View Full Version : "I have a lens...'

John Kasaian
17-Sep-2008, 09:58
There have been threads on favorite lenses, first lenses, messed up lenses, bargain lenses, dirty lenses, the latest in lenses, fast lenses, slow lenses, wide lenses, long lenses, macro lenses, telephoto lenses, poorly spaced elements in lenses, radiation emitting lenses, too many lenses, not enough lenses, cult lenses, old lenses and very, very old lenses. There have even been threads on pinholes. But what I'm interested in is lenses with stories.
I know, this is sentimental and banal stuff...well maybe not really...but do you have a lens that has an interesting story that goes along with it? Perhaps how you acquired it? Adventures had with it? Maybe something about it that surprised you?

I'll start:
My first 8x10 lens was a 14" APO Artar in a dial set compur, IIRC from the serial number it was built in the early teens. I bought it from Stephen Shuart's display advertisement in Shutterbug and I went with the Artar because that was one of the lenses recommended in Using The View Camera It was also the least expensive 8x10 lens being advertised in Shutterbug the month my 8x10 arrived (this was before I had a computer or knew about/cursed by ebay.)
While reading more on the subject I was led to think that Artars suffered in image circle or even had enough of a circle to use movements on an 8x10 unless the were in longer tan normal focal lengths.
Well a 14" APO Artar does cover 8x10 quite nicely really. There's not acres and acres of coverage but certainly enough for most situations. Of course as a beginner I didn't know any better and asked a local long time professional photographer to suggest an 8x10 lens and listened to him enthusiastically tell me about the wonderous 14" Commercial Ektar. As if by some magical spell, Jim at MidWest Photo had one at an excellent price (via an advertisement in Shutterbug)so I ordered it and discovered that I already had a lens board drilled for a #5 Universal. I had loaded my modest collection of film holders with TMY and on a foggy morning headed up to the old brick county courthouse that was relocated beside the foothill reservoir which inundated the courthouse's original location. A contractor had parked his toyota pick up on one side of the courthouse and I could not avoid it in the composition :mad: and the fog was lifting!
I used the contents of two of my three film holders on the experiment and that night I developed the film. The next morning I took it to the local photo shop to use thier light box.

The clerk handed my her loupe---"look at that" she said pointed to the offending toyota truck. I took the loupe and I could easily make out the numbers and tiny letters on the license plate! That truck was nearly 1/4 mile from where I set up---and in the fog to boot! For several years the 14" Commercial was the only lens I used. I've added more lenses for a number of misguided reasons (and a few very good reasons) but I always think about the time when one lens, the big Commercial Ektar, was more than enough.

I held the APO Artar in reserve should the Ektar ever need to go in for a cla and it was a good thing I did. The big Universal never did indicate the need to go into the shop but I did acquire a 5x7 Agfa and the APO Artar at last has found a home.

So....do you have a story?

Ernest Purdum
17-Sep-2008, 10:29
That must have been about the same time I got my 300 and 105mm Apo Lanthars while Camera Barn was selling the last of the Voigtlander line as distressed merchandise. I should have bought everything they had.

Dan Fromm
17-Sep-2008, 12:53
Ernest, you're not the only person who didn't buy enough.

Once upon a time I stumbled across a German surplus dealer's site and bookmarked it. Sometime later, while cleaning up my bookmarks I revisited the site and found that he was offering AGI F135 cameras, each with a pair of 38/4.5 Biogons, for very little. I dithered a bit, finally bought one. When it came I dismantled it, extracted the lenses, and dithered some more. Then I talked things over with Steve Grimes and sent him the lenses. He dithered a bit, then remounted one of them in a Copal #0. After I sold the other one I bought all of the cameras I could afford. Four of them.

I should have borrowed some money from my wife and bought the lot. As it was, after I'd sold all but one of that batch (eight lenses in it) I had funds to buy more. Called Germany was told that they had only four cameras left. So I ordered all of 'em, and was then offered two spare Biogons "for the additional postage."

In all, I've bought twenty 38/4.5 Biogons and sold eighteen. They paid for many of my other lenses. If only I'd borrowed from my wife I'd have been able to buy two dozen of the cameras. Oh, well.

I have a thing for aerial camera lenses. Ages ago I decided that I wanted one of the 4"/2.0 TTH Anastigmats (a 6/4 double Gauss type) that was fitted to Vinten F95 and early Agiflite cameras. So I revved up Google and found a site in the UK, owned by one Warton Parfitt, where there was a small advert offering an F95 with too 4"/2.0 TTH lenses. Name (Clive Bruce) and phone number in the advert, no e-mail address.

So I sent an e-mail to Warton Parfitt, who told me rather testily to call Clive. So I did, we talked things over, and he sold me the better lens for an extremely reasonable price. It turned out that he had e-mail, and we corresponded until his death. Delightful man, whom I still miss.

17-Sep-2008, 15:39
I'm a newcomer to all the LF stuff, but I have a neat story I mentioned in the forum elsewhere. As a wetplater, I'm following a lot of advise and looking for cheap petzvals. About a year ago there was a lot of projection lenses, and I somehow won it cheap. There was one with a focus knob and some brass, which would be a good lookalike for a "real" brass lens. A few others were in chrome tubes, and one was in a ratty looking aluminum fixture.

Anyway over a period of days I disassembled each lens to clean and assess if it was a petzval. The alum fixture stayed on the shelf. It looked like a scientific fitting for CRT pictures, or a telecope eyepiece, or a periscope part. The lens itself was quite small, but buried in a bunch of movable sleaves and fittings. I was going to junk it.

One morning I decided to try to get to the lens inside. I somehow figured out all the sleaves, fittings, geezus clips, and finally got to where I could read writing on the lens. It said, "C.P. Goerz....Dagor....120mm" It was perfectly clean, preserved way down inside. No, it's not some bazillion dollar find, but it was nice for my first dagor!

Eugene van der Merwe
18-Sep-2008, 06:43
I cannot walk past a dodgy second hand shop, or army surplus dealer without going in, here's why: Three years ago I walked into a army surplus store, tempted there by rumours of camera stuff for sale. At first i saw a small glass fronted cabinet full of broken 1980's point and shoot cameras, and was about to leave when a small box caught my attention. A little rummaging produced a Schneider 47mm F8 super angulon, 65mm F8 super anugulon, 90mm F6.8 Angulon and a 270mm F5.6 Rodenstock rotelar, all in original, sealed boxes with original instructions and warranty slips. The owner of the store, not having the faintest ideas what these funny little boxes contained sold me the whole lot for the equivalent of about $50 US!
I think that will always be remembered as a good day...

E. von Hoegh
19-Sep-2008, 09:37
My first 8x10 lens was a "Jos. Schneider Kreuznach Doppel Anstigmat Symmar 30cm" in a Compound. The Compound worked well, and the glass had a lovely bloom, the flange was incorrect, and I didn't get any sweet deal on it.

But it was (and is) a great lens.

Another is a lens I found on a 5x7 or 6 1/2x 8 1/2 junker; it is an 8 1/4 mystery Dagor type in a Goerz Sector shutter that will not cover 8x10 at infinity; but is eerily sharp where it does cover.

19-Sep-2008, 10:28
hey john

i have a 15" tele optar ... in a barrel.
i had been looking and looking for a good long lens
for my speed graphic for months ... i would wander into ep levines
in boston, and this guy mike would show me the latest photo copier lenses, brass lenses
and other stuff he thought would fit the bill. ... none of it was what i wanted.
as i turned around to leave a fellow tapped me on the shoulder
and said: here's my phone number i have a lens you might be interested in.

i went back to my loft and waited a day or so before i called this person.
at the time i was living in a live-work studio space in somerville, a place that
i happened upon by chance, and managed to remain there even after the primary lease holder ( in florida )
was evicted and all sorts of crazy soap opera sublet drama and a law suit.

anyways, i called the person up, and arranged to meet him. he presented the lens to me
and told me what he wanted for it, and took a photograph out his window with a
graflex slr to show me what the lens was like.

i wrote a check and left with the lens in hand.

i showed the lens to the guy who lived across the hall from me, and told him
the story ... he then told me the seller used to live where i am living, and he was
one of the original people who converted the building to studio space ...

i lived there for about 6 years, and the lens was very happy to be back.