View Full Version : Opinion wanted on two lenses.

r scott webb
6-Jun-2009, 23:53
I just picked up two lenses yesterday at a yard sale. Got a whole box of photographic equipment (8 light meters, 5 screw-on close-up lenses for 35mm, an Argus C3 "Brick" Rangefinder, an Agfa PD16 Plenax, a Kodak Flash Bantam and a bunch of misc. stuff for $10 USD). The two lenses were buried at the bottom of said box.

The two lenses in question are as follows:
1. 127mm f/4.5 lens for a Polaroid Pathfinder Land Camera 110 (Wollensak Raptar).
2. 127mm f/4.7 lens for a No. 2 Kodak Supermatic.

Both lenses could use a good cleaning but show no signs of fungus, scratches or other damage and aperture blades and shutters on both look and work great. My question is about their worth. I'd like to get into large format photography and was wondering if these lenses were worth hanging onto. Any opinions would be greatly appreciated.


7-Jun-2009, 08:01
Hi Randy,

My opinion is that those 5 inch Tessars (designed reportedly for 3.25x4.25, quarter plate cameras) are useful for handheld photography with a press camera like a speed graphic. If you want to use camera movements those will quickly run out of coverage and get soft at the corners. Lenses with adequate coverage, like a 135mm convertible Symmar, are going for less than the price of 100 sheets of 4x5 Tri-X. My advice is to play with these until you can find something more suitable.

The Raptars are reputed to be inconsistent. Kodak has a better reputation for making excellent lenses, but the Kodak, unless branded "Ektar", may not be coated and so could be of limited use. Supermatic is the shutter. The lens might be an Ektar or an Anastigmat. Kodak serial numbers start with 2 alpha characters that indicate the year of manufacture. The letters map to numbers as follows:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

Lenses manufactured after the WWII usually are coated, but condition is a concern as the earliest coating were soft.

There are many 127mm Tessars available for sale, mostly the well respected Rodenstock Ysarex from Polaroid 110A/B cameras. Ebay shows that one just sold for $25 and another for $125 (the seller grossly misrepresented it and the buyer must have been infatuated and in a big hurry.) I expect them to sell for around $45. An Ektar in excellent condition might do significantly better, but the Raptar probably would not.

Hang in there and good luck.

Dan Fromm
7-Jun-2009, 09:11
aduncason, don't be so sure than uncoated tessars types are of limited usefulness.

Item, 101/4.5 Ektar made in 1946. Not coated, works well even shooting against the light.

Item, 15 cm/6.3 CZJ Tessar made in 1912. Same story.

Item, 13 cm/6.3 CZJ Tessar made in 1912. Same story repeated.

What will kill any old lens' contrast whether the lens is coated or not is "haze," often lubricants condensed on inner surfaces. All of the CZJ Tessars I've had could be dismantled completely for cleaning, but not my Ektars.

Randy, many people have got good use out of 127/4.7 Ektars and 127/4.7 Kodak Anastigmats (same design) but as was pointed out they just barely cover 4x5. Few people have used lenses from Polaroid 110s on 4x5 cameras but there's no reason why they should do much, if any, worse than 127/4.7 Kodak lenses. Prices vary.

7-Jun-2009, 09:45
Dan, You're right. I meant to write that one needed to use care shooting into the light with an uncoated lens, but I got in a hurry and abbreviated my thoughts too much.

I really believed that Kodak had written that all Ektar lenses were coated and in any event I would expect a 1946 lens to be.

I just looked at Camera Eccentric's Ektar lens catalog from 1953. It indicates that the 5" Ektar is f/4.7 while the 5" Kodak Anastigmat is f/4.5.

Dan Fromm
7-Jun-2009, 10:24
aduncanson, I also believed that all Ektar lenses were coated. And then I bought a 2x3 Speed Graphic with a 1946 101/4.5 Ektar that by god is not coated. Later I bought a 127/4.7 Ektar made in 1945 that also isn't coated. As best as I can tell, EKCo started coating lenses sometime in 1946 but not at the start of the year. Most Ektars are coated, but not the earliest ones.

I've always thought that the 127/4.7 Ektar is a coated 127/4.7 Kodak Anastigmat. Just checked Brian Wallen's site (http://www.prairienet.org/b-wallen/BN_Photo/KA_KASDocAmateur.htm), which says f/4.5 so I could be mistaken. But I'd swear I've seen a 127/4.7 KA. Failing memory, perhaps.

We believe in our rules, cherish them even, tend not to notice the obscure and poorly-documented exceptions.



r scott webb
7-Jun-2009, 13:23
Thanks for the input. I'll hang onto them for a bit and see how things go.


Ernest Purdum
7-Jun-2009, 16:37
My thought is to try whatever comes your way, although I hate seeing view cameras with one of these lenses up for sale. I think it likely that the owner got frustrated by his lenses lack of coverage.

Anyway, they might be pretty decent lenses for use with rollfilm holders.

John Kasaian
7-Jun-2009, 22:16
I agree with Ernest. While these are fine lenses and either one will get you started, niether will give you the coverage you'll likely want, unless you plan on shooting with a Speed or Crown Graphic (which isn't so bad of an idea, except most of the Graphics you'll run into will already come with a lens)

If the Ektar dosen't come in a shutter it will likely only find use on say a Speed Graphic with a focal plane shutter. I'd doubt it is worth the expense to put one in a Supermatic (unless you already have an "empty" Supermatic or expect one to bequeathed to you!)

Good luck!