View Full Version : Voigtlaender Collinear Ser. II No. 8 question

5-Mar-2008, 18:43
Last year I bought a Voigtlaender Collinear Series II No. 8 off eBay; it was billed as a No. 5 and represented as 250mm focal length. Its maximum aperture is f/6.3. The brass was pretty dark, and when I bought it I didn't notice that the '5' was really a very clear '8' when seen with a magnifying glass.

I've just been through a long protracted move from the Yukon to central Manitoba (and it isn't all over yet, had to put some things off for spring when winter arrived with a bang), and just now getting back to things photographic. So the lens stayed packed for several months before I got around to a close inspection.

It's a hefty beast weighing in at 3 lbs. 13 oz. Engraved on the brass barrel: "The Voigtlaender & Son Opt. Co. - New York" and opposite, "Collinear No. 58560 - Series II No. 8 - F 6.3". The front element measures around 70mm, pretty big for an f/6.3 10-inch lens. There is no focal length indicated on the barrel. I held it up to the front end of my 4x5 view but even at full bellows draw (14") things weren't in focus. (I was inside on a cold day with the wind ripping outside, so I didn't take it out for an infinity check.) The front element would suggest a focal length on the order of 475mm.

Does anyone have the correct focal length for this old Voigtlaender? I'm just sitting here idly wondering, before I try to decide whether the lens will be useful mainly for 8x10! My smaller formats may not have the bellows draw for it. :eek:

Patrik Roseen
5-Mar-2008, 18:59
Something you can do is to switch on the light in one room and then go to an adjacent room (should be dark) and project the image of the other room on either a wall or a piece of white paper through the lens (wide open) and measure the distance between the projected image and the lens. This will not give you the focal length at infinity but give a pretty good understanding of where it's at.

5-Mar-2008, 19:14
Something you can do is to switch on the light in one room and then go to an adjacent room (should be dark) and project the image of the other room on either a wall or a piece of white paper through the lens (wide open) and measure the distance between the projected image and the lens. This will not give you the focal length at infinity but give a pretty good understanding of where it's at.

Yes, obviously that will give a rough approximation, but this lens is about four inches deep so I measure the back focus from the rear element and not from the nodal point; also the light bulb I focussed on was maybe ten feet from the lens, much too close (at longer focal lengths) for any kind of accurate determination. Doing that as a check, anyway, I got roughly 18 inches of back focus. FWIW.

I'm pretty sure someone here will have a nice table that will give the focal lengths of the various Collinear model designations . . . :)

Jim Galli
5-Mar-2008, 19:40
I think it's about 17" focal and if you ever get silly and buy a 12X20 or 14X17 you'll be wishing for it.

Patrik Roseen
5-Mar-2008, 19:47
The Collinear series II 17" is mentioned in this table of lens data (for convertible lenses). It is in the lower end of the table...


5-Mar-2008, 23:18
Boy, it would take a LO-O-O-ONG bellows to use that baby in convertible mode, if it is the 17 inch model, which I suspect it must be! Might have to hitch a couple of cameras together for that exercise. :D

Don't it just go to show ya, you get some of your best deals when somebody gets it wrong. I paid about eighty bucks for that hunk of glass -- and the shipping (not surprisingly) cost me another forty!

6-Mar-2008, 01:38
As Jim said it is a 17 inches or 430 millimeters and the front element is 2 3/4 inches or 70 millimeters. It is a 3+3 symmetrical anastigmat.
It will cover around 80° and at full aperture f 6,3 12x15 and stopped at f32 16x20 inches of really usable format. As convertible elements are double of the focal lenght.
They are not so good as convertible and since you have this huge coverage the best is to use it complete.

6-Mar-2008, 17:56
Trying it out the window today (well, the wind chill outside was about -35 C so I wasn't going to fool around with fiddly stuff in that weather), it looks like the flange focal distance is on the order of 16 inches, so it must be the 17 inch model. Odd the maker would simply designate it "No. 8" without either focal length or format on the barrel. I see from reading around on the web that the history of the New York branch of Voigtlaender & Sohn seems a little bit hazy; I take it the lenses were all manufactured in Germany -- or is that an incorrect assumption? I wonder when it was made -- teens, twenties, thirties? I look forward to getting this beast mounted on a lensboard and trying it out on my 8x10. Might better stick a monopod under the front end, though, just for some added support! :rolleyes:

Thanks for the help, guys!

Gene McCluney
7-Mar-2008, 07:58
There is a website that has a list of Voigtlander lens serial numbers and manufacture dates. Try doing a Google search. All Voigtlander large format lenses were made in Germany, but were quite popular in the USA.

30-May-2011, 11:22
I just got this lens a few weeks back, and someone in the forum I listed it says this "The American Voigtländer appears to have made their own numbering system. The numbering change arises from both giving up size nos. 1 and 2 (6x6 and 6x9cm formats) and the no.4 size (12.5cm).
The American Companies size 8 corresponds to the size 11 in German catalogues and will be a sort after item for ULF people! Is this true? This No 8. is a 17"

Steven Tribe
30-May-2011, 15:29
Yes, I can confirm the earlier comment.

The German 11 (not marked as such - it just 11th in their series II) corresponds to the marked 8 from American Voigtländer.
Focal length is 44cm ( around 17"), front glass is 70mm and it covers 30x40cm which was a standard European camera plate size!
Yes, its for the ULF people - big bucks.

30-May-2011, 15:46
Music to my ears. Sweet music. Thanks for the conformation.

1-Jun-2011, 22:35
If you serial number is 58560 and I'm reading it correctly then according to the Voiglander chart it was made in 1899.


Steven Tribe
2-Jun-2011, 01:56
Brian - wrong deduction!

Voigtländer used the serial numbers 55 - 61000 (approx) in a rather special way!
A few were used for prototypes, but the great majority were "presented" to the America Voigtlander Company for the lenses which were engraved/sold by them.

This co-incided with anti-German feeling/WW1 and these numbers were used over quite a long time (decades). There are people who study these (60,000 + & -) and a rough idea of the dates can be gathered because of the known introduction dates of new lenses from Voigtländer, Germany.

Well described in VM.

2-Jun-2011, 08:28
Steven, thanks for the correction. I will make a note on my Voiglaender chart so as to not make the same mistake again.

Thank you. Brian

2-Jun-2011, 21:45
I did the window test and mine is 19" more like 20" but I was hand holding it, It is really heavy I guess 3 to 4 lbs. The the front element is 2 3/4" across at the front (wider at the rear). I measured from the nodal point (right at the aperture) to the wall where a clear image of my car outside appeared through the window. The distance outside to the car is over 40 feet away, and the image on the wall was crisp and clear.

I measured over a 19" focal length. The aperture is marked 6.3 on mine. Doing the math I dont get 6.3. At 20" I get 7.2 to and 19" I get 6.9 say I was off by an inch and it was an 18" that makes the aperture f6.5 so Mine is most likely an 18". The image on the wall doesn't get sharp until I get to almost 20 inches, I must be doing something wrong.

I was reading to not use a window that is too close it causes some sort of magnification issues in the math. I am not quite sure what VM is, I would have to guess Voigtländer Manual a reference book.

2-Jun-2011, 23:19
I am not quite sure what VM is, I would have to guess Voigtländer Manual a reference book.

VM = Vade Mecum, as in "Lens Collectors Vade Mecum":

Ole Tjugen
3-Jun-2011, 00:07
A better way to do the window test is to measure the distance between two features outside the window, as projected on the wall. Assuming you have a few lenses with known focal length, it is easy to make a table - or a graph - with distance vs. focal length.

In my case I use the edges of the window itself, as there are no features outside, and my table is constructed on measurements from a 7-cell casket set - the ubiquitous 15, 25, 35, 45, 55, 65, 75 (cm) German Aplanat Satz.

The distance from the wall to the nodal point gets a lot larger as the focal length increases, my arms are barely long enough to hold the 750mm and mark the separation at the same time. But the projection separation would be the same with all 750mm lenses.

Steven Tribe
3-Jun-2011, 00:31
Believe me, the EFL is 44cm = 17.322" !
The diameter of the front lens is exactly 70mm.

EFL devided by aperture is 44/7 = 6.29. The F is engraved as 6.3 on these larger Collinears series II.

Unless you are planning to go up to very large ULF, it is crazy to keep this lens which will just test the mat black functioning of your bellows and the strength of your front standard!

4-Jun-2011, 01:39
Is this an Offer, lol