View Full Version : Lenses to fit dial-set Compur Shutter, ca. 1927

Donald Qualls
14-Jan-2005, 05:59
Those with very good memories might remember my asking questions concerning a couple of Ica and Zeiss Ideal 9x12 cm plate cameras. I don't recall if I posted here, but I managed to combine parts and repair bellows leaks to make the Zeiss unit functional, and have used it a little (before a move forced a four month hiatus in photography, just ending now).

Now, I have two reasonably well functioning dial-set Compur shutters (one suffering slightly from a previous owner's hack job, but both accurate enough for B&W negative work), with identical 13.5 cm f/4.5 Tessar lenses. What I'd be interested to know is what other lenses I might look for that would fit these shutters -- that's important, rather than lenses in shutters that might fit the front standard of the Ideal, because the shutters mount to this camera with a bayonet latch similar to that used twenty years later on Exakta 35 mm SLR cameras and lenses -- and it would be nifty to be able to swap between two lenses (say, the 13.5 cm normal and a 165, 180, or even 210 mm longer lens, or else the normal and a 90 mm wide angle) quickly -- or at least to swap glass in one shutter while the other remains in the camera to keep dust from multiplying.

Obviously, lenses originally made to fit dial-set Compur shutters will work (or at least this size -- was there another size of dial-set that I need to watch out for?), which (from the ones I've seen) include 15 cm and 16.5 cm, made for larger plate cameras, and possibly a 10.5 cm or so made for smaller cameras. However, the glass from my somewhat newer rim-set Compur won't fit; the rim-set has a larger thread diameter than the Dial-set.

So, the question is -- what other shutters have the same thread for mounting the glass? I occasionally see 10x15 and 18x24 plate cameras on eBay at prices low enough to buy for the glass, if I'm sure the glass will fit my shutters; in addition, one can occasionally see a mounted or unmounted classic lens in the same venue.

I'm prompted to this by some portraits I made of my grandmother in September, which required considerable cropping to be viewed as actual portraits (head and shoulders or head and torso), even though the camera was set up only about five feet from the subject...

David F. Stein
14-Jan-2005, 06:49
Don, I would look up Equinox Photographic-JC Welch. He can help with your question and they often have what you are looking for, spare cells of lenses without shutters. I have a similar 9x12 folding plate camera that uses bayonet lens/shutter combos, but have never found another for it. The 150mm, 165mm lenses fitted to 10x15 folding plate cameras generally have shutters that are physically larger than with the 9x12s. What is sometimes more fun, is "tape fitting" another lens to an existing plate camera-I have used a Kodak Anastigmat from a Kodak Autographic, a Polaroid Tominon, a Graflex Optar, other vintage lenses a la Rodenstock or Goerz, etc.-all inexpensive and fun to use. GOOD LUCK IN YOUR QUEST.

Ole Tjugen
14-Jan-2005, 07:00
I have tried that - and found it to be a pre-standardisation problem. I have a Begheil 9x12 with a 150/4.5 Heliar lens and a Rodenstock one with a 135/3.5 Eurynar lens. The shutters look exactly the same, but are not. The cell threads are slightly different, and none match newer shutters.

Paul Fitzgerald
14-Jan-2005, 09:06
Hi there,

Dial set Compurs are usually matched to the lens set they came with and will NOT fit any other lenses. Thread sizes and cell spacing are all different, so are the mounting flanges just to make things interesting. Most internal parts were hand fit to each housing and do not swap over without hand fitting and adjusting.

Have fun with them.

Paul Butler
14-Jan-2005, 12:00
My circa 1928 ZI Ideal is fitted with a 15cm f4.5 tessar. I get excellent images with this lens, provided that the sun is behind me (black and white emulsion). Admittedly, I generally use it well stopped down.

Note that the shutter (original to the camera) is significantly larger than the dial set Compur on my 13.5 cm. tessar (not originally fitted to the Ideal). I have read that Ideals were made with two different bayonet configurations, so this doesn't necessarily signify much if your shutters fit your Ideal. I think the limiting factor is the diameter of the rear element, provided that the shutter fits between the vertical supports of the front standard.

Here's my take on the Ideal: No swings or tilts, except that you can drop the bed. However, front rise and shift. So you have perspective controls but no focusing aids.

However, the camera and gear is so compact and lightweight for 4x5 (well, 9x12 cm which is virtually the same thing) that I can fit it all in a standard camera bag, and can carry it on my shoulder for hours (the camera, 8 film holders, plus other necessary equipment). So it ends up going places that my 5x7 gear does not. I intend to get some mounts machined and screwed to modern shutters, so that I can fit additional lenses to the camera.

In my opinion, if I can get the exposure correct, see an interesting composition, and produce a technically acceptable print, then I have an image I can display or sell. If, however, I can't manage to get the exposure right, or I can't see a striking composition, or find good light, or make a decent print, then no APO Symmar L or any other modern lens will be able to help me. I think that 99% of the people who end up seeing my work will never guess that I used a lens made in 1928, if the image is taken using the tessar, provided that I get right the things I need to get right.

It is my job to be sure that the age of the lens is the last thing on their minds while viewing the image, in any case! To quote other writers in this forum, equipment is not a "magic bullet". I've hit pay dirt several times with my venerable tessars, they still are useful to me.

Donald Qualls
16-Jan-2005, 09:52
Thanks, everyone!

I'll try to look up Equinox Photography, certainly, but it hadn't even occurred to me that the dial-set Compurs would be individually fitted for different lenses -- that would imply that the lenses were bought from the optics factory in pre-assembled, pre-threaded cells, and everything else made to fit the lens cells rather than the lenses being made to fit a particular shutter or class of shutter. I guess that makes sense in a 1920's frame of reference; the lenses might well be used in a dozen different models of camera and 4-5 different shutters, and lenses were much more expensive than shutters in any case.

I had previously considered fabricating bayonet plates to fit on existing shutters, but hadn't followed up on it -- I think it would require replacing a couple screws holding the back plate on the shutter with longer ones (a couple mm longer) that would go through the mounting plate (which has the potential to be a major pain), or drilling and tapping holes for new screws to mount the bayonet plate to the shutter -- and then you still have to have a shutter and lens with a rear element small enough to fit through the hole in the standard. But that may be the only way to go if the shutters aren't all the same thread, even in the same size; I'm certainly not going to pay S. K. Grimes to fit a lens to one of these shutters when I have less than $125 invested in the entire camera outfit, including the second Ideal (Ica version) that needs a new bellows.

I agree, Paul -- and nothing you can do with your APO Symmar L will cure not having the camera equipment with you. My Ideal, 10 film holders, Kawee Camera and three holders, two boxes of film, three ABS tubes for storing exposed film, changing bag, and accessories all fit in a shoulder bag that weighs under twenty pounds and doesn't look like a camera bag. The only thing that doesn't fit in that bag is the tripod -- and my surveyor's tripod has a strap that locks the legs together and another that I can put over my shoulder to carry it easily. And as you say, a correctly exposed, well composed image shot with an uncoated Tessar will stand up to anything done with a modern lens on the same film.