View Full Version : Ideas for a lens for an interesting vintage Seneca 8x10

11-Mar-2012, 12:19
I have a rather interesting vintage Seneca 8x10 camera - have a look below:


As you can see, the Rise/Fall and Shift movements are made by a combination of sliding the lensboard or rotating the entire assembly! A pretty ingenious arrangement, if you ask me!

I don't have the info on the existing lens/shutter (sorry! I'll find out!), but the shutter sounds crisp and breaks cleanly when fired, and the glass looks good. However, I'd like suggestions for other options. I'll be doing mostly landscapes, with a bit of studio/portraiture as well.


11-Mar-2012, 14:42
Velostigmat, Tessar, DAGOR, Heliar would all be great lenses from that period.

Kent in SD

12-Mar-2012, 08:41
Thanks for the leads!

Velostigmat, Tessar, DAGOR, Heliar would all be great lenses from that period.

Kent in SD

13-Mar-2012, 11:44
Velostigmat, Tessar, DAGOR, Heliar would all be great lenses from that period.

I took a closer look, and the shutter is a Wollensak Optimo No. 3, with a Wollensak f4.5/7" lens. Here's a shot of it:


As noted previously, it fires crisply; no slop when it lets go. The spots in the lens are air bubbles, and there's an abrasion in the center of the rear element. I haven't checked how these impact the image - too many other projects taking up my time. Still, once I have the time and money, I do want to upgrade the lens to something more modern.

13-Mar-2012, 16:54
Though the Optimo is from the early 1920s, they were one of the best shutters of their time, and usually still work fine today. The Velostigmat is a great lens that has a growing following for those that use older glass. I'm sure your quest for more modern glass will be easy, but finding a good Velo in a working shutter isn't. You should shoot with it first, before deciding you need a modern lens.

Jim Galli
13-Mar-2012, 18:10
Your 7" Wolly won't cover the 8X10 format. It'll vignette the corners. A very nice modern lens for 8X10 that will offer excellent movements and a wide field is the 240mm G-Claron. Do a search in the 4 sale section here, there's one offered at an excellent price. However you can't have cake and eat it too. A lens that is good for landscapes (the G-Claron) usually isn't anyone's first choice for studio portraits.

16-Mar-2012, 06:25
I have an Improved Seneca 11x14. I use a Turner Reich Triple Convertible on it, a 12", 21", 28". I've been pleased with the negative quality, but I don't enlarge the negatives, I only contact print them. You might try a Turner Reich on your Seneca.

I have a Seneca Competitor 8x10 that I've put a 270mm Schneider Xenar on. This gives me the same view as the 135mm Optar on my 4x5 Super Graphic. I've used these two cameras with these lenses so much that this is the way I expect to "see" when I do landscapes.

I also have a Kodak Commercial Ektar on my Calumet C-1. This is probably the newest and sharpest of the 3 lenses I mentioned.

20-Mar-2012, 08:42
I haven't shot it yet. I refinished it a few months back, removing the old, cracked & crazed varnish. This altered the tolerances slightly, so things are a bit loose. I want to replace all the screws with new, solid brass, as some of them are old steel and in bad shape, and new brass will eventually develop a patina that fits the age of the camera.

Goamules is right about the Optimo shutter! It sounds right on! Breaks cleanly when fired, so when I get around to shooting (waiting for cash; I'm a poor, disabled vet on a TINY month income), I'll post the results. I don't intend to enlarge; just contact prints unless I get something REALLY amazing and worth the effort. If that happens, I'll likely shop it out to someone else, as I don't have the equipment to do it myself. I may find someone locally; will have to wait and see.

That round movement is such a cool idea! I never get over thinking about the person who thought it up at the Seneca factory!

John Kasaian
20-Mar-2012, 09:17
Most bang for the buck focal length-wise= Wollensak 1a triple convertible.
Good 8x10 lenses---G Clarons (240mm and longer) Commercial Ektars (12 & 14 inchers) 250mm WA Ektar. Dagors (9-1/2" and longer) Artars 14" and longer---the longer the better) 375mm Ilex, 12" Velostigmat, Rapid Rectilinears--- ahhh... the list goes on and on!