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View Full Version : Hi. New Here. Have a lens problem



Gordon Lucas
26-Aug-2018, 00:28
I have just purchased a Cambo 8x10. It came with a 14" Kodak Commercial Ektar, in an Ilex #5 shutter. Problem: the two front lens element rings are a tiny bit apart due to the threads being stripped. Maybe less than 1/8", and even all the way around the rings. The sharpness is fine, and so is the glass. I'd really like to sell the lens, as I will be using this camera strictly for portraiture, and I'd rather have a 360 Fuji or something of that ilk with an X synch that works. I use flash and any synch I have does not fit the Ilex, and the X synch on it doesn't work either.

I seriously doubt I can get the element rings apart without damaging the lens, and I really don't want to spend money on a restoration job on a lens I don't really want. Is this lens sellable?

Any advice will be appreciated. I'm not a vintage lens guy . . . I'd prefer something less primitive, as mentioned above. It would be far more useful for me. Thanks.

B.S.Kumar
26-Aug-2018, 01:55
Gordon,

The 14" Commercial Ektar is supposed to be particularly favored for portraiture, and the focal length is ~355mm. If you can show some photos of the front, perhaps someone can help you. If your shutter has a bi-post connection, adapters to convert it to regular PC are available.

Kumar

andrewch59
26-Aug-2018, 03:28
I agree, I have the 8.5 inch commercial ektar and would love to have the larger 14 inch. Why would you want to swap a pedigree like that for a fuji? Not that there is anything wrong with a Fuji, but you have one of the best lenses you could own. Work around the problem, there are many on this site that can advise you on how to get the sync working, but you would soon regret selling that lens.

Bernice Loui
26-Aug-2018, 10:06
Kodak Commercial Ektar has a long history of being one of the very best lenses made for portrait work. Many famous portraits have been created with this Kodak lens. The 14" focal length is a prime choice for 8x10 portraits.

Ilex# 5 should have a flash sync, some are the common single flash sync connectors, some are bi-post flash connector. If the flash sync connectors is missing it might have been removed at some point in this shutter's history. Know Ilex# 5 shutters used on Kodak lenses are different than normal Ilex# 5 shutters, the threads are not the same as a standard offering Ilex# 5.

Could an image of the offending gap be posted?
How long have you been producing images with an 8x10 view camera?


Bernice

Mark Sawyer
26-Aug-2018, 11:15
Keep in mind that increasing the distance between the front elements of a Tessar introduces a touch of spherical aberration, and was an option in some lenses like the Wollensak Velostigmat Series II and the Ilex Paragon Series A.

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?57385-Velostigmat-Series-II-Info-and-Images

Gordon Lucas
26-Aug-2018, 12:03
I'll put up a picture of the lens and it's problems tonight.

Bernice Loui
26-Aug-2018, 12:05
Include some pictures of the Ilex# 5 shutter and the side where the shutter release lever and cable release socket is located. This is the edge where the flash sync should be located.


Bernice



I'll put up a picture of the lens and it's problems tonight.

Gordon Lucas
26-Aug-2018, 22:52
Hi folks. Here are the pictures of the lens for your analysis:

1. Lens overview

http://www.pbase.com/moltogordo/image/168032672.jpg


2. The offending "gap"

http://www.pbase.com/moltogordo/image/168032673.jpg


3. Front view of buttons and levers

http://www.pbase.com/moltogordo/image/168032674.jpg


4. and Side view of buttons and levers.


http://www.pbase.com/moltogordo/image/168032676.jpg



Let me know if there is something else to post . . . . but I think this should cover it. Thank you for all of your help.

Jac@stafford.net
27-Aug-2018, 07:10
Yes indeed the lens gap is not normal but it might be perfectly fine for your purposes. We don't really know if X-sync is dysfunctional until you can test it with a proper cable.

If you find the lens is sharp, then I would concentrate on the shutter issue then get back to us. You can get a brand new Paramount PB-PF flash extension for under $20. (The cord has a female PC connection - thus it is an extension so you will need a standard PC cord as well.)

#5 X-synch is usually easy to fix. Funny, but I've never had X go bad.

Best of luck and please keep us informed.

consummate_fritterer
27-Aug-2018, 07:25
I think I read somewhere that Kodak used modified Ilex shutters on some of their lenses. Is it possible the shutter was replaced and the aperture scale transferred?

Dan Fromm
27-Aug-2018, 08:13
I think I read somewhere that Kodak used modified Ilex shutters on some of their lenses. Is it possible the shutter was replaced and the aperture scale transferred?

Why do you suspect that happened? I ask because AFAIK the difference between the Ilex shutters Kodak used and those sold to other customers was the tubes IDs and thread pitch. Kodak's Ilex shutters don't accept cells from normal Ilexes and normal Ilexes don't accept Kodak cells. I bought an Ilex #3 a while ago with an f/4.5 Kodak Anastigmat bodged to it. The rear cell was glued (!) to the rear of the shutter and the front cell was forced into the front threads. I can't get it out, don't need the shutter badly enough to pay someone, e.g., skgrimes, to do it for me without breaking anything. If I forced it I'd break something.

A shop like skgrimes should be able to dismantle the OP's lens, clean up the threads, and reassemble properly.

Bernice Loui
27-Aug-2018, 08:45
There appears to be a problem between the front lens cell threads and the threaded tube between the shutter to lens cell. This should be repairable. The problem with threads can be resolved by a LF lens specialist or GOOD local machinist. The problem does not appear to be that serious in any way.

That much of a gap will affect optical performance of this Kodak Commercial Ektar.

This appears to be a typical Ilex# 5 flash sync with the bi-post flash sync connector. This requires a special bi-post to common flash sync cable to connect this shutter to modern flash gear. There is a lever in the area near the bi-post flash connector labeled, Off - M - X. Off disables the flash, M is for flash bulbs (flash trigger is delayed relative to shutter opening to allow flash bulb burn up time, X is for electronic flash (triggers the flash when the shutter is fully opened).

As for vintage lenses like this compared to modern, there are more than a few LF folks who are very fond of lenses like this due to their personality. Think of vintage lenses like great musical instruments ( Stradivarius, Guarneri, Cremona) from long ago that has not been equaled for their personality and quality of sound. Having spent decades of LF image making with many, many LF lensed vintage and modern, the Kodak Ektar remains one of my all time favorites. Some of the great vintage lenses are tweaked for visual quality beyond being designed to an idealized optical metric of performance in much the same way a great musical instrument is voiced to deliver a special-unique sonic personality.

Choices in LF optics is also dependent on the goals of the image maker. Vintage lenses is not for all as with modern lenses are not for all. Only way to really know what works for your image making needs is to try them, but know they must be proper examples of what any given LF optics could be as there are often variations in LF optics due to when they were made, changes to or damage over their life time and similar.


Bernice

Gordon Lucas
28-Aug-2018, 19:00
Yes indeed the lens gap is not normal but it might be perfectly fine for your purposes. We don't really know if X-sync is dysfunctional until you can test it with a proper cable.

If you find the lens is sharp, then I would concentrate on the shutter issue then get back to us. You can get a brand new Paramount PB-PF flash extension for under $20. (The cord has a female PC connection - thus it is an extension so you will need a standard PC cord as well.)

#5 X-synch is usually easy to fix. Funny, but I've never had X go bad.

Best of luck and please keep us informed.

Thanks. I'll track down an extension as you suggested, and repost when I've gotten some results. Can you suggest a source?
Thanks again.

Gordon Lucas
28-Aug-2018, 19:01
Thanks to you all . . . I'll do some legwork and repost when I have some results.

Bernice Loui
28-Aug-2018, 20:00
Sync cord adapter would be a Paramount# 17BPPF
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/164971-REG/Paramount_PMBPPF_Female_PC_to_Bipost.html?ap=y&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI0br3xqGR3QIVhrrACh21Mg-MEAQYAyABEgI2C_D_BwE&smp=y

The threaded tube between front of the shutter to lens cell is made to fit this set of lens cells. If a replacement is truly needed, it will need to be re-made based on the tube on lens. Think individually hand crafted item.


Bernice

dsphotog
28-Aug-2018, 21:08
If I remember correctly, Richard Avedon used a 14 in. Commercial Ektar for his 8x10 portraits.
He seemed to do rather well.
I recommend you shoot with it (even as is) before selling it.
It just might become your trademark.

Bernice Loui
28-Aug-2018, 23:37
"As smaller format cameras and films improved, large format became an increasingly rare tool in photography. Still, it was (and remains) the pinnacle for uncompromised photographic quality for those willing to absorb the extra cost and work necessary. While the generic sharp look makes any large format lens of appropriate focal length (for the format) and speed a good portrait lens, the Kodak Commercial Ektar for 810 stands out as a classic lens of our time. Yousuf Karsh used a 14-inch Commercial Ektar for his iconic portraits of Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemmingway, Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, and others, and for decades, 12- and 14-inch Commercial Ektars made all the Playboy Centerfolds."

https://www.wphsociety.org/forums/topic/a-history-of-the-portrait-lens/


-Add Phillip Chairs, Kodak Ektar lens, 5x7 camera and there are a long list of others..


Bernice








If I remember correctly, Richard Avedon used a 14 in. Commercial Ektar for his 8x10 portraits.
He seemed to do rather well.
I recommend you shoot with it (even as is) before selling it.
It just might become your trademark.

morecfm
29-Aug-2018, 07:48
I had an Ilex 12" in a #4 shutter that had jammed threads. It appeared that I had galling between the lens cell threads and the shutter threads. I'm not sure of the material of the two components, but galling can occur with aluminum to aluminum threaded joints. To resolve the issue, I applied a little penetrating oil into the threads (careful, not too much, just wet the threads), allowed the penetrating oil to soak in and used a strap wrench to remove the offending lens cell. I brushed out the both threads to remove debris and used an anti-seize compound (just a little bit) into the joint and repeatedly screwed the cell in and out and the threading became smooth. YMMV

Luis-F-S
29-Aug-2018, 09:38
I'd send it to SKG. May not be the cheapest, but it will be done right the first time! L

DrTang
29-Aug-2018, 10:18
is the pointer ON X? it looks a bit off... maybe that's the problem with the flash

LabRat
29-Aug-2018, 14:07
For the inside/outside threads, take a little toothpaste on a q-tip, and being careful not to get any elsewhere, rub the threads for a little while... Repeat with clean q-tip + paste a couple of times, then clean carefully deep in the threads with a toothpick and alcohol on a q-tip again...

Don't screw on the cells until very clean, or they might bind on...

Good luck!!!

Steve K

Gordon Lucas
30-Aug-2018, 12:32
Lots of information to deal with . . . . I'll repost once I have the connecting chords. (PS Dr. Tang . . . I've tried the pointer on, inbetween and around . . . not the problem. Thanks)

Gordon Lucas
10-Sep-2018, 14:00
Yes indeed the lens gap is not normal but it might be perfectly fine for your purposes. We don't really know if X-sync is dysfunctional until you can test it with a proper cable.

If you find the lens is sharp, then I would concentrate on the shutter issue then get back to us. You can get a brand new Paramount PB-PF flash extension for under $20. (The cord has a female PC connection - thus it is an extension so you will need a standard PC cord as well.)

#5 X-synch is usually easy to fix. Funny, but I've never had X go bad.

Best of luck and please keep us informed.

Thanks. I'll order one in as soon as next month's pension cheques come in. B&H has them, and they also have free shipping to Canada on orders over $100 so I'll go hogwild and order some chemicals too!

Gordon Lucas
10-Sep-2018, 14:17
So much help!!! Thanks to one and all. I really don't know much about vintage LF lenses . . . . I'm a user, not a tinkerer, and this problem has interfered with the use and enjoyment of my 8x10 Cambo.

Here's my present solution to the problem:

1) right now, I'm going to use the lens on manual without flash, and set up a portrait lighting system on my old Smith Victor incandescents dedicated to the Kodak lens. I can likely get an exposure of about 1/25th at f8 - 11 or so on ISO 400 films. About what I think I'll have to use for good DOF, etc. I have an old bulb release that will ensure a clean release . . . . I'm not as steady as I used to be.

2) as I only have one lensboard, I purchased another with a Linhof Technika adapter. All of my lenses are mounted on these Technika boards, and I have appropriate adapter boards for my other LF cameras, both studio and field. For instance, I have a Fujinon L 300mm f5.6 that I use on my 8x10 Intrepid outdoors. I can play around with flash with this lens on the Cambo with this adapter board setup. It's not really the lens I want for portraits, but it will be good as "training wheels" for getting my flash exposure, technique and development times down for the larger film size.

3) I am fortunate enough to have a 4x5 reducing back for the Cambo, so I can establish exposure and development times for the film I'm going to be using for portraits on either 4x5 or by using the Calumet Roll Film holder on the Commercial Ektar, so I don't have to spend large lettuce on 8x10 film until all is said and done.

4) in the mean time, until I've fixed all the problems with the Ektar (and again thank you all for your help, I now know how to proceed) I can enjoy learning the ropes of this camera and format on the budget that I can afford.

I'll post results for your interest as I proceed. :)