View Full Version : Raptar 90/6.8 - Expecting too much?

Scott --
20-Mar-2007, 10:54
Hey, everyone -

I've discussed some of this in another thread, but want to solicit experience with a Raptar 90/6.8 I've got on loan to try out on the Super Speed:

It's a tiny, tiny little thing, and I had to kind of kludge it into my existing board. Got it to work, but - man - there's almost no room to maneuver with it. In the picture above, it's focused at infinity. The bellows is almost completely compressed. I can only manage the tiniest bit of rise; the other movements are pretty much non-existent. I can't drop the bed, either, 'cause then I need to tilt the lens back to bring it parallel to the film plane, and I consequently lose infinity due to the split bed.

Shot a couple sheets with it today:


The church shot has a minimal amount of rise (all I could manage, truthfully) and is vignetting. It's also not quite as sharp as I'd hoped for, though it was breezy this morning.

So, am I expecting too much? I was hoping for a 90mm lens that I could use some movements on for some basic building and landscape shooting. I know it's trite, too, but I'm a sharpness freak, and am disappointed so far. Am I missing something with this lens (set up wrong or something), or is it not going to cut it for me?

Anyone have experience with this puppy and care to share?

Thanks for indulging more newbie questions... :o

Frank Petronio
20-Mar-2007, 11:10
It should be sharp at f/22. Maybe not as contrastly as modern glass, but most of the mid-century lenses had plenty of sharpness if you stop down, tripod, etc.

One thing to check is that your focusing is optimal -- hard to tell with a dim lens and dim ground glass. You might want a stronger loupe?

Scott --
20-Mar-2007, 11:17
Very possible, Frank. Super bright day out - made it hard to see. I need a better dark cloth than my jacket... :o

20-Mar-2007, 11:26
Maybe a recessed lensboard would help a little.

Other then that. Some 90mms focus at infinity at further distances then others.

Other then that the camera doesn't look like it's happy with wide lens. If you want to use a 90mm or wider then you might have to consider a different camera. Or you could go up focal length a bit. I wonder if a 105mm or longer would make the camera happier.

I don't remember the IC on that lens but I doubt it's huge. Some of the modern 90mm lenses will cover 5x7. But even if you had the IC I doubt you could use all of it with the camera compressed like that.

20-Mar-2007, 11:37
On my Pacemaker Crown Graphic I need to drop the bed to use the Raptar, but it's conveniently on the bit of rail that is /inside/ the body so infinity focus is fine....

But I have no room for movements /at all/. Which is why I prefer the Ektar 100mm. It is quite a bit forward on the rail (more than the 90 / 100mm difference would be) and I can use movements without needing to drop the bed...

Scott --
20-Mar-2007, 11:51
Thanks guys. I'm wondering if an Ektar WF 100 wouldn't work better all 'round. Problem'd be in the finding, and paying for, one... :rolleyes:

Is there such a thing as a recessed board for a Super Graphic?

Pat Hilander
20-Mar-2007, 14:13
Recessed boards for the Super Graphic are super rare. The only ones that I've seen have been home made/custom made ones.

Dave Moeller
20-Mar-2007, 15:03
If you want to play with movements, kluging together a recessed lens board is probably your best option, as the recessed boards are very rare and therefore not inexpensive. Depending on how the lens board mounts to the camera (I'm unfamiliar with the Super) and how handy you are, a lensboard usually isn't too hard to make. I use hobby plywood for mine. I once made a recessed board using the bottom from a large yogurt container (I had to stiffen it up and make it light-tight with gaffer tape)...it worked well enough until I picked up a recessed board. It looked awful, so if you're going to be shooting around others be prepared for some ribbing.

Unfortunately, small, light, 90mm lenses don't have much of an image circle. They're fine for use as a "press camera" lens, but movements will be very restricted at infinity. Rear tilt and swing are available if you can live with the geometry changes in your picture, but otherwise you won't get much movement at all. (Stopped all of the way down, my Angulon 90/6.8 allows me a few millimeters of movement, at the expense of softness from diffraction. I would assume that the Raptar is similar.)

I think that you're on the right track with the 100mm WF Ektar. Larger circle and more movements, and probably much easier to use on your Super.

Best of luck.

20-Mar-2007, 15:10
I really love the 100mm Ektar. I haven't used the 90mm since I scanned my first images done with the 100. Mine is not even pristine, it has a tiny mark on it, and it's really amazingly sharp. provides good contrast without "too much" of it, but still gives lovely details.
If you can find one, I think it's worth the money, it's become "the" wide for me on 4x5. Note that I don't have the experience (or budget) for the snazy modern wides, I'm sure someone will chime in with details on how the Schneidenstock 75mm XL EPO f1.4 is so good it's untrue :D

20-Mar-2007, 15:29
There is a little trick to using the drop bed with a 90mm on a graphic. I had a Crown Graphic and 90mm Angulon but the trick should work for you too.

1) with the bed in the normal position (i.e. not dropped), run the focussing rack out so that the rear bit leaves the rear bellows housing.

2) now, drop the bed and adjust the front tilt so that the front standard in near vertical again - that is, compensate for the dropped bed with some front tilt....this is, in fact, the only way to get front tilt on a crown graphic.

3) ok, now...try to adjust the position of the front standard on the rail to get infinity focus. You may find that some front rise is also necessary to get everything "zeroed out".

I found that if I clamped the front standard to the focusing tracks so that it spanned the gap between the front part and the back part...it would work and be reasonably stable. becareful when you fold everything back up...you need to run the focussing track out away from the rear bellows housing before letting the bed return to the "normal" position...does any of this make sense?


Jim Rice
20-Mar-2007, 15:44
My work around for the focusing track was a little different than Brad's and more akin to Buze's. With the bed not dropped, slide the front standard fully into the body. Drop the bed and bring the front standard out to infinity position. Infinity stops can be positioned to work behind the front standard as well as in front. Like Buze, This worked for me on a Pacemaker Speed, YMMV.

Kevin Crisp
20-Mar-2007, 16:00
Scott: I have tried a number of these lenses and have never had one that was as sharp on the edges as a later production Angulon. Some people report samples that are sharp at the edges, but the ones I've tried over the years simply were unacceptable. They were plenty good enough to do newspaper work, which is what they were made for. Expecting movement out of one is asking too much. With a really good sample of an Angulon you might get a little movement, if you can manage it physically on your camera. The longer Ektar is a good suggestion, or a 120mm modern plasmat or a 120mm Angulon if that is not too long for you. If you want an inexpensive option and are not hand holding, the 4 3/16th Wolly ex. wide angle (5X7) lens (107mm) is a decent performer to the edges on 4X5 film. It is marginal on the edges at 5X7. They are really cheap in a Betax shutter, but max speed is f:12.5 so these are not speed kings. Good luck. I think you're bumping into the limitations of using press lenses for landscape work.

20-Mar-2007, 17:03
hi scott

nice lens you are borrowing!
i had 90mm raptar ( i think mine had a purple dot ? ) and
a tiny little 3 1/2" wollensak exwa. i documented most of a quarry outside of boston with them, and never had problems with it coverage-wise --- shot it a lot of the time at about f22 or f16 1/2. i used it on both a speed graphic ( bed down ) and a graphic view II.

mine was in a rapax shutter, badged for the signal corps, and it was about the same size as a copal "00". i sold it ( and the exwa ) about 5 years ago, and even though i now use a super angulon, i wish i still had them.

enjoy the lens!

Gene McCluney
21-Mar-2007, 02:49
My 90mm Optar (which looks as small as the Raptar depicted in the first post), focuses infinity further out on the rail. The Super-Graphic is somewhat different from a Crown-Graphic in that the focusing rail that is within the camera body is not coupled to the focusing rail that is in the drop-bed. Therefore if you need to use your lens where the front standard is on the bit of rail that is inside the camera body, you will not get any focusing with the knobs on the drop-bed. You will have to focus entirely with the front standard locking lever pushing the front standard in and out until you achieve focus. I found with my 90mm Optar, that one does not need to drop the bed for horizontal shots, but if you turn the rotating back for vertical, then the bed rails will be visible on the image. On the Crown Graphic, one just turns the camera sideways and uses the alternate tripod socket, thus a Crown Graphic owner would never experience this problem. If you want better sharpness, and some movements, you should consider an older 90mm f8 Super-Angulon. a Tack sharp lens. Note, I said Super-Angulon, not just "Angulon". This is a huge lens, though, but will work on the Graphics.

Joseph O'Neil
21-Mar-2007, 05:40
I used to own both one of those cameras and one of those exact lenses. Couple of thoughts:

1) movements - yeah, right. Even on a monorail, the image circle is very tight.

2) no, the Super Speed Graphic does not seem to "like' movements with many 90mm lenses. If you ever buy or try a 90mm angulon for example, you will find much the same issue as you have now. But again, the image circle is very tight, so even on my Crown Graphic (which I still have), which was more amendable to movements, I could not go very far.

3) I ended up buying ( now hard to find) Fujinon 105mm lens. Later sold the camera, but I've kept the lens.

4) I found those Raptars and an Optar I tried were pretty darned sharp once you stopped them down to at least F16. also, they are so small that weight wise when backpacking they are a joy to travel with, so there are some advantages to them.

I would suggest enjoying it as is, do what you can, and decide it it's right for you wth out movements.


Neil Purling
21-Mar-2007, 23:41
I wondered what on earth you could use with a Pacemaker Crown Graphic of wider than 90mm focal length.
I agree that the 90mm Raptar is a 'press' lens, althougth that vignetting was not unpleasant it was unwelcome.
The widest lens I have at the moment is a 135mm Dagor.
If you can't readily get a recessed lens board for the Pacemaker Graflex it makes things difficult.
The only other wide-angle lens I have around is brass, & marked "6 1/2 x 8 1/2 Extra Wide Angle". Focal Length? About the same as the Dagor, andthe brass one isn't a anastigmat.

Gene McCluney
22-Mar-2007, 05:37
I wondered what on earth you could use with a Pacemaker Crown Graphic of wider than 90mm focal length.

I have a lens wider than 90mm that I use on my Crown and Super Graphic cameras. It is a Super Angulon 65mm. It has a helical focusing mount. The front standard stays on the rail inside the camera. You have to drop the bed. Super-duper-wide.

Scott --
22-Mar-2007, 10:57
A little update:

I shot a picture of Maddie today to kind of make sure the new lens board (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=24287) was light tight:

This was shot at f/16. Sun was on the ground glass, so it was hard to judge critical focus (I really need a dark cloth...), but I consider this picture acceptably sharp. Not blazing by any standards, but also not stopped down really far, either. Definitely worthy of some more experimentation tomorrow, weather permitting.

Oh, yeah - the lens board's light tight. :D