View Poll Results: Should a person polish his old brass lenses?

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  • Yes

    4 16.67%
  • No

    20 83.33%
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Thread: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

  1. #1
    Cameron Cornell
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    Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    I almost posted this question on Kent's message about the Derogy he has that was polished on the inside (!) as well as the outside, but I don't want to hijack his thread.

    What do you think? I have this nice brass lens (a Wollensak Vitax No. 2 that I was asking about in another thread) that has a patina that is pretty even. My impulse is just to leave it alone. But I am also (as a former tall ship deckhand on the Exy Johnson) a sucker for polished brass, and a part of me really wants to break out the Brasso.

    I know how long it takes for a new patina to form on a boat (not long). This is the first un-lacquered brass lens I've owned. How long for a patina to reform on a lens that will be used in the studio and the field? Does anyone want to weigh in with their own opinions about whether or not these old lenses should be polished?

  2. #2

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    Re: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    I started to polish an old Petzval, but I had found the surface had MANY layers of old fingerprints etched into the brass as I polished, when I suddenly stopped, as I realized that these were from someone who had used this lens a great deal, and that these were part of the "character" and "soul" of this particular lens, so I felt it should stay on that lens...

    Too much polish will just renew the old lens, removing it's history of age...

    But some finishes in poor shape need to be renewed, so I think the decision should be made on a case by case basis...

    Steve K

  3. #3

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    Re: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    Dear God no, don't polish it. Over restoration is a crime.

  4. #4
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    I have, purely by luck, a Voightlander Euryscop #7 that appears to have never, or rarely been used. I simply wiped it with it a cleaner that our university uses for brass door handles. When I showed it here the first comment was from one of our esteemed contributors who said, "of course it has been polished" and to this day I don't know what he meant but it hangs in the air as being negative. It has not been polished.

    So, there may be the rare brass lens that needs little attention. It is up to you.
    .

  5. #5
    Cameron Cornell
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    Re: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    This is the lens in question. As I said, my first instinct says leave it alone. So far none of you fellows seem to be contradicting that.

  6. #6
    Cameron Cornell
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    Re: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    The flange is original, but it was definitely polished at some point in the past year or two, as it is free of patina and the lighter color of polished brass. Therefore, the lens will not match the color of the flange if I do not polish it, but I don't see that that really matters.

  7. #7
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    Most old brass lenses should show evidence of use, such as having fingerprints embedded in the brass, plus ordinary atmospheric dulling. It is reality. Another sign of use is scratches by the Waterhouse stop from inserting.

    However, there were likely (and in my experience) some early photographers who were obsessive concerning the condition of their gear. Why should it not be true then when it is common today?

    My Voigtlander Euroscop #7 was in a drawer, wrapped in linen, which to me was an indication that the photographer put it aside as special, and never used.
    .

  8. #8

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    Re: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    But on the plus side to polishing, brass will start to patina again a few months later if the polish is thin or removed, but YOUR fingerprints will start to remain, so consider that...

    Light cleaning on yours shouldn't hurt it...

    Steve K

  9. #9

    Join Date
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    Re: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    Looks good, as-is I'd say.

  10. #10
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    Is this to use a lens as a prop?

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