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Sven Schroder
17-Mar-2009, 06:10
Hi

Anyone have a serial number list, the 9" example I just picked up is number 147 which seems early? also it came with the element what I would assume was the wrong way around ie ) I've switched it round to ( , so can someone confirm the cell orientation? I've seen jim galli's page illutrating the sharp to soft but has anyone landscapes examples recent or historical?
Thanks and Regards
Sven

Dr Klaus Schmitt
16-May-2009, 12:17
Just got the same lens, mine is #447 and I wondered if there would be more info about it.

Any idea if focusing wide open, stepping down and taking a shot OR refosusing after stepping down wouldbe better?

Thanks!

russyoung
18-May-2009, 05:13
Gentlemen-

This is the soft focus lens that Ansel Adams used up until 1932. I have four of them of various focal lengths and they are IMHO as fine as any soft focus lenses ever made but greatly undervalued today. I have the 9" on the 4x5 Graflex, a combination made in heaven.

Because of the spherical aberration (which causes focus to move as aperture is changed), you MUST focus at the shooting aperture.

Enjoy them!
Russ Young

Dr Klaus Schmitt
2-Jun-2009, 14:49
Thanks Ross, appreciate your comments!

Which other focal lengths do you know/have?

keeds
3-Jun-2009, 00:54
I have a 15" version. Not sure of serial #.

russyoung
10-Jun-2009, 05:26
Klaus-

There were five focal lengths: 6 9 11.5 15 18
I have all but the 15. The literature notes that the 11.5" will cover 8x10, a remarkable achievement for a soft focus lens.

The nine inch will easily fit on a Graflex "B" board for my 4x5 Graflex and unlike the Verito, the door flap will close with the lens in place (you can find a sunken-mount Verito on very rare occasions). IMHO the 18" is marvelous for 8x10 even though it was designed for 14x17.

Camera lenses were a side-line for them. Charles Spencer, the founder of the company, made the first commercially produced microscopes in America in the 1830s. Throughout the life of the company, microscopes were their main product. They were taken over by American Optical Co. in 1935 and I have seen ONE Portland lens so marked. The Port-Land (PORTrait-LANDscape) came into production in 1911 and had lost its hypen (Portland) by 1920.

Hope this was helpful, Klaus.

Russ

Jim Galli
10-Jun-2009, 06:24
I love learning the tid bits. That explains why this lens (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=45762&highlight=Spencer) felt so much like a Goerz product in my hands. I bought it because of interest in the Spencer name.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
10-Jun-2009, 08:30
...I've switched it round to ( , so can someone confirm the cell orientation?...

From what I have seen, the flat side should face the subject, and round side should face the film.

Sven Schroder
11-Jun-2009, 01:40
Thanks Jason

When it arrived the flat side wasn't facing the subject, so from experience I switched it,
It was also thicker than I was expecting.

Regards
Sven

Steven Tribe
16-Nov-2009, 12:10
A small contribution to Port-Land knowledge! The "flat" side which should face the subject is slightly concave. My newly arrived 18" has the serial number 843. How is the general status of your balsam? I have about 30% edge breakdown but only about 1 mm fortunately. A few single crystalline flecks in the balsam - otherwise clear and colorless. The 18" fits perfectly on a sinar board.

csant
16-Nov-2009, 12:58
I have a 15" in very good condition - but it doesn't seem to carry any serial number. Any suggestions on where it could be hiding?

Steven Tribe
16-Nov-2009, 13:23
The layout of my objective data, halfway between the flange and the double ribbed iris ring, is :
1st line : 18" PORT - LAND F 6.8
2nd line : SPENCER LENS CO. BUFFALO, N.Y.
3rd line : 843

The engraving is "centralised with uneven margins" directly up from the aperture line.
It is not very deep cut - reminds me of the faint engraving on black TTH process lenses. The aperture numbering is even fainter. The quality and "sticking abilities" of the black enamel doesn't appear to be the best!

csant
16-Nov-2009, 14:00
Hmm, none of that on my barrel. Might if have "washed away", or is it some other odd barrel I have there?

Steven Tribe
16-Nov-2009, 14:15
Well there must have been a considerable design change as it is very unlike mine! I enclose the seller's photo of mine. I would suggest that your later model is without any serial number data. Those that have listed their numbers in this thread have all numbers that are less than mine so they probably have the all black model too.

Steven Tribe
16-Nov-2009, 16:20
And, of course, this change in appearance must have been at the same time that Port-Land became Portland as your front definitely says the later!

csant
17-Nov-2009, 00:05
Ah, that makes sense. And would you know when that happened?

Steven Tribe
17-Nov-2009, 01:36
Well Russ Young said "The Port-Land (PORTrait-LANDscape) came into production in 1911 and had lost its hypen (Portland) by 1920." But I don't know how much this is guesswork or whether he has dug up contemporary data in connection with his "soft/plastic" lens dissertation. The date he gives for the change seem likely. My port-land looks very much like a big voigtlænder heliar I have from around WW 1, whilst your "Portland" style looks more like the competition from Graf Variable which got underway around 1923!
I enclose a photo of E.Weston with the 16/18" Graf Variable. This too has double rims on the heavy raised aperture ring, very clear front lens rim engraving with very distinct black enamel/plain metal sections.

russyoung
17-Nov-2009, 05:06
There was no guesswork, Steven, this was a doctoral dissertation after all.

It is based on Spencer's advertisements.

Russ

Steven Tribe
17-Nov-2009, 09:57
I didn't intend to cast doubt on your sources Russ! Many theses, including my own in Social Psychology, are model and theory building based on barely quantifiable data . Nice to know that a comparison with the styles of known objectives came up with a near correct date. Can you confirm the style change occured at the Port-Land/Portland watershed in 1920 and that later lenses are without serial numbers?

Steven Tribe
19-Nov-2009, 02:33
There were at least 3 designs for the port-land/portland! The first with Port-land seems to be with a run of about 1,000 (serial numbers) as all the reported sn are under this figure. The second was that shown in this thread - without sn - with the text on the metal front without serial nr. The third can be seen as long term offer on ebay at present which has a similar identification - extensive engraving with more data - on the internal front rim. Serial numbers numbers have returned! Very high numbers suggesting a new producer with lots of other irons in the fire. Models 2 and 3 could have been models 3 and 2 (chronologically).

8x10 user
19-Nov-2009, 13:20
There was at one point a Burke and James version.

Lynn Jones
23-Nov-2009, 12:09
I've had an 18" for decades and love it, but the aperture blades keep falling apart and it is miserable to re-assemble. I've tried to get several of my camera repair friends to assemble them but they just laugh and say, "you do it".

Lynn

Dr Klaus Schmitt
24-Nov-2009, 14:56
Mine looks like Steve's. And since we're at it, a shot taken with it:
http://forum.mflenses.com/userpix/20096/455_Spencer_PortLand_DSC9025ac_1.jpg

Also linked some goody, a scan of a brochure I recently got from a dear friend...
http://www.macrolenses.de/bilder/Spencer Port-Land Lens Brochure.pdf

CCHarrison
25-Nov-2009, 13:45
Here is an ad on the Spencer Pictorial Portrait Lens

Dan

Jim Galli
25-Nov-2009, 14:05
Mine looks like Steve's. And since we're at it, a shot taken with it:
http://forum.mflenses.com/userpix/20096/455_Spencer_PortLand_DSC9025ac_1.jpg

Also linked some goody, a scan of a brochure I recently got from a dear friend...
http://www.macrolenses.de/bilder/Spencer Port-Land Lens Brochure.pdf

dammit! There goes the prices. That's gorgeous! The picture, the picture. The lens is ugly, the pictures gorgeous. Why did I sell that 15" I had :confused: :mad:

Steven Tribe
25-Nov-2009, 14:41
Thanks Klaus and CC! Very useful info. Congratulations on the super colour effect - set up at F5.6 perhaps? I didn't really register Russ's earlier comments that the 18" covers 14x17" - but both your sources say the same. I will lug my Sinar out into the garden when the weather here gets a bit more stable! But I can only manage B/W and 8x10.

csant
25-Nov-2009, 16:04
Why did I sell that 15" I had :confused: :mad:

I hope I'll put it to good use ;) This thread is very interesting and inspirational - thanks all for the precious info!

Dr Klaus Schmitt
27-Nov-2009, 06:06
dammit! There goes the prices. That's gorgeous! The picture, the picture. The lens is ugly, the pictures gorgeous. Why did I sell that 15" I had :confused: :mad:

Well Jim,

these words from you, "the master", makes me blush...!!! I wanted to re-create that old still life painterly "effect" and that lens helps a lot to get closer to what I wanted. The partly wilted flowers also helped. It was just a test shot set-up in a few minutes after I had received the lens from Sydney, but honestely I was very positively surprised, too.

And now I'm still looking for a Hanovia KALOSAT - darn hard to locate one...any ideas??

@Steve: it is stopped down a bit more, maybe f8, since otherwise the result was a bit too undefined (for me).

csant
27-Nov-2009, 07:12
@Steve: it is stopped down a bit more, maybe f8, since otherwise the result was a bit too undefined (for me).

A cyclamen I took the day I received my lens - also stopped down to about F8:
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3527/4008853566_7226acdb54_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/csant/4008853566/)

Dr Klaus Schmitt
29-Nov-2009, 10:48
Nice one! Did you blow the highlights on purpose for a high-key look?

Steven Tribe
29-Nov-2009, 15:06
Well I aired my 18" today! "Focussing" was a very doubtful affair. Just dark enough to use 1/30 and 1/60 (sinar copal) at F11 and F8. Results perhaps later this week.

csant
29-Nov-2009, 15:36
Did you blow the highlights on purpose for a high-key look?

Thank you Klaus - yes, that was the intention.

csant
29-Nov-2009, 15:37
"Focussing" was a very doubtful affair.

Hehe, it has its challenges, and you'll always stay with that "but was it in focus now?" aftertaste…

Steven Tribe
30-Nov-2009, 03:14
Trying to focus yesterday was a very disconcerting experience which I would prefer not to repeat, especialy in the presence of others!. I dreamed last night that I made a low intensity illuminated disc - rather like a miniature cycle lamp with sector divisions (clear glass/dark areas) like a viewfinder centre, which I could place in the plane I was trying to get into focus? Could this work?

Dr Klaus Schmitt
30-Nov-2009, 13:27
I used as small piece of paper with a thick black cross in the middle
if I could not focus and placed it on the object. It worked the trick though...
The Spencer has the neat effect that it changes focus if you open or close the
aperture, so I focused at working aperture.

Dr Klaus Schmitt
30-Nov-2009, 18:45
Well, tonite I made myself my own soft focus lens, not being able to find a Kalosat...
http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=56466

Sven Schroder
21-Jan-2010, 10:12
Hi
I have found some time to scan a ad for the Portland from 1926 Bjp annual, also a similar Italian lens note the similar discriptions, the koristka Ars is much more meniscue in shape.
I have the 168mm Little Ars it has no aperture scale or any other scale nothing at all, any tips for workflow, I just measure the actual aperture and calculate from there.
Regards
Sven

Steven Tribe
21-Jan-2010, 13:03
Interesting! I am beginning to treasure the expression " Pictorial Workers" which appears everywhere at this time. This is the first objective I have seen where all sizes were the same price! Do you mean no aperture (like the plasticca) or no marked scale? I think there are still a lot of small production soft/plastic lenses out there waiting to be discovered.

Sven Schroder
21-Jan-2010, 13:13
Hi
There is an Iris but no scale, just some pencil marks from a previous owner which seem to mark the sweet spots at least visually. I have been puzzling out a way to measure the hole in mm's I thought a triangle with a millimeter scale as I don't want to carry digital calipers all the time.
regards
Sven

Steven Tribe
21-Jan-2010, 13:28
I think the diameter is given in VM. I note that there were SMALL ARS, MEDIUM ARS and LARGE ARS models - a model for everybody! Perhaps one of our italian corespondents could cast a little light on the selection of the word ars.

Emil Schildt
23-Jan-2010, 17:26
I think the diameter is given in VM. I note that there were SMALL ARS, MEDIUM ARS and LARGE ARS models - a model for everybody! Perhaps one of our italian corespondents could cast a little light on the selection of the word ars.

isn't "ARS" latin for "Art"

we have a famous choir here in DK, called Ars Nova - meaning "new music"...

an Art lens - "kunst objektive"?

(Aand couldnt we then translate "SMALL ARS, MEDIUM ARS and LARGE ARS " to "insignificant - normal and Great ART" ? :D )

Steven Tribe
24-Jan-2010, 02:22
Of course, Emil! Source of the word Art.
Sorry about my frivolous contribution. I've had the giggles for days! I would personally prefer to a large ars than a small ars.

Sven, could you post a picture of the Ars? The description in VM and your own comments make it sound like a very interesting mechanical design?

Sven Schroder
24-Jan-2010, 05:01
Hi
Wish I had more time to shoot at the moment and could post some results as well, so for now you'll have to make do with pics of the thing itself.
Regards
Sven

Steven Tribe
24-Jan-2010, 06:32
Many thanks. Now I know what to look out for!

Jon Wilson
29-Jun-2017, 08:04
Old thread, but thought I would post a couple of images taken with my 9 inch Spencer Port-land lens and developed earlier this month in Ilfolsol 3 1+14. I apologize for the dusty scan, images from separate TMAX negatives, but my "victim" (she doesn't like me to take her picture) made the same expression....I like the diffused look.

Steven Tribe
18-Aug-2017, 06:51
In this period of no cameraeccentric reference data, I can link to an old advert from James Sinclair who was the UK importer of the Spencer Portland. He added his engraving on the reverse side of the barrel.

http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/images/9/9b/Im1925BJPA-Sinclair551.jpg

He made a nasty error in the smaller ones (6" and 9") as they are faster at F4.5!

Embdude
18-Sep-2018, 10:30
182562

There were at least 3 designs for the port-land/portland! The first with Port-land seems to be with a run of about 1,000 (serial numbers) as all the reported sn are under this figure. The second was that shown in this thread - without sn - with the text on the metal front without serial nr. The third can be seen as long term offer on ebay at present which has a similar identification - extensive engraving with more data - on the internal front rim. Serial numbers numbers have returned! Very high numbers suggesting a new producer with lots of other irons in the fire. Models 2 and 3 could have been models 3 and 2 (chronologically).

I have a 11.5 PORT-LAND F 5.6 that is an early style with 4 digit serial 2776... Aluminum barrel with brass aperture ring...