View Full Version : Legends of the large format lenses.

29-May-2005, 11:26
Share experience and tell your opinion -this information will be interesting to all! :)
Musicians very much respect old guitar amps, for example Fender Bassman and Marshall JTM 45. These amplifiers are old, heavy, making a lot of noise, but make a unique sound which to be repeated nobody even today. Question: wich of large format lenses can be named legendary (old and new)? Which lenses possess unique and individual "drawing"?

Armin Seeholzer
29-May-2005, 13:15
Older Universal Heliar, Heliar and Imagon!
Newer ones all Schneider XL lenses!

John Kasaian
29-May-2005, 13:39
In reference to older lenses, its a safe bet anything ending with "or" or "ar" is considered by somebody somewhere to be a "classic."

John Layton
29-May-2005, 14:01
14" Goerz Blue-Dot Trigor - the last series of this formula produced by Kern in Switzerland.

29-May-2005, 14:05
Kodak Ektar f:3.7/105mm. B&W prints from negatives made with this lens show an incredible clarity (like cut with a razor), although paradoxically an examination of the negatives themselves under high magnification details seem somewhat mushy. Despite being determined strictly by mathematical rules, depth of field seems to go on forever.

Alan Davenport
29-May-2005, 15:00
90mm f/8 Super Angulon.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
29-May-2005, 15:27
Well, as you see. everybody has a different answer.

I have an ancient tube amp on my home stereo which is able to produce a completely different sort of "round" tonality than my other, much newer, digital receiver. The sound is anything but "cleaner", it has all sorts of artifacts and weird distortions. I am hardly a music equipment junkie, just a bottom feeder, but I love the tube and hate the digital. Similarly, I have quite a few "clinically" sharp lenses, mostly modern plasmats which have to my eye no discernible personality whatsoever; super sharp, contrasty, and no distortion.

If I compare my tube amp to my lens collection, I would guess that the closest thing I have would be my Heliar; it isn't terribly sharp or contrasty, has a fair amount of color aberration, but it is able to create unique images which I prefer over those which my more modern and more "perfect" lenses produce.If I take one step further from perfection, portrait lenses such as the Petzval or soft focus like the Verito produce images even more unique. I love my 11" Dallmeyer and my tube amp, but sure wouldn't want to claim that they reproduce reality...

Mark Sawyer
29-May-2005, 15:30
Older lenses: Anything ever mentioned by Adams or Weston

Newer lenses: Anything with a sales pitch from Dagor77

David A. Goldfarb
29-May-2005, 16:42
Heliar fan myself. Bill's 105/3.7 Ektar is a coated Heliar-type. Kodak also made a 100/3.5 version for the 6x9cm Medalist camera, and I've adapted one from a defunct Medalist for 35mm use.

I have a few Dagors that have a lot of character and really wide coverage. Not as sharp as more modern designs, but for contact prints I prefer them to the newer lenses.

Apo-Artars are still remarkably sharp lenses.

Among the soft-focus lenses, I have two Veritos that I like.

29-May-2005, 20:35
"Not as sharp as more modern designs, but for contact prints I prefer them to the newer lenses."

makes a big difference! some old lenses that are otherworldly for making contact prints go to pieces when you enlarge.

29-May-2005, 21:05
I am learning to love a 305 Kodak Portrait Lens and an ancient #5 Voigtlander rapid rectiliniar type lens. The Kodak is sooooo dreamy, even stopped down. Vandyke prints from the Voigtlander are often mistaken for etchings. There is a great lust in my heart for a Petzval lens, but finances being what they are, I must work with what I have for now.

Ernest Purdum
29-May-2005, 22:40
brook, Working with what you have is a good idea. Even so, you might find a Petzval that won't strain your finances. Most of the old "Magic Lantern" projection lenses were Petzvals. There seem to be always a few of them on eBay. Demand is low and so are the prices. It's important to consider mounting. Having a flange made would be a real budgetbuster. Lack of diaphragms is less important and can be solved with cardboard. I have seen results by two professional portrait photographers making their living with these in the mid-1940's. The results werre typical Petzval type images.

John Kasaian, you left out "on".

John Kasaian
29-May-2005, 23:08


I'll see your "on" and raise a "to" "ax" and a "at" (so the classic Wollensaks are covered too)

29-May-2005, 23:35
Your advice will be taken to heart. I have managed to get barrel lenses on my camera without flanges in the past.

Kirk Gittings
30-May-2005, 00:41
Nikkor 120 SW. I believe the widest lens that would cover 8x10. Never tried it though on 8x10. It is superb on 4x5.

Ole Tjugen
30-May-2005, 00:50
Voigtländer's Heliar, Universal-Heliar and APO-Lanthar.

Carl Zeiss Planar.

Pre-WWII Schneider Angulon - they had greater coverage even than the newer Super-Angulon!.

Aplanats (and Rectilinears) are great for contact printing, with a very smooth transition from sharp centre to soft corners.

30-May-2005, 03:54
The old amplifier belief is a fallacy.

30-May-2005, 08:44
usually wollensak portrait lenses that begin with the letter "V" have a following ...
vitax, verito, varium, veritar ...

Don Wallace
30-May-2005, 10:25
Apo-Lanthars and Kodak Commercial Ektars. Both have their own unique way of rendering colour. The Apo-Lanthar in particular is sooooooo nice.

Nick Morris
30-May-2005, 13:55
13" Series 1A Wollansak Triple Convertible (13"-20"-25"). I have both the earlier uncoated Velostigmsat and a newer coated Raptar. Also a 16 1/4 " Series 1A Raptar Triple (16 1/4"-25"-36"...I believe these are the focal lengths - lens is out in the car). The 13" is for 8x10; the 16 1/4" for 11x14, though I do not have an 11x14... use it on my 8x10. The 13" Raptar ( coated lens) is very sharp and contrasty, even though it has extreme decementing in the front element. The older Velostigmat has a chip in the rear glass of the front element that I filled with varnish, but it is very sharp, and I like the look of the prints... less contrasty than the Raptar. These comments refer to the combined prime groupings. I haven't used the single elements enough to comment on their performance. I also have 8 1/4" amd 9 1/2" Dagors, which are very good.

I believe these lenses classify as classics. I only contact print B&W, and have been very satisfied.

Mark Sawyer
30-May-2005, 15:47
Ngmorris got me to thinking... while I have a couple of Dagors (8 1/4" & 12"), I find myself using my Velostigmats (6 1/4", 9 1/2", 12") more often. The Velostigmats seem very similar (in my eyes) to the uncoated Dagors, and usually go for half the price or less. Both are double anastigmats, though there are different formulas for that type of lens.

Velostigmats don't get the respect they deserve, and may be the great "unknown classic lens."

Dan Fromm
30-May-2005, 16:20
Mark, which series Velostigmat do you have? I ask because my one dinky little Velostigmat Ser. II is a tessar type, not a 6/2 double anastigmat.



Mark Sawyer
30-May-2005, 17:46
Dan- From the 1912 Wollensak Catalog, (courtesy, www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info.html, the following: "Velostigmats are fully corrected objectives of the Anastigmat type. The name "Velostigmat" is a trade name adopted to distinguish Wollensak Anastigmats from other makes..." Page 6 of the catalog refers to the Series II as an Anastigmat design.

There were quite a few Velostigmats through the years, and some may not have been Anastigmats, but it wouldn't seem likely given the above. If anyone knows whether Raptars are Anastigmats, I'd be interested in hearing...

My Velostigmats are as follows:

12" f/4.5 Series II Velostigmat (no soft focus adjustment) in a Betax #5 shutter (uncoated)

9 1/2" f/4.5 Series II (w/ soft focus adjustment) in a Studio shutter (uncoated)

6 1/4" f/12.5 Series IIIA EX.W.A. in an Alphax shutter (uncoated)

6 1/4" f/12.5 (no series #) Velostigmat Extreme W.A. in a Rapax shutter (coated)

Note that the Series IIIA was not marked as a Velostigmat, though the later (coated) one was. Also of note when comparing the two 6 1/4" lenses, while both have maximum working apertures of f/12.5, and both open well beyond that for focusing, the older lens has elements about 1/8" wider than the newer one. (Did you catch that, Kerry?)

30-May-2005, 18:33
300mm Apo-Lanthar

nuff said

31-May-2005, 08:06
I bought an old Rapid Rectillinear for $15 thinking it would be a Sally Mann type lens. When I received it, I realized I had a triple convertible and that the glass was pristine. It's become my favorite lens.

The old-amp belief is not a fallacy, if by old amp, one means a tube (valve) amplifier. Tubes distort according to what is called, in music, the overtone series. In electronics, it's usually called harmonics. Tubes, when they distort, produce sound that we hear as natural and more lush. Solid state electronics produce a full band of frequencies when distorting. When a solid state amp distorts, we hear it as harsh or noisy.

Nick Morris
31-May-2005, 09:14

Speaking of Velostigmats, I also have a Series IV f6.8 9 1/2" Velostimat that came with my first 8x10, an Eastman 2D. That lens came in Optimo shutter. The lens has separation around the edge, a chip in the rear element, and scratches a plenty on the front element, but I 've gotten some of my favotite pictures with it. It really digs in to the shadows. I guess you would say it is on the soft side for contrast, but it is sharp enough for B&W contact printing; just punch up the contrast some in the printing. I missed what looked like a nice example in a Betax shutter. I'd like to get another one, also a 12', but they don't seem to come up often. I don't think they classify as classics, but still a good lens in my opinion.

Dan Fromm
31-May-2005, 09:17
Mark, thanks for the reply.

Tessars are anastigmats, have four elements in three groups. Dagors and the like are anastigmats, have six elements in two groups. Each of a Dagor's lens groups is an anastigmat too, hence the name double anastigmat. Not all double anastigmats are 6/2, I have a Goerz 130/6.8 Doppel Anstigmat sold to me as a Dagor that is in fact a four elements in four groups dialyte type lens.

AFAIK, Series II Velostigmats are all tessar types.

AFAIK, and I could well be mistaken, Series III Velostigmats are double Gauss types. Anastigmats, but not double anastigmats like the Dagor.



Brian Vuillemenot
31-May-2005, 09:25
Apo Sironar S series- I can't believe that I'm the first to mention it.

Ernest Purdum
31-May-2005, 12:13
Mostly for Dan and Mark,

It's dangerous to make broad statements about Wollensak lenses, since there seem to be big gaps in the information about their products. Even so, I'm quite sure that all Raptars are anastigmats. Wollensak seems to have used quite different names for all of their soft-focus non-anastigmat lenses.

The Series III (f9.5) is a rather elaborate anastigmat with eight elements in four groups. The Series IIIa (f12.5) is also an anastigmat, but I have never seen a diagram of its construction. I think Dan is probably right in guessing it to be a double Gauss. Both types benefit more from coating than most other constructions.

The lens sold to Dan as a "Dagor" is an example of the importance of lens "Series" in identifying them. I'm thinking Dn's lens is a Series 1c, known after 1904 as the "Syntor", although the usual maximum aperture was f6.3. Goerz Series 1 seems to have been the original ancestor of all the great dialyte lenses that we have enjoyed since.

Dan Fromm
31-May-2005, 12:42
Ernest, about my 130/6.8 Doppel Anastigmat. If the VM, which is sometimes wrong, is right, it could be a Syntor or a Tenastigmat or a Kalostigmat. Unfortunately, it is engraved only "Doppel Anastigmat Goerz."

I asked how to tell the three apart some time ago, got no useful answers. I fear that in this case there are none.

When you say "all Raptars are anastigmats," what do you mean? I ask because reasonably modern lenses that are not anastigmats are pretty rare.



Ernest Purdum
31-May-2005, 17:22
Dan, I was replying to Mark's implied question 'If anyone knows whether Raptars are Anastigmats. I'd be interested in knowing". You're right that "reasonably modern" lenses that are not anastigmats are pretty rare. The Imagon and Fuji soft-focus plus the new Cooke version of the Pinkham Smith are the first that come to mind. Wollensak did at least make some Veritars at the same time as Raptars. Maybe Vitax, too?



Mark Sawyer
31-May-2005, 18:55
My fault on misunderstanding something, guys! For the last twenty-some years, I thought an anastigmat was a specific lens formula, like a Tessar, a Dialyte, a Plasmat, a double Gauss... Well, I'm dumb and it's not; an anastigmat is any lens formula corrected for astigmatism. (How well corrected, I'm not sure...) So Dan is right, and Tessars, along with just about every photographic lens made in the last hundred years or so, is an anastigmat. And I presume the double anastigmat just means that the individual cells on either side of the shutter are each individually corrected for astigmatism, regardless of the design.

I'm going to go stand in the corner of the forum and feel stupid now...

(BTW, there's a 159mm f/9.5 just listed at that auction site, and it's the first 159mm I remember seeing that's marked as a Raptar.)

Andrew O'Neill
31-May-2005, 19:14
Hey Kirk! I have a Nikkor 120 SW and it indeed covers 8x10 with very slight movements. Really cool images can be had with this lens on this format!

Jim Galli
1-Jun-2005, 18:10
Oh boy, I could go on all day. I have many lenses that fall into this category. Just before I stopped at this thread I was scanning some portraits done this last weekend with the Kodak Improved #2 and a 15" Petzval type Bausch & Lomb projector lens. It's a nice old lens, has zero value, I think I paid about $22 bucks for it. Just before the weekend I hot glued it to a Kodak lens board (no flange could be found in the flange box) and installed a Packard in the Kodak. I had 32ASA Kodak Aerial Pan X, 125 ASA Ilford FP4, and 200 ASA Bergger. Since there is no aperture and just the single Packard speed (1/8 second by my tester) I would shuffle the different films depending on available light. The B&L lens is f6.6 arrived by measuring the max width and dividing into the focal length. At 22" bellows for head shots that becomes f8 1/2 and that's what I used. I haven't gotten to print any of the portraits yet but the scans are revealing some of the creamiest softest most beautiful portraits this photog has done to date. Just exactly what I was after. So Brook, Ernest is right on. Most of them are only 6 or 8 inches though. You may have to wait a bit for a longish one to come along.

Mason and Caedon

Mark Sawyer
1-Jun-2005, 20:27
Beautiful photograph, Jim, and a nice reminder that not all the qualities of a photograph are measured in line pairs per millimeter.

2-Jun-2005, 09:12
Geogrous Jim. My task is in front of me. I thought I was going to have to move next door to you, mow your lawn and try to borrow lenses

Jim Galli
2-Jun-2005, 17:10
"I thought I was going to have to move next door to you, mow your lawn and try to borrow lenses"

Actually, that would work.

Jim Rice
2-Jun-2005, 19:39
My 16.5" RD Apo-Artar is so sharp that I fear walking past it, for fear of getting cut. I must agree that Jim's photograph is very nice.

Tom Diekwisch
11-Jun-2005, 01:30
Among the large format lenses made for macro photography, the Luminars have become timeless legends. In addition to the multicoated Zeiss 135mm Planar, the 75mm Biogon is a legend in its own right. Zeiss' Germinars and APO-Germinars have a well-deserved cult-status, mostly in Europe though.

The Gold Dot Dagors have certainly legendary status, especially the multicoated Schneider version made by Kern. Others should be called legends, but are too common to have achieved this status: the Super-Angulon XL wide angle lenses because of their coverage, the Super-Symmar XL lenses for their coverage, light weight, and sharpness, and the APO-Tele-Xenar for their sharpness in their class. In terms of image characteristics, the Rodenstock Imagon is definitely unique. Other portrait lenses are equally outstanding, the Graf Variable Anastigmat comes to mind.

11-Jun-2005, 09:22
My favorites are: 16.5" Dagor....30" red dot artar.....14 1/2" verito in studio shutter......but the lens that amazes me most is my 14" blue dot Trigor. It covers like a Dagor but is as sharp as an Artar. The Verito becomes a 24" lens by removing the front barrel and surprizingly enough makes great images without much loss in image quality. As far as newer lenses I'm sure they all are great lenses but I like what I can accomplish with the older glass.

Ted Harris
11-Jun-2005, 09:29
Tom mentioned the Zeiss Germinars. Not to forget their more modern 'children' the Docter Germinars made during the brief few years in the 199o's when Docter Optics, Wetzlar owned and operated the former East German Zeiss plant and owned all the patents. Perhaps our Zeiss/Docter expert Arne Corell will weigh in but for my part I own two fo these lenses and find them outstanding performers at what, when purchased, were superb prices.

16-Jun-2005, 04:36
Hallo! Thanks to all, that supported topic! Very interestingly! You do not represent, as have helped many photographers to be defined with a choice of objectives!!! Still time of many thanks! :-)

But I have not understood: Wollensak- legend or no? :-)

And what you will tell about: Kodak Portrait Lens 16`` /f4.5, Voigtlander Dynar and Hugo Meyer lenses?

There is one more silly question (in opinion of some people), but, maybe, somebody will understand me: Which of objectives "add air " in a print? Laws of physics it will not explain, but I am assured -many saw such "3D" photos.

John Kasaian
16-Jun-2005, 09:19

Are you interested in "legendary" lenses from a user's viewpoint or that of a collector?

If your interest is in terms of actually using vintage glass I think the photographer's abilities are a bigger part of the formula than if a lens is either a tessar or a gnauss.

Edward Weston used some really crummy lenses but his photographs are certainly legendary. O. Winston Link shot many photos with Optars(Wollensaks rebadged for Graflex) which are usually considered 'so-so' as lenses go, but Link's photos are rightfully Legends (at least in my book!)

Ansel Adams used a Cooke triple convertable for many outstanding photos, but he also used a Turner Reich in his early years. Niether of these lenses would make photos look "Adams-y" but many today follow the zone system religiously and shoot at the same locations Adams did and the results turn out very "Adams-y" but they'll more often than not use modern Nikkor or Schneiders or Rodenstocks(perhaps because they might not be able to afford a new Cooke!) as well as modern films, papers and chemistry since much of the the stuff Ansel Adams used is no longer available. This begs the question of whether or not copying a technique rather than trying to develop your own is "healthy" or not(but that is another issue!)

I think where the choice of glass really comes into importance is with soft focus lenses. Except for the Imagon and now the Cooke Pinkham, I don't recall hearing of any modern soft focus lenses being marketed. I read once that the great Hurell used a Verito but switched to a Kodak after being hired by a motion picture studio Why? I don't know---I can't tell any difference between his early and later work though. As for soft focus lenes, Wollensak made a slew of them but so did other companys. I'm not sophisticated enough to tell the difference between photos taken with a Verito from a Heliar but many some of us are(probably Jim Galli or john nanian can!) Even so, just being a soft focus lens by itself dosen't guarantee you can get Hurrel-oid images as other factors(lighting, pose, and a retouching desk) also were elemental in achieving the Hurrel "look" From personal experience, I know I can take a bona fide "legendary" lens and make an absolutely horrible photograph.


16-Jun-2005, 14:28
Hallo, John & ALL!!!

Thanks for your answer! I agree with yours opinion -bad hands will spoil a good lens. :-) But I`m not the collector. I`m young (1983), I`m engaged in a photo a floor of year and earlier I use Nikon FM. The some photos made by me by this chamber share on www.shtativ.com. But it is not enough this format..(Besides to print from small negatives very dearly...Much more cheaply contact print...) And recently I have bought old Zeiss Ikon 150/f4.5 Tessar (4x5``) and I study LF. Now I designing the easy and strong 11x14 camera from the titan for distant mountain trips, than I take a great interest. Beauty which is seen by me, should see all! But, the matter is that I live in Russia and I`m strongly limited in money and a choice. I need two focal lengths -35-45 mm and 85-95 mm in an equivalent of 35 mm film. John, do not deny, the technics or helps or prevents to embody to us our creative imaginations ;-) Therefore I wish to spend the money as much as possible effectively, that my sight at the world was transferred with the best lenses. Let I shall work much and in all to myself to refuse, but I need the best. My brain is full fresh ideas -to me the best equipment is necessary only to transfer mine a sight to people as much as possible qualitatively.

I shall achieve my plans at any cost for me!!! And if you will help me, I shall be very grateful to you! Try to understand, that this information not only for me, and for many of photographers which wish to shote qualitatively, but cannot read through somewhere about it, as in Russia. The advice you help with a choice to many people. Therefore concern to each advice responsibly - to opinion largeformatphotography.info trust all over the world!

So for me is 3 necessities:

1) a format 11x14``

2) individual and unique figure for landscape (35-45mm =24x36) and a portrait (85-95mm =24x36)

3) where it is possible to read your book? :-)

Ole Tjugen
16-Jun-2005, 14:30
"And what you will tell about: Kodak Portrait Lens 16`` /f4.5, Voigtlander Dynar and Hugo Meyer lenses? "

Most Portrait lenses were Petzval type, or the Dallmeyer version of the same. They are all very sharp in the center and very soft everywhere else.

Voigtländer Dynar is a curious case: Nearly every Heliar lens ever made was a Dynar lens! Voigtländer discovered that the Dynar construction was much better, but preferred the Heliar name. Incidentally the equally legendary Apo-Lanthar (I've mentioned that before, haven't I?) is also a Dynar lens...

Hugo Meyer was one of the very good lensmakers in Germany in the beginning of the 20th century. Another one was Emil Busch, and Suter in Switzerland was yet another one. I'm lucky enough to own a Busch Weitwinkel-Aplanat, and it's in perfect shape. Even 100 years old it looks like new, which cannot be said about equally old lenses from other makers. That may be at least part of the reason why these are "legendary": They are still as fine as they were made!

Sinc I happen to own both Heliar, Apo-Lanthar, Tessar, Xenar, Eurynar, Planar, Symmar, Angulon, "Anastigmat", "Rapid Rectilinear" and Aplanat lenses of approximately the same focal lengths, I'm actually in a position to compare them :)

I like the Lanthar most, the Heliar slightly less because it's uncoated, the Planar because it's very sharp at full aperture, the Symmar because it's convertible, the Angulon for it's coverage (and it's convertible too in an emergency), the old Xenar typ D for NOT bing as sharp as the Planar at full aperture, the Tessar-types (Tessar, Skopar, Xenar) for the generally very good sharpness, the Eurynar may well be the sharpest of all at f:16, the Aplanat and RR have the characteristic soft corners and "plasticity", and so on...

In some cases I can see which lens has been used. Stop down to f:22 and it's impossible to tell 1912 O.Simon Anastigmat from a Heliar - or Zeiss Planar.

Paul Fitzgerald
19-Jun-2005, 08:56

"But I have not understood: Wollensak- legend or no? :-) "

Wollensak was a real company and they made quite a few fine lenses

"And what you will tell about: Kodak Portrait Lens 16`` /f4.5, Voigtlander Dynar and Hugo Meyer lenses? "

Kodak Portrait 16"/4.5 was listed for 8x10", is a single pair behind the iris, is coated and color corrected and Kodak's booklet says that it should be focused at the shooting aperture because stopping down does NOT increase depth of field in front of the focus point. Laws of physics be damned. Actually a few other lenses and most single cells of combination lenses do the same thing, so much for 'laws'.

Voigtlander Dynar has more coverage than an equal Heliar and much the same look. Pick one up if you find one.

Hugo Meyer had a fine reputation, not to be confused with 'Carl Meyer' a house brand for Burke&James.

"There is one more silly question (in opinion of some people), but, maybe, somebody will understand me: Which of objectives "add air " in a print? Laws of physics it will not explain, but I am assured -many saw such "3D" photos."

That would need a lens glass that is 100mm or wider physically AND the photographer to do his part. The glass is wider than the distance between human eyes and can 'see' around an object at close distance.

"I read once that the great Hurell used a Verito but switched to a Kodak after being hired by a motion picture studio Why? I don't know---I can't tell any difference between his early and later work though."

According to one biography, he switched to a Goerz Celor when he switched from ortho to pan film. The Verito was not color corrcted and had a focus shift. Just something I read. Either way he did fine work but I don't think he limited himself to just 1 lens as ledgend has it.

Too many lenses, too little time.

29-Jun-2005, 05:55

David A. Goldfarb
29-Jun-2005, 10:14
I think Hurrell's move to a sharp lens from a soft lens also had to do with the ability to control the sharp or soft characteristics more precisely with retouching. The smooth look of a Hurrell portrait comes from pencil on the negative as much as from lighting, and probably lighting and retouching are more important for Hurrell than the choice of lens (which is to say, any non-soft focus lens of the appropriate focal length would do).

Sanders McNew
5-Jul-2005, 20:12
This thread contained this exchange:

"There is one more silly question (in opinion of some people), but, maybe, somebody will understand me: Which of objectives "add air " in a print? Laws of physics it will not explain, but I am assured -many saw such "3D" photos." That would need a lens glass that is 100mm or wider physically AND the photographer to do his part. The glass is wider than the distance between human eyes and can 'see' around an object at close distance.

Can anyone elaborate? What is "air"? What the photographer expected to do to get "air"? And is the observation about 100mm+ optics correct? Can someone point me in the direction of further reading? I just started shooting with an old 30cm Heliar that is just huge -- I was unaware that its width would have an effect on image size.

Sanders McNew


Oren Grad
5-Jul-2005, 20:45
Apo Sironar S series- I can't believe that I'm the first to mention it.

Don't want Brian Vuillemenot to be lonely, so I'll second the motion.


Jack Freymuller
15-Jul-2005, 21:40
I've used mostly 35 and 120 over the years and now, in retirement, I simply play with glass wherever I find it. This seems like the right place for an answer. I have a lens called a B-L Special Anastigmat F6.3 without any focal length or format markings. It is in a partially-disassembled Optimo on a 3-1/4 square lens board, probably for one of the earlier US field cameras such as the Rochesters. Besides the lack of focal length or format marking, note the "B-L" instead of B&L. I don't have anything to put it in so I made a sliding tube
assembly with the lens fixed at one end and a sliding ground glass inside. At 200 or so feet it appears to have a focal length of 4 to 4-1/2 inches. Can't tell what it covers. I have lots of research material but I cannot find anything on this lens.
Can someone help?

Roy Moran
24-Jul-2005, 22:21
Tom Diekwisch mentions:

"The Gold Dot Dagors have certainly legendary status, especially the multicoated Schneider version made by Kern. " I wonder if he means the 355 mm gold dot dagor that Schneidermade some time ago. That has been one of my favorite lenses on the 4x5. Back when you could buy one new, I gulped and sent the price to some outfit in New York City. I've never been sorry!

More recently, I got a Burke and James 5x7 monorail camera with this lens:

"WOLLENSAK 8 3/4" (222 MM) f/7.7 W-in-a-C SERIES IA RAPTAR"

It's in an Alphax shutter marked for all three focal lengths. So far, I have not been able to use it, but I do look forward to it.

Paul Coppin
25-Jul-2005, 07:12
My legends are the ones I'm actually able to afford, and own - My Fuji, couple of Sironar Ss, my Schneiders, a Nikon...

21-Sep-2005, 01:29
Recently one known photographer has told to me, that all the lenses who have a big nomber at opened aperture has a legendary status or near it. Is it the truth?

Ole Tjugen
21-Sep-2005, 02:35
If I understand you correctly - large aperture - yes, in a way. There are no modern 300mm f:4.5 made, so they are all old, classic and in a way "legendary". Same for 150mm f:3.5 and wider.

If I misunderstood and you realy mean a large number and not a large opening, the answer is the same. Many old wide-angle lenses had maximum apertures of f:16 to f:32, and they are "legendary" as well but for different reasons. The f:18 Weitwinkel Protar is small, light, and has huge coverage. The Goerz Hypergon even more so. On the other hand the Staeble Monoplast f:14 is not legendary, merely old...

John Kasaian
21-Sep-2005, 02:37


Many Protars are notoriously slow (big numbers=tiny f/stops) while Veritos are quite fast when shot wide open (little numbers=big f/stops) Both types certainly qualify as legendary.


21-Sep-2005, 07:04
-= Shtativ [i]"There is one more silly question (in opinion of some people), but, maybe, somebody will understand me: Which of objectives "add air " in a print? Laws of physics it will not explain, but I am assured -many saw such "3D" photos." That would need a lens glass that is 100mm or wider physically AND the photographer to do his part. The glass is wider than the distance between human eyes and can 'see' around an object at close distance. [/i

How very strange. While the wording above might be colored by translation, I have heard the phrases before, in 1967 from a nonphotographer, a young Oxford philosophy student. He spoke of "air" (space), "3D" and "seeing around an object at close distance" with a camera.

It is too easy to dismiss the effects as being physically impossible, so let's consider them literally. Shtativ might be speaking to the effects of shallow DOF as "air". "Seeing around" and "3D" might speak to light that models smooth, organic contours in a pleasing way with a soft lens. When asked what subject he considered for the later, the gentleman said "That pepper picture". The picture in question was Edward Weston's final pepper image which (I think) was done with a wide-angle to gives the impression of intimacy. (And do you get the feeling that the camea or film moved during exposure?) Other early images that might give similar impressions is Stieglitz's "Two Towers", and possibly "Terminal".

Given my assumptions, the answers Shtativ is looking for point to lenses which evince softness, wide apertures or close-ups with LF and blurred backgrounds, and subjects (or camera) movement, so the lenses in question could be almost _any_ late 19th and early 20th century lenses used under the above circumstances.

21-Sep-2005, 15:31
I hope, what I have not spoiled to anybody mood?

I shall tell to the order. For the different reasons I have not enough money. Yes, I`m not the professional photographer аnd was shot on a small format. I am young and I shoot only 1 year. All my best early photos on www.shtativ.com . I very much wish to shoot professionally- much I study and have bought Zeiss Ikon Ideal 250/7 (9x12cm) with Tessar and started to communicate gradually at largeformatphotography.info , because much that I do not understand, but I wish to understand! But Tessar is not that.. It`s very good lens, but not that.. And why? One year ago I have seen the photos what made with Heliar or Color Heliar-I dont remember.. But it was a normal focal lenght lens. Photos does not soft and not low contrastly, but that pictures... It was so beautifully... Mmm.. It would be desirable to enter into it... And real world- M-O-N-E-Y... I will not have not enough money for color-heliar.. And consequently I search for cheap replacement to it. Simultaneously many beginning photographers learn as correctly to spend the money when will listen to advice of skilled photographers. Therefore so many not clear questions.

If, what not so - I`m sorry...

21-Sep-2005, 17:31
Shtativ: Your messages are clear. It is difficult to describe visual phenonema. If you find a picture on the Web that has the qualities you seek, post the link so we can see what you speak of. It is much better that way.

Very Best,

22-Sep-2005, 02:10
It was on photo-exhibition. I`m has not remembered the author... The Print 20x30 from a negative 4x5. Material: Kodak Trix. The monitor will not transfer it..

John Kasaian
22-Sep-2005, 08:12
Some kodak lenses were heliar types---I don't remember which ones, but someone here might know (105mm?) You could look for one of those. If you don't mind working with a barrel lens you could experiment with a small magic lantern lens. These are avaiable cheap on ebay.


Dan Fromm
22-Sep-2005, 08:35
100/3.5 and 105/3.7 Ektars, John. Cover 2x3, not 4x5.

2-May-2006, 00:30
Call me "old school" but while the modern lenses (post 1980) are nice, They all seem to me to be too clinical (sterile). They are wonderful if all you want is critical focus and absolute clarity. Perfect for the photographer that only wants his/her images to be "technically" correct, but they do tend to impart all the warmth and feeling of a bathroom scale.
I've been shooting medium and large format since 1975 (when my dad gave me his old Century Graphic when I graduated 9th grade) and in my experiance the older lenses (when used to their potential, in the right situations) open up a whole different dimension to what can be created in the photographic image. A depth of feeling that tends to draw the viwer into the image..making him/her a part of what the photographer what experiancing and feeling when the image was captured.

Personally? My favorite lens that has been my workhorse for 30 years, is the Ektar line (105/4.5 on my 2 1/4 Crown/Century and the 152mm on both my 4X5 crown and my Graphic view. For images that require a longer lens I've used a 180mm commercial-Ektar and a 10in tele-optar for years... For images that require a wider lens I've used both a 90mm Wollansak and a 65mm Super-Angulon... I have always enjoyed the 90mm Wally as it is small enough to slip in my pocket (complete with lensboard) and has seen some serious rough service over the years, but still allows me to create some wonderful images..smile.

I will say, that early in my career I had the joy of learning from both my father (ret. Air force photographer<henceforth the gift of the Century Graphic>) and a mentor that had worked with both Ansel Adams and Minor White at different times in his career........ From both I learned two very important things.....
1) That regardless of how new and/or expensive the equipment is...or how technically perfect an image might be..... it is STILL ho-hum if that image can't draw the viewer in and convey the feelings the photographer felt that caused him/her to create the image in the first place.
2) That although it might be "cool" or fun, to go to the same places and re-capture the same images that were originally done by great photographers of the past... You are only creating copies, NOT original works.... unless you can capture the scene in a NEW way..... and that each of us as photographers.... have a personal mandate to formulate our own style...and to follow our individual "inner" eysight.... to create new images... Images that draw the viewer into the scene...and make them a part of it....feeling what was felt at the time the image was created...

The images that I create? are extensions of my soul.... and although I know and use things like the zone system..and other technical methodes.... I am just as quick to throw them out the window and break all the rules.... if the rules and technical aspects get in the way of creating the image I want.
I feel the differance between an "ok" photographer and a "great photographer...is a great photographer knows when and how to break the rules..and maybe even create a few new ones along the way.......

So basicly the subject of what lens is better (new or old) or what lens is an icon, is a moot point....as it comes down to what lens will allow me to capture on film..and convey to the viewer a scene/subject... the feelings that the scene/subject instill in my inner eye..........