you even mount these? Can they be put into a copal shutter?

    Any advice for a total newb would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Name: ______William Booth
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    Re: Petzval type portrait lenses for 4x5 and 8x10

    Don't worry! There's a lot of advice coming.

    Quote Originally Posted by mcherry View Post
    I have been seeing images shot with these lenses for quite some time (apparently my whole life, if I really think about it) but have never owned any. I thought that they were only used for older, alternative process work, such as wet plate.
    They are often used for alternative process work, such as wet plate, for both the distinctive look of their images and the fact that they meet the speed requirements of slow emulsions, but they can just as easily be used for film. I am slowly moving toward shooting plates, but for the time being, I am doing all of my work with one of these lenses on film.

    Quote Originally Posted by mcherry View Post
    How do you even mount these? Can they be put into a copal shutter?
    The Petzvals for 4x5 can potentially be put into a shutter (depending on the diameter of the lens elements) by a machinist who specializes in photographic work (like S.K. Grimes), but for the most part, you have to use them with a Packard shutter, guillotine shutter, or just use a hat/darkslide to regulate the exposure. They can easily be mounted onto any lens board if they come with a "mounting flange" as seen in this picture:



    Generally, if you've got wooden lens boards, you screw the flange onto the lens and then mount the flange/lens to the board by drilling pilot holes into the lens board and putting screws into the holes on the flange. If you've got a metal lensboard or anything thin enough, you can also screw the flange onto the back side of the board. I did that for my Crown Graphic that took the metal Pacemaker boards.

    Good luck! There's a lot more information coming, so I didn't really know where to start.

  3. #3

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    Re: Petzval type portrait lenses for 4x5 and 8x10

    Couple of more things - not all petzval lenses are the same regarding their look/appearance. On any given petzval, the amount of "swirleys" will vary from one lens to another. Also, the farther away from the center of your image, the more out of focus/swirley it could/will get. What that means however, is that if you use a larger focal length petzval on your 4 x 5, all the "good stuff" may be off the outside of the image (hope that makes sense). It's probably easier to find petzval lenses to fit your 8 x 10 than your 4 x 5, but the smaller petzval lenses our out there.

    There are lots more guys out there that know more about petzvals than I do so I'm sure that you will be getting much more info.

  4. #4
    Andrew's Avatar
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    Re: Petzval type portrait lenses for 4x5 and 8x10

    there's a few options for mounting...
    most of these would have originally come with a mounting flange and if that's still with the lens you just screw it onto a lens board
    if it's missing the flange you could have one made by a good machinist
    if you can find a universal iris mount [there's a few names for these] you can use it to mount several different lenses
    mostly the lens is in a fine focus collar with an expanded area at the base and you can Gerry-rig several ways of securing the lens utilising that expanded area
    if you can drill out a wooden lens board to the same size as the thread you can just jam it into the board and use some gaff tape to fix it a bit more securely
    adapter to copal 3 or other large shutter
    other...

    the more important question is really how to shutter the lens if you want to use fast emulsions and you can't mount it directly into a larger shutter...
    I've seen:
    speed graphic as shutter :-)
    Packard shutter [front or rear mount]
    sinar shutter
    Galli Shutter
    lens cap [actually works fine for longer exposures and you could possibly slow the exposure by a ND filter?]

    I'm sure this topic will attract a LOT of comment

  5. #5
    Andrew's Avatar
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    Re: Petzval type portrait lenses for 4x5 and 8x10

    this is just one suggestion for mounting a brass lens that's lost its flange...
    cut a snug hole for the lens then have a few screws positioned close to the brass so the shafts don't touch but the heads overlap (and use something like a bit of card as a washer to stop the screw heads marking the lens)
    the picture should explain it, in this case it's an old projection petzval mounted onto a homemade board for a speed graphic
    the mounting is rock solid and doesn't damage the lens if it's done carefully
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails mounting.jpg  

  6. #6

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    Re: Petzval type portrait lenses for 4x5 and 8x10

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew View Post
    this is just one suggestion for mounting a brass lens that's lost its flange...
    cut a snug hole for the lens then have a few screws positioned close to the brass so the shafts don't touch but the heads overlap (and use something like a bit of card as a washer to stop the screw heads marking the lens)
    the picture should explain it, in this case it's an old projection petzval mounted onto a homemade board for a speed graphic
    the mounting is rock solid and doesn't damage the lens if it's done carefully
    I like this a lot. Good idea.
    I usually cut a hole slightly smaller than the flange with an adjustable bit/cutter then just screw the lens into it. I'm not talking metal here, but Luan plywood.

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