View Full Version : Wollensak Raptar 12" telephoto

4-Sep-2010, 17:23
My question is simple, how much bellows does it need to focus infinity? Or at portrait distances on 9x12 (max 280mm bellows)?

There seems to be at least two different models, a f4.5 and f5.6. So i'm also interested on performance differences if anybody has first hand information.

Information on the 15" model is also appreciated!

Chauncey Walden
4-Sep-2010, 17:59
The Wolly catalog I have only has a non-telephoto 12 inch f/4.5 and f/5.6 telephotos only in 8, 10, and 15 inches? The 15 inch telephoto requires a 9 5/16 inch bellows draw at infinity.

4-Sep-2010, 18:04
I have seen these on ebay many times, clearly marked as telephoto and the shape of the lens barrel tells the same tale... so they do exist, and they are not eve rare items. Thanks for the info on the 15" wolly!

Chauncey Walden
4-Sep-2010, 20:36
Interesting. They must be post 1950 (or very rare uncatalogued) because all catalogs up through that date only show 8, 10, and 15. For example: http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info/wollensak_5.html
Do you have a link to one of the 12s?

Jim Noel
4-Sep-2010, 21:46
A fair percentage of people selling on e-bay have absolutely no knowledge about the items they sell. If it is Wollensak Telephoto it will say so on the lens.

Brian Stein
5-Sep-2010, 02:28
here is one up for sale: http://cgi.ebay.com/Wollensak-12-304mm-f-5-6-W-Raptar-Telephoto-Lens-/220664199158?pt=Film_Cameras&hash=item33609c77f6

coated, so on the younger side; appears to only cover 4.5 x 4.5" from the legend on the lens. In barrel, with a screw thread at base: not sure what it was made for looks more like medium formatish: perhaps 70mm movie film?

As to your original question: my rule of thumb is teles focus at about 2/3 their focal length.

5-Sep-2010, 05:50
From the square format, I'm guessing an aerial mapping lens. Can't tell scale from the photos but it doesn't look too different from their 15" tele.


al olson
5-Sep-2010, 07:15
I have two of them, a 15" for my 8x10 and a 10", cammed for my Super Graphic. When focused at infinity the measured distance (roughly) from the shutter plane to the film plane is about 60% of the focal length. This is contrasted with Rudolph Kingslake's statement that telephoto design is limited to about 80% of the focal length.

I get excellent results for both lenses. The 15" is the only lens I have for the 8x10. Although the Schneider 240mm may also work, it is mounted on a Linhof board.

5-Sep-2010, 07:16

here is one f4.5 version..

there was another of the f5.6 version also, but can't find it anymore... it didn't have the format markings on it and looked more like a civil´an version

Dan Fromm
5-Sep-2010, 08:34
From the square format, I'm guessing an aerial mapping lens. Can't tell scale from the photos but it doesn't look too different from their 15" tele.

DanDan, I agree that its probably for an aerial camera, don't agree that it is a mapping lens. This for two reasons. Mapping lenses must have low distortion, that rules out nearly all, if not all, telephotos. And mapping lenses are usually wide angles, which rules out all telephotos.

That the thing wasn't made for USAF (their lenses are engraved Type I, for reconnaissance, or Type II, for mapping) bothers me a bit. I don't think other air forces bought lenses from Wollensak.

That it doesn't have the usual aerial camera lens pins to accept a spring-loaded filter holder (usually three pins 120 degrees apart at the front) also bothers me. I know that rules are made to be broken, but still ...



Chauncey Walden
5-Sep-2010, 08:35
If you have $50 to throw away and make your own lensboards, try one. Perhaps it will cover 9x12 at portrait distance. Does your camera have a focal plane shutter or will you use a hat?

5-Sep-2010, 09:45
Dan - valid points re: aerial lens. It's an interesting oddity, whatever it is. Google doesn't turn up anything. The VM has no mention of it: "Telephoto Raptar f5.6 8.0, 10, 15in, (respectively need 5, 6.1, 9.6in extension.) It was available in
shutters with and without synchronization."


5-Sep-2010, 09:52
I don't think the coverage is an issue, i'm just thinking will it be something i can use. I just wan't a lens to take close-up portraits on my 9x12 slr camera (reflex-primar). It has bellows from about 210mm to 280mm. Although i can sacrifice infinity for closer focus, this is not a camera for landscapes anyhow.

Or do i need to get the 15" to get something like a tight headshot?

Dan Fromm
5-Sep-2010, 10:15
mm, if your camera has the extension you can get a tight headshot with a 12".

Pardon me if I missed it, but what will you use for a shutter? The lens is in barrel and there's no guarantee that it will go in a standard shutter.

8"/5.6 (covers 2x3, not 4x5), 10"/5.6 (4x5), and 15"/5.6(4x5) Wolly teles were sold in barrel and in Rapax shutters. Rapax sizes don't match standard Compur/Prontor/Copal/Seiko. For sizes see http://www.suaudeau.eu/memo/pratique/Les_obturateurs_centraux.html .

al olson
5-Sep-2010, 13:18
I believe the 15" only comes with an Alphax shutter. At least according to the catalog that Chauncy identified.

My 15" is in an Alphax press shutter. It is a monster, a no. 4, I believe, but there are no markings on it that say. The max shutter speed is 1/50. It does well on close-ups. As I recall I have focused it down to 3 or 4 feet.

Dan Fromm
5-Sep-2010, 15:47
Al, I b'lieve,could be mistaken, that I've seen 15 inchers in barrel.

Chauncey Walden
5-Sep-2010, 16:14
Yes, I have a 15 in barrel - ex GI off a Speed Graphic. Most of the ones I've run across were in barrel.

al olson
5-Sep-2010, 19:48
Al, I b'lieve,could be mistaken, that I've seen 15 inchers in barrel.

Sorry, I should have been more specific. The catalog that Chauncy referenced indicates that they are available in barrel or shutter. I should have indicated that the catalog shows them as being available in the Alphax, but not the Rapax shutter.

Carsten Wolff
9-Sep-2010, 02:18
If I may pipe in; although I'm not sure whether I'm adding to the rather anecdotal nature of this discussion or am actually providing needed detail. :)
I currently have 2 of the 15" teles. I use them for up to 5x7" and have always plenty of image circle to play with.
One came as a barrel lens, one in an Alphax #4.
The barrel version simply unscrewed (after removing 3 tiny grub-screws) and fitted straight into another Alphax 4. The 10" version apparently goes into an Alphax #3.
If it is cheap, I'd have no hesitation getting any of the 12" tele-versions in barrel with the caveat that it may not screw straight into a shutter. My feeling is that the 12" (v. f5.6 at least) might also fit an Alphax #3.
The 12" should also come close to giving you a nice tight head shot at 280mm bellows and on 4x5" as it'd only need about 200mm of bellows at infinity.

Personally, I find these lenses to be absolute sleepers.

Lynn Jones
10-Sep-2010, 09:31
I'm with Dan and others, I've searched from 1948 catalogs on and find no Raptars, long focus or telephoto listed in 12". There have always been ll 7/8" 4 element tessar type lenses and in my experience very good quality.

Nice mystery, your guesses as to possible military aerial optics may be as good as it gets.


Kevin Crisp
10-Sep-2010, 09:57
The 15" Wolly Tele Raptar covers 8X10? I'm surprised to hear it. 5X7 with some movement it will handle. Sharp and contrasty lens and quite reasonably priced on the used market.