View Full Version : Help identifying this lens, please

24-Mar-2008, 01:30
Hello all. I was lucky enough to acquire this lens the other day and I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on it. It is a nickel plated rack and pinion focusing lens that is 4" long by 2.5" diameter. Its focal length is 7" and its aperture is 5.6 with what appears to be an original slot for waterhouse stops (none came with it).

It is totally unmarked, no names, trademarks or serial numbers. The focus mech. works great and, well, this lens is just awesome to shoot. It has an amazing Petzval signature and really produces nice results.

As for the image, the area of 'sharp focus' is about the size of a half dollar placed dead center on the frame, after that, hold on. Ill include a recent shot or two.

Any and all info would help. I know that there are a ton of magic lantern and projection lenses out there, most unmarked but just have to ask to make sure. Also, it appears to my untrained eye that there are more than 2 elements in the rear group....

And yes, that is a home-made lens board for a Wista made from MDF...


Pat Hilander
24-Mar-2008, 08:41
My guess is it's just an unmarked lens. I've got a couple of unmarked petzvals but my unmarked ones don't have the slot cut for stops. If you can get the front element apart, there might be a name penciled onto it. Darlots will have that. Some other brands will just have a number of the focal length penciled on.

Sounds like a sweet little lens you got there, any pictures made with it you can share?

Gene McCluney
24-Mar-2008, 09:11
Since it has a slot for waterhouse stops, that makes it a camera lens, not a magic lantern lens. There were many many different "brands" of camera lenses, as the major lens makers were only too happy to provide any agent with their own brand, thus you see regional photographic distributors and major retailers with their "own" brands, marked or unmarked, but in truth these lenses were made by the well known optical houses.

25-Mar-2008, 12:30
I have tried, gingerly, to remove the front element but it is stuck fast. Its not of huge importance, I still love it. As for images, here you go...

25-Mar-2008, 12:32
Also, I don't have much experience with petzvals but I am cutting some waterhouse stops for this in the next few days and was wondering what that will do for the edge sharpness. Im hoping that with a smaller stop i can increase my exposure time (so I can shoot in brighter light) and tame down some of the bokeh/swirl

25-Mar-2008, 12:36
And behold!

It looks like a petzval ;)

The smaller stop will help - just enough to reduce the aperture approximately by 50%.
What material are you using to cut the waterhouse? Nice atmospheric images.

Jim Galli
25-Mar-2008, 12:41
Looks to me like someone has cleaned and re-assembled the rear lens group bass-ackwards and inside out. A little petzval should be pos neg up front and neg pos at the air spaced rear. The 2 most curved surfaces should face each other at the back. Thickest towards the center. Front should have the curved lens facing out.

Mark Sawyer
25-Mar-2008, 13:05
What Jim said; your image makes it seem more curved field and "Petzvally" than a Petzval. Here's the layout of a Petzval lens, though in most older ones, the front and rear are the same diameter. Then again, you might like it better as it is...

Pat Hilander
25-Mar-2008, 15:20
Hi Hollis,

Great looking images! I'd leave the lens as is, I like the fact that everything starts going wonky about 2 inches from the center of the image, makes me want to take one of mine apart and re-assemble the rear elements wrong!

25-Mar-2008, 21:08
Yeah, I really like it and so do the clients. Ive gotten more interest and more work in the last week cause of some of the polaroids than I have in the last month.

As for the stop, I ate at my local mexican joint (las palmas) and upon leaving, I noticed that their business cards were an appropriate thickness. So, I have a stop in a vintage lens made from a card from a mexican restaurant that I colored black with a marker.

I made it to be f22 but I had a crappy knife and ruler so I think I cut it a bit too large. Works well though.

It says 'restaurante' <---- Means its classy

28-Mar-2008, 00:57
I made some new waterhouse stops for this lens. The range that I went for was probably overkill on the last 2 or 3 stops but I was on a roll. You can see I went for the nice curved kind but, well, its not that easy with scissors so i just stuck with the square kind.

Pat Hilander
28-Mar-2008, 08:40
Nice Hollis! I'd like see see what a shot with the f64 stop looks like, wonder if it would squash the swirlys?

28-Mar-2008, 13:05
Yeah, Im curious as well. I got some new type 55 Ill try out here in a bit. Ill post after awhile.

Bernard Kaye
28-Mar-2008, 13:11
Young Vincent Price descends those stairs at full moon & many other nights. Beautiful! Bernie

28-Mar-2008, 19:07
Thanks Bernie. I used to live in Little Elm up off Eldorado and was back that way a few weeks ago. Not much to shoot there Im afraid...

28-Mar-2008, 19:16
Bueno, bueno!

I love the cardstock...nothing like a reality check for thinking about having them photoetched, laser-cut, electrodeposited, whatever other anal-retentive ideas I might come up with.

Even if it's not perfectly round, many lens apertures sure aren't either.

Centering I guess is the only thing needing a major effort.

Thanks for the reminder of how simple things can be.