View Full Version : New Voigtlander Heliar 120mm f4.5

Jim Cole
4-Aug-2008, 07:18
On a whim, I just bought a Voigtlander Heliar 120 f4.5 in a Compur shutter to play with on my 4x5 but I have to wait for it to arrive from Australia. I think the serial number shows it to be one of the earlier uncoated lenses.

I've done some internet searching on this specific lens, but very little info is available outside the more generic Heliar information.

Can anyone contribute any tips, hints, horrors, or fun info on this lens. I gotta get a lens board, too so if anyone knows what size hole this goes in, that would be great info as well.

Looking forward to shooting with it.


Just saw Greg Lockrey's response on another thread about board holes for lenses, so that question is answered.

Ole Tjugen
4-Aug-2008, 07:31

It works. Use it. Mine is on a 6.5x9cm Voigtländer Bergheil camera, which is probably where yours is from too. It was the "high end" version of this top-level camera.

It's a Heliar, which means that it's most likely a Dynar. "Real-life" coverage is better than stated, but don't expect it to cover 4x5".

BTW - it's in a Compur #0 (unless it's a very early one). Voigtländer was very early in adopting the standard shutter sizes.

Jim Cole
4-Aug-2008, 07:44
Thanks Ole. The seller stated that the lens would just cover 4x5 without movements, but I guess I'll have to wait and see what it does on a sheet of film. If not, I'll use it with my roll film back. Thanks for the shutter info and the link to the shutter dimensions you previously posted.

I guess not having shot old classic lenses before, I was curious if there are specific characteristics I can expect that are different than my more modern lenses. I assume the uncoated lens will have more flare and thus a slightly lower contrast. How about image sharpness?

Ole Tjugen
4-Aug-2008, 07:55
The image sharpness is top, there are vry few sharper lenses. The contrast will be a little lower than with a coated lens, but that is easy to use as a tool!

I haven't tried my little 120mm on 4x5", but I've tried the 150mm on 5x7" and found that it just barely covers at small apertures. So extrapolating from an image circle of about 1 1/3 focal length for the 150mm, - the seller is correct and the 120mm shold have a useable image circle of about 160mm at small stops.

But Heliars are so nice to use wide open that I try to find excuses for not stopping down at all. :)

Jim Cole
4-Aug-2008, 08:16
Thanks again Ole, especially for the wide open tip. That's the kind of stuff I was looking for. Nice to know I may get 4x5 coverage too. I guess I'll have to play with the wide open stuff on 6x9. Can't wait to experiment.

Andrey Donchev
4-Aug-2008, 08:44
Congrats! I jibed a long time at this particular lens. I wasn't sure will it cover 4x5 or not. decided that I'll wait for a good example of the 150mm. I wish you a lot of good images with it.

Jim Cole
4-Aug-2008, 08:50
Thanks Andrey. I was also going to wait for a 150, but I just couldn't resist what appears to be a fine example of this lens. I guess the 150 will find its way into my collection in the future.

4-Aug-2008, 22:09
i have 150mm heliar 4.5, the sharpest lens i have among others, love it very much, i dont have 120mm heliar, but has 18cm, 21, 24 and 30cm , good luck with ur new toy, looking forward for the examples photo

5-Aug-2008, 02:30
In researching my Heliar Lens Article ( http://members.aol.com/dcolucci/heliar.htm )

it was advertised that the 120mm covered, at f/4.5, a 3 and 1/2 by4 and 3/4 inch plate.


Jim Cole
5-Aug-2008, 06:51
I'll post some sample shots after I get the lens. Hopefully, as Ole stated I may get 4x5 coverage at smaller apertures. f/4.5 will be relegated to 6x9. We'll find out soon!

Jim Cole
11-Aug-2008, 11:04
Just got this lens (Voigtlander Heliar 120) in the post today. The seller used the word "mint" very liberally, but the glass looks very clean.

There are two functional problems with the lens and I thought I would ask about them here before I request a refund.

1) The aperture scale control functions smoothly on the upper end of the scale but seems to lock up and not move towards f/4.5 somewhere around f/9. Is there something simple I can do to fix this? The leaves on the aperture move as well, but definitly stop about 1/2 way open.

2) The shutter speeds all seem about right, but I cannot get the shutter to cock with the small dial on the Compur shutter set to B or T. Is there a trick to this?


Ole Tjugen
11-Aug-2008, 11:17
It shouldn't cock at B or T, just use the release lever. :)

Jim Cole
11-Aug-2008, 11:36

As usual it was too simple. Thanks.

Any ideas on the aperture issue?

Ole Tjugen
11-Aug-2008, 11:44
No real "idea", but that generation of Compur shutter is very robust, and fairly easy to clean. It might be something simple, like "gunk" in the wrong place, or something more complicated like a bent aperture blade retaining pin. Just open it up and take a look, they are easy to reassemble - at least until you get deep down into the aperture blade disassembly (I haven't needed to go that deep on any of mine).

Jim Cole
11-Aug-2008, 11:52
Thanks, I'll give it a look.

Jim Cole
12-Aug-2008, 09:24
This Heliar lens needs a shutter repair job and I have requested a return/refund from the seller. I am disappointed that I don't get to play with this lens, but there will be others.

I will keep everyone informed if I have an issue with the seller on the return and then I will let everyone know who he is. He is suggesting that I have the lens repaired and he will refund me $30-50 for the repair. This was a "mint" lens.

Looks like this may be my first burn on eBay in the 5 years I've been buying photographic gear there.

Jim Cole
13-Aug-2008, 10:51
Good news update. The lens went back to Australia today and the seller has agreed to refund my purchase price and 1st round shipping. He said he failed to check the aperture and only checked shutter speeds, so it was his fault. I'll await the refund which should happen by early next week.