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Thread: Karl Struss Pictorial Lens

  1. #1

    Karl Struss Pictorial Lens

    I'm looking for this type of lens, info on it etc.
    It is said to be a simple meniscus lens?

    Thanks, Klaus
    Klaus

    http://www.macrolenses.de for macro and special lens info
    http://www.pbase.com/kds315/ for UV Images and lens/filter info
    http://photographyoftheinvisibleworld.blogspot.com/ my UV diary

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Tonopah, Nevada, USA
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    6,282

    Re: Karl Struss Pictorial Lens

    One sold recently on Ebay. It appeared to be a single meniscus group at the back with an aperture up front. It also interested me that the general physical look of the lens was remarkably similar to the Pinkham Smith Semi Achromat lens in an unpainted aluminum barrel. Both had identical engraving.

    Did Struss buy some commercially available lens like perhaps an older landscape meniscus and then re-polish / re-shape to suit his particular formula? I doubt we'll ever know. Did anybody ask him 20 years ago while he was still with us?

    I would add that at todays prices I can't afford either the Struss or the Pinkham but I have had excellent success with soft focus images using an un-modified 1860's Darlot landscape meniscus wide open at f6. It has the identical look of Struss' soft images.
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep..to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

  3. #3

    Re: Karl Struss Pictorial Lens

    Thanks for that Jim, I found that ebay auction and wondered that someone woudl pay about $2.750 for a lens in that shabby condition. But the "name" makes it I guess...

    Here is a japanese site on that lens showing one in much better condition actually:
    http://www.kimiaki.net/k-struss.htm
    Klaus

    http://www.macrolenses.de for macro and special lens info
    http://www.pbase.com/kds315/ for UV Images and lens/filter info
    http://photographyoftheinvisibleworld.blogspot.com/ my UV diary

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    AZ
    Posts
    4,181

    Re: Karl Struss Pictorial Lens

    I believe the Scovill Waterbury is also a meniscus. I have one of about 10 inch FL. At least one person has had the same thought: what would it do wide open? http://brianbullen.blogspot.com/2008_07_01_archive.html
    I believe Jim shot some with one too, but I can't remember at what f-stop.

    They are built with very small aperatures as part of the barrel. I calculate mine would be f5.7 if I could get the small, built-in aperature out of the way. As is, it's about f22.

  5. #5

    Re: Karl Struss Pictorial Lens

    Hi

    Its really all in the name, if you dig about you can find lens giving similar results. Is the winner of that auction going to use the thing? I picked up the attached lens for 40 its a 410mm F6 meniscus (single glass element) I've not finished my new darkroom but the ground glass looks wonderful. If a lens was made for pictorial results and named as such then you know what you're going to get and hence $$$ or you can open up a lens intend to be used at smaller stops. Landscape lens (achromats) work if you can remove the stops, some work as they where made like cooke RVP or the less known Wray Narrow Angle Landscape has similar specs.

    Regards
    Sven

  6. #6

    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Blue Ridge of Virginia
    Posts
    180

    Re: Karl Struss Pictorial Lens

    Klaus-

    I never met Karl but we carried on a vigorous correspondence in the late '70s and early '80s. The Amon Carter Museum, in Fort Worth, Texas, has much of Karl's photographic estate and it includes his original mock-up made with a toilet paper tube.

    Karl told me that he sought to patent the lens based on three improvements, alas I can only recall two right now: (1) the flocking of the barrel interior and (2) interchangeable lens elements. Regarding the latter, the customer could buy a 12" Pictorial and also a lens for 11" and 13" which being the same diameter simply interchanged with the 'stock' lens. Yes, it has a single meniscus. I have owned three of them and have examined two more.

    When he joined the army for World War I, he had to leave the production and marketing in the hands of the man who did the manufacturing. Karl told me that the reason he discontinued the lens was because he felt the man was cheating him. Indeed, Keasbey continued to make the lens after Struss demanded than he cease.

    As Jim notes, they are very similar to the P&S 'Semi-Achromatic' which in turn was copied from a TTH lens. You can read more about this in my dissertation at St. Andrews University (Scotland) on their web site: http://hdl.handle.net/10023/505
    They are also as difficult to use as a Semi-Achromatic!

    I hope this has been helpful.

    Russ Young

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    AZ
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    4,181

    Re: Karl Struss Pictorial Lens

    I thank you for passing your knowledge and experience on. This information is very valuable to the soft focus and pictorialist enthusiast. Your dissertation is a fascinating history that should be referred to by anyone with questions about these topics. Excellent details of the primary soft focus lenses.

  8. #8

    Re: Karl Struss Pictorial Lens

    Thanks a lot, esp. Russ, that was verY helpful!

    Cheers, Klaus
    Klaus

    http://www.macrolenses.de for macro and special lens info
    http://www.pbase.com/kds315/ for UV Images and lens/filter info
    http://photographyoftheinvisibleworld.blogspot.com/ my UV diary

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Montreal
    Posts
    1,437

    Re: Karl Struss Pictorial Lens

    Dear Russ,

    At 359 pages, I will not pretend to say I have read it. I have downloaded it for "near future" reading, thank you very much for sharing it with us!

    best regards,

    Allen

  10. #10

    Re: Karl Struss Pictorial Lens

    I have an "18 in. Struss Pictorial Lens" f5.5-22 given to me years ago by my godfather, Walter Boychuk, a well known Oregon photographer in the '40s-'60s.
    I would like to learn its collectors' value and talk with interested parties.

    Lawrence

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