View Full Version : Lens for full plate camera

16-Feb-2016, 08:33
What is the best lens for wet Collodion full plate camera (6 1/2 x 8 1/2)?
Can I use Calumet Caltar 10 inch lens (no movement)?


Chauncey Walden
16-Feb-2016, 10:14
Based on what I use for whole plate I would think most 210 Plasmats or any 240 and up lens would work fine. A 240 Xenar would give you a nice and fast lens with enough coverage for 8x10 even. I'm guessing you'd prefer a 4.5 lens to a 5.6 one to gain an extra stop for the wet plate. I should also mention that the older lenses usually have a nice round aperture that along with the out of focus characteristics of a Tessar/Xenar will give a nice smooth background.

16-Feb-2016, 10:29
You can use any lens you want to, modern or old-timey; the faster aperture will be a plus with wet-plate work, but that usually means more money spent.
Some of the older Kodak Anastigmat lenses had a fast(er) f4.5 maximum aperture, you might find one in the 250mm range.

Scott Davis
16-Feb-2016, 10:33
IF the Caltar you're referring to is the old f6.3 one in an Ilex #3 shutter, it should cover 8x10 with limited movement, so it would be fine for whole plate. To maximize the "old-time" look of period-original wet plate, you would want to look for an antique brass lens, either a Petzval or Rapid Rectilinear design, as those were the lenses most commonly used in the wet plate era. Vintage brass Petzvals are now quite in vogue and are commanding a pretty penny. There are quite good RRs out there that are even reasonably fast (f5.6-f4.5-ish), although most RRs come in more like f6-f8. You don't mention what you want to shoot with wet plate - are you looking to do portraits, still life, landscapes, or something else? If you are not trying to do portraits, a Rapid Rectilinear would be more than sufficient.

Lachlan 717
16-Feb-2016, 14:07
I'm guessing you'd prefer a 4.5 lens to a 5.6 one to gain an extra stop for the wet plate.

Actually, 2/3rds of a stop.

Chauncey Walden
16-Feb-2016, 18:09

17-Feb-2016, 06:28
The main reason to have a fast lens is if you are shooting portraits. In the great white north, there is less light in winter. So outdoors at F6 or higher might be about a 10 second exposure (from what I hear from my northern wetplater friends), whereas it's usually 3 seconds down south. People start to blur if they have to hold still longer than 5 or 10 seconds. Artificial light will be about the same, unless you get some expensive lights and lots of them. So for portraits, try to get an F4.5 or faster lens. For any other type of photography, where a 20 or 30 second exposure doesn't matter, use whatever lens you want.

17-Feb-2016, 07:25
first you don't need a shutter for multi second exposures
second you don't need an aperture cause you will be shooting wide open

Suggest you consider a 9" (229.0mm) f/2.5 BUHL OPTICAL projector lens. The image it projects is great for whole plate portraits. Best of all is the price... I bought a mint condition one for south of $100 on EBay.

17-Feb-2016, 08:29
I love the look of my 10.5" Rapid Rectilinear. The slow f:8 aperture doesn't seem to make much difference, as it's used stopped down, anyhow. Absolutely gorgeous!