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Thread: brass lens for ultra large format camera

  1. #1

    brass lens for ultra large format camera

    i'm a new user. i recently bought an 15x15" large format camera (photos below). the "body" of the camera has got no lens so now i'm looking for a brass lens to complete my restoration. unfortunately i know almost nothing about large format lenses and i'm afraid to buy the wrong one, waisting of course much money. so i'm wondering what i have to pay attention to during my research and where i can find a good (and cheap) brass lens?
    thank you in advance,
    federico from italy
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by federico manfredi; 11-Apr-2016 at 03:09.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jan 2009

    Re: brass lens for ultra large format camera

    Dear Frederico,

    I guess you know you have bought a Continental Studio camera which was designed just for studio use because of its weight! No makers name? It may well be Italian-made. Do you have the back which fits onto the rear standard? My guess is the maximum format would have been either 30x24cm or 24x18cm. The original plate holders would have been square which allowed plates to be installed in either horontal or vertical position. The small size of the lens boards suggests the camera was later used for smaller formats.

    Now the lens. If you want to get a usable and "correct" brass lens for portraits, you will have to decide your format first.
    These days, you can get sufficient coverage from quite small lenses - slow emulsions around the date of your camera meant huge lenses to cover 30x24! But if you want the camera to look pleasing then an old lens would be more appropriate ( and costly!). Getting a 13x18cm lens is not to difficult, 18x24cm is much harder and will weigh over 2 kilos and for 24x30cm you will have to very lucky and with a big pocket. Your compatriot, Corrado D'Agostini, has a useful book about suitable French lenses and the data about portrait lenses in the UK are very well documented.

    Sources of suitable lenses at reasonable prices are rapidly disappearing. I have always found my bargains on restricted national websites and sales outlets. To give you an idea of the costs involved, I have often (6 times, I think) bought a combination studio camera/studio stand/original brass lens set for a price that is probably under 1/2 of the value of lens alone.

  3. #3

    Re: brass lens for ultra large format camera

    Thank you very much for your detailed reply! Unfortunately there is no maker's name on the camera. I do have the original plate holder, which is however in very bad conditions. It can install a 38x38cm plate. The frame of the camera's body is squared and measures more than 40x40cm. The hole in the lens board measures 10cm in diameter. Personally, I would think that in the past the plate holder used to have some reductions for a 10''x12'' plate format. While browsing on different websites, I found this french made brass lens 245x105mm (photo below), which I think it might cover such dimensions. The price is 500$ circa. Taking also into account that I bought the camera for 300$, the total expense would be of 800$ (I can't estimate the value of the camera). Is it a good bargain in your opinion?
    Click image for larger version. 

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  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 2009

    Re: brass lens for ultra large format camera

    I have sent a PM as I don't want to break any rules - especialy as I know the illustrated lens.

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