View Full Version : CC Harrison lenses versus Holmes, Booth & Haydens Lenses

8-Sep-2012, 12:40
Please see an article from 1858 on my latest blog post:




8-Sep-2012, 14:42
Having shot lots of both, I can say both are usually equal, excepting some variance of 1850s optical manufacturing. Both made excellent lenses. CC Harrison's were advertised in at least one reseller's 1850s catalog as "the best" compared to Voigtlander, Chevalier, and a couple good American makers (but they didn't sell HBH). And CCH seemed to maintain that reputation for decades after they were no longer made. But I have not had a HBH that didn't seem equal to my CCHs.

Interesting period article, and fairly hard to follow as most writing was in 1858. He seems to be saying CC Harrison's were sharper, but sacrificed by having less depth of field and size of coverage. Less depth and coverage mean a faster lens, but that seldom means a sharper one. He says Holmes Booth Haydens are not as sharp, but have better depth of field and coverage. A deeper depth of field and larger coverage means a slower lens, but those are usually sharper. I wonder if then, and even now, objective testing is being done.

Petzval Paul
8-Sep-2012, 18:24
Interesting. Will Dinniway did some comparisons between both manufacturers' lenses and has posted the results elsewhere.

I have used and owned both and didn't find much difference. Really, all of the N.Y. Lenses i have owned and used were excellent. However, I think that the earliest CCH's are the most interesting and diverse. I have had the opportunity to examine some close up (and still own a quite early one myself) and find them charming. They seem to have a bit more 'personality' or at least individuality than the later ones. I have seen some that we're rather prone to flare and which gave an almost soft focus effect and some that were dead-on sharp and which have a beautiful look. Bob Szabo uses an early one for almost all of his work and told me once that he'd be lost without it. When i assisted him on a shoot, i had a chance to see it in action and it is a great example. But then again, Rob Kendrick uses an HBH for much of his work and it makes beautiful images, too, so...... I haven't even had a chance to shoot with my 'new' one, but have a plate made by Will Dunniway which shows it to be a winner :)

But, just to mention in passing, some of the less popular name manufacturers really made quite astounding lenses. Because so few surface and get used by active photographers, most people are unfamiliar with their names and sometimes they don't command the prices they should according to their collectibility. Palmer & Longking, Chapman, Lewis, Roettger from Philly, and E.A. Perry all made - or had their names engraved upon - beautiful products at least as good as your run-of-the-mill 'big name' lenses. The best NY lens I have owned was an H.G. Fitz that was super sharp. Then again, Harrison got his start as the foreman of Fitz's father, so no wonder!