View Full Version : another mystery lens question

7-Nov-2009, 18:41
So this is my third posting today with a question, hopefully there is not a quota. I promise this is my last one today....

this lens (pictured below) was acquired along with my 4x5 Nakaoka field camera and other miscellaneous LF parts (ie film holders etc)

It looks like it was salvaged off of an older bellows style folding camera. It had been fitted onto a home made lens board for my camera. So I guess one of the previous owners (I am at least the third owner...) had tried it out. The last owner had not...

the stem takes a conventional shutter release, but there is no timed shutter. The duration of the exposure is determined by how long you hold the shutter release open. Possibly the camera had a focal plan shutter, but then why the shutter release on the stem?

The iris does have four settings, not conventionally marked.
They are simply marked: 1, 2, 3, 4

The front element seems to have had a collar retrofitted on it. I presume so that it cannot be screwed into the the shutter opening too far. The glass portion of the front element is about 22mm in diameter.

The rear element has one marking stamped on it:
"Illex Rapid Rectilinear"

The rear element has a collar which would take a retaining ring. But the ring is missing.

The screw mount diameter for both the front and rear elements appear to be 31mm.

Obviously I can mount it on the camera and experiment with it, which I will probably do. However considering my limited experience with LF photography I would prefer to try it with a "timed shutter".

I have been "Ebay browsing" for inexpensive shutters and wondering how I would mount the shutter on the lens. My field camera would not accommodate a "Packard, behind the lens arrangement", so I was envisioning putting the new shutter onto the front of the lens somehow (glue???). Mounting the shutter on the front poses the risk of partially obstructing the field of view, since I have no idea what the focal of the lens is.

I guess one option would be to find a shutter that has 31mm openings (is there one?) and remount the front and rear elements. However I have no idea what the spacing should be.

So some questions:
1. any idea what camera this came off of?
2. what do you speculate the focal length might be?
3. what arrangement would you suggest for trying out the lens?

thanks in advance for your feedback...

7-Nov-2009, 21:38
That is a very elderly lens, indeed. Probably made before between-the-lens shutters had clockwork timing mechanisms, maybe 1890s. Rapid Rectilinear was used by Edward Weston for many of his greatest images.

8-Nov-2009, 04:48
i woudl guess it is f8. so every stop after that is another f stop. 8,11,16 etc etc.

it is probably a 6 or 7 inch lens. make image on your dark wall of teh outside trees and measure to the iris.

use a dark slide as your shutter. pull it offf fast and return it. perfect shutter. i use them all the time.

8-Nov-2009, 05:34
Does that lever look like original? If so, chances are that the lens is rather younger (1900-1930) and was not from a regular camera, but something that had some kind of remote aperture manipulation device - like many process cameras, enlargers or aerial cameras.

Glenn Thoreson
16-Nov-2009, 17:55
I am going to make an educated guess that the lens has already been re-mounted into that shutter. I believe the shutter is much older than the lens. A re-mount would explain the brass bushing on the front. Rapid Rectilinear lenses are extremely sharp in the center of the field. The corners and edges fall off pretty fast, though. They were usually mounted on a camera that used a smaller format than the lens would cover to make up for that. The aperture numbers might be the old Kodak scale that was used around the late 1800 to around 1915 period. If so, the scale goes f/11, 16, 22 and 32. Another reason I don't think the lens is original to the shutter. The R.R. lenses were almost always an f/8 with the scale starting at f/4 in the Uniform System. For what it's worth, the lens cells may screw right into an old Kodak Ball Bearing shutter.
Many of the R.R. lenses will. I hate to suggest that, as those shutters are pretty crappy and seldom accurate. Many of them have the proper U. S. aperture numbers, though, and are good for one or two good speeds. There are also some old Ibsor shutters that may work, too, and the little Betax. Try to use that lens. I've never used one by Ilex, but most others are very good. Focal length usually runs around 170mm. Good luck.

Ole Tjugen
16-Nov-2009, 23:39
In addition to the US aperture scale, there's also the irritating AU system. AU as in "Arbitrary Units". Not at all uncommon. There may be a full stop difference between the settings, but even that can be a bit arbitrary...