View Full Version : Aplanat Question...

10-May-2009, 13:17
I've just 'won' my first proper vintage lens,
although quite a few of my other lenses are heading that direction...

It's a Landscape Lens- Aplanat B, No. 6 by E. Suter, of Basel. No.2961, approx. 600 mm focal length-
according to the description-

So I have looked up as much as I can,
but I do have a few questions,
and I'm hoping some of you might have some answers more readily to hand...

Of course, how old?
According to what I could glean, maybe between 1890 -1900,
though perhaps the number might suggest slightly earlier?

No maximum aperture, but from the picture, (on that site)
I'm guessing maybe around ƒ/12 - ƒ/16?

Coverage- apparently the barrel is inscribed 16 X 13, I'm kinda hoping they're not centimeters...

It wasn't expensive, not that that matters, but I got it to take pictures with anyway-
It's cut for Waterhouse stops, but none are included...

So, anybody know about this lens?


Ole Tjugen
10-May-2009, 13:58
A Suter Aplanat B No. 6 is a f:8 "Universalaplanat", and the focal length is either 550mm or 650mm. Sharp coverage should be about 600mm, or 24 inches, increasing to quite a bit more at small stops. So you should have quite a bit of leeway, even on a camera large enough to actually use this lens - it isn't exactly small!

10-May-2009, 14:10
Thank you Ole-
the very man I needed-

Yes, about 4.5 inches long, according to the description-
I'm going to need a bigger camera than 8x10...

Although I could use it on that, for something, just to get to know it...

Thanks again-

Am I in the right era with the serial number, do you think?

10-May-2009, 14:28
A 600mm on 8x10 is about a 300mm on 4x5: basicly a portrait lens, nice buy, congrad's !

If you have a monorail it would be a very usable lens and maybe the start of thinking about building yourself a bigger camera........
Some did on this forum.

Enjoy !

10-May-2009, 14:40
Thanks Peter-
I was one of those people who built a bigger camera...

I've got a 450mm for 8x10, and I don't see in that length for 8x10-
Every time I get a longer lens with more coverage,
I think about how I can use more of the circle...

I've done some portraits using a 300 on 8x10, and I like that length for portraits-
can't imagine doubling up on that one-

I've started drawing already...

Ole Tjugen
10-May-2009, 22:56
Hmmm... As it happens, I have one of these - but mine has a proper iris aperture. On the picture, it's the third from the left. 4x5" Anniversary Speed Graphic for scale. :)

Mine has serial number 235xx, which makes it quite a lot newer. It's astonishingly sharp, like all good Aplanats. Suter was one of the very best makers of Aplanats.

Struan Gray
10-May-2009, 23:52
Joseph, your lens may not be as long as 600 mm. I have a Suter Aplanat B No. 7 which is only 550 mm in focal length - measured to the aperture stop when focussed at infinity. It's possible yours is part of a different series numbering, but mine agrees with the list Ole posted here:


In any case, the Suter lenses seem well made. I have only snapped with a digicam grafted to the back of my Sinar, but the Aplanat I have holds its own with more modern glass.

11-May-2009, 01:06
Thank you Ole, Struan-

That's a lovely collection of brass-
Yes, the number might suggest a bit earlier than yours-

Thanks Struan,
I did come across that thread from the archives while I was searching earlier-
one of the few useful bits of information-
there seems to be surprisingly little out there,
at least about this particular version-

550mm wouldn't be so bad really...

Struan Gray
11-May-2009, 02:07
At 23 it's worth having a play just to see if the old brassie cult is for you.

Suter also made very cute boxed pairs of aplanats: a slightly long normal and a wide angle for the given format. I'm still kicking myself for passing up on a 13x18 pair in immaculate condition that went for pennies last year.

If you find yourself eating raw fishheads and whispering 'my preciousssssss' it's too late to turn back....

11-May-2009, 02:31
Ah no Struan-
I'm more of a long grey man myself,
but I'll remember the warning...

Yes, it wasn't very much-
a UK only auction, and of course the global meltdown, might be contributing to price corrections across the board...

Obviously, it's only a very minor part of the whole setup-
I might need a bigger camera...

14-May-2009, 06:36
Well, it arrived-

Just to add to the knowledge base,
this one is about 450mm fl,
and has an image circle of around 22" wide open-

I haven't made any stops for it yet-

The glass seems to be in reasonable condition,
no marks or scratches, but there is some separation in the rear group-

Would still be interested in finding out how old it is...

14-May-2009, 16:00
See attached Suter Aplanat table from 1902


14-May-2009, 16:33
Thanks for that Dan-
I've visited your site many times, great resource-

My one seems to be slightly different-
looks like it was engraved for an English market,
it's engraved 13 x 16 on the barrel.

Foyer? is that a reference to focal length?
mine doesn't match either- more like 450mm...

Champ? Field? great the way that's a direct translation,
and that looks accurate-

Not having used a lens like this before-
this is a symmetrical lens?
so I can mount it either way around?
any idea of its age? serial 2961?
Aplanat B no. 6?