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Thread: How I became a lens collector(not that anyone should care)

  1. #1

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    How I became a lens collector(not that anyone should care)

    So I've been going through all my 8x10 stuff and I start counting lenses. Yikes!
    So last night I sat down and contemplated on which ones need to go.
    A few are dedicated to the aerial camera bodies so those will stay with the bodies, whether or not the cameras are sold off so that cuts them from the herd.
    One Rapid Rectilinear is missing--I know it's here but I just don't know where "here" is. OK it'll turn up eventually. and I'll deal with it then.
    What concerned me was the following lengthly list of glass:
    159mm Wollensak WA "Yellow Dot"
    240mm G Claron
    250mm WF Ektar
    12" Dagor
    14" Commercial Ektar
    14" APO Artar
    15" B&L Petzval
    19" Red Dot Artar

    Do I really need nine lenses? Here are my thoughts from last night:

    The 159mm Wolly is quite useful. While I've seldom found a need for this wide a lens when shooting 8x10, at least I've got it if necessary (like photographing the interior of a small historic Chinese church down town.) I do put it to good use when shooting specimens 1:1 on a tabletop since I don't have to rack the bellows out to the county line, plus it serves me very well on the 5x7 & 4x5---near unlimited wiggle room and it's small enough to fit the lens boards on those smaller formats. It's a keeper.

    The 240 G Claron is, like the Wolly, a little lens. It's very sharp and in a modern copal shutter. On hikes, this is the one I'll always take because it is so light and can be carried in situ with the lens board reversed. It has a useful amount of wiggle room for most situations and at f/32 is as sharp as Sophia Lauren in a black dress. It is easily my most used lens. Definitely a keeper.

    The 250 WF Ektar is a huge lens with huge coverage. I've used it on architecture where the range of movements on the camera are taxed but the wiggle room on the mighty WF isn't. Neither the Wolly nor the G Claron can do that, so it stays!

    The 12" Dagor is a very old lens in a compound shutter that has seen better days. It gives a certain "Look" to photos which I find pleasing. It is also small enough to fit on the 5x7 lens board so it can double down in both formats. For these reasons it's not getting voted off the island even though it isn't used as much as the others.

    The 14" Commercial Ektar has served me very well on numerous trips and lends it's self to numerous portrait and landscape applications. For a "normal" focal length, if I could only have one lens, this would be it.

    The 14" APO Artar was my first 8x10 lens, although now it mostly serves on the 5x7 and as a "spare" 14"er on the 8x10 side of the house, With so many lenses in old shutters it's good to have a spare in case a shutter decides to go out to lunch just before (or in the middle of) a shoot. At least that's what I keep telling myself!

    The 15" B&L Petzval Magic Lantern is admittedly a toy. It's a barrel lens and didn't cost me anything. It's a toy and swirlies are fun and I am in this for fun so it stays in the fold.

    The 19" Red Dot Artar is my long lens. It is the one that usually accompanies the 240 G Claron on hiking trips (I'll take the head off the tripod and leave that in the car to save weight) This makes a perfect pair, in my estimation, of focal lengths for most landscape work I enjoy shooting. For the "grand view" this has been a terrific lens for me. It is about as long of a focal length my bellows can handle.
    Another 19", an elderly Dagor dedicated to the 12x20 and never mounted on an 8x10 lens board, can serve if necessary as a back up for the RD if I drill a lens board for it. That is how useful, if not necessary I feel a 19"-er is to my glass menagerie.

    Do I need all nine lenses? That is the question.
    Could I part with at least a few of them? Sure. If the choice was hurting my creativity I would have to but most of these lenses "fit" into a particular photographic niche--it's not like I have to stand there and scratch my head wondering which lens to mount on my camera.
    Tabletop=Wollensak
    Hiking=G Claron
    Architecture=WF Ektar
    Grand View=RD Artar
    Bokeh=Magic Lantern
    Everything else=Commercial Ektar (with both of the Goerz boys in reserve)
    And that, I figure, is how I became a lens collector.
    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.

  2. #2

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    Re: How I became a lens collector(not that anyone should care)

    At what point do you feel that you transitioned from buying lenses that you will use to a collector? You seem to have a rationale basis for each lens. Based on what I've read on the internet you have a long, long way to go to becoming "a collector".

  3. #3

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    Re: How I became a lens collector(not that anyone should care)

    you have a long, long way to go to becoming "a collector".
    You have only put one foot on the edge of the bottomless pit!

  4. #4
    William Whitaker's Avatar
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    Re: How I became a lens collector(not that anyone should care)

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Tribe View Post
    You have only put one foot on the edge of the bottomless pit!
    Yeah, but the other one is on a skateboard. Don't ask me how I know.

    John, stay away from Ebay and the classifieds forum. At least you're taking charge of it now. Denial only makes it worse.

  5. #5
    Andrew's Avatar
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    Re: How I became a lens collector(not that anyone should care)

    you will regret it for the rest of your life if you sell ANYTHING...
    surely, the real [subconscious] purpose of the question is for other people to suggest what to get next!
    you don't have an antique French landscape meniscus, how about one of those?
    how about a Goerz Celor? or a Kodak Portrait lens?

  6. #6
    (Shrek)
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    Re: How I became a lens collector(not that anyone should care)

    We obviously have very different definitions of what makes a 'lens collector'.... I bought more than that over the Christmas break. And I don't consider myself a lens collector, but I might be getting there. I just have a lot of lenses I've bought because I wanted to try them.

    Keep 'em all. They're all fine lenses, and it would cost more to replace any of them than what you paid for them. If I were you, I might consider replacing the Wolly WA with a more modern one, but they're expensive and the Wolly is probably a fine enough lens for most purposes. I certainly like my 5x7 f12.5 one.

  7. #7

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    Re: How I became a lens collector(not that anyone should care)

    After reading your post, I became concerned that instead of being a collector, I was a hoarder. I have more than 9 lenses that I haven't used yet. Maybe my goal for 2015 is to try them or thin the heard. However, my investment is minimal relative to years ago. Enjoy them.

  8. #8

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    Re: How I became a lens collector(not that anyone should care)

    John, your post just caused me to tally up what I have. I guess Craig and I are hoarders. Like Craig, I bought most of them simply because they were too cheap to pass up and I was interested to see what they'd do, so I don't feel very guilty. One of the things I discovered along the way is that I don't need multicoating, or even coating at all, to be happy. The other is that I'd rather have a second-rate Tessar knock-off than an Whiz-Bang Sironar or similar.
    Thanks, but I'd rather just watch:
    Large format: http://flickr.com/michaeldarnton
    Mostly 35mm: http://flickr.com/mdarnton
    You want digital, color, etc?: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stradofear

  9. #9

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    Re: How I became a lens collector(not that anyone should care)

    Well, this represents about 18 years of accumulating 8x10 lenses. There was no real rhyme or reason as to how it all came together, not like I decided I needed to have a "set" spacing of focal lengths. My 1st, the 14" APO Artar was simply the cheapest shuttered lens I could find after I bought the 'dorff. The second, the 14" Commercial Ektar was on the advice of an old time local pro photographer who helped mentor me---same focal length. The APO Artar was the spare lens until an interest in 5x7 developed and it got sent to live with the Agfa Ansco. After a few years shooting with just the Commercial Ektar I decided I could use something a little wider so the G Claron and WF Ektar joined the cast.
    Butch Welch, a notable West Coast photographer, offered me his 159 Wollensak and since I like 24mm wide angles in 35mm I thought the Wolly would be at least as useful. It turned out that I very seldom needed anything so wide but the short focal length was perfect for 1:1. The Magic Lantern lens came I a box of other stuff---winnings from a eBay auction. I remember pulling it off the shattered remains of a McIntosh Magic Lantern. Year later out of curiosity I asked here if it could be a Petzval and sure enough---it was!
    The 19" RD Artar came along after I was frustrated by a 19" APO Artar in a barrel. The coated RD showed up at the right time at the right price so the upgrade was, well destiny.
    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.

  10. #10
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: How I became a lens collector(not that anyone should care)

    John, I think you might really be looking for a cohort, co-conspirator or enabler.

    I am your enabler. Hold on to them until you find The One, and sell others to cover it.
    .

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