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William Whitaker
27-May-2011, 09:35
I posed this question in an email to another member. I'll post it here in case some of you Wollensak experts have any ideas.

This lens seems kind of unusual. It's marked "Wollensak 8x10 Rapid Rectilinear" on the outside of the barrel. There are no other cell markings. It's the typical black Wollensak finish and mounted in a Betax #4 shutter. It has a single aperture scale with /8 as the widest mark, although the iris opens up beyond that and someone crudely scratched 6.3 on the scale.

I can't find it in the Cameraeccentric (http://www.cameraeccentric.com/info.html)catalogs. Last mention of a rapid rectilinear is in 1906. The Betax doesn't appear until 1922. There is mention of a three-focus /8 symmetrical in 1912, but it's a convertible and mine is not. Besides, mine is clearly marked "Rapid Rectilinear". Of course, having catalogs for the intervening years would help. But based on what I have to go on, those dates are as close as I can get.

So, it's a puzzle. The shutter looks original to the lens, yet it's a lens type which pre-dates the shutter by quite some time. The anastigmats showed up in the 1912 catalog and it doesn't make any sense that Wollensak would continue to market "old technology". In 1916 there's mention of their budget offering, the Vinco anastigmat (later the Series IV Velostigmat) with a pejorative reference to the rapid rectilinear:


"Many are the amateur and commercial photographers whose ambition it is to rid themselves of the R. R. type lens, which so handicaps the Progressive, and replace it with an Anastigmat,..."


It was clear that Wollensak wanted to sell the new technology and disparaged the old as undesirable. So how did I end up with a lens that's a "handicap" in a later shutter?

And who were the "Progressives"? Was that another name for Secessionists?

http://wfwhitaker.com/tech/810RR_1.jpg
http://wfwhitaker.com/tech/810RR_2.jpg
http://wfwhitaker.com/tech/810RR_3.jpg
http://wfwhitaker.com/tech/810RR_4.jpg

Steven Tribe
27-May-2011, 10:14
The first generation of shutters, to which this would have been fitted, were, even then, unprecise and subject to breakdown. Replacement with a Betax would have been a quantum leap!

Jim Galli
27-May-2011, 10:22
I think Wollensak made lots of uncatalogued entry level lenses over their years. This looks factory perfect to me. Stuff from Autex and Optimo is not a direct fit into a Betax, but the Betax was available by 1913. This looks like a 1919 Wollensak lens. A lot of history is lost. Perhaps they'd do a run of these and wholesale them in lots to big retailers that were trying to get bare bones 8X10 Korona outfits out the door. Upgrade to an anastigmat later. = ultimately 2 sales. And for many many subjects the tried and true RR is more than adequate, in fact for difficult contrast control subjects, sometimes it's much crisper than many of the early anastigmats of the era. It thrives with just 4 air glass interfaces.

Voltas was the name I couldn't think of. They were f8 RR's catalogued well into the 1920's. Triple convertibles though as you say. In the 1935 cat.

Louis Pacilla
27-May-2011, 10:43
I think Wollensak made lots of uncatalogued entry level lenses over their years. This looks factory perfect to me. Stuff from Autex and Optimo is not a direct fit into a Betax, but the Betax was available by 1913. This looks like a 1919 Wollensak lens. A lot of history is lost. Perhaps they'd do a run of these and wholesale them in lots to big retailers that were trying to get bare bones 8X10 Korona outfits out the door. Upgrade to an anastigmat later. = ultimately 2 sales. And for many many subjects the tried and true RR is more than adequate, in fact for difficult contrast control subjects, sometimes it's much crisper than many of the early anastigmats of the era. It thrives with just 4 air glass interfaces.

Voltas was the name I couldn't think of. They were f8 RR's catalogued well into the 1920's. Triple convertibles though as you say.

+1

Jim Galli
27-May-2011, 10:55
Plus, I just noticed that's the old US system on the scale, so f8 is f11, and real f8 if it has it is down past the not useful 6.3 someone scratched on it.

Mark Sawyer
27-May-2011, 11:18
I think Jim's got it pretty well. My speculation is that at some point, someone used the shutter for a 12" Series I Velostigmat, and scratched in the 6.3. That it had no relation to the rest of the markings may not have been known to the owner. (And I can imagine some frustration with getting the exposures right with those "f/stops"!)

William Whitaker
27-May-2011, 20:54
Good eye, Jim, for catching the US aperture scale. I've had this lens for several years and never noticed it. I'm sure I would have if I'd shot with it!

It's a neat old lens, whatever its story. Maybe I'll get around to making a negative or two with it someday.

Now, I still want to know who are the "Progressives" that the R.R. handicaps so?

cdholden
27-May-2011, 21:25
There was a Seneca RR for $40 in the for sale secton yesterday. My guess is it's a rebranded version of your lens.

Buffalonian
18-Jun-2013, 11:44
97240

Oddly enough, I stumbled upon this thread while trying to find reference material on the lens in question. Mine has the same elements - seems to be a convertable lens - by removing the back element, becomes a tele, but with both lens elements screwed in - makes a nice full-legth portrait lens. The picture above was made using a studio light setup - Kodak TPX ISO 320 8x10 film w/ lens (assuming f/8 is wide open) @ 1/2 a second for a more contrasty image.

This was oddly enough my FIRST 8x10 portrait setup and also the first time ever using my 8x10 - I was able to do 6 of 10 from the box of 10 negatives - loosing 4 to poor processing (ugh). The camera that was used was a Kodak No.2D studio camera - all wood, but was VERY surprised at how good the tonal range was. The only thing that concerned me was the sharpness. Its a TOUCH soft - however, because if I am reading this right 1919-1935~ date of lens, I can live with that. Plus soft-focus was really the "desired" flattering female lens. All in all ... my dear friend Teresa did a great job and the results were amazing. I know this thread is 2 years old - but someone will find use in knowing how well the lens performs w/ the shutter similiar to this - obviously NOT made for each other, but was part of a line that was gear to be interchangable.

Bill_1856
18-Jun-2013, 12:50
I absolutely LOVE my "6 1/2 x 81/2 Centar Series II" (Convertible Full Plate Rapid Rectilinear). Carole at Flutot's resurrected and calibrated the Century shutter from 1/3 to 1/30 second (indicated 1-1/100 sec).
After my 60+ years with Tessars, Planars, Dagors, etc, the RR has a beauty which captivates me!

Bill_1856
18-Jun-2013, 13:02
I absolutely LOVE my "6 1/2 x 81/2 Centar Series II" (Convertible Full Plate Rapid Rectilinear). Carole at Flutot's resurrected and calibrated the Century shutter from 1/3 to 1/30 second (indicated 1-1/100 sec).
After my 60+ years with Tessars, Planars, Dagors, etc, the RR has a beauty which captivates me!

I forgot to mention that it's a rebadged Wollensak, which is why I posted it here. Sorry.

Mark Sawyer
18-Jun-2013, 15:35
From the first post:


There is mention of a three-focus ƒ/8 symmetrical in 1912, but it's a convertible and mine is not. Besides, mine is clearly marked "Rapid Rectilinear".

All Rapid Rectilinears are convertibles capable of forming images with individual front or rear cells. (Whether they're "good" convertibles could be argued, I suppose, as each element is just an achromatic doublet Landscape Lens.) But not all RR shutters are marked with two or three aperture scales.

Similarly, all Dagors, Plasmats, Verito's, and quite a few other lenses can be used as convertibles, but seldom are marked or advertised as such.

Bill_1856
18-Jun-2013, 19:01
I forgot to mention that it's a rebadged Wollensak, which is why I posted it here. Sorry.

Looks like I stuck my foot in it again -- it's actually a rebadged B&L. Sorry.

E. von Hoegh
19-Jun-2013, 07:06
I think the R-R and it's European brother the Aplanat are underregarded lenses. They are very sharp in the central zone; if you use say a 10" on 4x5 thus avoiding the astigmatic edges and corners, you'll wind up with very smooth tonality and surprising sharpness.