View Full Version : Waterhouse stops and their demise

Pete Watkins
16-Sep-2008, 11:15
This is just out of curiosity, but when were Waterhouse stops in commonly used lenses replaced by lens barrels with a diaphram? I know that they were used in some process lenses well into the 20th Century but what about "ordinary" L.F. lenses?
Best wishes,

Ole Tjugen
16-Sep-2008, 11:56
Waterhouse stops seems to have been in common use between the introduction of wet-plate photography (which was fast enough that it was possible to stop down for greater DoF) and the expiry of J. Lancaster's patent for the iris aperture.

Wheel stops were used on some wide angle lenses long after that, since these have smaller mechanical thickness. The very tight spacing between the cells of a WA Aplanat just don't leave any room for the iris mechanism - the mechanism could be placed outside the cell area, but that would mean a bigger barrel.

Alan Davenport
16-Sep-2008, 17:47
I have a 12mm fisheye (OK, it's not for LF; it's for 35mm) that uses Waterhouse stops...

Peter K
16-Sep-2008, 18:28
The iris diaphragm was invented by Nicephore Niépce 1816, he also imvented the leather bellows some years before he took the first photograph off all. Chevalier in Paris, Niépce's and Daguerre's lensmaker, used the iris also for photographic lenses. But he intruduced the wheel-diaphragm for photographic lenses too. See "The history of the iris-diaphragm" by Karl Pritschow 1926.

16-Sep-2008, 18:44
See "The history of the iris-diaphragm" by Karl Pritschow 1926.

Sounds like some exciting reading.

David A. Goldfarb
16-Sep-2008, 18:45
"Demise"? Waterhouse stops have only recently reached their acme! I have a set of these for my Petzval--


Nadar never had it so good.

Pete Watkins
16-Sep-2008, 23:01
Many thanks. I thought it would be a quick way to put a rough date on old lenses. It ain't gonna work, is it!

Ernest Purdum
17-Sep-2008, 11:04
Looking through a 1900 Hyatt's catalogue, I see some of their house brand lenses with Waterhouse stops and some with iris. Somervilles Symmetrical had an iris, but their wide angle had rotary stops as did the "Mound City" landscape lens. All the Dallmeyer's were with Waterhouse stops, while Voigtlanders were split between Waterhouse and rotary until you got to the Collinears which had iris diaphragms,

You can't tell for sure from the illustrations, but I think at that time the smaller Goerz and B&L lenses had irises, while some big ones were still furnished with Waterhouse stops.

Waterhouse stops remained in use on process lenses used by the printing industry for many years after they had been dropped on general-purpose lenses. These stops had square or peculiar shapes to set the shape of the little dots of photo-engraving and the later lenses also had irises.

17-Sep-2008, 11:17
Waterhouse aren't just for old lenses.
You can pick up a nice modern Schneider 1100mm XXL Fine Art in with either waterhouse or shutter.
The waterhouse stops are very accurate, compared the iris of the shutter, for tiny f-stops.