View Full Version : B&L 8x10 Ic Lens performance

Emile J Schwarz
24-Oct-2004, 06:00
Has any one here used a B&L 12' series Ic lens? I have tried doing a search. Found the comments on a 5x7, but nothing larger. Supposedly it is a tessar design.

Ernest Purdum
24-Oct-2004, 09:29
I haven't used one in this size, but I think I have a pretty good idea of what to expect from it. It is indeed a Tessar design, and may be identified as such. B&L was the American licensee for Zeiss lenses. The "1c" indicates f4.5 apeerture, the f6.3 being designated "IIb".

The performance ahould be about what one would expect from a large aperture (uncoated, I assume) Tessar from a good maker. The 12" size will cover 8" X 10" with a little left over. Stopping down doesn't result in much gain. Sharpness should be entirely adequate for most purposes, contrast would benefit by careful use of a compendium lensshade or equivalent.

tor kviljo
24-Oct-2004, 11:43
A bit on the side of cource, but if this is a lens in shutter, and You would like a good 8"x10" lens, a working shutter for a 12" f 4.5 lens is the real asset of this set as the big diameter shutter makes you able to front mount a lot of very sharp & laughingly inexpensive 4 & 6-element repro lenses of ex. 300 - 420mm FL These are commonly found on Eby. 4 element apo-artar & 6 element G-claron (later with much wider image circle) being maybe the most known & common. I have hunted down a few old & simple shutters of wide diameter to be able to use these lenses, ending up with very capable $$ 50-70 combo of lens/shutter that sells new (in copal) for $$ 1000 & up (longer G-Clarons). Good luck anyway!

David A. Goldfarb
24-Oct-2004, 13:14

I have the 5x8 version, which I use on a 5x7 camera, and I think it's got a great look. It's not an expensive lens, and it's fairly fast at f:4.5 and not nearly as heavy as the 210/3.5 Xenar.

Kerry L. Thalmann
24-Oct-2004, 14:28

As Ernest stated, the Ic is an f4.5 Tessar design. Bausch & Lomb was the North American licensee for Zeiss and produced a number of Zeiss designs (various Protars, Tessars. etc.). In general, the lenses produced by Bausch & Lomb were of outstanding quality. Since they had licensing rights to the Zeiss patents, they didn't have to try to design around these patents like other US manufacturers.

Regarding your particular lens, does it come in a shutter? Can you tell if it's coated? Bausch & Lomb made these Tessars for about 50 years (from the early 1900s until at least the early 1950s). Pre-WWII samples will be uncoated and produce images with slightly lower contrast. Post-WWII samples are often found in shutters (most likely a big Betax for a 12" Series Ic) and coated. Most of these have one or more colored dots on the front barrel (pink and/or yellow). As the lens you asked about has the focal length engraved in inches and not millimeters, I would guess (without seeing the lens) that it's probably an uncoated pre-WWII sample. Later coated, shutter mounted Bausch & Lomb Tessars sell for dirt cheap prices. I have a coated 190mm f4.5 Bausch & Lomb Tessar Ic in a fully-functional Betax No. 4 shutter that I picked up a few year ago for a little over $50. It weighs a ton (for a relatively compact lens), but makes very nice images. It covers 5x7, but also makes a nice slightly long lens for 4x5. A 12" or 305mm focal length will sell for more (since it covers 8x10). Of course, older uncoated barrel mounted samples should be cheaper still.

Another alternative would be a barrel mounted Zeiss Jena f4.5 Tessar. These were made right up until about 1990. Samples made after 1980 will have a four or five digit serial number. These lenses show up regularly on eBay - usually from a German or other European seller. I've bought a few of the shorter focal lengths (180mm, 210mm and 250mm - always in like new condition and for less than $100). If you're patient, you should be able to get a late (4 or 5 digit serial number) sample in near mint condition for between $100 and $150 for the 300mm focal length.


Ken Lee
3-Jan-2007, 08:12
I have one of the Post-WWII 190mm Tessar 4.5, with a yellow dot. After seeing David's photo, I would like to use mine.

It came with my old Kodak 2D 5x7. The camera had a Packard shutter, which I discarded, but the lens itself has what I think is a 19-bladed diaphragm.

What are my best options for mounting the lens in a shutter, and placing it on a Technika board, for use on 4x5 and 5x7 ? I would like to keep that lovely 19-bladed diaphragm.

Amund BLix Aaeng
3-Jan-2007, 09:33
I have three 1c Tessars, 4x5,5x7 and the 8x10 as shown in the snap.
The 8x10 I believe is an old prewar uncoated one.
The two small ones are pretty sharp and boring, but the 8x10 is giving me some seriously funky results, as seen here (http://foto.no/cgi-bin/bildekritikk/vis_bilde.cgi?id=276096) and here (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=20807)
I love it. :) Haven`t had the chance to try portraits with it yet, I need a monster Packard to front mount on it...

Ernest Purdum
3-Jan-2007, 10:34
Ken, most people would think that the cost of having it mounted in a shutter would be prohibitive, and then you'd lose the multibladed diaphragm. Mounting it ahead of a shutter is feasible, take a look at the S.K. Grimes website to get an idea of the possibilities. WWW.skgrimes.com This is not nearly as demanding as mounting cells into a shutter. Very possibly a local machinist could do the job. To avoid vignetting, the lens should be placed as close to the shutter blades as possible,

Jim Galli
3-Jan-2007, 10:51
I have the identical early 12" BL 1C like Amund and mine is just boringly sharp. Yes, it has wonderful creamy tonality wide open like you would do for a portrait but certainly nothing like what Amund is getting. Curiousity piqued, I went and grabbed the lens to see what might cause an anomaly. Mechanically it would be nearly impossible to reverse anything accidentally or change anything at all. Amund, are both glasses present up front? Does it focus at 12" at infinity like you would expect? I thought perhaps if the rear group was de-cemented, but that's difficult at best and maybe impossible as BL was advanced enough that the rear group is "rolled" in so it cannot be removed from the barrel.

Sorry I'm getting off topic a bit. To answer your question I think you'll find the 12" a lovely performer and perhaps it's strong point would be 8X10 portraiture. Smooth / sharp but not too much personality beyond that.

Paul Fitzgerald
3-Jan-2007, 23:27

It looks really nice in brass :eek:


it's a perfectly 'normal' normal lens for 8x10, works well fot 5x7 portraits also. :D

happy New Year's

Jim Galli
4-Jan-2007, 13:52

It looks really nice in brass :eek:


it's a perfectly 'normal' normal lens for 8x10, works well fot 5x7 portraits also. :D

happy New Year's

Paul, did BL make it that way or did you buff and shine? Jim

Paul Fitzgerald
4-Jan-2007, 21:29
Hi Jim,

B&L made it brass but it was worn so buff and shine, clear coated with enamel, baked and polished. Looks and looks really fine on a mahogany-brass A/A studio portrait 5x7 :D

B&L also made them aluminium so check first :eek: