View Full Version : n00banastigmat seeks book

13-Jan-2012, 13:04
Hello well informed L-F-ers. I am by no means new to larger format. I've been shooting 4x5 for years and recently started playing with a chunky old 8x10 and a 12" Conley bought from a frequenter of these pages. That said, my knowledge of lenses is pretty much limited to length, speed, image circle. I want to learn more about that piece of glass at the front of the camera. History, lens design, how they work, all that stuff. I guess I'm most interested in lenses used on larger cameras, though I'm sure the history of the lens cannot be separated into film formats.

Any suggested reading? There's tons of information online, but I'm looking for something in the old fashioned "book" style. I get bogged down by the screen and would like something that I can read in the bathtub. "Camera and Lens" by Ansel Adams is in my shopping box. anything else?

13-Jan-2012, 13:44
This is the most popular book on the history of optics



Dan Fromm
13-Jan-2012, 14:43
csalem, if you ever break down and decide to look at the screen, the Dan of post #2 in this thread sells A Lens Collector's Vade Mecum on, I think, CD-ROM. It may be what you want, if you can manage to look at it.

13-Jan-2012, 15:11
Hey Dan F - thanks for the plug.

I do still sell the Vade Mecum download here http://antiquecameras.net/lensvademecum.html

However, and as you know, the Vade Mecum is more helpful if you have a general backgound on the history of lenses....


13-Jan-2012, 15:24
thanks guys. i may pursue both options, though an $83 book should not be read in the bath.

13-Jan-2012, 15:26
Kingslake book is expensive, but really worth it. Great reading and valuable resource to have for future learning. (I can't believe I paid that much, though!)

13-Jan-2012, 15:52
Hell, I paid more than that for Kingslake, and don't regret a penny of it. It performs a different function than the Vade Mecum. Kingslake describes a touch of the theory of optical design, describes why the main archetype designs emerged, and who designed them.

The Vade Mecum is a catalog of what we know about all the lenses that have been made over the decades, going back as far as possible. It does include, in many cases, lens diagrams, and with Kingslake it's possible to interpret those diagrams to determine their underlying design concept.

For people who have the interest, it is loads of fun going back and forth between the two--much more than twice the fun of having just one.

Rick "both highly recommended" Denney

Dan Fromm
13-Jan-2012, 15:57
thanks guys. i may pursue both options, though an $83 book should not be read in the bath.
Holy f!k!ng sh!t!

That's an outrageous price. And, according to what I just found on alibris.com and abebooks.com, it is below the going rate.

But there's one for $36 on Amazon, http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=kingslake+%22a+history+of+the+photographic+lens%22&hl=en&num=100&lr=&cr=&safe=images&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=12566842782665191586&sa=X&ei=9rYQT8SMFMfc0QGlprScAw&ved=0CG8Q8wIwBQ

Rick, Kinglake unfortunately uses his own idiosyncratic way of talking about lenses and seriously slights his slightly younger UK compatriots. Minor defects, but still defects.

Jim Jones
13-Jan-2012, 20:32
Another book by Kingslade is the much less detailed Lenses in Photography. I bought my copy in 1952, and it is still kept nearby for reference. It seems to have enough cult status to be quite overpriced in most markets.

Vincent Pidone
15-Jan-2012, 10:13
If you type this in Google search:

"a history of the photographic lens" rudolf kingslake

it will take you to a Google books page that has some previews at the bottom.

You can at least see some of it.

I got a copy through inter-library loan (free, but you have to give it back eventually)