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Thread: Info on Gundlach Portrait Lens F/5 Series A No. 5 for 8x10 ???

  1. #1

    Info on Gundlach Portrait Lens F/5 Series A No. 5 for 8x10 ???

    Hi All,

    I recently acquired one of these guys and am having trouble finding much information on it. I see Gundlach has changed hands a good bit throughout its history (Gundlach Manufacturing Corp., Manhattan Optical, Rochester Lens, Wollensak...). The seller says it was manufactured in 1922 and is a petzval type design. The lens is marked that it will indeed cover 8x10.

    I'm just curious to learn about the focal length and any other details since it's not easily searchable. Any help or advice on resources to learn more would be greatly appreciated! I'm attaching some photos of the lens and an advert the seller included.

    All the Best,


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  2. #2
    multi format
    Join Date
    Feb 2001

    Re: Info on Gundlach Portrait Lens F/5 Series A No. 5 for 8x10 ???

    hi cate

    the f5 is a modified petzval, like a wollensak vesta or a serroco or ... ( there were a lot of these made with different names on them )
    usually when the lens says "8x10" it is about 14" "5x7" is about 10" ( see the list on the catalog below )
    your lens converts to a longer focal length if you remove the front element and will cover even bigger than 8x10. ( 21" focal length )

    if you look on page 24 of this old wollensak catalog you will see what they say about the vesta
    and chances are yours is pretty much the same design.

    have fun!
    enjoy your coffee

  3. #3

    Re: Info on Gundlach Portrait Lens F/5 Series A No. 5 for 8x10 ???

    Hi John,

    Thank you so much for providing some info on this! The Vesta does indeed look nearly identical to my lens. I enjoyed being able to read about it and learn that it is convertible! Excited to have it arrive and test it out.

    Thank you again for your reply!!

    Best, Cate

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Tonopah, Nevada, USA

    Re: Info on Gundlach Portrait Lens F/5 Series A No. 5 for 8x10 ???

    The Wollensak Vesta and Gundlach Series A were "ford" and "chevy" manufactured for a competitive market by two different manufacturers. The Wollensak "8X10" f5 was 14". The Gundlach was 15". The Gundlach is far scarcer than the Wolly, but that doesn't seem to affect values. Given the option of both for equal money, I'd choose the Gundlach. I like the 15" focus. Have owned both in my day. The Gundlach lenses are far more prone to balsam cement failure for some reason than the equivalent Wollensaks (same age etc.). Both company's had f4 and f5 versions.

    The f4 flagship lenses (f3.8 for Wolly) were massive things because it was understood that they would be used in studios on giant cameras on rolling platforms. The f5 like you've bought was far more compact, and with some care could go into the "field" on cameras like the Kodak 2D with it's 6X6 lens board. That was why they marketed the two versions so close together in speed. Dallmeyer set the precedent earlier in England. It's A series being f4 and it's D series being f6 and about half the physical size of the "A".

    What will you shoot this on, and how will you control the exposures? Hint: they are prettiest wide open ;~'))

  5. #5

    Re: Info on Gundlach Portrait Lens F/5 Series A No. 5 for 8x10 ???

    Thanks Jim! That's excellent information. I'm pleased to read that you happen to prefer the Gundlach over the Wollensak...looking forward to taking this guy on my adventures. I shoot 8 x 10 gelatin bromo-iodide dry plates, an emulsion I cook up in my darkroom at home in New Orleans after learning the process at George Eastman several years back. I typically travel by boat to isolated fishing communities that lie outside the levee system south of Nola and document subsistence culture along the waterways. I'm hoping this lens will allow me to make more portraits in the field and from what you mention about its potential for portability I'm encouraged and excited! I will certainly post the results of some test plates once the lensboard / flange are worked out

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Hamilton, Canada

    Re: Info on Gundlach Portrait Lens F/5 Series A No. 5 for 8x10 ???

    Did you see post 62
    Also one of my favorite portrait lens

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