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Thread: What to do when you can't (or won't) pay for an early Voigtlander Petzval?

  1. #1

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    What to do when you can't (or won't) pay for an early Voigtlander Petzval?

    The early Voigtlander Petzvals are well worth what they cost but paying more than four times what I have paid for other "equivalent" seems to encounter a personal deep psychological barrier.

    I have been able to put off the acquisition by using the argument that they are difficult to work with because of the non-matching visual and chemical focus - but the money involved has been the real problem.

    I have registered the other Viennese makers of the 1840's and 1850's - many of whom where either Voigtlander's competitors (and enemies!) or ex-collaborators or employees. They were all smaller manufacturers, who didn't seem to benefit from Voigtlander's exit to Braunschweig. The names are:

    Dietzler
    Weingartshofer
    Waibl
    Sturzenhoffer
    Prokesch

    Dietzler seems to have made quite a few lenses and has been mentioned here a few times. I have followed a few auctions of these without being lucky.
    There is a very attractive sequence of these lenses from Vienna on small specialist website Photohistory.at under Objektive 1841.

    Which brings us to EBay 261339586287. Which was a Franz Xavier Waibl 3 1/2" Petzval from about 1855. The lens has a few obvious problems, apart from the fact that the lister standard items show a odd interest! Certainly Bupapest is a likely ending-up place for a lens from the Austro-Hungarian empire's capital. I'll report back whether my need for an early Petzval has been satiated!

  2. #2

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    Re: What to do when you can't (or won't) pay for an early Voigtlander Petzval?

    It is my understanding that Petzval after his "falling out" with Voigtlander went to Vienna and made his original petzval design for Dietzler. I am sure someone will correct me on this. So some would say that the only true Petzval lenses are the Early Voigtlanders and the Dietzlers made by Petzval. The debate of whats a real Petzval lens can now continue. i personally have a no name petzval lens that I shoot on 4x5 and I think it's amazing, but I am not a collector so to me it's just about the final image.

  3. #3
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: What to do when you can't (or won't) pay for an early Voigtlander Petzval?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Tribe View Post
    I have been able to put off the acquisition by using the argument that they are difficult to work with because of the non-matching visual and chemical focus - but the money involved has been the real problem.
    The difference in visual and actinic focus is an issue only with blue/UV-sensitive films and plates. Modern panchromatic films have an actinic range that closely matched the visual range, so no correction is needed with any achromatic lens (which the Petzval qualifies as). Even with non-achromatic lenses, focusing is pretty much what-you-see-is-what-you-get, with some softness as the different colors focus in different places.

    Sorry, Steven, but unless it's for wet plate, Daguerreotypes, or the like, you have to buy more old lenses!
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

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    Re: What to do when you can't (or won't) pay for an early Voigtlander Petzval?

    Salvage the Petzval off a wrecked Magic Lantern?
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  5. #5

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    Re: What to do when you can't (or won't) pay for an early Voigtlander Petzval?

    Important buying tip: When you list other makers that are just as good as an expensive one, more buyers start looking for those other makers. And their prices go up too! But I commend you on learning about some of these early European makers, which probably turn up fairly often in Europe. In America, we only had a few 1850s petzval makers, and most went out of business just after the end of the Civil War. Then there was a "dark age" when no US companies made them - we imported them all. Finally around the 1890s a few American optical companies started making them again.

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    Re: What to do when you can't (or won't) pay for an early Voigtlander Petzval?

    Mark, I have actually ventured into colloidion (well 2 images, anyway) thanks to assistance from a kind local member.
    I do understand the argument about modern emulsions but still feel the panchromatic sensitivity range will lead to a "mushy" build-up of sharp and unsharp definition!

    I don't think publicising these names will do anything to influence demand. Sales were very much restricted to the old Germanic areas of Europe ( Old German States and Austrio-Hungarian Empire) and I have never seen them (apart from a few Dietzlers) elsewhere than at the very established Auction Houses in that area. Most of these makers were very very small and the chances of getting a hit using a search engine would be frustrating infinitesimal. It would like doing a search for the elusive maker Soleil (which I have never seen for sale anywhere) on French EBay!

    The whole question of domestic manufacturers and local/international sales of the portrait lenses of the 19th century is quite complex and very interesting. I am sure that the US Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War had a lot of influence.

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    Re: What to do when you can't (or won't) pay for an early Voigtlander Petzval?

    I forgot to mention that the Austrian website was found by our own Dan/CCHarrison and that there has been a mention of Wiengartshofer in an earlier posting.

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    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: What to do when you can't (or won't) pay for an early Voigtlander Petzval?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Tribe View Post
    ...I do understand the argument about modern emulsions but still feel the panchromatic sensitivity range will lead to a "mushy" build-up of sharp and unsharp definition!
    Only in the case of chromatic aberration, and the Petzval design has an achromatic doublet up front to handle that!
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  9. #9

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    Re: What to do when you can't (or won't) pay for an early Voigtlander Petzval?

    Steven: what do you need for your new adventure?
    Does it have to be Austrian?

    I have so many lenses and so little time (and space) so ....

  10. #10

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    Re: What to do when you can't (or won't) pay for an early Voigtlander Petzval?

    You can always smear the outside edge of your lens with K-Y lubricant and hope for the best
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

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