View Full Version : Help identifying a B&L ZS lens?

11-Sep-2015, 14:50
I want to get into wet plates tin types etc and came across (and bought for I think a good price) this Bausch & Lomb, Zeiss Saegmuller Brass & Chrome lens. The glass looks really nice and there are some markings on the rings that hold the lenses and the optical elements themselves, but nothing that makes sense to me (Haney?).
I looked for information online but were not successful.

Does anyone know more about this lens? Focal length, coverage, f/stop etc

Length of the lens ~5.5''
Diameter of the front (hood) a little under 3.5''
Diameter of the rear ~3''



11-Sep-2015, 14:51

11-Sep-2015, 14:52

11-Sep-2015, 15:26
Mr. Haney, from Green Acres!? You know it's gotta be good!

Seriously, B&L made the best lenses in America from about 1890 to 1920, along with Wollensak. I believe B&L glass was probably a little better, but the did make a lot of lenses, both for photographers, and for projectors, binoculars, etc. Some of the unnamed lenses were probably the latter type, so no fancy name like "Unar", "Protar" or "Tessar".

But it will still work very well for wetplate, and looks pretty fast. Make sure the rear two lenses have the most severely curved surfaces towards the inside, nested together, separated by the ring. The thinner one will face the inside of the camera, but it's hard to tell from your picture which that is. Usually a Petzval has one noticeable thin element, on the edge.

11-Sep-2015, 19:02
Hey Garrett,

Thanks for the insights and tips. Yeah the lenses seem as you described in terms of orientation.
It did look like a pretty good deal when I got the lens, even though I had no clue what it covers etc LOL
I guess it's a hit or miss, which is why i'd like to find as much info as I can.

Like you, all I could determine is that the B&L ZS partnership seems to date ~1900-1920. Besides that... it's still a mystery to me. So if someone has more info please... don't hesitate to share :D

12-Sep-2015, 07:23
I've had a number of these. The larger sizes are less common. Based on you saying it's only 5.5" tall, I'm going to guess it's about a 6-7" focal length, and around F4 or 5. That's a good size for quarterplate, though it might cover 4x5. It looks larger than that though, so go into a dark room, with one window opposite a wall. Point it towards the window, and hold it a few inches from the wall until an image forms of something outside that window, like a tree. From wall to the center of the lens is the focal length. Look at the image circle, which can be hard if your room is not dark enough. That shows coverage. You can use a ruler, or a piece of paper with various formats on it, to get a rough gauge if it would cover.

12-Sep-2015, 13:12
Thanks Garrett, I'll try that :) Hopefully someone actually knows more about it, would love to know exactly how old it is...
And that I can't determine in the dark room :D

Dan Fromm
12-Sep-2015, 13:36
Hmm. Isn't this thing a projector lens?

If you look here http://piercevaubel.com/cam/catalogslenses.htm you'll find a 1907 B&L catalog with no mention of Saegmuller and a 1908 B&L catalog with all three names on the frontispiece. Neither has any photographic objectives that resemble the OP's lens, nor do any later B&L catalogs.

12-Sep-2015, 14:24
Yeah it does look like it might be... The absence of water house being a pretty good hint.
I looked through the catalogs and actually saw the B&L ZS Logo in the 1912, but nothing in the 1920. Too bad there is none of the intermediate years to help narrow down the date more :D

12-Sep-2015, 16:37
That's what I said in my first post, "probably the latter type...." ie projector. Without the slot, that's what it is.