View Full Version : Should I want a bistigmat lens for wet plate?

Vincent Pidone
23-Apr-2013, 15:46
A seller has a trashed camera with a bistigmat lens that might not have been damaged in whatever wreck killed the camera.

Should I want this for wet plate?

Maybe the question should be: is this likely to be any better than a comparable rapid rectilinear?

I have an 1880's Voigtlander that works just fine, but, well, the brass is always greener elsewhere....

The plus is that it has an interesting adjustment for going from visual focus to actinic focus.

It seems like a great idea, but evidently didn't catch on, or was rendered unnecessary by color corrected lenses.

It also looks snazzy in the photos of it. Very antique looking.

OK, that doesn't help the images, but it does help the image.

The minus is the seller wants rather a lot for it (compared to my limited indiscretionary funds).

i.e. it's not cheap enough that I can buy it and flip it for a profit if it doesn't suit me.

I likely can get my money back.

To restate the question otherwise:

Is a bistigmat any better than a rapid rectilinear for general work (landscape or portrait) other things being equal?

To head off the Spanish Inquisition at the pass: I am asking a very general question about bistigmat vs. R.R.

No need to query me regarding who I intend to take portraits of, or which landscape I might shoot, or if the focal length fits my format, etc. Not that any of you would do that.

Some time back Garrett sold a wide angle one. The one I'm thinking of is not wide angle.

Thank you all in advance for your gently worded replies to my inadequately researched question.

23-Apr-2013, 19:02
The bistigmats I've had were very cheap lenses, not corrected for visual versus actinic light. You focused where it looked sharp, then tweaked the lens a little more based on an engraved scale on the lens. A lot of room for error, especially with UV focused wetplate.

Vincent Pidone
23-Apr-2013, 19:33
I thought that the sliding (bayonet) adjustment was supposed to guarantee the shift from visual focus to actinic focus.

I suspected, based on the fact that other makers did not follow suit, that it was a dead end, but hope springs eternal.

Thanks Garrett

If anyone can defend the bistigmat please speak up or I'll be forced to take Garrett's advice and pass on this.

Steven Tribe
24-Apr-2013, 15:21
It was (is) a budget lens from Rodenstock that was continued long past it's "last selling date".
Funky but less effective than RRs and Aplanats - But then the same could be said of the "Globe" lens!

Vincent Pidone
24-Apr-2013, 18:03
Thanks Steven.

I've already told the seller that I wasn't interested in going further, largely based on Garrett's assessment.

Rather nice engraving though....

Steven Tribe
25-Apr-2013, 11:11
If you change your mind, it is one commonest early Rodenstock lenses on ebay.de .