View Full Version : Who's using a Wollensak Vitax Petzval?

9-Sep-2008, 11:56
I just bought and anxiously await a Wollensak Vitax. It's a early number 2, brass not black, and I think is a 14 inch focal length. Cameraeccentric is down right now so I cannot see the old catalogs.

I'd like to hear from people using them. I want a fast petzval for indoor wetplate and this should be good. But what about the soft feature? Can someone post some picts they've taken?

The lens appears nice in pictures, but the pneumatic shutter is broken. I don't think it's a studio shutter, there is a fitting for a hose.... I'll post more when I get the lens.

Surprisingly, this board has no posts with Vitax in the title. I just fixed that.


9-Sep-2008, 14:10
hello ;)

i discovered the Vitax some time ago and can say that it is one my favorite lenses since day 1. it's a wonderfull petzval. it's F3.8 wide open. number 2 is 13 inch.
i have a number 2 and a 5, both black. number 2 came with studio shutter, 5 without.
i haven't played with the soft focus at all yet, the lens is so amazing.
first attachment is a 8x10 Polaroid 804 with number 5 @F3.8, second one is a 8x10 CGA with number 2 @3.8.


Ernest Purdum
9-Sep-2008, 16:48
I would be very surprised to find a large Vitax with any shutter other than a "Studio". I saw the listing of your lens, I think. I am hoping the seller just didn't understand the way the shutter works but if it is actually in bad shape, perhaps it can be repaired. If you need a bulb and hose, email me your mailing address and I'll send one no charge.

9-Sep-2008, 17:03
hi garrett

i have and use a 13.5 vitax. i use it on a 5x7 camera
and it gives a nice look. maybe others will suggest otherwise
but the softness knob actually moves the rear group
and defocuses the image. it is helpful if you need to stop
down and still want to have a soft image, petzvals stopped down
can be pretty sharp.

i use mine with a degroff shutter release. it works like a charm.

i've attached something i got from cameraeccentric
from an olde catalog...

have fun with your new toy


ps thanks seth :)

9-Sep-2008, 19:02
Wonderful pictures Rado and John. Rado, yours look very typically petzval, and John yours have a nice soft look. Thanks for the catalog page too.

Good info Ernest, I'll let you know what I find. I brightened up the photo, and thought I could see some black tape inside the lens, like on shutter leaves! Should be interesting, but I'll make the lens work, I've had experience with waterhouse stops!

9-Sep-2008, 23:00

of course you will make it work. and you will love it.


11-Sep-2008, 20:31
hi garrett

thanks for the kind words,
and i am glad the catalog page was helpful :)

good luck !


15-Sep-2008, 14:27
Well I got it. All the pieces were there, at least the glass parts.

The glass looks pretty good, I need some tissue to start cleaning, it's going to be hard to get the glass out to wash in soapy water, so I'll have to do it the slow way. The front barrel comes off fine, but getting the front lens out of the element may be impossible. It's very oxidized brass.

Question for an Expert: The front almost appears to have an airspace (that could be cleaned), but petzvals don't do that. Is it possible? I can move the lens around an swear I see an airspace up front, with most of the dirt. The back came apart as two lenses, but again, might be hard to get the "soft focus" moveable one out. Too bad, I'd like to soak just the brass parts.

There is a little separation on the front, I can't tell yet how much. And the studio shutter appears hosed, to me. Not that I've ever had one. Rotating the ring and pushing the open/close lever does nothing. But first, glass and cosmetic cleanup. I'll do some before/after pics.

17-Sep-2008, 09:45
Bump to see if any wollensak owners can help with disassembly. Per my middle paragraph above, I'm trying hard to remove the sunshade. It has such a fine line where it attaches to the cylinder body, I'm not really sure it unscrews. But there would be no easy way to get the front lens out without doing this. Do the Vitax sunshades come off? It is on TIGHT, even after lighter fluid and breakfree applied to the crack.

10-Mar-2011, 19:37
I have a minty 14 1/2" Vitax f3.8 I'll post a photo of my son sometime. I haven't used it in a while... planning to dust off it and the Giant Anthony 8x10 portrait camera it came with. My Vitax is a black paint one with studio shutter and a Packard on the lens-board. I figure the whole rig was from the 1920's.

William Whitaker
10-Mar-2011, 19:55
...And the studio shutter appears hosed, to me...

"Hosed" as in trashed? Or "hosed" as in "there's a hose attached"? (I know how much you like those Studio shutters, Garrett!;))

I have one lens in a Studio shutter which is pneumatic only; there's no way to attach a cable release. Another lens is in a Studio shutter which has an old screw-on adapter in which a pin is actuated by pressure from an air bulb. Remove the adapter to use a cable release. So there were some variations.

Your Flickr link is not working (at least, as I write this).

Surprisingly, this board has no posts with Vitax in the title. I just fixed that.

You used the search function? I tried searching a thread last night for a name and there were no hits. However, I found several entries myself manually as I scrolled through the posts. Spelling and capitalization were the same. Go figure.

11-Mar-2011, 06:23
Guys...I started this post 3 years ago. Since that time I removed the stuck parts, fixed the studio shutter, sold the lens, bought 3 more Vitaxes, removed the old picture links, ...etc. It is a closed issue.

There are now plenty of people using Vitax lenses, but back in 2008 when I wrote this there were few posts about them. They're great lenses.

12-Mar-2011, 17:05
Hey Garrett, I am looking to service my #5 Studio shutter on my 16" Vitax #5.... Specifically the block on the side and the open/close lever.... Do you happen to have any parts laying around?? Failing that, I will likely try making something out of brass to make it work.