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Thread: Old ICA lens question

  1. #1

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    Apr 2020
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    Question Old ICA lens question

    While searching for lenses for my foray into large format, I ran across an old ICA "Maximar" f/5.4 in fairly good condition, with a working shutter. Being intrigued, and since I was still under budget, I bought it. In a perfect world, it would be useful for actual, you know, photographs. Worst case, if the lens isn't salvageable, the shutter appears to be in excellent condition.

    Research tells me this type of lens was sold around 1920 in box cameras of 9x12 and 6x9 format. The bad news is that the f/5.4 version was apparently only sold with 6x9 models, suggesting it's probably not good for 9x12cm, let alone 4x5". Ah well. It may yet take some medium format images.

    The lens arrived in good condition, needing light cleaning, and the front element was easy enough to remove and clean. The shutter works properly in all settings, although I have yet to check it for accuracy.

    The rear element, however, has some spots I'd like to investigate closer, but applying moderate pressure to the rear element refused to unseat it, so here's the question: How do you normally remove the rear element on one of these lenses? Is it left-hand thread, is it riveted in place, did someone put loctite in the threads? How much force should I reasonably expect to apply, given that the lens is probably right at the century mark in age? Is there a magic incantation (not totally out of the question, since the ICA logo at the time was a pentagram)?

    Generally speaking, if it's fungus, I want it dead. If it's haze, and can't be removed, I'll live with it. If it's removable, I want it gone, because otherwise, the lens looks fairly clean to me, and it should be taking photographs instead of collecting dust.

    Any advice?

  2. #2

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    Re: Old ICA lens question

    Why not just make some negatives with it and see what YOU think? It sounds like you're getting started. So do that. I don't think it will be a waste of your time!

  3. #3

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    Apr 2020
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    Re: Old ICA lens question

    Oh, that will happen-- It came without a lens board or a retaining ring, so some more shopping is in order. I've already determined that the shutter is a standard #0 size, so neither will be particular difficult to acquire.

    If nothing else, I can probably 3D print a lens board for testing purposes.

    No, I'm more interested in the disassembly. I thought I had read somewhere that the front/rear elements should both unscrew without much difficulty, so when this one resisted all reasonable efforts, I figured asking for advice would be better than doing the wrong thing and possibly breaking it.

  4. #4

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    Re: Old ICA lens question

    Fungus is very unlikely for a non coated lens of this era.

    Is this mounted in a Compound shutter?

    Focal length?

    Have you considered that the "f.5.4" could be the German/Goerz f scale. I have seen lenses from this period marked with both scales. From memory, this 5.4 would come out to be F6.8, which is pretty standard for DAGOR clones.

    Looking at catalogues from this period, the Maximar was the most expensive of the two anastigmatic lenses available for 9x12 (135mm). 165mm and 180mm were used on the 10x15 and 13x18 models.

  5. #5

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    Re: Old ICA lens question

    Sorry, should have mentioned. 120mm f/5.4 in a dial-set Compur shutter.

    Here's a slightly rough picture:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    And the back (the smudges are near the outer edge in the lower right area, unfortunately near the light reflection):

    Click image for larger version. 

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  6. #6

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    Re: Old ICA lens question

    Yes, this is a F6.8 DAGOR or Zeiss protar clone ( ICA included Zeiss’ camera division!). Note the two mounting lugs on the shutter edge - it has been mounted in a quick release lens board fitting.

    The usual solution for these difficult threads is to saw two opposing slots and use a steel flat plate which just clears the cuts.
    The cloud-like marks look like light growths ABOVE the lens surface.

  7. #7

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    Re: Old ICA lens question

    Steve, are you sure that the lens is a Dagor clone? I ask because f/5.4 is unusually fast for that type.

  8. #8

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    Re: Old ICA lens question

    I'm also curious, because the ICA catalog from 1919 lists both the f/5.4 and the f/6.8 "Maximar" as being available for the 6x9 Ideal (111) camera.

    However, it only lists the f/6.8 for the 9x12 cameras like the 9x12 Ideal (205) model.

  9. #9

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    Re: Old ICA lens question

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm View Post
    Steve, are you sure that the lens is a Dagor clone? I ask because f/5.4 is unusually fast for that type.
    I am guessing that the F5.4 is a Goerz Scale rendering of F6.8! F.5.4 is pretty hard to achieve without air spaces in lens cells, which the OP hasn’t mentioned.
    120mm is pretty long for a 6x9 format camera.

  10. #10

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    Re: Old ICA lens question

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Tribe View Post
    I am guessing that the F5.4 is a Goerz Scale rendering of F6.8! F.5.4 is pretty hard to achieve without air spaces in lens cells, which the OP hasn’t mentioned.
    120mm is pretty long for a 6x9 format camera.
    The OP knows what an air space is, but is ignorant on evaluating a lens for one.

    Most of my optics knowledge is based around telescopes.

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