View Full Version : Lancaster half plate lens info

Mark Lowen
13-Feb-2013, 04:28
I have at last bit the bullet and bought my first LF camera ,a 1896 Lancaster half plate, and am very pleased with it, but I would like a faster lens if they are available so, my question is what lens where /are available for this camera without having to modify it.
Thanks in advance for any help given.

Roger Hesketh
13-Feb-2013, 04:56
One of the beauties of large format photography is you can use pretty much any lens you like to make a picture providing of course that the covering power of the lens is sufficient to cover the film. Most large format lenses are pretty slow compared to smaller cameras anyway f5.6 - f8 is normal. Which lens is fitted to the camera? If you want to fit a different lens you will either have to fit the new lens to a new lens board or or you can find a lens that will screw into the same size flange that you already have on lens board of your camera.

Welcome to the forum

Steven Tribe
13-Feb-2013, 05:48
The classic Lancaster 1/2 plate would been likely fitted with:

a slow (F11?)landscape meniscus (with patent rubber-band shutter)
or Lancaster version of the RR with a T-P shutter (F8).

Photos please.

Mark Lowen
13-Feb-2013, 05:55
This is my camera, no shutter and a Lancaster lens which says time 20, 30, 40 on it. I have seen another lens advertised for sale which says time 10,20, 30,40,50 on it. Just wondered if there was more info somewhere as they made so many cameras and lens, but I can't find any real data on the lens.
I would like to keep it all Lancaster if I can too.

Steven Tribe
13-Feb-2013, 06:08
I am not a Lancaster expert - but this looks like the "Special Instantograph" 1/2 plate. I think this is the only normal model with the "brass-bounds" as their advert said!

Lancaster had quite an interesting range of lenses (including aluminium and multi-colored brass barrels) so you can get a range of lenses with different characteristics and maintain the Lancaster image!

The lens vade mecum has very good data on the Lancaster story, concentrating, of course, on their lenses.

Andrew Plume
13-Feb-2013, 06:42
Hi Mark

Lancaster's were a very prolific manufacturer of Wood and Brass Cameras and these with/or without their lenses are frequently seen on that 'large auction site'

I've owned my fair share of their lenses and unless you can lay your hands on one of their Portrait lenses (which seem to be fairly uncommon), the fastest aperture that you will find will be f8, more like f10, which was the widest for their range of meniscus lenses, which were produced in large amounts

good luck and welcome to this forum

Steven Tribe
13-Feb-2013, 06:47
The best photo I could find of the 1/4 plate version of the Special Instantograph BB (brass bound) model is at earlyphotography.co.uk.

Check the "stand" box at the top. Yours is towards the end of the long (and interesting) list and is the last Instanto model listed.
Under "makers" you can read a bit about Lancaster from Birmingham!

13-Feb-2013, 06:53
I have fitted more modern lenses onto half plate cameras, I use a 1913 CZJ 165mm f6.3 Tessar but I've made a new lens board. I've done the same with all my other old British field cameras, making up new lens boards (sometimes 2 or 30 for each.

Many of these cameras (talking in general) had more modern lenses (with shutters) fitted in the early 1900's sometimes from new.

In addition I've started making spare backs to allow modern film holders instead of bookfor, this way the camera stays complete & original but with greater capabilities.