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Thread: UK lens makers and budget lenses questions

  1. #1

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    UK lens makers and budget lenses questions

    Hi there

    I am new to large format photography, having recently inherited a lovely old Lancaster quarter plate camera with a barrel lens.

    I would like to buy a shuttered lens for the camera, in time I will look to invest proper money in it, but for now a new darkroom project is demanding my funds.

    Can anyone recommend please, either:

    a) specific lenses I should look out for as a budget, entry level option, or

    b) some UK based manufacturers of large format lenses - many of the cheaper lenses I have seen out there are in the US. It would help to have the names of UK lens makers to search for outside of "proper" camera shops so I can track down a bargain from someone selling "this old camera lens" they found in their loft, not knowing what they possess.

    Many thanks

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  2. #2
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: UK lens makers and budget lenses questions

    If looking for something with a working shutter, most LF lenses mounted in late model shutters came from Germany or Japan.

  3. #3
    Ron (Netherlands)'s Avatar
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    Re: UK lens makers and budget lenses questions

    look for Dallmeyer + Compur
    or for Taylor & Hobson + Compound
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  4. #4

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    Re: UK lens makers and budget lenses questions

    I see that your Lancaster is from 1902, when they had begun their decline from the glorious 1890’s! It is also just contemporaneous with the introduction of more reliable shutters - although their reliability in 2021 can be called into question!

    This was also the era of the front and rear mounted curtain shutters, pioneered by Thornton - Pickard. These are comparatively simple to operate, renovate although only providing a few different speeds - but it was quite sufficient for the Edwardians! All you have to do is to get hold of one which has an opening that:
    - matches the size of the flange (for lens board mounted T-P shutters) OR
    - matches the diameter of the lens hood (for the front mounting versions)

    The problem with purchasing an early lens with central shutter is that there is little standardization early on. It wasn’t always with neat front and rear cells that fitted into the shutter. There were shortened barrels on both sides of the shutter sometimes. When early shutters have problems, there are difficulties with spare parts and reluctant skilled repairers. Getting a replacement shutter of the right type, size and working condition is impossible and you will, almost certainly, be paying for one already fitted out with a lens!

  5. #5

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    Re: UK lens makers and budget lenses questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Tribe View Post
    I see that your Lancaster is from 1902, when they had begun their decline from the glorious 1890ís! It is also just contemporaneous with the introduction of more reliable shutters - although their reliability in 2021 can be called into question!

    This was also the era of the front and rear mounted curtain shutters, pioneered by Thornton - Pickard. These are comparatively simple to operate, renovate although only providing a few different speeds - but it was quite sufficient for the Edwardians! All you have to do is to get hold of one which has an opening that:
    - matches the size of the flange (for lens board mounted T-P shutters) OR
    - matches the diameter of the lens hood (for the front mounting versions)

    The problem with purchasing an early lens with central shutter is that there is little standardization early on. It wasnít always with neat front and rear cells that fitted into the shutter. There were shortened barrels on both sides of the shutter sometimes. When early shutters have problems, there are difficulties with spare parts and reluctant skilled repairers. Getting a replacement shutter of the right type, size and working condition is impossible and you will, almost certainly, be paying for one already fitted out with a lens!
    Iím not particularly bothered about having a lens from the same era. I would rather have something more reliable shutter speed wise.

    I looked into Packard shutters, they cost similar money to a used lens in a copal or compur shutter

  6. #6

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    Re: UK lens makers and budget lenses questions

    Quote Originally Posted by RobG View Post
    I would like to buy a shuttered lens for the camera ..... some UK based manufacturers of large format lenses
    The problem you may find is that many of the UK makers were absorbed into the Rank Organisation in the (I think) 1960s and after this the supply of shuttered British built lenses quickly seems to have subsided from then. So any UK made lenses with shutters which you may find are likely to be over 50 years old, meaning that if they haven't been serviced then they will need a service which will push the price up (there are a few UK repairers who will still service such lenses). Your best bet is eBay (expensive) or a camera fair (usually more realistic prices but you need to check anything well). Lenses from the likes of Wray, Taylor Hobson, Dallmeyer and a few others can be found with shutters but I suspect that you will find that the prices are creeping up and you could buy more modern lenses from Scheider and Rodenstock at not much more.

  7. #7

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    Re: UK lens makers and budget lenses questions

    Quote Originally Posted by pgk View Post
    The problem you may find is that many of the UK makers were absorbed into the Rank Organisation in the (I think) 1960s and after this the supply of shuttered British built lenses quickly seems to have subsided from then. So any UK made lenses with shutters which you may find are likely to be over 50 years old, meaning that if they haven't been serviced then they will need a service which will push the price up (there are a few UK repairers who will still service such lenses). Your best bet is eBay (expensive) or a camera fair (usually more realistic prices but you need to check anything well). Lenses from the likes of Wray, Taylor Hobson, Dallmeyer and a few others can be found with shutters but I suspect that you will find that the prices are creeping up and you could buy more modern lenses from Scheider and Rodenstock at not much more.
    Thank you, this is most informative. As you say, I have been finding the Schneider lenses coming up for not a lot more than 60 odd year old English lenses. I think I will just have to save up!

  8. #8
    Martin Aislabie's Avatar
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    Re: UK lens makers and budget lenses questions

    Rob

    I'm not sure where you are in the UK but there is (or was before Covid) a monthly camera fare in Wolverhampton.

    Try Googling it.

    I've never been but I'm told prices are widely spread - some are low and some are way over the odds.

    I'm of no help here as to what to go for - but there are plenty of people here that can help.

    Martin

  9. #9

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    Re: UK lens makers and budget lenses questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Aislabie View Post
    Rob

    I'm not sure where you are in the UK but there is (or was before Covid) a monthly camera fare in Wolverhampton.

    Try Googling it.

    I've never been but I'm told prices are widely spread - some are low and some are way over the odds.

    I'm of no help here as to what to go for - but there are plenty of people here that can help.

    Martin
    Thank you Martin, this is certainly worth a look. I donít mind travelling for a bargain, I did a 300 mile journey for a sink and an enlarger last weekend.

    I have an good idea of what qualities im looking for in a lens - the key is affordability and the glass being in good condition. Iím not after the highest quality optics. Just the simple pleasure of a shutter camera the top hat trick!!

  10. #10

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    Re: UK lens makers and budget lenses questions

    In addition to what's already been mentioned keep an eye open for Ross lenses in shutter, they turn up now and again.

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