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Thread: Damaging a lens on purpose

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Aug 2009

    Damaging a lens on purpose

    Alright, I can already hear it from this bunch, the cackling and funny har-hars. And that's fine, but this is actually a serious question, too.

    I am new to LF (doing it a couple months and having a ball). I first bought a 210mm lens, but am finding I make most of my pictures with a 150mm and some with a 90mm. The 210 is a Rodenstock Geronar in pristine condition. At first I thought of selling it here, but it isn't worth all that much. Then I recently saw again a Sally Mann photograph and was reminded of the wabi sabi beauty of age and damage. I suppose I could look for an old damaged lens to experiment with, but I would actually spend more money on that then just beating up my 210.

    So, has anyone ever done this before and have any pointers should I decide to "prematurely age" my lens as an experiment?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Atlanta, GA

    Re: Damaging a lens on purpose

    Comet and steel wool?

  3. #3
    Lachlan 717
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Re: Damaging a lens on purpose

    Save the lens.

    Get a step-up ring, a UV filter and done petroleum jelly. Or just scratch the filter
    as desired.

    Cheaper in the longrun because you get to keep the lens.

    You miss 100% of the shots you never take. -- Wayne Gretzky

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Buford, GA

    Re: Damaging a lens on purpose

    Put a skylight filter on it and try smearing thin coats of vasolene on the filter. Then clean it off the filter and try putting other things on it. No reason to destroy the lens.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Valley of the Sun, AZ

    Re: Damaging a lens on purpose

    Shotgun at close range.

    Seriously, I'd swap you an aged Compur shutter for your pristine Copal, and even throw in an ugly Dagor cell (I call it my "Eingor").
    They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.
    -Francis Bacon

  6. #6
    multi format
    Join Date
    Feb 2001

    Re: Damaging a lens on purpose

    i did that with an extra lens for my pentax auto 110 -
    the lens was much less expensive than the lens you have
    but it was fun !

    look for a folder and harvest the junk lens off of it ...
    Last edited by jnantz; 23-Dec-2009 at 19:30.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    Re: Damaging a lens on purpose

    You may find after you've been shooting LF a while longer, that you may gravitate towards a longer lens, so hold off with the despoiling for a while.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    Re: Damaging a lens on purpose

    Scratching up the lens will probably cause it to flare unpredictably and not even be good as a "bad lens". The Vaseline on a filter trick is a good starting place. Another one is to use a Nylon stocking stretched over the lens, or simply spend a few bucks on one or two of the soft focus filters out there.

    Also just shoot wide open and tilt and swing your camera's standards the "wrong" way and you'll make a mess of thing quite nicely.

    Better to think of what you want to accomplish in terms of fogginess (lower contrast) and curvature (blurry corners) and bokeh (swirls out of focus, etc.). That's why they make Lens Babies for small format... In large format you can get all sorts of soft focus and pictorial lenses.

    Follow our friend Mr. Galli around this forum, he makes use of all sorts of older pictorial lenses and gadgets.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Rolla, MO

    Re: Damaging a lens on purpose

    What would this lens sell for?


  10. #10
    Andrew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Sydney, Australia

    Re: Damaging a lens on purpose

    I know exactly where you're coming from... leave your modern lenses intact !

    the best way to get the look of an antique lens is to get an antique lens !!!

    start looking here in the for sale section, at camera fairs, on fleaBay, etc and something interesting will turn up. And it probably won't cost a fortune because you aren't competing with the collectors who want pristine examples. Look for projection petzvals, single element meniscus lenses, rapid rectilinear of any type etc. You can use half of a rapid rectilinear as a lens by itself. You may even see lenses that are both old and damaged!

    then you're only worry will be how to shutter your finds and you'll be looking for a speed graphic camera or a packard shutter to [front?] mount over your old brass lens

    I love Sally Mann's work too but keep in mind that a lot of the effect you see in "deep south" or "what remains" is artifact from the wet plate collodion process. That means you may get some milage from looking at bad processing of modern materials or perhaps using paper negatives

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