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Thread: Shutter Help! Xenotar 135mm 3.5

  1. #1

    Shutter Help! Xenotar 135mm 3.5

    Hey everyone, I'm new not only to this forum but also fairly green to the world of large format.

    I've been primarily shooting with a Nikkor 135mm 5.6, which is great, but got a pretty good deal (I hope) on a clean Xenotar 135mm 3.5 which I'm excited about. The only issue is that it came on a Wista Press Copal 1 shutter which has a max speed of 1/125 and I'm almost certain the aperture scale is off (doesn't go down to 3.5).

    So, I'm wondering what the easiest way to solve these two problems is.

    From reading posts here and elsewhere, it sounds like if I simply buy a Copal 1 with max shutter of 1/400 (or mount it to the Copal 1 that my 210mm is currently using), I may run into spacing issues. Is that correct? I don't have a precise measuring tool handy.

    And I'd still run into the aperture scale being wrong.

    Is there anyone I can send this lens to to have it mounted correctly? Or is it something I can simply do myself? I haven't been able to find a correct aperture scale for this lens.

    Forgive me if this is all very basic stuff. Any guidance would be tremendous. Looking forward to having this thing set up correctly!

    Thanks,

    Aidan

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
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    now in Tucson, AZ
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    3,258

    Re: Shutter Help! Xenotar 135mm 3.5

    Three things-
    1) the leaf shutters for view cameras "almost never" are accurate at their highest marked speeds. If the top speed is important, the best you can do is get the shutter adjusted, and know what your top speed actually is. Just a fact of mechanical life.
    2) If you search around on this site you'll find methods to determine actual f/stops and you can then mark your shutter plate accordingly.
    3) Any photo repair service can do these things easily, at no great expense.
    Best of luck!

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    718

    Re: Shutter Help! Xenotar 135mm 3.5

    Hi,
    A quick way to see if the shutter thicknesses are the same is to remove the cells from both shutters, and measure from the front cell mounting surface to the rear cell mounting surface (usually the end of the mounting threads) with a micrometer.
    SK Grimes is a great resource for re-mounting lenses into shutters and engraving lens scales. They have a very informative website, it's on my "recommended reading" list.
    Fastest speed on a LF shutter is rarely accurate, even after a CLA....rarely accurate = rarely used.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    3,458

    Re: Shutter Help! Xenotar 135mm 3.5

    Does this lens have "right to return" to seller?

    This 135mm f3.5 Xenotar appears to be a wheeler-dealer lens in barrel to found shutter swap job. Xenotars were sold in barrel with the lens cell threading that would fit into a Compur or Copal shutter making it easy enough to perform this swap over from barrel to shutter. Problem is, the lens cell spacing could be off causing optical performance issues. Big tel tale to this is the mis-matched aperture scale on the Copal shutter.

    IMO, this lens is a non-starter, should be returned to the seller given what it is.

    As for shutter speeds, give up the idea of these shutters being any where near accurate/precise at their highest shutter speed setting. Over the decades of using shutters like this, zero have been accurate/precise at their highest shutter speed setting. The proper way to apply large lens apertures for images recoded is to use neutral density filters as needed to bring the shutter speed down at the large aperture needed. Unless you're using this lens/shutter hand held press camera style, once the camera/lens/shutter is on a tripod, extended shutter times is not much of an issue. Use a cable release.

    Curious, what are your expectations for this 135mm f3.5 Xenotar -vs- the 135mm f5.6 Nikkor?


    Bernice

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jul 2020
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    Canada
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    285

    Re: Shutter Help! Xenotar 135mm 3.5

    The Xenotar is a fast high performance lens, but it really only makes sense when used with a camera with a coupled rangefinder, like a Technika or Speed Graphic. With cameras like that it could be used hand held for "action" shots. The big downside with this lens is that it barely covers 4x5, and you certainly won't be able to use any movements at all. I have a 150 f2.8 Xenotar that came with my old Technika IV, and it barely covers 4x5 as well. I've made the mistake of doing some slight front tilts to adjust the focus plane, but ended up with vignetting.

    If your Wista doesn't have a rangefinder, or a rangefinder that isn't matched to this lens, then you'll be far better off with your standard Nikon 135 lens.

  6. #6

    Re: Shutter Help! Xenotar 135mm 3.5

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernice Loui View Post
    Does this lens have "right to return" to seller?

    This 135mm f3.5 Xenotar appears to be a wheeler-dealer lens in barrel to found shutter swap job. Xenotars were sold in barrel with the lens cell threading that would fit into a Compur or Copal shutter making it easy enough to perform this swap over from barrel to shutter. Problem is, the lens cell spacing could be off causing optical performance issues. Big tel tale to this is the mis-matched aperture scale on the Copal shutter.

    IMO, this lens is a non-starter, should be returned to the seller given what it is.

    As for shutter speeds, give up the idea of these shutters being any where near accurate/precise at their highest shutter speed setting. Over the decades of using shutters like this, zero have been accurate/precise at their highest shutter speed setting. The proper way to apply large lens apertures for images recoded is to use neutral density filters as needed to bring the shutter speed down at the large aperture needed. Unless you're using this lens/shutter hand held press camera style, once the camera/lens/shutter is on a tripod, extended shutter times is not much of an issue. Use a cable release.

    Curious, what are your expectations for this 135mm f3.5 Xenotar -vs- the 135mm f5.6 Nikkor?


    Bernice
    Ah shoot, I wish I would have known. I got it off craigslist for $1000, which was about 2/3 what I was seeing them for on ebay, and a bit cleaner looking. Though, I was curious about the difference between the "Linhof" branded version and this one...

    Guessing the dude wont go for a return...

    Here's photos for reference.

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    Can someone confirm that this is a converted barrel lens?

    I was looking for a shallower depth of field, ability to shoot in more of a variety of lighting situations (ie, inside people's homes), and brighter focusing screen.

    Thanks,

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Los Angeles
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    Re: Shutter Help! Xenotar 135mm 3.5

    I’m no expert, but I’m guessing those Xenotars were not originally mounted in a Copal Press shutter, so that would explain the aperture scale being off. If I were you, since you’re already an owner why not do the math (resources are out there) figure out an aperture scale and go out and shoot with it? If the image quality is not to your liking, sell it.
    Oh and the Linhof thing- the lens and shutter are mounted on a Linhof branded board, has nothing to do with the lens itself.

  8. #8

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    Re: Shutter Help! Xenotar 135mm 3.5

    As both Bernice and Bruce have said, the mis-matched aperture scale in and of itself shows this is not the original shutter. I'd be surprised if anyone here could simply tell by looking whether this was originally mounted in a No. 1 Compur or in a barrel. This information might be found in Hartmut Thiele's _Großes Fabrikationsbuch Schneider-Kreuznach Band II_ which I don't have. I'm not sure this matters for your purposes.

    Its serial number 7,446,053 indicates it was made between February 1961 and March 1963. We have Dan Fromm to thank for that information originally from Schneider still being readily available to us on the internet. I don't know when Schneider first offered lenses in Copal shutters; none are shown in my 1966 Burleigh-Brooks Schneider price list. Did buy a new 121 mm Super Angulon in a Copal shutter in the fall of 1972.

    And I'm with Bruce, work out the apertures with the shutter you have and see if you like the images. If you do you could even go all-in, buy the cheapest beater lens on eBay with a functioning/potentially functioning No. 1 Compur, transfer the cells, and send the whole shebang to SKGrimes for a correct and cosmetically nice aperture scale.

    David

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    718

    Re: Shutter Help! Xenotar 135mm 3.5

    The Xenotars are in high demand for their fast, wide-open
    apertures and minimal depth of focus, which, when combined with a multi-blade round aperture create a pleasing out-of -focus "bokeh".
    Unfortunately, the Copal Press shutter you have has a 5-blade aperture, which will negate that effect if stopped down at all.
    You have the lens...put it on your camera, focus at infinity (something Really Far Away) wide open ( hopefully it WILL focus at infinity), and measure the distance from the center of the shutter to the film plane in mm.
    Then, with the lens wide open, from the front of the camera measure the maximum diameter of the part of the lens that passes light...in mm.
    Divide the focal length measurement by the aperture measurement, and hopefully it comes out to 3.5.
    If not, you have big problems.
    The good news is that SK Grimes are an awesome resource and do top notch work.
    Best of luck!

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
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    NJ
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    Re: Shutter Help! Xenotar 135mm 3.5

    Hmm. Shutters are made to fairly close tolerances. Compur #1, Copal #1 and Prontor Press #1 all have the same threading and tube lengths. Lens cells made to fit these shutters are also machined to fairly close tolerances. If the OP's Xenotar was originally in barrel, it was in a barrel whose threading and tube length matches the Compur #1 spec. Tube length is the least of the OP's worries.

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