View Full Version : What can you tell me about Spencer Petzval type?

11-Apr-2012, 21:06
I happened to walk into an antique store today and found a couple things at a nice price. Then I saw this Spencer Projector with a Petzval type lens on it. The whole projector is in nice condition, but I have no need for the whole thing. Wondering if it is worth the $98 to buy the whole thing to get the lens.

I honestly thought there was going to be a gaggle of info on the net about these, so I didn't get all the details other than it said 4" Spencer and functions like a petzval. Or, so I believe. Much like the one Dan (Fotoguy20d)had for sale in this class ad: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?80421-FS-3-Lenses-in-Barrel-10-quot-Aplanat-B-amp-L-Protar-V-7-5-quot-Projection-Petzval&highlight=spencer+projection, but nowhere near that big. Thanks Dan for the link with pics and if you happen to have an example image made with the one you sold, I would love to see it.:) It The entire projector I saw, was only about 24" tall max. The lens maybe around 1 3/4" 2 1/4" did.

I saw quite a bit about Spencer Port-land, but they are not the same build.

Any help is appreciated,

Richard Rankin
11-Apr-2012, 22:10
The Spencers I've had were all triplets, and not petzvals.

Steven Tribe
12-Apr-2012, 11:31
Unless this lens is huge (focal length greater than 40cm), then the 98USD would be money wasted. The linked "Spencer" lens does look like a petzval, but these can be just long triplets with concealed mounts for the middle -ve lens. Triplets replaced Petzvals for economic reasons, only three lenses to be ground and finished, compared with four for petzvals.

Reinhold Schable
13-Apr-2012, 09:36
I'm kicking myself to this very day...

About 12 years ago I took up ULF with an 8x20 Canham.
Simultaneously, I got GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and started a quest for more lenses.
I found a brass 18" f:5.6 Spencer Port-Land to try.
Back then my opinion was that: "the only good lens is a sharp lens".
I tried a few shots and returned it because it "wasn't sharp".
What a dope...

A couple of years ago I started to wake up.
(I probably started to listen to Jim Galli too...)
Now I wish I still had that Spencer lens.
Too late.

That sent me on a different path.
I began fiddling with old meniscus lenses and recognized the beauty of the soft focus image.
Now I make low cost replicas of photography's first lens, the Wollaston Meniscus.
Read about it here:



And... the two "test shots" done with that lens:

13-Apr-2012, 11:52
Thank you for the replies. It was immediately apparent that I did not get all the info I needed from the lens when I first got home and searched the internet. I am not particularly schooled this area and assumed a simple search would answer my questions. I did not think to look at how the lens was built, as in, number of elements. I know it wasn't a Port-Land. If it had been $30 or something, I probably would have picked it up just for the fun of finding out what it did. $98 on the other hand made me want to know more before dropping the cash.

Reinhold, that is an interesting hobby you have there. I like it. I have a detailed background in custom woodworking and have always given thought to the possibilities of merging my love for camera/photography with it. However, i need to learn a lot more about image making first. The guillotine shutter looks like a fun thing to make. I have also toyed with the idea of making a sheets film holders for dip-n-dunk film processing.