View Full Version : What have I got??

Frank Lahorgue
10-Sep-2004, 09:55
Yesterday I fell heir to a 5&7 view camera allegedly bought new around 1920. It appears to be in good working order needing only some polish and lubricant. There are no markings of any kind on the camera itself that would identify a manufacturer.

The brass lens is marked "Wollensak Optical Company" on one face and "Conley F8 Three Focus Rapid Rectilinear, 5x7 8 inch Focus No 4763" on another. The aperture setting scale indicates focal lengths of 8", 14" and 18".

What sort of reputation does this lens have?

Ernest Purdum
10-Sep-2004, 10:39
Rapid Rectilinear lenses are not as sharp as the later anastigmats, but put it to use, you may like the results. At about f16 it will be sharper than when wide open. In case you don't know how to use the three focus feature, you get the 8" focal length when both cells are in place. If you take off the front cell, you then have the 14" lens. If you remove both cells and put the front cell on behind the shutter, this gives you 18". (The bigger cell is the "front" one.)

Since your shutter has presumably been out of use for a long time, it woould be a good idea to get it routinely serviced (CLA). There is a repairperson offering CLA service for $45.00 on eBay.

Jim Galli
10-Sep-2004, 22:49
Hi Frank. Congrats on your nice old camera. How about a picture? The Rapid Rectilinear's were the reason that Anastigmats were invented. After the Anastigmats of around turn of the century, RR's lived on into the 1920's as cheaper entry level lenses. They can be quite sharp in the middle but suffer out in the edges noticeably. Or you could focus for the edges and have a fuzzy center. But you couldn't have both which is why the first real anastigmats were such a sensation. Maybe an 8 1/4 Dagor is in your future. Or better still a triple VIIa Protar. You're in for it now buddy.

Frank Lahorgue
11-Sep-2004, 09:19
Thanks to Jim and Earnest --

I took the lens to a local technician who concluded that the shutter was working well and close to specs. His recommendation was to leave it alone.

It will be interesting to see what prints acually look like compared to those using my beautiful new lenses. I guess the next step will be to build a contact printing rig.

Good light to all.............

Jon Shiu
11-Sep-2004, 11:32
Frank, I think I read where Edward Weston used a Rapid Rectilinear to shoot his pepper pictures. Good luck with the lens.