View Full Version : Periscop - rejected soft focus lens?

9-Apr-2011, 10:52
Could you give an examples of famous persicop lenses (consisted of two menisci)? I know about Steinheil one, but were there others?

Periscop is a soft focus lens? why it did not attract photographers serious attention? Anyone shooted with it?

9-Apr-2011, 11:20
R. D. Gray made some good Periscopes. I have an Extreme Wide Angle made by Gray that is very good. But it's not soft, it's a landscape lens with about 115 degrees of view.

Ole Tjugen
9-Apr-2011, 11:48
Some Steinheil Periskop's are double meniscii, but not all - Steinheil used that name for a lot of different experimental designs. The one I have is a landscape doublet, for example.

At the time when the Periskop's were made the goal was NOT to make a soft focus lens, but to make a rectilinear lens for architecture.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
9-Apr-2011, 17:13
Some of the early casket sets were Periskop designs, these weren't indented to be SF, but are. The Verito is a modified Periskop.

Nathan Potter
9-Apr-2011, 18:18
Like Ole said the Periscopes were originally designed for rectilinear renderings but showed varying degrees of spherical aberration. I think the Steinheil doublet was patented just after the US civil war. The Hypergon wide angle versions are properly Periscopes, the earliest being doublets of extremely deep meniscus but surprisingly rectilinear. Light falloff at the periphery was extreme. The Goerz Hypergon (German Pat. 126,500, 1900) was a wonder at the time.

Nate Potter, Austin TX.

10-Apr-2011, 04:29
i have a great big one (22 inch focal length!). i shot with it a while back. nice lens. i will try and find the photos.

i loaned it to galli. i am sure he can make it sing!

10-Apr-2011, 04:45
Attached, is what R. Kingslake in Image Magazine Sep/Dec 1982 had to say about the Periskop


10-Apr-2011, 16:51
This is a rough sketch and my memory isn't great but here it is. The Zentmeyer Globe was Periskopic in the original Steinheil Periskopic sense of two single glasses around a central stop.The Zentmeyer was in response to the Harrison Schnitzer Globe but had only the two glasses and was not symmetrical, while the Harrison Globe has two cemented pairs and four glasses and was symmetrical. Both the Zent globe & the Harrison globe had globe like hemispherical elements in both front and rear. The original Steinheil Periskop did not have globe like elements. I believe It took Zentmeyer some time, over a year, to get a patent because he was sued by Steinheil claiming the Zent Globe infringed on the original Periskop design, which it did not because the design was different and globe like. Zentmeyer's patent was 1866. The true Steinheil Periskop of 1865 patent was manufactured by Voigtlander and, from what I understand, this is the only lens that bore the names of both Voightlander and Steinheil. Very few of these lenses were made and only four are known to exist. They were slow and somewhat rectilinear, more so than the earlier Petzval and landscape achromat, not chromatically corrected, and slow, I think f32. They had only one stop, take it or leave it, most left it. One year later Steinheil designed and manufactured the Aplanat, Dallmeyer the Rapid Rectilinear, a much faster lens at f8, was rectilinear and chromatically correct. The Periskop was quickly obsolete but very rare and collectible today, perhaps the most rare and sought after 19th Century lens. Later the term Periscope was used but these lenses were not truly periskopic as they have cemented pairs. Hope this helps.


11-Apr-2011, 03:28
more on the Globe influence, from Kingslake ( attached )

and from Milan Zahorcak who actually has owned and held most of the lenses:

go to page 166


Steven Tribe
11-Apr-2011, 06:12
Another photo of the Voigtländer periskop - after the Steinheil name was given up.
Looks exactly the same as a well known super wide angle Goerz lens!

11-Apr-2011, 14:39
Check out the Rodenstock Bistigmat Weitwinkel too. It is not color corrected, and has an unusual mechanism to move the outer element in and out to adjust for that or something. There are some writings that it may be soft focus. I haven't tried mine.

11-Apr-2011, 14:59
Some great info, thanks.

Have you made or seen any photo made with periscop?

12-Apr-2011, 10:12
Dann, I believe the Gray line of lenses called "periscopes" are in name only, and these lenses are not a direct development from the original double meniscus periscopic lenses. Most Gray lenses are 4 element rectilinear types and I believe are a development from the Globe and Morrison wide angles, utilizing the latest Jena Glass (1888/1889). .....see http://www.pce.net/id moreag/Gray%20Periscope%20lenses%201896.JPG and see http://www.pce.net/idag/Gray%20Periscope%20lenses%201896.JPG


13-Apr-2011, 10:39
Here is my 24x30 Rodenstock Bistigmat Weitwinkel. Notice the lens slides in and out between the Bildaufn. and Mattsch. settings, short for Bildaufnahme &
Mattscheibe ("Picture taking" and "Ground glass"). You would focus at Mattsch, optimized for our eyes, then push it in to Bildaufn to take, optimized for blue light.

In other words, it wasn't an achromat. I can't tell anything in the ground glass, other than one or the other setting looks out of focus, so if someone wants to try the lens, PM me to take if off my hands.

13-Apr-2011, 14:27
c. 1899 ad attached

Steven Tribe
13-Apr-2011, 15:41
The bistigmats were the absolute cheapest objectives available - almost the same price as no-name similars in the catalogues. They are quite often available on e**y germany. There was a simple casket set "Bistigmat orthochromatic" with pairs of clear and yellow colored lenses.

16-Apr-2011, 05:59
Attached is an image of the original Periskop from Milan Z ebay ad.


Łukasz Owsianka
16-Apr-2011, 07:32
Could you give an examples of famous persicop lenses (consisted of two menisci)? I know about Steinheil one, but were there others?

Periscop is a soft focus lens? why it did not attract photographers serious attention? Anyone shooted with it?

Most famous persicop lens is Görtz Hypergon!!!

17-Apr-2011, 20:28
The only true 20th century Periscop that comes to mind in the Steinheil sense of Periscop of a symmetrical doublet with two single glasses is the Voigtlander W.Z. Objektiv which is considered a soft focus lens. This is a direct descendant of the original Steinheil Periscop that was also manufactured by Voigtlander some 60 years earlier. The glass of the W.Z. is shaped much like the original Steinheil Periscop in that is not greatly curved. The Zentmeyer and Goerz Hypergon have very curved Globe like glass. I think that Zentmeyer was able to defend himself against a lawsuit from Steinheil because of the difference in the shape of the glass. W.Z. seems to have two meanings as is indicated in the Vade Mecum: "

W.Z. Enlarging Lens f8 This was a soft focus lens of periscopic 2 glass layout (roughly Ste 002) supplied in
the 1920's @ £3.25 (a modest price), and listed by Frerk and others. It was made only in f8/7in(=18cm) and is
fairly small at 2.25in dia and 1.25in long. (B.J.A. 1926, p337, 706) Note that this use at the enlarging stage is
technically the wrong point to introduce softness and does raise a point. Possibly it was just that it was low
priced and sold. Thus an auction list has a 18cm W.Z. taking lens listed at No230,23x on a Miral Reflex
camera for 5.5x3.5in which itself looks older than this but it may be a retrofit of the above type of lens. And
this is in line with the entry in Afalter's book which shows it as a black finished lens with iris and easy to useon a camera. This Miral was by Talbot & Eamer who Channing and Dunn date as flourishing 1884-1923, but
perhaps making Mirals mainly about 1900-1914. So there is a possibility that the W.Z. may have been initially
a camera lens and then continued for enlarging? or just swapped over? Well, Afalter also says it was for
enlarging- so that was what Voigtlaender intended.)
Two points do occur here.
One is why W.Z? The German seems to be Weichzeichner for soft focus, but the capitalization seems
unneeded. An option just might be that a local photographer Walter Zilly played a part in the development. See
photo credit in Frerk, 'Lichtbildkunde', Tafel (Fig) 2 p443 approx. to Walter Zilly-Braunschweig for pictures
taken with a 'Tele-Dynar f6.3'.
Secondly, it is a periscopic layout, and there is a hint that Voigtlaender made a few in cooperation with
Steinheil about 1870, and it seems possible that it existed as a continuing product but one supplied on
request rather than being advertised untill this new use was found."

It is interesting to think that Voigtlander resurrected the Steinheil design some 60 years after first producing it. I have not shot my W.Z.'s yet but plan to soon. I have two. One with mm aperture indicator and one with standard aperture marks starting with f8 down to f25. Makes sense that it would be soft wide open at f8 when the original Periscop had only one stop at approx. f32, this small stop necessary to achieve sharpness. I'm certain the the W.Z. will get sharper when stopped down.

Steven Tribe
18-Apr-2011, 07:18
The WZ does means Weichzeicher - I have a catalogue where the full name is given. Walter Zilly cannot claim any connection! They don't even bother to mention the F values values which are given for every other lens in the catalogue.
I have seen the WZ listed as a taking lens in many auction lists - which adds to the confusion.
The WZ was never sold as a taking lens and was only sold in one size 18cm for enlargement. Periscope with adjustable softness through iris selection. Low cost - about the same as aplanat for 18x24 (Busch series D).

18-Apr-2011, 16:30
Yes, I just remembered seeing this in my Voigtlander catalog of 1938 and forgot all about it. There it is on the last page: WZ-Weichzeichner. Here is the first paragraph in German an a loose English translation care of Google Translate:

"Warum weiche bilder? Die scharfe und klare Zeichnung der modernen Anastigmate ist unzweifelhaft gegenuber den objektiven alter Konstruktion ein grosser vorteil und fur allgemeine zwecke eine heute selbstverstandliche notwendigkeit. Wenn es sich aber um bildmassige photographie handelt, dann hat diese uberdeutliche wiedergabe selbst der kleinsten einzelheiten auch ihre nachteile. Deshalb legt man bei gewessen arbeiten auch heute auf die weiche zeichnung, die mit einem anastigmaten nicht zu erreichen ist, solchen wert.

Why soft images? The sharp and clear drawing of the modern Anastigmat is no doubt about the objective to old design a great advantage and for general purposes necessary one day for granted. But if it is dealing with massive picture photography, then this has clear about reproducing even the smallest details of their disadvantages. Therefore, we shall need to turn in work today on the blur that is not served by an Anastigmat, such a value."

Price in 1938 was RM 45. I believe RM was Reichs Marks. By comparison the Universal Heliar 30 cm f4.5 sold for RM 648.

15-Dec-2017, 04:24
I know this is an old thread, but I would like to add one more maker, or supplier. Clement and Gilmer. I have next to me a Clement and Gilmer Paris periscope lens 6 1/2 x 4 4/5 ???? inbuilt lever action iris f16-f44. Would be interested to hear about it if anyone has any info. In the mean time will search through the mire for corrado's book

Steven Tribe
15-Dec-2017, 05:43
Old threads are often good threads!

Need a photo!

It is well known that Gasc et Charconnet (and to a lesser degree, his successors, Laverne and C et G) made Globe versions (improvements!) in many different series. I have the right booklet from the P et P series. I'll try and find the previous thread which has more information.

7-Jan-2018, 23:07

Hi Steven, apologise for the delay, but trying to utilise the wife's phone, to take pictures is quite a feat!

7-Jan-2018, 23:14
Steven I know it may be off topic, but do you recognise this lens? Lancaster and sons, patent Birm (Birmingham?)

Steven Tribe
8-Jan-2018, 02:36
Your J. Lancaster (against a nice white oak background?) is an early version of their Landscape lens, I think. The most common type lens from Lancaster. It is much liked by a number of people here (especialy, when compared with some of the more expensive versions of the landscape meniscus).

The patent refers to the very early iris it has. Lancaster claimed to be the biggest photographic manufacturer in the world during the 1890's.

I don't think the Clement et Gilmer is a true periscope as I can see typical edge discolouration around the front lens. I am not convinced the rear lens isn't a cemented lens either! Perhaps you could check whether the front and rear lenses are the same?

The combination of a doublet, with a single lens at the rear, was common as a budget "aplanat" around the same period. But not as a MAR or WAR, which this appears to be. I'll try and find some other examples of the design - or, rather, confirm my recollections! A central iris or Waterhouse slot would also confirm it is symmetrical.

Unfortunately, I can't find a "Periscope" engraved lens in the catalogues. It could be a different branded version of the "Lightning" which is common. Serial numbers range from around 103,000 to 120,000 - supposibly from 1890-1907.

8-Jan-2018, 07:04
Attached is the first image I shot with my 5.9” No. 5 R. D. Gray Periscope on my 11x14 Chamonix. S K Grimes amazingly was able to mount it in a No. 3 Copal shutter. Although listed as a f/14 lens, it actually can be opened up to around f/8 which is strictly for focusing only. Same as for f/14. I normally use the lens at f/64. Light fall off in the corners is way less than I had expected. The lens does cover 11x14 with a few mm's of movement possible, but in practice just accurately centering the lens the first challenge. Honestly I have found the lens to be too wide for my taste. On this forum found a 200mm f/6.5 Taylor-Hobson Wide Angle Anastigmat which I also had mounted in a Copal shutter, and find it far more practical and useful a lens in the field, but then every now and then I find myself coming across a scene that is a perfect match for the Periscope.

Attached image was shot quickly with my iPhone at low res and tones inverted. The actual film negative is a lot, I mean a lot sharper.

9-Jan-2018, 03:26
Congrats Greg looks good!

Steven, you were right about the periscope, its just two symmetrical elements. The Lancaster was a little more interesting, proving to give quite a sharp image, however, it was soft in the corners on 4x5, so not really useable.
Thanks for your help, but I'm afraid they will both be dust collectors

Steven Tribe
9-Jan-2018, 15:08
The Lancaster is probably the 1/4 plate size. Yes, landscapes have limited sharpness outside of the central area; they suit my photography though!