View Full Version : 4x5 Older Lenes???

Calamity Jane
18-May-2005, 19:56
With my nice new/old 4x5 folder I have been looking at lenses. A lot of the older lenses didn't have slow shutter speeds (slower than 1/25th). For my Tintypes, I needs speeds down to 1 Second and a decent f, like maybe f6 or f8. Something between 150 and 250mm would be good, and it has to be short enough to fit in the folder when closed.

I guess Graflex lenses would be in the range of what I am looking for?

Any suggestions on good, economy lenses that would do what I want? Any to stay away from?

Thanks gang!

Vick Vickery
18-May-2005, 20:02
If you have one laying around or want to get off cheap, you might try a 135mm Optar...cheap, easy to find, etc., with a -3 or -4 lens on the front to take it up to around 200mm+. Makes a good combination of focal lengths.

Mike Davis
18-May-2005, 21:22

I was going to make the same suggestion as Vick. The optars work well, are cheap, and will usually fit in the folder. I do like them at f11 more than f8, but they are good lenses for the money.

They will look newer to someone familiar with early 20th century cameras, but I think that overall it could be a good fit.

David F. Stein
18-May-2005, 22:06
What camera is your 4x5 folder? There is also a 152mm/162mm ?? Optar and there are 150mm and 165mm Tessars in good Compur or Compund shutters that were on 10x15 folding plate cameras. Also, anastigmats like a Unofocal can be found in 150/165mm. The 135mm Optar is no slouch-the one on my Buschman D is excellent. GOOD LUCK.

Dave Moeller
18-May-2005, 22:13
I was going to mention the 162mm Optar. Good lens once stopped down to f/8. I'm thrilled with the results I get with mine. They're not expensive when they come up, but they're not nearly as common as the 135mm lenses.

As mentioned multiple times, the 135mm "standard press camera lenses" are good when stopped down as well.

If you're looking for a wide angle lens, the old Schneider Angulon (not the "Super Angulon") is a popular choice. Generally available in Synchro-Compur shutters with times from 1/400 or 1/500 up to 1 second plus B. You'll have to stop down to f/22 to get sharp coverage to the corners of 4x5, but the combination works well and the lens is very small.

Struan Gray
19-May-2005, 01:11
A but a bit of physics: an uncoated lens will let through more soft UV than a coated or multicoated one. Tintype emulsions like blue and soft UV light, so you might want to think like a cinematographer and consider the t-stop as well as the f-stop. It's possible that an uncoated f6.8 lens might give you shorter exposures than a coated f4 lens.

One specific lens that is fast, sharp, uncoated and cheap is the 5" f4 Ross W.A.Xpress. WWII surplus, they get reasonable prices in the USA because St. Ansel used one, but they go for pennies in the UK as they were widely bought by amatuers in the 50s and 60s. They cover 5x7, and larger at portrait distances, although 8x10 would be a stretch. There are two on ebay.co.uk right now. No shutter, but they're small enough to be front-mounted.

Donald Qualls
19-May-2005, 04:20
Jane, another source you might consider is buying a cheap plate camera for the lens. These will be on the short side for 4x5 (typically 135 mm, for a 9x12 camera), but that's not a big problem at portrait distances (in fact, it can help if you're short on bellows), and they'll nicely cover 4x5, possibly with soft corners, at portrait distances. The cameras are often under $50 plus shipping, and the shutters usually just need cleaning -- and for this, you don't care if it has a ground glass, plate holders, or a good bellows. A dial-set Compur with uncoated Tessar would do everything you want to do (might even be *too* sharp, depending what you want for tintypes, though that's easily corrected with a diffusion filter or careful use of antisense movements), but I see these cameras with less illustrious lenses, too -- Doppel-Anastigmats and so forth -- that would be perfectly suitable for portraiture.

Edward (Halifax,NS)
19-May-2005, 06:27
I have two suggestions, 127mm f/4.7 Ysaron and 150mm f/9 G Claron. The 127mm is in a Copal 1 and the lens itself adds almost no size to the shutter. The G Claron might be a bit slow for you but it comes/fits in a Copal 0 and is tiny.

Calamity Jane
19-May-2005, 06:40
Lensworthy: My folder is a 4x5 Seroco.

Thanks for all the suggestions folks - I have a whole bunch on my "watch list" now on e-bay ;-)

19-May-2005, 07:28
CJ, the Kodak 203mm f:7.7 Ektar is sharp, sharp, sharp, and cheap, cheap, cheap (also tiny, in Supermatic shutter). A really great compromise for portrait and general/landscape.

Eric Rose
19-May-2005, 07:28
Actually another good one is the 150mm Rodenstock Geronar. It's 6.8 and very compact. Tessar design as well.

Alan Davenport
19-May-2005, 08:56
Newer lenses aren't necessarily "better" than the vintage designs. The older lenses will usually have smaller image circles, but can be pin-sharp. Problems are generally age-related, and include separation, fungus, scratches, etc. I've seen original lenses from Speed Graphics that give up nothing in sharpness to my modern Schneidenstocktars.

Also the older a shutter gets, the more likely it will have problems. Often the shutters have dried lubricants that now stick everything together instead of helping things move. The good news is that a stuck shutter is not a terminal problem. An overhaul of a shutter shouldn't be too expensive, or you can arrange a do-it-yourself CLA for the price of a bottle of lighter fluid (been there, done that, it works!)

Paul Fitzgerald
19-May-2005, 08:59
Hi there,

Any of the R.R. lenses in a Volute shutter, they run down to 3 seconds. They usually need a CLA but shops don't want to touch them, so they are cheap. If you find a clean one, make sure you get the mounting flange, their own special sizes.

Kodak #32 Anastigmat in Supermatic #3, 162mm/4.5, again it's own special flange size.

Zeiss Tessar IIB/6.3, any length.

There are just too many to pick from

Have fun with it.

Dan Fromm
19-May-2005, 09:03
Eric, see http://www.largeformatphotography.info/lenseslist.html It seems that the Geronar is a triplet. Another reason to respect triplets, eh?

Um, Jane, why does your proposed new lens have to fit inside the closed folder? Is this restriction really necessary? I ask because it limits y'r choices.

I have one of those uncoated 5"/4 Ross WA Xpres lenses that Struan mentioned. Oh, my, yes it flares. Jane, I have all of $1o in it. If you want to play with it, I'm sure we can work something out. But note that it is in barrel, stops only to f/11. Stuffing it into the front of a shutter will take a big shutter and some tinkering.

And Jane, pardon my ignorance, but how big is y'r Seroco's lensboard?

Calamity Jane
19-May-2005, 10:28
The Seroco doesn't have a lens board as such (yet) and up to about 3.5" overall will fit.

I just snagged a ILEX PARAGON 6 1/2" f4.5 Lens in Acme Shutter for a very modest sum, so I think that should do the job nicely.

Jim Galli
19-May-2005, 11:30
Agree with Paul. There are some marvelous old Rapid Rectilinears that are nearly worthless as far as value. Think about weaning yourself from shutters. There are many great old lenses in barrel for CHEAP. Old RR's are usually convertible. So a 5 1/2" RR would become about 9 1/2-10" with just rear cell. If the old Seroco came with one of these, take the front off and have a look through just the back cell. You may be surprised.

19-May-2005, 11:56
Plenty has been said about the lenses, but one possibly obvious thing hasn't...

On my 8x10 folder, I worried about a "leave on the camera" lens too. And I wanted a convertible to boot... I missed the most obvious solution to the problem...

When you fold up the camera, take the lens/board off and re-mount it backwards! Most lenses in shutter are much longer on the shutter side. Most folders have more room behind the lens board than in front. So a larger lens will fit when folded this way. I now keep T&R convertibles on my 8x10's ready to go, with a flip of the board...

This also answers the question of why rear elements often show more wear than the front elements, which always seemed odd to me, until I got the 8x10...

Gene Crumpler
19-May-2005, 14:58
I just finished testing my "new" 150 Grenor.
Excellent performance.

F-16 66 43
F-22 56 44

Tmax-100 film.

These go brand new at Calumet for under $300.

Jim Galli
19-May-2005, 22:14
Nice Score on the 8 inch Goerz Dagor. Usually the old B&L shutters come back to life with some clean up with tech spray. I have a couple that work great. Plus they look great! I was going to bid on that and lost track of time puttering in the garage. That'll cover 8X10 handily.

Calamity Jane
20-May-2005, 01:42
(To Jim:) Oh, you noticed that, did you? :-)

I landed the Ilex earlier in the day, which is working and I know will do the job, but I'd seen the B&L and it is more the right age for my Seroco folder. Since I budgeted $100 to put a lens on the folder and I got the Ilex for $61, I figured I could go to $40 on the B&L and still be within budget.

I called the seller to have him measure the shutter to see if it would fit on my folder. Then I hummed and hawed about buying a shutter on the speculation that I could overhaul it and get it working. I guess nobody else was watching it, since I got it for the starting bid.

I love it when a plan comes together! :-) :-) :-)