View Full Version : Basic questions about barrel lenses

Marco Annaratone
5-Apr-2005, 05:02
Hi everybody,

I am really curious about actual usage of barrel lenses.

How do you attach one such lens to the leansboard? I have seen that some of them have a number of holes around the perimeter of the lens clearly for screws to attach the lens to a (wooden...) board. That's it? Make sure the hole is big enough and just screw the lens on the board? What about big big lenses? No problem in having the screws loosening up after a while? What about other methods to connect a barrel lens to the board, e.g., do some come with a retaining ring?

Another question is how many of you are in fact using barrel lenses and how you manually "shutter" them. The hat trick?


Ole Tjugen
5-Apr-2005, 05:26
Right on all counts!

Some come with integral mounting flange, to screw onto the lens board. Metal boards can be used with threaded holes and small metal screws.

Some come with mounting flanges or retaining rings, which makes everything a lot easier. Some come without any mounting, which is when things start to get difficult. I now have six brass barrel lenses, one with mounting holes, two with mounting flange, nd three which fit nothing at all. I also have four mounting flanges which fit none of my lenses, maybe we should set up a pool?

I also have a BIG big lens - an Industar-37 300mm f/4.5 - which I daren't attach to any of my cameras due to the weight.

There are three ways to deal with the lack of shutter:

1: Camera with focal-plane shutter

2: Behind-the-lens shutter - Packard, Thornton-Picard or similar; or front-mount shutter (several dozen types throughout the history), or

3: The "hat trick".

I have used the latter, but it really takes a slow film and long exposure times to get anywhere near correct times. EFKE PL25 is my friend :)

Dan Fromm
5-Apr-2005, 06:45
Marco, I use a variety of lenses in barrel on 2x3 Graphics. Perhaps large format, perhaps not.

Of them, three are on boards, mounted rather strangely. Two have rear sections too large to pass through my camera's front standard. Each of them is held to its board by an externally threaded flange that clamps the board between the back of the barrel and the flange. The third sort of fits, and is held in place by a clamp that sits behind the board, grabs the lens by the barrel, and holds it to the board.

The others are all held in front of a #1 shutter by a number of more-or-less cup-shaped adapters. This isn't always a good solution for formats larger than 2x3, at least with a #1, maximum aperture ~ 30 mm in diameter, because of possible vignetting by the shutter. At the least it will reduce the movements available. This isn't a problem with my Speed and Century Graphics because, practically speaking, they have no movements.

I didn't front mount the three lenses that I use on board because their back focuses are too short. For them, mounting in front of (4"/2.o and 12"/4 Taylor Hobson) or through the board (1.75"/2.8 Elcan) was the only way.

I have a pair of Elcans that I can't use on my camera because they're too fat to clear the front standard and their back focus is shorter than my Speed's minimum flange-to-film distance. They could be made to work on a 4x5 Speed, though.

Hope this helps,


J. P. Mose
5-Apr-2005, 06:48
There is a lot of infomation about Packard shutters if you do a search. Here is their website for starters:


5-Apr-2005, 07:19
I've found with heavy lenses mounted on wooden boards that it's best to drill all the way through the board and attach the lens with bolts, washers and nuts. I've had small wood screws pull back through the board if the lens is heavy enough.

Depending on how the lens is made, sometimes the flange can be used as a retaining ring with a metal lens board. Just push the lens through the board and screw the flange on. On some lenses, the f-stop lever prevents mounting this way.

I've used barrel lenses with the hat trick for several years and rarely miss a shutter.

Ernest Purdum
5-Apr-2005, 07:21
If you have a lens without a flange, they are available, but big ones can be expensive. Camera stores may have some or they can be made by a local machine shop or by S.K. Grimes (www.skgrimes.com).

The nicest way to deal with barrel lenses is to have them mounted in front of a large shutter. This works well with many of the "process" lenses now available at modest cost, but won't work with most wide angle lenses. See the Grimes website for information on this possibility.

Benno Jones
5-Apr-2005, 09:10
I have a 300mm Red-Dot Apochromatic Artar mounted to a lens board using an iris mount (looks like a big aperture that closes down and locks to hold the lens) and a front-mount T-I shutter. I estimated the speed of the shutter at about 1/50th and have shot both negs and chromes successfully with this setup. Light, however, it is not! I think the lens, board, iris and shutter all together must weigh about 5 pounds! Luckily my Burke & James 8x10 seems to handle the load just fine.

5-Apr-2005, 09:46
I built a packard shutter box that slips on the front of my B&J 8x10, and is built to accept lenses mounted on 6 1/2" boards. I can use lenses as big a a huge 610 Apo Nikkor with no problem. I have had to build some lens board extentions using 3" ABS pipe caps, sort of like a reverse recessed board, for lenses that have a flange in the middle of the lens, works fine. The whole thing looks like a shaggy dog, but it has worked out very well.

David Van Gosen
5-Apr-2005, 21:24
The hat trick is a little easier if you've got a universal gel filter holder and an ND filter or two.

I'm using an old (pre-Anniversary) Speed Graphic for my barrel lenses. Since the lens boards are flat, I can make them for a few bucks out of 1/8" aluminum sheet from the hobby shop. Personally, I have a little trouble buying a $35 lens board so I can mount an $18 lens.

Might have to look at a Packard shutter for my Cambo. Didn't realize they were only $200. That's a sweet deal, considering that you only need one shutter.

If you need a lens flange, Equinox Photographic (and probably some other dealers) has spares for $15 or so. Good folks there, too.

If you're really stuck for a way to mount a barrel lens, and can't find a flange, you can always use a combination of wooden wedges and hotmelt glue to hold a lens in the board. Maybe you'll need a little gaffers tape to make it light-tight. This is the so-called "cheap" end of LF. Not everything here is pretty.