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Thread: Voigtlander Heliar lens the ones from the late 1800-1900

  1. #1

    Voigtlander Heliar lens the ones from the late 1800-1900

    I take landscapes, night scapes of cities/bldgs, some portraits, some close-up work, flowers, gadgets, etc Eventually will try old school astrophotography

    I am looking at buying one or two of these for my 4x5 (and 8x10 if I start liking portraits and such). From the research I have done, reading on the patents, visiting the Kenneth Lee Gallery website and some others, the images for portraits and other objects appear to be really good. (I am not sure how well it would work for landscapes though) Anyway, from what I can tell unless I am missing something, there is a diaphragm which I really like is it is practically round at any aperture, but not "shutter" so, if I am seeing this correctly, one would have to determine the length of exposure for given aperture, then manually expose the film by using a lens cap or dark cloth to uncover lens for required amount of time then cover back up.

    If I wanted to convert one of these lenses to use an actual shutter to "automate" the exposure portion, what are my options? One of the reasons I want to use this lens and similar types is the absolutely round diaphragm of these lenses. I wish the more modern ones that I use for landscapes had round diaphragms. I wonder if it is possible to convert a modern lens to accept a diaphragm that provides for round apertures.

    Aside from the old Voigtlander Heliar designs, #3A and up, what are other lenses of this era that are comparable or better? The scientific lens company, Bausch and Laumb, Wallensack are some I have run across that for the most part have decent reviews and round diaphragms.

    I saw one guys website where he was selling lenses for like 30K for old school ones and his photos for like 100K plus, so unless those lenses are made of pure gold, etc, I don't think I will be buying those lenses anytime soon, they cost as much as the 2.7 acres of land I am looking at!

    Thanks for any help

  2. #2

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    Re: Voigtlander Heliar lens the ones from the late 1800-1900

    I think the best shutter is the Sinar shutter. It works on the Sinar Norma, F series and P series cameras. Also some modify their cameras to take the Sinar shutter. If you buy a Sinar shutter just make sure you get the Sinar cable release with it. These are hard to find and are expensive on their own.

    Some use Speed Graphic cameras for their focal plane shutters. These are very popular with the Aero Ektar lenses which don't have a shutter.

    There are also the old Packard pneumatic shutters that were used on old wooden 8x10 cameras. They fit behind the front standard like the Sinar shutter. I believe some have fitted these shutters to the front of lenses also.

  3. #3

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    Re: Voigtlander Heliar lens the ones from the late 1800-1900

    If you haven't read Arne Croell's account of Voigtlaender lenses, do. Now. http://www.arnecroell.com/voigtlaender.pdf

    You've described the apertures of Compound and older Compur shutters. They're as round as can be.

    If you want to use a Heliar type with a Waterhouse stop that has a perfectly round aperture, look into Voigtlaender's own Apo-Skopars (Heliar types, name notwithstanding) and Boyer's Apo-Saphir process lenses. But since the Heliar look derives from aberrations that aren't fully corrected near wide open, these f/9 process lenses may not give you what you think you want. If you look into Apo-Skopars, beware of separated lenses. The cement that Voigtlaender used when they were making these lenses has aged very poorly.

    If you have the money, skgrimes will be happy to put your Heliar cells (extracted from a shutter) in a barrel with a slot for Waterhouse stops. They'll put the slot in the right position and make the stops too. To get timed exposures, you'll have to hang the lens in barrel -- this goes for the process lenses too, although some were sold in shutter -- in front of a shutter or hang a shutter in front of the lens. There's not much to it, skigrimes will be happy to help, for a price, or you can get a camera that can use a Sinar behind-the-lens shutter or a Packard shutter.

    Oh, and by the way, here http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/...tlander_2.html is a 1964 catalog that lists new production coated Heliars in Compounds. There's really no reason except stupid pretentiousness to want older ones.

  4. #4

    Re: Voigtlander Heliar lens the ones from the late 1800-1900

    Thanks for the feedback. I am reading the book you reference and I did see the catalog before. Looking again. Seems to me whichever lens is available and in good working order will work. Of course being coated has an advantage.

    I will check out skgrimes. By hanging lens hou mean covering it with a cap or cloth and removing for specified time?

  5. #5

    Re: Voigtlander Heliar lens the ones from the late 1800-1900

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Gales View Post
    I think the best shutter is the Sinar shutter. It works on the Sinar Norma, F series and P series cameras. Also some modify their cameras to take the Sinar shutter. If you buy a Sinar shutter just make sure you get the Sinar cable release with it. These are hard to find and are expensive on their own.

    Some use Speed Graphic cameras for their focal plane shutters. These are very popular with the Aero Ektar lenses which don't have a shutter.

    There are also the old Packard pneumatic shutters that were used on old wooden 8x10 cameras. They fit behind the front standard like the Sinar shutter. I believe some have fitted these shutters to the front of lenses also.
    Thanks for the input

  6. #6

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    Re: Voigtlander Heliar lens the ones from the late 1800-1900

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Ruttenberg View Post
    By hanging lens hou mean covering it with a cap or cloth and removing for specified time?
    Absolutely not. That's not a good way to get a short timed exposure.

    Lenses can be mounted in front of shutters. I've done this with many lenses, using an adapter that has male threads at the rear to screw into a shutter and female threads at the front that accept the lens. That's part of what hanging a lens in front of a shutter means.

    The other part means mounting the lens on a board that attaches to a standard with a shutter behind it. Packard shutters go behind the standard. So do the Sinar shutters that Alan Gales mentioned in post #2 above. There are also Mentor Panorama cameras with roller blind shutters behind the front standard. I've seen a very nice home-made 16 x 20 camera that used a Mentor shutter. Its builder told me that demand for Mentor shutters for that application had driven the price of Panoramas higher than he liked.

    Shutters can be mounted in front of lenses. I use a Compound #5 that attaches to an skgrimes adapter that attaches to the front of my 900 Apo-Saphir. Packard shutters can also be mounted in front of lenses.

    You really should learn the technology before you start spending money.

  7. #7

    Re: Voigtlander Heliar lens the ones from the late 1800-1900

    I'm not spending any money until I have everything knowledge wise. Being an engineer, I want to learn all before I do anything. On occasion though, sometimes I learn just by doing, but I make it a calculated doing. So, my asking the questions here is starting up the learning curve on terminology and mechanics.

    Thanks for the reply.

  8. #8

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    Re: Voigtlander Heliar lens the ones from the late 1800-1900

    Packard shutters are still being made. http://www.packardshutter.com/

  9. #9
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    Re: Voigtlander Heliar lens the ones from the late 1800-1900

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm View Post
    There's really no reason except stupid pretentiousness to want older ones.

    Well, hold on there. My favorite 20th C lens is my c.1922 150mm Heliar, in Compur. Love this lens! Am I "pretentious"? No. Am I "stupid"? Debatable. I do like uncoated lenses in general because they have a lower contrast that I like. I've enjoyed collecting and using LF lenses made from 1905 to ~1930. This seems to have been a golden age for not only lenses but also shutters. I love them! For me, they are a connection to the past and the photographers that photo'd the world as it was during their time. I think it's just cool that I can attach something to my camera that was made over 90 years ago and still make photos with it! So no, I'm not stupidly pretentious. Maybe I'm just stupidly romantic.


    Kent in SD
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    Die Gedanken sind Frei

  10. #10

    Re: Voigtlander Heliar lens the ones from the late 1800-1900

    Well, I known I can be silly stupid. I like the shutters all round and such. Star points annoy me, for one, especially when people debate their quality. I also like the boceh round diaphragms give too. Plus I like the look of photos with them. And yes, I agree about the connection to the past. One of the reasons I got into LF and went back to film. Digital is sterile to me.

    What interests me is how they controlled exposure so well without modern type shutters and such.

    For landscapes I am often having exposures of seconds to minutes. People are a bit different, but somehow they did it well back in the last couple centuries or longer ago.

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