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Thread: antique large format lenses

  1. #1

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    antique large format lenses

    I'm going to the UK soon and would like to look for some large format brass lenses for my 5 x 7. Haven't bought any lenses for this format before and I'm not sure what to look for. What makes, diameters etc. should I be on the watch for? I'll be making lens boards for them, if I get any, so I don't have to worry about getting the exact same diameter as my existing lens.

  2. #2

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    Re: antique large format lenses

    Not convinced that a personal visit to the UK would be that useful as far as getting hold of suitable lenses. The days of retail outlets for photographica have gone for ever ( since before 1939!) and there are very few camera fairs (Wolverhampton?) left.

    The 13x18cm format was probably more popular than the 1/2 plate was in the UK, which means there is more choice in France and Germany. Ebay and other auctions (and here, of course!) will be your best friends for accumulation.
    Last edited by Steven Tribe; 30-Aug-2017 at 00:34.

  3. #3

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    Re: antique large format lenses

    I'm going there anyway and this is by the way...and I have some spare time and a new to me camera :-)

  4. #4

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    Re: antique large format lenses

    ok, how do I choose a lens from ebay? I have no idea how to figure out if a lens is large format or large enough format for my camera.

    any guidelines?

  5. #5
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    Re: antique large format lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by altb44 View Post
    ok, how do I choose a lens from ebay? I have no idea how to figure out if a lens is large format or large enough format for my camera.

    any guidelines?

    Focal length is a good rough guide. There weren't all that many wide angle lenses way back in time. A 10 inch focal length or longer will most likely cover 5x7.


    Kent in SD
    Die Gedanken sind Frei

  6. #6

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    Re: antique large format lenses

    Thanks!

  7. #7

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    Re: antique large format lenses

    240mm to 300mm are decent focal length for 5x7

  8. #8

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    Re: antique large format lenses

    This may sound like a dumb question but how do you tell from an ebay listing what the focal length is? The usual thing is that they give the diameter of the lens, and sometimes, rarely, just how long it is.

  9. #9

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    Re: antique large format lenses

    Hmm. Are you looking at lenses made to be used as photographic objectives or at magic lantern lenses?

  10. #10
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    Re: antique large format lenses

    Many sellers on ebay have no clue what they have. Then, you have to look for clues in the photos. Often on the lens it will say, "Covers 5x8" or whatever. On lenses made after ~1920 the focal length usually is printed on the front of the lens around the edge of the glass. If you are talking about lenses from the early to mid 1800s, sometimes the lens will say something like "Extra Rapid No.3". You then have to look that specific lens up and find out what "No.3" covers. Finally, a Petzval's focal length is often about the same as it's physical length (excluding hood.)


    Kent in SD
    Die Gedanken sind Frei

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