View Full Version : I mounted my first lens into a shutter!!

11-Jun-2007, 14:23
So far I've:
-modified a monorail camera to accept a packard shutter and barrel lenses;
-stripped a field camera and sanded it down, refinished it, DIY'd a 4x5 reducing back for it;
-modified an obselete packard-like shutter to work on a spring tension and cable release behind a barrel lens;
-turned a solid wooden surveyors tripod into a camera tripod;
-successfully removed and traded the Kalart rangefinder from a Speed Graphic
-some other stuff I can't really remember

Next job: mount a lens in a shutter!!!

Thanks to Don for trading the Kalart, I had a (Polaroid) Prontor Press shutter.

I had tried to mount the Dagor 180mm elements using tape. This worked but it was far from ideal (see here: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=26358) and I managed to get a nice shot from it (see here: http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y43/second-belated/lydiard1sm.jpg )

So long story short, Don also included the pieces that originally held the Ysaron lens from the shutter. I took a drill bit to both pieces, and cleaned them out until they were just the ring with the flange/thread.

The front needed some loctite putty to hold in place.

The rear pressure-fitted tight, which is good, but the size of the rear element means it has to be screwed in after the mounting ring is on and tightened.

Both front and back rested happily on the flat side of the rings, so I need not worry about whether the pieces are parallel. I've not checked to see if the front and back are close enough, but in fairness for a first attempt I'm pretty pleased I got this far!!



Free lens (gift from grandfather)
Free shutter (well... traded for a piece of a camera)
Free mounting :D

That just saved me a few hundred on SK or LensN2 :D

You can see the putty from through the rear. To avoid any issues that will be painted matt black in the coming days.

11-Jun-2007, 14:41
Did you measure to make sure the spacing didn't change?

11-Jun-2007, 14:50
No not really. I made a mental note of the rough distance by eye between the elements and the aperture iris, and compared that to the lens elements before attaching to the new mounts. It was close to the original, which is good enough for me.

11-Jun-2007, 15:31
It may be good enough for you but may not be good enough for the lens physics to work properly. Modern lenses can use shims that are a few to a few tens of thousanths of an inch thick to get the spacing correct in a shutter. Typical tolerances for machined mechanical parts are +/- 0.001 inches for optical systems and shims are often used to get to get things aligned to these kinds of distances. You may want to borrow a caliper and check that you have the distances the same as you found them. That care in getting the distances correct is part of what an SK Grimes does for you when they charge you what they do to mount a lens in a shutter. It often requires a spacer to be machined. They do it because it is important for the lens to work properly.
Good luck,
Dave B.

11-Jun-2007, 15:38
Hi Dave,

Your points are relevant, but maybe my youth gets the better of me.

I fully understand that when you pay a qualified and experienced machinist a lot of money, they will get the perfect result for you. I don't have the money to do that. This is also a recreational activity for me.

I would gladly sacrifice some coverage, sharpness (edge-to-edge or OOF/DOF area), etc, to simply USE the lens. It sat without use for months due to lack of a shutter. I now have a usable lens, even if it isn't perfect. :)

11-Jun-2007, 15:49
In fact, since the lens spacing seems to be such a big issue... WHY is it such a big issue?

Does anybody have a detailed explanation of the effects, with visual proof?? :)

11-Jun-2007, 16:01
It's an issue because it changes things -) Some lens designs I think are more critical then others. I don't remember how the dagor fits in there.

11-Jun-2007, 16:13
This is an early Serie III/2 Goerz Dagor = Double Anastigmat. It's the same pattern on either side, mirrored (i think?). If it is mirrored I can only see the effect being a change in FOV and fall-off on the corners where the inner elements don't match up the light-waves completely???

11-Jun-2007, 19:29
I don't know how much physics you know but a simple way to begin to understand the optics and the sensitivity to alignments is to think of focussing an image on the ground glass in your camera. Typically movements of the lens of a fraction of a mm matter to the sharpness of the image one sees on the ground glass. The more wide open the lens, the more critical the focus is in terms of getting a sharp image. Smaller apertures give you more room for error. That same fraction of a mm, roughly, also matters to the internal spacing of the lens elements in terms of getting a sharp image.
There is a middle ground between not caring and getting SK Grimes to do it. Find a machine shop, borrow a micrometer and measure before and after you mount the lens. Brass or aluminum sheet can be cut with a shear or scissor and used to shim the spacing to the correct thickness. Even plastic sheet can be used to shim things pretty well. Without much effort or any fancy equipment other than a micrometer you should be able to get things to within a few thousanths of an inch. If you wanted to learn something about your lens, you could even add and substract spacers and watch what happens to the sharpness of the image on your ground glass as you adjusted the spacing through the optimal setting. That's probably how the old time lens makers adjusted things without a micrometer. They tweaked and adjusted until they got a good result. A lot of trial and error but it works.
Good luck,
Dave B.

Donald Qualls
11-Jun-2007, 20:21
Ash, in designing a lens, you can think of the air spaces between the glass elements as elements in their own right, "negative" in the sense that, with an optical index near 1 (a vacuum is a perfect 1.00000, air is around 1.001, give or take) an airspace between two glasses has the opposite effect a glass element the same shape would have with air on both sides.

However, if you change the *thickness* of a lens element (even the air element in the middle that houses the shutter and aperture), you change some of the optical characteristics. Push the front and rear groups apart, and you allow the converging or diverging light, the dispersing or anti-dispersing colors, more space in which to do whatever they're doing before they hit the next piece of glass, which is *supposed* to work perfectly with the other glass and air elements in the lens to produce a final image that, within limits of focal magnification and off-axis angle, is of sufficient quality for photographic (or telescopic, as the case may be) purposes.

Generally, changing the spacing from what the original manufacturer specified will degrade the image; lens designs (even those decades too old to have been subjected to extensive numeric optimization) are pretty carefully optimized. That said, different designs will show more or less degradation when you change spacings; a Tessar, for instance, is tolerant enough of front-to-second element spacing to use front element movement as the focusing movement instead of unit focusing with only a very small compromise in terms of spheric aberration: unit focused Tessars are generally accepted to be "better" than front-focusing versions, but the difference is small enough that stopping down to f/8 pretty much erases it. By contrast, if you change the spacing between front and rear groups of a Plasmat type (like most modern LF lenses with "normal" coverage, as opposed to "wide angle"), you very quickly degrade the image from very good to so-so to "better off with a pinhole".

I don't know the optical layout of a Dagor, and I'm not an optician in any case, but as you'd described the setup you used, you're only a little work from recreating the original Dagor's barrel spacing: you need to measure, as accurately as possible, the spacing you had when the Dagor was tape-mounted (since it was obviously performing pretty well at that point), and then adjust the spacing of your new setup to match that; I expect that will require removing some material from the exposed edges of the old Ysaron cells so they seat flush with the ends of the existing shutter's mount, but can't swear to it.

The simplest *accurate* way to do that is to take the Ysaron cells to a competent machinist and have the ends machined, effectively turning those cell rings into the sort of adapters you'd pay through the nose for S.K. Grimes to make for you, but doing it in a way any machinist can understand and manage -- no cutting of very odd bastard threads, no trying to *measure* odd bastard threads to match them, etc, just a simple cut-to-size operation without damaging the threads already on the original cell rings.

11-Jun-2007, 23:33
Thanks for your answers guys. I guess you've said what I couldn't find the words for late last night. I'll take a photo with the lens as-is. And then I'll look into checking the element spacing. :)

Oh, last night before I went to bed I stood in the dining room (connected to the lounge in our tiny house) with the light off, the camera focused on a light-shade in the lounge. I rotated the camera to check how the focus looked wide open at each corner and in the centre. Visually, there didn't seem to be any change in edge-to-edge sharpness. We'll see when I get around to taking some photo's though :)

Donald Qualls
12-Jun-2007, 12:28
The best loupe on a ground glass doesn't come close to checking for real sharpness as you'd see by scanning a negative (even at reduced resolution). I scan at 2400 ppi, and if the resulting image isn't sharp at 1:1, I get annoyed, even though the 2x enlargement to make an 8x10 print from a 4x5 negative means the negative doesn't *have* to look sharp at what amounts to 24x on the screen to make a sharp print...

12-Jun-2007, 17:47
my youth gets the better of me

That was my thought as I took a file to my sinar front panel. Plus also removing and jamming open the shutter on my pre war compur with a fruity little 150mm zeiss.

Works a treat now. Plus I learnt just how to break drill bits again accurately :D

19-Jun-2007, 09:24
Here's the first shot, a week late :eek:

Wide open in the garden. Really quick messy shot. Curved, and stitched (35mm flatbed - 4x5 needs scanning in sections) in 'shop.

One second wide open at 6,8. Developed in Rodinal 1:50 for 11 minute.

Crappy test picture but the lens seems fine to me :)


Here's a crop: http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y43/second-belated/crop.jpg

Donald Qualls
19-Jun-2007, 16:19
Okay, go make some more good images. Nice job of improvising!

John Schneider
19-Jun-2007, 16:55
Not to hijack this thread too much, but has anyone on the forum actually mounted lens cells into a shutter by cutting the threads, etc.?

I've machined 4x5 and 5x7 backs, machined lensboard adapters for a Rittreck and a Toyo 5x7 metal field, made 4x10 sheet holders, and machined an almost entirely new lightweight 4x5 field from aluminum and a few Linhof and Gowland bits, but I've never mustered the courage to cut the threads to mount lens cells into a shutter.

If someone has done this and would like to briefly outline the process I'd be very thankful (I have a few Dagors and a Rectagon in balky Rapax shutters that I'd love to mount into modern Copal shutters).

Donald Qualls
19-Jun-2007, 18:29
John, I haven't done it, but as I understand it it's pretty much the same as cutting any other thread, except that the threads are some kind of bastard combination of metric diameter with non-standard pitch for the size, and a Whitworth or some such profile -- except that they're not all the same, especially on shutters made before about WWII. So, you need to be able to measure the thread accurately first, then you have to have your thread cutting setup able to accurately cut at the correct pitch.

Then you have to remove all the guts from the shutter or find some way to seal it so you don't get swarf inside the works, turn out the old threads, bond in a collar (Loctite, I presume), and cut the new threads, or bond in the collar with the threads already cut. Oh, and did I mention that cutting inside threads on a lathe is one of the most difficult operations there is? And finally you have to make the spacing between shoulders and diaphragm position match the old barrel in order to ensure good performance without distortion, vignetting, or aberrations.

There's a good reason even most camera hobbyists like you are willing to pay a service like S. K. Grimes biggish bucks to mount lenses into shutters...

20-Jun-2007, 00:35
*ahem* Yea... thats why I just botched it. No way do I have the skills to turn threads, let alone cut new ones from old into shutters that I can't afford to buy twice.

Like I said, my method is quick, dirty, and for me it works. I do seem to concentrate what little luck in my life that I have, into these projects though :)

John good luck if you decide to try it. I hear great things about the masters of lens modding. I tried my method on a bit of whimsical fantasy - I was offered a prontor press shutter for nada basically. Couldn't resist ;)

20-Jun-2007, 12:44

Very lucid explanation of the effects of changing separation.

On a whim, I once made a spacer to take up the available thread length on the front cell of a Caltar IIE (relatively cheap, four-element, possibly symmetrical?) and compared before-and-after Polaroid 55 negatives under high magnification; there was no detectable difference, other than a modest increase in effective focal length. It might have been better to space out the rear element, but there wasn't as much thread length available; in any case, this doesn't look to be the way to make a poor-man's soft-focus portrait lens!

I would qualify the comment that boring internal threads on a lathe is one of the hardestthings to do, by pointing out that boring a short thread up to a shoulder is right at the top of the list of difficult jobs. Of course, this is frequently just what optical work calls for...

Donald Qualls
20-Jun-2007, 14:10
I would qualify the comment that boring internal threads on a lathe is one of the hardestthings to do, by pointing out that boring a short thread up to a shoulder is right at the top of the list of difficult jobs. Of course, this is frequently just what optical work calls for...

No arguments there; when I cut threads, I turn a runout before the shoulder and plan the parts so that doesn't cause a problem. I wouldn't consider attempting to cut threads to a shoulder, even with outside threads, on my lathe (hard enough to do well with a die!); instead, I'd find a way to make the part by inserting the threaded piece into the piece with the shoulder (preferably either a shrink-fit or Loctite bond without threads at the insertion). Unfortunately, that's usually harder to manage with an inside thread to a shoulder, and inside threads are harder than outside threads anyway (harder to adjust the tool, harder to avoid making errors under the general heading of "Doh! I did that backward!" which can't be undone, harder to avoid backlash problems, at least with most lathes, harder to conquer chatter with the boring bar style tool that's required -- and probably more "harder" items that don't come to mind instantly). My idea of the correct tooling for cutting an inside thread to a shoulder is a thread mill with CNC -- which is a tool likely to cost more than the house I live in, unless you're one of those capable of building it for yourself (and I'm not).