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Thread: Vintage Brass Lenses

  1. #1
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Vintage Brass Lenses

    I have been looking at old brass lenses lately . . .the ones that used to go for <$20 at the camera shows in the ‘80s and’90s. Now I am interested and have a few questions.

    What is the difference between a “landscape” lens and a “portrate”l ens?
    Can a Petzval lens be either or both?
    Is there a difference between a camera lens and a magic lantern lens in this era of photography (1860-1890)?
    Drew Bedo
    www.quietlightphoto.com


    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

  2. #2

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    Re: Vintage Brass Lenses

    Strictly speaking, a "Landscape Lens" is a simple meniscus lens. William Wollaston's camear obscura Landscape Lens of about 1812 was the first, predating photography, and was used on the very earliest photographic cameras. Later Landscape lenses were cemented double-element achromats (you need add a negative lens to make an achromat), like Scovill's Waterbury Lens or Dalot Single View. Landscape lenses need to be used at fairly small apertures, f/16 or less, to make a conventionally sharp image. Wider apertures give a soft focus effect. The Kodak Portrait Lens and Imagon are teachnically "Landscape Lenses", even though they were made specifically for portraiture.

    "Portrait Lens" is a term tham evolved along with the technical needs and aesthetics of photography. At first it meant a fast lens (about f/5 or faster) so the subjects didn't have to sit still too long. Later, it became synonymous with being a softy lens that minimized skin flaws and added a glow. Today it just means a semi-fast lens (for shallow depth of field, not speed), and an appropriate focal length.

    The front element of a Petzval is a cemented doublet and can be used by itself as a landscape lens.

    People argue whether there's a difference in quality between Magic Lantern lenses and camera lenses. In using good quality lenses, I haven't seen any, but there were also some very cheap Magic Lantern lenses that were pretty poor quality. Camera lenses had methods of aperture control, (Waterhouse stops, rotary stops, irises...) except for the very earliest lenses.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  3. #3
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Re: Vintage Brass Lenses

    Thanks for this truely informative reply.
    Drew Bedo
    www.quietlightphoto.com


    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

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