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Thread: Thoughts on Schneider Xenar f/4.7 135mm as replacement lens for Pacemaker Speed Graph

  1. #1

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    Thoughts on Schneider Xenar f/4.7 135mm as replacement lens for Pacemaker Speed Graph

    So I bought two LF cameras in one week last summer.

    The first was a 30's Kodak AG (Nagel) Recomar 33, for 9x12cm. In perfect shape, but difficult to use fast, and since I have to trim 4x5" film for it, I've never actually shot with it beyond a few test shots. When I say it's in perfect shape, though, I mean it. The shutter (A Compur #1 Rimset) works accurately at all speeds, and the Xenar is miraculously unscratched. The sole flaw with the camera is that the self-timer on the shutter runs slow. I paid $40 for it.

    Then two days later, at a different antique store, I found a 1947 Pacemaker Speed Graphic for 4x5". I had been looking for one for two years and I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it. It needed a lot of work. I think it had been briefly submerged or at least exposed to a lot of moisture. The front shutter was incredibly gummy, but 1/200 fires well enough and T and B work. The back shutter was seized, but I managed to look up a schematic and do a very basic CLA, after which the back shutter has been fully functional. I've been shooting B/W Shanghai film (so sue me, it's cheap) on this camera a lot, and have managed to get some good results, both handheld and using it as a view camera.

    However, there is a characteristic glow to the images I get from this camera. Highlights tend to "shine" or bleed out into dark areas just a little. It's the same thing you see in some photography from the 1800's. It is better at smaller apertures, of course, but I want some flexibility in what apertures I use.

    One thing I have thought is that it might be the worn-off coating on the front elements of the Optar 135mm lens. Combine that with the gummy shutter, and I badly want a replacement. So I've had this thought for a while now: why not get a #1 lensboard off Ebay and use the Xenar lens and Compur shutter from the Recomar as my main Speed Graphic Lens? The shutter comes off the Recomar easily and without damage.

    What do you think? Are there any problems you foresee me running into? Has anyone used this lens, and do they know what its performance is like? Will I lose much area from the image circle?

  2. #2
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on Schneider Xenar f/4.7 135mm as replacement lens for Pacemaker Speed G

    Schneider Xenar 135mm f/4.7 was a common lens on the Crown/Speed Graphic. It's a typical Tessar type. It should fit on the same lens board as the Optar, unless there was some weird non-standard arrangement on the Recomar (I have no idea about that camera). The Optar is also a Tessar.
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  3. #3

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    Re: Thoughts on Schneider Xenar f/4.7 135mm as replacement lens for Pacemaker Speed G

    I’m not sure that after 30 or so years of using an Optar that I know about any “characteristic glow” or “shine” or “bleed out”. It was and still is a very capable lens.

    Using other lenses is quite possible. Two things to consider is (1) if the alternative lens will allow the camera to close and (2) can the rangefinder be adjusted for the alternative lens.

    I replaced the Optar once but went back to it. Use a lens hood at all times. Your shutter needs to be serviced. Seriously consider a professional servicing.

  4. #4

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    Re: Thoughts on Schneider Xenar f/4.7 135mm as replacement lens for Pacemaker Speed G

    BrianShaw: No, I've heard nothing but good things about the Optar. I certainly think it's the damaged coating on mine that's causing the glow.

    As for a shutter servicing, I have nowhere nearby and I'm operating on a very tight hobbyist's budget, so that doesn't seem like an option right now.

    Corran: Yeah, I wish it did fit. The Compur I have appears to be a #1, while the Graphex appears to be a non-metric size. At any rate, the Compur's mounting threads are several millimeters too large.

    EDIT: Typo
    Last edited by RLangham; 20-Jan-2020 at 09:22. Reason: Typo

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