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Thread: 1907 Voigtlander Heliar 4.5/360mm

  1. #1
    Cameron Cornell
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    1907 Voigtlander Heliar 4.5/360mm

    October 27, 2016

    Greetings,

    I shoot portraits on a 1944 8x10 Ansco Studio No. 5 that uses 9" lens boards. I've just bought and am awaiting delivery of a Voigtlander Heliar 4.5/360mm. The lens is apparently in excellent condition with no cleaning marks, separation, haze, fungus, or scratches. The cosmetic condition is also excellent. Zbyszek Marczewski in Chicago is making a new lens board for me and Reno Farinelli at the Packard Shutter Company in Fiddletown, CA is building a new 4" No. 6 shutter that I'll attach to the back of the lens board.

    My inquiry on this forum is whether anyone has experience shooting the original 1900 patent Voigtlander Heliars. I've read the history, and I am aware that a second patent was secured in 1902 that changed the lens from a symmetrical to an asymmetrical design. But in spite of the fact that my lens is Serial No. 97993, which dates it right at the very end of 1907, The D.R.P. (German Patent Number) is 124934, which is the original 1900 patent. That leads me to believe that the lens I have purchased is the symmetrical design from the original patent.

    I have read that the asymmetrical design was considered an improvement over the original design because it reduced the coma and Petzval sum. That's fine, but I'd love to hear from those of you out there who have actually made photographs with a D.R.P. 124934 Voigtlander Heliar who could tell me what qualities they found in them. It would also be great to see some images. I'd be happy to read any other thoughts you would like to share on the early Voigtlander Heliars.

    I've read this forum for a while, but I just joined and this is my first post. I'm glad to be here.

    Cameron Cornell
    www.analogportraiture.com

  2. #2

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    Re: 1907 Voigtlander Heliar 4.5/360mm

    Had both. Can't tell the difference.
    welcome
    Bill
    "There are a great many things I am in doubt about at the moment, and I should consider myself favoured if you would kindly enlighten me. Signed, Doubtful, off to Canada." (BJP 1914).

  3. #3

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    Re: 1907 Voigtlander Heliar 4.5/360mm

    I have the same setup, but with a 30s vintage Heliar, so it will be interesting to see what you do. It's not a combination that has appealed to me much after the initial buzz because the lens has a sort of squinchy sharpness that I find irritating, so when I get the time, I will be replacing it with a similar FL Tessar that I bought, and see if that suits me better.

    I find the Heliar hanging off the front of my Ansco to be downright frightening, there being quite a bit of weight hanging out there, far from the center of the standard. It's almost enough to rip the front right off the camera. When the fear hits you, I'll show you how I deal with it, but not for a month or so until my studio, which currently moving, is back out of storage..

  4. #4

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    Re: 1907 Voigtlander Heliar 4.5/360mm

    Just realized you use the studio camera---I have the view. Well, it won't be too much weight for you, then!

  5. #5
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: 1907 Voigtlander Heliar 4.5/360mm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cameron Cornell View Post
    I have read that the asymmetrical design was considered an improvement over the original design because it reduced the coma and Petzval sum...[/url]
    Bear in mind that "improvement" is a very subjective term. If "improvement" is what we all wanted, vintage lenses would be worthless and we'd all be craving the most modern multi-coated Stepford lenses. The beauty of the old lenses is in the imperfections.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  6. #6

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    Re: 1907 Voigtlander Heliar 4.5/360mm

    I think the OP is mixing up the later gradual conversation of the Heliar construction to the Dynar optical design. The real Dynar came around 1905, but the Heliar was unchanged until much later. The F3.5 Heliar series was introduced in the 1920's with the "Dynar" layout. And the Universal Heliar remained as a "proper" Heliar throughout it's production.

    The use of DRP patent numbers can be confusing in some cases as they were often used on derived designs that were somewhat different that the original patent. This is best illustrated by the original patent used for the Zeiss anstigmatic which appeared on many protar designs.

    I currently have a 360mm no. 99910 and had another 9xxxx a few years ago. They sold extremely well as they gave a image which was different from the old Petzvals that Studios were still using as their mainstream lens.

    Voigtlander were very late in entering the anstigmatic era and knew it! They licensed both the Zeiss Protar series and the TT&H Cooke triplet in the 1890's before developing the Heliar/Dynar from the Cooke triplet.

  7. #7

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    Re: 1907 Voigtlander Heliar 4.5/360mm

    have to check how old mine is - but I love to use it...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 360.jpg   360-2.jpg  

  8. #8
    Cameron Cornell
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    Re: 1907 Voigtlander Heliar 4.5/360mm

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sawyer View Post
    Bear in mind that "improvement" is a very subjective term. If "improvement" is what we all wanted, vintage lenses would be worthless and we'd all be craving the most modern multi-coated Stepford lenses. The beauty of the old lenses is in the imperfections.
    Mark, I agree- improvement is a subjective measurement. It was Kingslake who stated unequivocally in his history that the second design patent for an asymmetrical layout was an improvement. I'd just like to see how that plays out in the actual images. That's why I'd love to see examples of images made with the 1900 patent Voigtlander Heliars versus the 1902 patent and later asymmetrical Voigtlander Heliars, or hear from people who have shot both types. Another fellow here said that he has used both and can't see any difference. Maybe that's the final answer. In any case, I'm looking forward to using this lens when it comes.

    Cameron Cornell
    www.analogportraiture.com

  9. #9
    Cameron Cornell
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    Re: 1907 Voigtlander Heliar 4.5/360mm

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Tribe View Post
    I think the OP is mixing up the later gradual conversation of the Heliar construction to the Dynar optical design. The real Dynar came around 1905, but the Heliar was unchanged until much later. The F3.5 Heliar series was introduced in the 1920's with the "Dynar" layout. And the Universal Heliar remained as a "proper" Heliar throughout it's production.

    The use of DRP patent numbers can be confusing in some cases as they were often used on derived designs that were somewhat different that the original patent. This is best illustrated by the original patent used for the Zeiss anstigmatic which appeared on many protar designs.

    I currently have a 360mm no. 99910 and had another 9xxxx a few years ago. They sold extremely well as they gave a image which was different from the old Petzvals that Studios were still using as their mainstream lens.

    Voigtlander were very late in entering the anstigmatic era and knew it! They licensed both the Zeiss Protar series and the TT&H Cooke triplet in the 1890's before developing the Heliar/Dynar from the Cooke triplet.
    Here is a quote from Antique & Classic Cameras:
    "In 1902, Harting filed another patent for an updated of the Heliar lens. This version Heliar, as shown below, is no longer symmetrical in design. According to Rudolph Kingslake's "History of the Photographic Lens," the reason for the update may have been that the first version suffered from excessive astigmatism and a large Petzval Sum (curvature of field). Others mention that coma was also quite pronounced in this design."

    This and a reading of Kingslake is where I gather that there was an original (1900) symmetrical layout and a later (1902 patent) asymmetrical layout. The Dynar patent came in 1903, one year after the redesign of the original Heliar.

    Kingslake includes the D.R.P. German Patent #'s, and the lens I bought that is en route from Germany has the D.R.P. of the original 1900 patent. Do you think that the D.R.P. Number doesn't necessarily indicate the layout used for a particular lens? Your No. 99910 is really close to my No. 97993. Have you determined what the layout was used in your lens? Would you be willing to share some images that you've made with your lens? I really appreciate your input.

    Below are a couple of images of the lens I purchased.

    Cameron Cornell
    www.analogportraiture.com

    Click image for larger version. 

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  10. #10

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    Re: 1907 Voigtlander Heliar 4.5/360mm

    Here is mine. It is completely identical to yours.

    There is no sign of your earlier Heliar in the Prochnow book. I have checked Hasselblads (Yes they started as retail outlet in Gothenburg) 1905 catalogue and they have our version for sale. I have seen a brass version (instead of our brittle aluminium), perhaps with a different iris position, but didn't notice the serial number.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails image.jpeg  

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