View Full Version : What size B&L Tessar IIb do I have?

Dan Fromm
18-Sep-2009, 13:23
I just received a Premo No. 12 Folding Film Pack Camera that has a tiny little lens in a tiny little Compound shutter. I've looked at cameraeccentric.com's 1919 B&L catalog. It says on p.35 that the Premo #12 took a #3 B&L Tessar IIb, focal length 4 3/8", says it was offered in Compound.

I'm not 100% sure that's what I have. All that's engraved around the front cell's rim is "Zeiss Kodak Anastigmat 1 - 6.3 Pat. Feb. 24 03 Bausch and Lomb Optical Co." The serial number, 1536868, is on the shutter's speed setting dial. The lens seems a bit small to be the #3 characterized on p. 22, a bit large for the #2a also characterized there.

At infinity the camera's flange to film distance is roughly 4 1/2", making the lens closer to a #3 than to a #2a.

Any suggestions?

Cute little thing. The shutter functions fairly well, but since its actual speeds are unknown and the piston tube on top moves a little when touched so I think I'd better send it to Carol Miller.

Oh, yeah. The camera came with a pack holder and a single sheet film holder. Their gates are 2 1/4 x 3 1/4, the sheet of film in the holder is (ta da!) 2 1/4 x 3 1/4. I'm looking forward to trying the lens out on a 2x3 Graphic. If the VM correctly assigns 18625xx to 1914, the lens is pre-WWI, not just pre-1917 or so.



Glenn Thoreson
18-Sep-2009, 13:59
Dan, I'm wondering if someone replaced the lens at some point. Aside from that, does that camera take the metal single sheet holders? If so, and you have the Kodak 2 1/4 X 3 14 holder, you have a hard to find item, there. I have three, I think, new ones. Five or six cameras, though. :(

Dan Fromm
18-Sep-2009, 15:46
Glenn, thanks for the reply. The lens is such a good fit on the front standard that I think it is original issue. FWIW, Google found some issues of Kodakery with info about the Premo #12. Like everything else Kodak sold, it was offered with a variety of grades of lenses/shutters. But Kodakery wasn't at all specific about focal lengths.

Yes the camera takes metal single sheet holders. There were two in its case. One, black enameled metal (sheet steel?), that fits. And another, what looks like stainless and engraved "Germany," that's much too small to fit properly. Also a film pack holder than I haven't figured out how to open.

If you can use any of this stuff -- holders, camera (s/n 1355), focusing panel, case -- you can have it for postage and, if I ever find my way to your part of WY, a cup of coffee and a look at your mountain of gear. You may be a bottom feeder but you've accumulated a lot. I'm keeping the lens, its what I bought the kit for.



Robbie Bedell
18-Sep-2009, 19:36
Dan, It is interesting that you bring up this lens. I was just going through a box of old lenses and stuff and found my Tessar. It is very old. It reads "3 1/4x5 1/2 Bausch & Lomb-Zeiss Tessar Series IIb Pat Feb. 24 1903 #850758" I have no idea where I got this lens but I have shot with it on my 4x5 Wisner and it is a very sharp and contrasty lens and is in remarkably good condition. It is in a Bausch & Lomb Volute shutter which still works. I assume it came from an old folder. It just amazes me that some of these lenses that are more than one hundred years old are so beautiful and still functional...

Glenn Thoreson
18-Sep-2009, 20:04
Dan, I have several little plate cameras that could use those film holders and I would love to have them. The camera, too. I have a pair of B&L Tessar lens cells that I think are 4 & something" focal length. I believe they're in the C series and fit old Compur rim set and No. 2 Alphax shutters, etc. Glass is excellent. Can you use them? I'd be glad to send them. Need any 6.5 X 9 cm single holders?

Robbie, the 3 1/4 X 5 1/2 format was called "post card size" and Kodak sold lots of folders in that size, as did others. Graflex made the 3A SLR camera that used 122 film in roughly the same format. Odd, clunky thing, that one. The Volute shutter makes me think it may have come from a higher quality camera than were most simple folders of the time. Should be an excellent lens.

Robbie Bedell
18-Sep-2009, 20:55
Thank You Glenn!

Dan Fromm
19-Sep-2009, 02:45
Glenn, send me a PM with your address, I'll send the gear when I can.

Robbie, go over to www.cameraeccentric.com, click on info, and look in the 1919 B&L catalog to find your lens' focal length.

I'm quite enthusiastic about f/6.3 (often engraved Series IIb) Tessars from Zeiss, Zeiss' licensees, and honest copies. I use two, both CZJ, both pre-WWII, a bit, have an 84 mm Krauss that I ought to use more, and a couple of B&Ls that I don't use much. One in shutter, the shutter needs a CLA and the lens FL is too close to one of the CZJ's; two in barrel. I won't buy another B&L Series IIb in barrel without seeing it. I've bought two over the internet; both have barrels whose aperture scales aren't right for the lenses. I suspect that the cells were swapped around, but the lenses don't shoot badly.

Robbie Bedell
19-Sep-2009, 05:27
Wow, Dan. Thanks for the recommendation of Camera Eccentric. I just spent an hour and a half looking at old catalogs! I think my 6.3 IIb is 210mm, but I am not yet sure. I am going back to get lost in it...!

Lynn Jones
21-Sep-2009, 14:07
Hi Dan,

According to my McKeown, it was a Kodak Premo from 1916 to 1926 witn several lens and shutter combinations. From your description my guess is that it is a tessar type lens. It is listed as 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 film, plate, or roll. My bet is, that it is a great shooting camera in which the lens has been "self coated". Don't tuouch the lens!


Dan Fromm
21-Sep-2009, 15:32
Lynn, thanks for the reply. Please follow the link I included in post #7 above, click on "info" when you get there, and look at the 1919 B&L catalog. Its just amazing, I think you'll enjoy it. The last three pages are a guide to oysters that might be worth opening.

The Premo #12 is a sheet metal box with a front door that folds down and a somewhat shaky, if mine is a good example, standard that pulls out on a rail. Guess focus, or put it on a tripod and focus on the GG. The focusing panel and film holders slide out easily. Cute little camera, and with the better of the lenses offered indeed has the potential to take good pictures.

There's no doubt the lens is a Tessar made under license by B&L. The rim of the front element is engraved with the Tessar's US patent's date and "Zeiss Kodak Anastigmat." I doubt it can be anything but a Tessar.

The lens is schmutzy. Grease, I think, not bloom. So its going to be cleaned. With the crud on it there's no point using it. Sorry, I'm don't belong to the "vaseline on the filter gives pleasing artistic effects" school. FWIW, none of my Tessars of that vintage has bloom, and that includes B&L, Krauss, and real ones from CZJ. Dirt, yes. Oxydized glass, no.

But I would like someone with certain knowledge to suggest what the lens' focal length is.

Dan Fromm
10-Dec-2009, 13:36

I bought another Premo #12 with a B&L Tessar IIb. The lens is engraved 85 mm, is identical to the one I asked about except for the engraving. The new one has a serial number on the trim ring, another different one on the shutter. So the lens I asked about has no s/n. Oh, well.

And that's what it is. 85/6.3 Tessar.

The 1919 B&L catalog at http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info/bauschlomb_5.html says, on p. 35 that the Premo No. 12 was fitted with #3 Tessar IIb or #12 Tessar Ic. On p. 22 it says that the No. 3 IIb's focal length is 4 3/8", the No. 12 Ic's is 3 1/2". In fact my little Premo 12s seem to have No. 2a IIbs, focal length 3 11/32".

So much for the idea that catalogs are always right.