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Thread: Aperture on old Bausch Lomb Tessar

  1. #1

    Aperture on old Bausch Lomb Tessar

    I recently purchased an 8 x 10 Century Camera #7, for display. (I have 4 x 5s for actual use.) The lens with the camera is a Bausch & Lomb Series 1c, f4.5, no focal length stated, but it says 8 x 10, and says 1903, which sounds roughly correct, but perhaps a little early for this lens. There is a Packard shutter, air bulb operated. The lens has a normal looking aperture adjustment ring, with modern f stops -- f4.5, 5.6, 8, 11, etc. But there are no aperture control leaves in the lens. It is siimply wide open.
    The control ring is frozen at f4.5. The date of the lens roughly matches the date of the camera.

    My question concerns the aperture controls. Would such a lens in stock condition have internal aperture adjustments? Would they be measured in modern f stops? If not, did this lens use Waterhouse controls? Since I have no plans to actually use the camera, I am not concerned operationally. I am restoring the camera and would simply like the information.

    Any information would be appreciated.


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    S.W. Wyoming

    Re: Aperture on old Bausch Lomb Tessar

    There's nothing unusual about the f/stops. Have you taken it apart to determine if the aperture blades really are missing? It could be just stuck wide open. It's a very good lens. I should add that in 1903 there were at least six different f/stop numbering systems in use. The one you have, and we still use it today, was known as the English system.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Tonopah, Nevada, USA

    Re: Aperture on old Bausch Lomb Tessar

    Yes, the lens is correct for 1903. The aperture blades were made of a thin brittle fragile phenolic material that sometimes goes to pieces. I have 2 other B&L lenses of this period that are missing their aperture blades. If left unattended where the sun can shine in for an extended period the blades get cooked, malformed and then promptly go to pieces. Most people then just remove them and only have the resulting f4.5. It's a fine old camera and lens. Get some film and aim it at something.
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

  4. #4

    Re: Aperture on old Bausch Lomb Tessar

    Thank you Glenn and Jim. I think Jim must be correct. There certainly are no blades in there and the aperture selection dial is jammed at f4.5. No big issue for me. Dave

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