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Thread: Old Kodak Lens ID

  1. #1

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    Old Kodak Lens ID

    Hi Everyone,

    I picked up an interesting old lens the other day and was hoping for some help identifying it. The ball bearing shutter it's in is stamped with Kodak, but other than that, it doesn't have any identifying marks. I believe the aperture scale is in the old "Unified" format, which would make it an f/8 lens. There is also what appears to be a built in frame counter. I was dismayed at first when I noticed the counter because it made me think it was designed for roll film, but that was before I mounted it on my camera. It looks to be about 180mm in focal length and has more coverage than my modern 150 Symmar. It appears to sharply cover up to the maximum movements of my camera (an Omega/Toyo 45E). That's just from looking at the ground glass though.

    The glass has a few minor dings, but everything is functional. It looks like two cells with two elements in each, I'm no expert though. Below is a picture of it mounted on one of my lens boards. Does anyone have a clue as to what this could be?




    Thanks a lot,
    -Zack

  2. #2

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    Re: Old Kodak Lens ID

    It's a Bausch & Lomb Rapid Rectilinear. Probably from a postcard size folder. These are an extremely sharp lens in the center of the image. Sharpness falls off pretty rapidly toward the edges/corners. They were usually used on formats somewhat smaller than it's coverage to partially make up for this.
    The shutter is a disgrace to this wonderful lens. They're terrible, as a rule. At it's highest speed you can expect around 1/25 to 1/50 inclusive, if your lucky. If you use your lens, I think you'll love it.

  3. #3
    Andrew's Avatar
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    Re: Old Kodak Lens ID

    sounds like a symmetrical design, some variety of rapid rectilinear
    Kodak used a few over the years

    I've had a couple of old B&L lenses in Kodak shutters and they all had what they were written around the edge of the front lens

    are you sure there isn't something written around the edge of the lens?
    sometimes it gets pretty hard to make out there's anything there at all

    though it may be possible you've got rear components from two lenses that got paired up.... I'm sure you could do that with a symmetrical design and get the same image

  4. #4
    W K Longcor
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    Re: Old Kodak Lens ID

    Also, the aperature is marked in U S stops - not f/stops. So study up on your "coverting" to f/ stops when adjusting exposure.

  5. #5

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    Re: Old Kodak Lens ID

    Wow awesome. Exactly what I was looking for. Thank you. The paint around the barrel is pretty worn, but I'll check that out and do some shutter speed tests tonight. I've already looked up the stop conversion, and as I understand it... 4=f/8, 8=f/11, 16=f/16, 32=f/22, 64=f/32, and 128=f/45.

    I'll definitely be using this lens, probably for portraits at first. I'm not too worried about the shutter, the plan is to darken the room and use my strobes with the shutter on B (no flash sync obviously). I'll be sure to update this thread with some scans when I get around to it.


    P.S. Any ideas about the frame counter? It goes up to 12. It's my understanding that the old postcard roll film (122?) only got up to 10 per roll.

  6. #6

    Re: Old Kodak Lens ID

    The focal length of that is probably around 135mm. I have one. I actually broke up a Kodak Autographic 1a. The Kodak camera wasn't in great shape. For best performance I think it lies in the region of f22-32. This is 32 & 64 on the lens.
    At those sort of apertures you are going to be running 1/2 and 1 sec. I build the exposure with multiple clicks.
    I wanted an image with a soft edge & this lens gives that.

    I have actually gone to the expense of getting S.K. Grimes mount a English 6" Beck Biplanat into a Copal. The 6" lens is meant for 4x5. It will cover the format wide-open (f5.8). It should make a good lens for waist upwards portraits at that aperture, and the Copal has the faster speeds and flash sync.

    I cannot say that I would go to the same expense to re-mount the B&L 135mm.

  7. #7

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    Re: Old Kodak Lens ID

    I'm confused about this "frame counter". Is it on the lens/shutter itself? I don't think I've ever seen one. On re-reading your original post, you said the focal length is about 180mm. That focal length would be awfully long for a folder. It's more likely the thing came off an old self casing Cycle style camera, though a frame counter could mean it came off a falling plate camera. Many of those held 12 4X5 dry plates. I have quite a few of these lenses and they really are quite remarkable.

  8. #8

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    Re: Old Kodak Lens ID

    Got to play around with the lens a little more tonight. I checked it with a ruler and the aperture to ground glass distance at infinity is pretty darn close to 175mm. Also checked for any writing on the lens barrel. Definitely none at all on either side.

    Also the rear cell seems to have a slightly smaller diameter than the front cell. This could just be that it's covered up by the barrel though. Also if I unscrew either cell I get a loooong lens that looks to be about a ~290mm f/11 or 12.

  9. #9

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    Re: Old Kodak Lens ID

    Excluding simple lenses and triplets and before the advent of the Anastigmat, Kodak used B&L Rapid Rectilinears almost exclusively and not all of them have any marking on them. They were the high end lens of the time. I have several examples that are unmarked. They can be used as a convertible lens in most cases. Not that good converted, though.

  10. #10

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    Re: Old Kodak Lens ID

    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn Thoreson View Post
    I'm confused about this "frame counter". Is it on the lens/shutter itself? I don't think I've ever seen one. On re-reading your original post, you said the focal length is about 180mm. That focal length would be awfully long for a folder. It's more likely the thing came off an old self casing Cycle style camera, though a frame counter could mean it came off a falling plate camera. Many of those held 12 4X5 dry plates. I have quite a few of these lenses and they really are quite remarkable.
    Hi Glen,

    I've drawn on the image to help illustrate where the frame counter is. It advances from 1-12 every time I trip the shutter. It's hard to see in the picture because of the way I lit it, but I can read it just fine. I'm interested to hear what you think.

    Here's the updated image.

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