View Full Version : Old Gundlach lens, anyone knowledgeable?

4-Aug-2014, 16:29
Hi All,

This is only my second post (hope I do it right). I recently acquired an old (antique?) Gundlach lens through eBay. It arrived today and I am really jazzed about it. However, being a newbie to the Antique Lens world, I know almost zip about these things. Following is the seller's description and a photo of the lens:

"Here is a very cool lens by Gundlach Optical Co, Rochester, NY. Around the front lens rim it says 'INST. SYMMETRICAL 6 1/2 x 8 1/2, s.n. reads XX007. The glass is very usable and will provide a period look typical from most normal rapid rectilinear type lenses. I would assume this is a RR type or variant. The lens has some edge separation around the front and rear lenses. This is very common on these lenses and it's not that bad on this one. There is a very minimal haze on the interior glass. I mean minimal will have no effect. I have shot hazy lenses before and haze can be a serious problem but this lens will shoot fine. The glass is really very clean. I have been shooting brass for around 20 years so never having shot this lens I can say I would use it without hesitation. I have not checked the lens coverage but one can assume full plate will be covered and possibly 8x10 if you like softer edges.

The shutter here is very cool. I have not had this shutter in a very long time and this one is functional! The speeds do change and the lowest speed seems to fire around a 25th sec. I have no way to test the speeds but sounds like a 25th or just a hair faster to me. I have tested hundreds of shutters on a shutter tester in the past and I was pretty close at guessing speeds when I tested my guesses. Anyway it's just a starting point if you want to use this. The faster speeds do speed up. The shutter does have working T and B settings! This guy is usable for sure. I have not tested it with an air bulb, I simply cocked it and fired at all the speeds. On the top of the shutter you cock that front facing lever to the right then trip the button over the air cylinder and it fires. To change speeds you push the rear lever down a bit and it rotates left and right to change speeds. The shutter comes with the original mounting flange! I can tell it is a hand turned flange and it fits a hair tight but some one back in the day made those threads by hand. The aperture is marked in modern stops f8 - f45 and has a lot of blades. Overall very cool lens if you like vintage optics and holds a place in history of Rochester lenses."

Can anyone give me more info on this little "Puppy". I intend to take pictures with it (using my 4x5 field camera).

Sincerely yours, LanceO

Louis Pacilla
4-Aug-2014, 21:08
Hey Lance

Here's what the 1899 Gundlach catalog has to say on the Instant Symmetrical Rapid Rectilinear. Gundlach Optical Co also made a three glued element rectilinear lenses the Perigraphic & Rectigraphic which was Gundlach Optical Co flag ship patented lens design before the introduction of the Turner-Riechtriple Convertible Anastigmat which was shortly after parting ways with the often difficult to work with Ernest Gundlach.

Here's a link to a few Gundlach catalogs. Hope this helps.

5-Aug-2014, 08:49
Hey Lance. I ws using a similar RR for a while. Prob won't cover 8x10 unless you are very forgiving about the edges. My shutter similar but TBI only. I was 1-50thn give or take. You'll might be surprised at the high quality results. I know I was.

5-Aug-2014, 08:53
PS, made an air release out of a baby nose syringe and auto vacuum tubing. Ugly but effective!

5-Aug-2014, 09:12
Thanks Louis, That link is the best! Those catalogs are a gem in their own right and tell me everything I could possibly want to know about Gundlach lenses (and Korona cameras). It appears my lens is an 11". This helps out a lot.

5-Aug-2014, 09:17
Thanks for the tips Brian. I'll be using it on a 4x5, so no problem. I can hardly wait to give it a try. I happen to have a new air release, I'll see if it works.

12-Aug-2014, 10:17
Thanks for the tips Brian. I'll be using it on a 4x5, so no problem. I can hardly wait to give it a try. I happen to have a new air release, I'll see if it works.

Just a little tip: Wait for the air pressure to stabilize before taking the shot. Notice that the slower shutter speeds use more length of the cylinder, a couple of seconds should do it.

13-Aug-2014, 01:42
Thanks Premortho, I'll keep that in mind. Still waiting for a custom drilled lens board to mount this little puppy.

18-Aug-2016, 12:50
Whatz the number on the back? Ihave obe that says 28082. Mine is lacking what you described ; INST SYMMETRICAL