A few months ago I bought a Petzval lens from a retired viennese pharmacist whose mother ran a photo studio in the 1930s.
The first pictures I shot with it left me pretty unimpressed since the lens was only swirling and nothing else, bad coma, astigmatism, no sharpness ect... no one in the 19th century would have thought of this as more than a paper weight.
So I thought that the previous owner might have disassembled it for cleaning and put it back together wrong so I took the elements out and reversed the rearmost Crown glass. Now the lens was much better regarding all the defects but sharpness and contrast were very low and the pictures on 4x5 film looked pretty boring. Lens data was approx 250mm FL and f4 so on the shelf it went (I thought I simply need a bigger film than 4x5 to make it shine)
After sitting on my shelf for the last months I stumbled acros "a history of a photographic lens" three days ago. The part about Dallmeyer Patent lenses and the reversed rear group intrigued me so I tried reversing the order of the rear elements as in the dallmeyer diagrams. Well it worked and the lens looked so much better on ground glass it was amazing! I shot a few pictures on Fomapan 200 and now I´m finaly in love with my Petzval. it has every character (3d pop, sharpness, killer bokeh) that made me want such a lens in the first place the Focal lenght shrunk from 250 to 210mm and the f-stop is about 3,6 now. much more usable on 4x5 Film.
Apart from sharing my story for people having the same problems sometime in the future I wanted to know if anybody has a clue who made my lens? (I cannot read any engravings..thou it looks like they were there sometime)
The fact that the lens is best in Dallmeyer Patent configuration keeps intriguing me, maybe someone can shed light on that!
I attached a few pictures of the Petzval and of my Speed graphic with the lens mounted.
best greetings from Vienna!