View Full Version : Okay, this is getting ridiculous...

William Mortensen
14-Apr-2006, 10:54

Okay, it's a ulf lens, but over $4,000 for a "condition 6 out of 10" f/21 uncoated barrel lens? I think this will be remembered as a year of madness on the ebay large format section...

14-Apr-2006, 11:03
I think this will be remembered as a year of madness on the ebay large format section...

If so, there seems to be a lot of madmen around - 13 bids. As long as there are people willing to part with their money, he'd be a fool not to ask for as much as the market will bear...

On the side note: Looks like these are becoming the new aligator-clad gold-plated leicas, no offense to our Chinese brethren.


Oren Grad
14-Apr-2006, 11:12
< eyes popping >

The seller can now change his handle from "iluv2golf" to "icanafford2golf".

Ralph Barker
14-Apr-2006, 11:26
After the auction closes, "icanafford2golf" might change to "icanaffordtotipmycaddy". ;-)

Terence McDonagh
14-Apr-2006, 11:27
And another went a minute before it for $3,400.

Oren Grad
14-Apr-2006, 11:41
At this rate, it won't be long before Schneider can start promoting the XXLs as "the affordable modern alternative".

Richard Schlesinger
14-Apr-2006, 11:43
Is this a late April 1 item?

Darin Cozine
14-Apr-2006, 11:45
"At this rate, it won't be long before Schneider can start promoting the XXLs as "the affordable modern alternative"."


John Z.
14-Apr-2006, 12:00
On the other hand, there are some lenses that are completely ignored; I just bought a 500mm Krauss Tessar for my 11x14 camera for 190 dollars, and a Cooke Ser. IX 480mm lens for only 89 dollars!
Protars and Dagors are fine lenses, but probably over-priced and over-rated. I have 3 Protars and 3 Dagors, but there are alternatives which are easily comparable; for example, I bought a 24 inch Red Dot Artar for just a little more than 400 dollars.

Frank Petronio
14-Apr-2006, 12:17
Hopefully the Chinese are purchasing these overpriced lenses from some unemployed American factory worker who needs the money...

David A. Goldfarb
14-Apr-2006, 12:18
Did you see the Sphaerogon?--


14-Apr-2006, 12:25
OMG! $6655? Wow!

Kerry L. Thalmann
14-Apr-2006, 12:28
Wow! That's amazing. Guess I should have held onto to my big 18"/30" shutter mounted Series VII Protar and 19" Dagor for a few more years. I ended up selling them both a for a few hundred dollars each. Wonder what they'd get today.

It is interesting that the only bidders to bid more than $777.77 were Chinese (the second highest bidder lists his location as United States, but I bought something from him recently and it was shipped from China). That confims two things - there is a growing interest in ULF photography in China, and the Chinese economy has brought new found wealth to those who wish to pursue this interest.

There are already a lot of large format cameras and accessories being produced in China. I wonder if they will start producing new lenses to support their ULF needs.

After all the doom and gloom posts last year about the impending "death of film", it's nice to see the world demand for large format and ultra large format products growing.


Dan Fromm
14-Apr-2006, 15:00
Guys, its a 632 mm 90 degree lens. More coverage than most of us can begin to use. It has only four (4) air-glass interfaces, so should have low flare, i.e., still usable. And its earlyish, mid-WWI. So it should have great appeal to users and it should appeal to collectors.

At better than even odds, its was one of the lenses in the confiscated "Zeiss collection" and so of even greater appeal to collectors.

The Sphaerogon is likely also part of the collection, a prototype, ... The proverbial very rich collector's dream.

Michael Kadillak
14-Apr-2006, 15:22
Hot damn! I think that it is absolutely wonderful that prices for quality LF and ULF products are garnering such interest because it completely disproves all of the negativity of the longevity of analog materials because clearly there is a growing interest in the arena.

It is prices like these that will bring more of these products to market and just maybe even get a few more folks that walked away from the business to consider coming back.


Christopher Perez
14-Apr-2006, 22:18
There are already a lot of large format cameras and accessories being produced in China. I wonder if they will start producing new lenses to support their ULF needs.

I'm not sure how big the German sources for glass are, but when people buy optical glass these days it comes in volume from one primary source: China

It's only a matter of time before your speculation regarding new ULF lens production comes true.

These are such silly prices! I wonder if they are being purchased to reverse engineer them?

Marco Annaratone
15-Apr-2006, 06:41
Speaking of heavy weights for heavy money, the great dagor77 has a Rodenstock APO Ronar CL 1000mm f16 on Ebay that is at $2800 right now and with more than a day to go...

Terence Spross
15-Apr-2006, 07:41
Some amateur astronomers often grind their own mirrors and sometimes a refractory objective.
At these prices, I wonder if any resouceful photographers are grinding their own lenses.
I know of a LF enthusiast that mounted an electronic focal plane shutter, removed form a Minolta 35mm camera, between lens elements. (The lenses were removed from an unrepairable lens/shutter.)
I also know a guy who built his own drop shutter (part of a class assignment) modeled after a 1900s 8x10 camera.

Donald Qualls
15-Apr-2006, 12:45
The hard parts of grinding lenses, from what I've read, are a) getting the glass, b) recalculating the prescription to match the glass you can get, c) keeping concentricity and controlling wedge so the lens will perform, and d) matching the curves of cemented surfaces. A Tessar would be at least 8 times as much work to grind and figure as a small mirror (8 surfaces), plus all the additional involved in the above list of "hard parts".

No, not out of the realm of amateur opticians; I've know people who made refractive elements for telescopes, and camera lenses aren't *that* much harder (though some of the optical glasses needed are much harder to get than the common crowns and flints needed for telescope objectives). But given the issues with mounting and such after all the optical work is done, and that the end result is an uncoated lens unless you're willing to send it off to Svema for coating, and the cost of large chunks of raw optical glass, it's not too surprising that folks who aren't in it for the making of the thing (as opposed to most photographers, who want to use the lens as a tool) would much rather pay for a factory-made lens than make their own...

Terence Spross
15-Apr-2006, 14:15
Oh I aggree, except that given the amount of curvature on a camera lens its probably 8 times more work for each surface. But again, looking at the ebay prices mentioned, it makes you wonder..

(At one time I worked (summer job) in the stock vault for raw glass at Kodak's Hawkeye Plant. I weighed out various types of glass fragments which were they remelted to make a lens blank with known optical characteristics, based on a paper requisition. (These were used for government contract special lenses.) I have ground a 6" f/8 telescope mirror so I realise it would be way more difficult.

I would think that making a grinding machine would be a must .. Let me see -- my wife has a glass Kiln for her stained glass business ... Hmm, I better quit while I'm ahead.

Ted Harris
15-Apr-2006, 16:56
Guys, note where both of these lenses came from .... Burleigh Brooks' personal collecdtion. He eally was a legend in the photo business for may many years, I suspect that, in addition to the Chinese, long time collectors are bidding heavily on items from his collection.

Oren Grad
15-Apr-2006, 17:08
Remember also that it takes only a few really motivated bidders to send the price through the roof. In both of the auctions noted here, there were only two bidders prepared to follow the item into the stratosphere - everyone else had given up at far lower prices.

Also, FWIW, at least on the Sphaerogon, I recognized many of the bidders who dropped out at lower prices as resellers who were probably intending to flip the lens for a profit, if they had lucked out and nabbed the item before the most motivated purchasers became aware of it.

Dan Fromm
15-Apr-2006, 18:14
Ted, Oren, the third-highest bidder on the Sphaerogon is a neighbor of mine. Very serious collector, occasionally sells items "surplus to need," sometimes buys multiples when the price is right and resells all but the one he likes most, but for the most part just accumulates. Fortunately for the likes of us he's not much into LF gear.


William Mortensen
16-Apr-2006, 11:48
Actually, one of the odder things about this is that although the prices have been shooting upwards lately, there doesn't seem to be any rush of people selling off older or unusual lenses to cash in on it. Other than the Burleigh Brooks collection (a singular anomaly), there seems to have been as good a selection a year or two ago when the prices were more reasonable. An indication, perhaps, that the classics are owned more by afficianados than investors.

For the more common/modern user lenses, prices seem pretty stable. And one can still find a nice older lens (like this 12" Euryplan) at a very affordable price as long as one doesn't need a status symbol or cult item:


Hugo J. Zhang
17-Apr-2006, 08:39
Talking about "older and unusual lenses", Lens and Repro lists a 16" f4.5 Pinkham & Smith VQ portrait lens on their website and when I called this morning, I was a few days late. Sold at $2,350. A few months ago, they sold one for $550. I wonder if this price got anything to do with Jim Galli?

Jim Galli
17-Apr-2006, 08:55
Well POOP! I sold an identical lens to some guy in China just 3 or 4 months ago and only got $600 which I thought was kind of ludicrous. Little did I know he was taking me to the cleaners. Hugo, I bought my P&S series IV 13" for about $430 a few months back. Things are getting very weird and I don't think I can take any credit. It's the explosion of Asian discretionary income after being pent up for some centuries that seems to be the driver. Trouble is, if I cashed in what I have on hand for the big bucks I couldn't replace them. I'm in hoard mode.

Hugo J. Zhang
17-Apr-2006, 09:09
Come on, Jim, just take the credit! Without your posted wonderful portraiture shot with that lens and its rapid spread around by internet, how could Chinese guys know this lens? I think Lens and Repro should give you a cut of their fat profit.

5-Jun-2006, 04:14
Dear members of this forum, in particular Oren, Ted and Dan,

As a sum-up of the different opiinions on why lenses are bougth at such high prices:

I am the buyer of this Sphaerogon lens, and you may wonder why I was ready to pay that much. This has nothing to do with "getting ridicolous". It was the deisre of a serious collector to acquire a lens that much had been talking about in the Zeiss szene, but nobody ever saw this lens alive. The reason is that this lens belonged to the famous "Zeiss Collection" that was "secured" by US troups after WWII and transported over the ocean, then remained with the Signal Corps' Army Pictorial Division, handed over to Burke&James (Chicago) for storage and after another 20 years, the lenses (nearly 2000 of them) were sold. Obviously, Burleigh Brooks recognized their value and bougth a major portion of the collection.

As a matter of fact, I am planning to take pictures and compare the performance to another wide angle lens of similar focal length, a Distagon 18mm made 30 years later. I even invested some money to get the Sphaerogon mounted on an old Contax camera.

Finally, this lens and others have moved back to the continent where they were produced, although they probably should belong to the Zeiss Museum in Oberkochen (Germany). But that's another story.

best wishes

Stefan Baumgartner

5-Jun-2006, 09:35
Dear Stefan,
thank you for you interesting explanation. Just a side note - no need to take this forum too seriously. As you can see, beside useful information it's also full of amateurs happy to show all the facets of their ignorance - the usual web sites mix. Nothing to be upset with. Greetings to Lund (I was living there for some time)!

Gregory Gomez
5-Jun-2006, 14:38
All I can say is, "Wow!"

I'm wondering whether there will be capital gains tax on this sale?

5-Jun-2006, 22:40
the point is to define "value" and its increase in time. I know that Burleigh Brooks must have acquired it somewhere in the sixties. Look at it like the "Mona Lisa" painting (Louvre, Paris) that disappeared some while ago and re-appaeared 40 years later again. The "Spaherogon" was ready to be launched on the market, it was not a "V" lens (Versuch, trial) anymore and as such a real and tested lens. But, it was too expensive and it was therefore decided not to have it launched into the sale program.

I still think that this lens was a bargain. I immediately got an offer for 10'000 Dollar, after the auction ended. I refused. And I know that I would be able to sell it at a much higher price at an Auction (not Ebay). I will not. Then, we could spculate about sales tax.

6-Jun-2006, 01:01
Won't the price be lower now, when you let it be mounted for the Contax?

6-Jun-2006, 07:43
no, the mount can be removed again. It is an improvised one, anyway. No danger.
The lens has a large diameter and covers the viewer window on the front side, so I wonder whether the Zeiss engineers planned to offer an extra viewer for this lens.

6-Jun-2006, 09:47
Very probably yes, as it is with the modern wide angles too. The same problem since...