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Thread: huge voigtlander & sohn lens help

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  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2007

    huge voigtlander & sohn lens help

    Hey folks,
    I recently purchased a Voigtlander & Sohn lens via a live auction at eBay. At first, I thought that when the seller listed it as a 15+ inch lens, I thought he meant focal length and put in my absentee bid. I later realized he was talking actual physical size! I figured I might have a good argument for getting out of the auction because the description could have been seen as a little misleading, but I had to see this thing. Well, it recently arrived and I laughed out loud when I took it out of the carton (lifted with legs, not back...). The thought of me happily (at first) thinking that this monster would fit onto my 12x15 just cracked me up. A 20x24 couldn't even handle it.
    Anyhow, I'm wondering if anyone can tell me anything about it. The engraving reads: No. 21506 Voigtlander & Sohn Braunschweig
    The dimensions are approximately 15" long with a 7.5" dia on the hood and about 6" dia on the barrel. There are four waterhouse stops and it still has the leather/brass lens cap. It's currently mounted to an ancient 9" lensboard.
    I was thinking camera obscura, but if that's the case, what's up with the stops??
    Here's a link to the eBay listing:

    If this doesn't work, googling 21506 Voigtlander & Sohn brings it up.
    I (and some of the peeps at the art school I go to) would LOVE any help you can give me!! Thanks!

  2. #2
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002

    Re: huge voigtlander & sohn lens help

    That's most likely what was later called a Porträt-Objektiv Serie I, in which case it's the biggest one: A 400mm f:3.2.

    It was used for "cabinet cards", which are a little smaller than 5x7", using only the central sharp part of the image circle. It was in production until well after WWI, although I assume later ones would have an iris aperture.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Van Buren, Arkansas

    Re: huge voigtlander & sohn lens help

    I've got one of these also., but without the extra waterhouse stops. I intend to put it on my Ansco 8x10 Studio camera eventually, when I restore the camera. It is about the only camera I have that is Robust enough to handle the large size of this lens. Aparently this lens is not extremely rare, as I have seen numerous examples on the auction site over the years.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Tonopah, Nevada, USA

    Re: huge voigtlander & sohn lens help

    It was made to be used on a big studio type camera. 9X9 was the most common lens board size but the bigger camera (11X14 Century 8) has a 10X10. These giants have to rest on a table top like platform on a rolling adjustable stand.

    Here's a shot done with an identical lens (I think, yours may be even bigger) of my brother in law, John Cole filling an 11X14 sheet of film. Focus for this shot had the bellows at about 44 inches.

    He is no fool who gives what he cannot gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

  5. #5

    Re: huge voigtlander & sohn lens help

    Hi Kel,

    It does fit onto an Agfa/Ansco studio portrait 8x10 camera, needs a large Packard shutter or the hat-trick OR you could send it back to the Wollensak factory and have it hot-rodded with a Studio shutter like this one.

    That's a 4x5 SpeedGraphic for size comparison, the brown Agfa will be for sale when the blond Ansco is done.

    Have fun with it.
    Last edited by Paul Fitzgerald; 20-Oct-2007 at 09:25.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Harbor City, California

    Re: huge voigtlander & sohn lens help

    It sounds like it could be either a Petzval or a Rapid Rectilinear type. You can tell the difference quite easily because the R.R. will give the same reflactions front and rear, while the Petzval is quite asymmetrical.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    May 2007

    Re: huge voigtlander & sohn lens help

    Thanks folks! I don't know where you guys cames by this info, but good on ya! I wasn't able to find much at all. Guess I'll have to find some books....

    Ole: Figuring out the focal length and actual aperture sizes for this thing may be part of a class project next year in class--thanks for the heads up!! haha

    Gene: Good luck with the 8x10 project. The front end of my 12x15 field is too small for this one, but that doesn't mean I've stopped aquiring big cameras, so there is still hope that I'll be able to mount this to something some day...

    Jim: You're making me jealous man. That equipment looks great as does the beautiful photo of your brother-in-law. I'll be looking for something along the lines of a Century camera for this lens I suppose. They do come up on eBay from time to time.

    Paul: I'll definitely be looking into shutters for this and some other old brass lenses I've recently acquired. Also, judging by some measuring of your photo and me putting my Speed Graphic up next to the lens, it's looking like the one I have here is about 4.5 to 5 inches longer and about 2 inches larger in diameter (at the lens hood), than what you have pictured. Change anything in what people have to think about this thing and what it was used on? I guess not as it seems a pretty simple, though large, lens.

    Ernest: I'll have to check into that. This thing is so large, it's actually difficult for me to pick up and look at without fear damaging the glass in some way! Silly, I know.

    Thanks again everyone. I can't wait to pass this info on to some of the people who have seen it and wondered what it was used for. I just wish I hadn't paid as much for it as I had, but it is in excellent shape and it also seems to have all of its stops, so that's worth a few bucks I guess.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    May 2007

    Re: huge voigtlander & sohn lens help

    Oh, and Paul, let me know when you're finished with that camera, okay??

  9. #9

    Join Date
    May 2007

    Re: huge voigtlander & sohn lens help

    Any advice on how to clean this thing? There is some dust inside that I can get to, but I don't want to scratch this very old and otherwise pristine glass.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    Re: huge voigtlander & sohn lens help

    You paid $800 for this without knowing any more than the ebay listing? Jesus H Christ!
    PS, I have a bridge in NYC that you might be interested in buying.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

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