View Full Version : Hermagis Extra Rapid Portrait #7 lens...or is it?

16-Apr-2013, 17:45
I am a newly setting up a large format kit. I have an 8 x 10 Deardorff and have committed to buy this lens - Hermagis Rapid Portrait #7.

I know it's a little on the short side (research shows 8.5" focal length covering 7" x 5" but with a recessed board it can work, plus I have a 4 x 5 reducing back if need be and know how to get the bellows tight. I really need something super fast for trying to reduce very long exposures for alternative processes and this lens is meant to be f3. The speed is more important than the movements and as always budget is an issue, else I could have just spent a whole lot more on something else. I already have a Schneider 355mm f9 G clarion for my other work.

However, I have just read a whole lot of negative reviews within the last 12 months saying the seller sent them a lens that was not the type as stated and they were having a hard time getting their money back. I know I should have checked this first...The seller's rating overall was very good at 99.2%.

I am fairly sure this lens should have been labelled with the type on it? I have included a picture of what they have shown, which is only the brand/serial number. As there are a lot of Hermagis lens types out there and some a lot slower - this is pretty important that I get it right. I accept it is fairly beaten up, but not if it is not the type stated.

I don't want to be a non-payer if it is as the seller says it is.

Any advice appreciated, thanks.

Steven Tribe
17-Apr-2013, 01:43
This is not an easy one.
Looks like a "chunky" fast Petzval in dimensions - width of lens vs. given focal length. And it is the traditional sleeve design.
But the no. 7 is a surprise - is this engraved on the other side of the sleeve?
Hermagis were a bit "evil" as they employed reverse size numbering on several production lines - that size 1 is the longest focal length size 9 the shortest. This is the case for the Eidoscope and also some of their Aplanat series.
The "7" makes me unsure as to what this is. If the focal length has been measured incorrectly, it could be fast aplanat (like Voigtländer Euryskops) - around F5.
These could genuinely be described as Portrait Aplanats. Against this, is the fact that most Portrait Aplanats were made in plain barrels - but not all!

17-Apr-2013, 05:52
Hi Steve, thanks for your info.

Apparently, the actual focal length is probably 6.5" not 8" which I only have from Maurits Bollen's site mention him owning one and it only just covering 4 x5, which is completely different to what the Hermagis info says on the #7 covering power. It's true none of the numbers seem to add up from my research on these lenses. I am just surprised that another #7 lens the seller had for sale showed the #7 quite proudly, but this one not. When I asked if it worked - they just kept avoiding answering! So now I am a bit worried.

Steven Tribe
17-Apr-2013, 06:21
Aplanats tend to marked quite clearly with size number and APL.
A 6.5" Petzval, this fast, is a shortish CDV lens and covers about 1/4 plate (for traditional portrait use).
Petzvals are notoriously without much engraving.

17-Apr-2013, 09:04
I've had a dozen or more Hermagis petzvals, and none was marked with a "Number xxx". They were in business from quite early, and like a lot of European makers, didn't worry about engraving the focal length, or a number that signified "size" for decades. Ignore any descriptions that a particular lens is a "number XYZ" - it will not tell you anything unless you have the exact catalog from the exact year they made that lens. Numbers came late, and changed over time.

What you have to know for sure is:

- does it have 2 glass elements in the rear, separated with a metal washer? If so, it's a Petzval and is complete. If not, it could be a RR or is missing one element.
- what is the focal length from the waterhouse stop? Many people measure back focus (from the rear of the lens). If they did that, add a couple inches for the real focal length.
- If it's an 8" lens, it might or might not cover 5x7 - they all covered slightly different amounts, based on their speed. Looking at the physical length, I'd say it's not an 8" lens, probably more like a 6".

Hermagis made very nice Petzvals. I like the make better than several more well-known French brands.

Tom Sobota
17-Apr-2013, 10:00
I have only two Hermagis from the period. One of them, n.17631 only has the usual engraving with the name on one side, nothing on the other side. No number.
The other, n.38478 is engraved also on the other side of the barrel. It says "Objectif p.r Portrait Nº5".
In both of my lenses the focusing knob is on the "Hermagis" side. In the picture sent by the OP the knob seems to be missing, or perhaps it is looking to the other side. In any case it is not seen, so I'd suggest asking the seller if the lens is complete.

Jim Galli
17-Apr-2013, 12:25

So if we drag the ruler on top, you've got maybe 60mm of glass, time 4 would be 240mm if it's an f4 lens. 210 if it's f3.5. Hermagis numbered backwards. 0 is a giant lens. 7 is a small lens. Good luck.

alex from holland
17-Apr-2013, 15:25
A Hermagis portrait nr 7 has a focal lenght of 160mm and the glass diameter will be 61 m.
It was made for CDV and 13x18cm.
This one was made between 1900 and 1910.
Unfortunately it's missing it original lens hood

Andrew Plume
17-Apr-2013, 15:50

the listing has now ended as it's been sold


17-Apr-2013, 17:52
Thanks everyone for all your advice. I am the one this lens is sold to. I should have put the other pictures in to start with. I asked if the elements are complete and was told they were, I was later told by the seller it was engraved on the side with the type number - but I can't see that from these pictures. I guess not being a Petzval lens expert, I should probably stick to those that are well marked and intact with hood also and just pay the more money. It is described by the seller as being 11.5cm high, 7.8 cm across the front and the rear - which doesn't seem to match the specs as measured? It's all a bit confusing.

Steven Tribe
18-Apr-2013, 02:15
Could be he was referring to internal brass stamping or pencil/ink marks which are common on French lenses!
The dimensions he gives are brass sleeve measurements, so Jim's glass measurements of 6cm are better to use in calculating F value.
There is a touch of balsam breakdown, which is typical of the age of this lens.
My comments about it being a fast CdV Petzval (perhaps just under F3) still stand.

This is a very odd lister, who uses both a Czech and a Slovakian address. Nothing wrong with whats he lists in general, although the more perfect classy items are pushed up in price (like so many others at the moment). Talking about actual listings can be a bit suicidal as others may get interested!

18-Apr-2013, 16:08
Thanks again. Steve, that was really helpful pointing out the 3rd ebay account of the Slovakian address - it listed complaints from many people stating their lens was received in complete non working order and that they were still chasing refunds with ebay - and yet in the same condition report as mine (B - a good user). I guess I sensed there was something amiss here. The seller refused to confirm that the lens worked. I will stick to legitimate sellers and perhaps take my time to find a longer focal length petzval. Ah well! Too good to be true.