Can someone help me figure out what this Voigtlander is all about?

Discussion in 'Antiques and Collecting' started by Perry Way, Apr 27, 2010.

  1. Perry Way

    Perry Way Member

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    I'm having a little bit of a difficult time trying to piece fragments of information together about this camera. I just picked it up at a yard sale the other day and I want to use it.

    The strap reads "Avus" in script. There are no other model names or numbers to help identify the model of this camera.

    In my investigation I am finding only Voigtlander Avus models in the 2.25 x 3.25 or 6x9cm format. But this one measures exactly 9x12cm. I found other Voigtlanders of the same era and basic general appearance in the 9x12cm format but they are named "Vax" not "Avus". So I'm kind of stumped. Here's some cellphone photos. This camera is in tip top shape considering the age. The only problems are the deteriorating leather (what leather isn't from that era?), and the complete lack of film holders!

    By the way it has the Skopar f4.5 135mm Anastigmat lens with shutter speeds T, B and 1/1 to 1/200. I've seen photos on the internet taken with an Avus (the medium format 6x9 one) that really make me want to shoot this camera. The rich grayscale and tone of skin.. just something not easily done with todays optics.

    Anyway, if anyone knows more, I'd appreciating being educated! thanks!
     

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  2. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    It's a 9x12 plate camera. The Avus was the middle-grade model between the Vag and the Bergheil; as far as I know it always comes with a Skopar lens. You have front rise/fall and shift but no further movements (the silver knobs on the front standard). It looks like a fairly late model to judge from the rimset Compur shutter---late 1920s or early 1930s, probably.

    I don't see any film holders in the pictures (oops, edit: and you mentioned not having any); they can be bought separately sometimes, but probably the easiest way to find them is bundled with another camera (this is a major reason for so many of us to have a ton of plate cameras).

    That back isn't original; the original ground glass backs say "Voigtlaender" across the diagonal. Does it have glass in it?

    These are pretty simple cameras, and as long as the bellows doesn't have leaks and the shutter works, you should be in good shape. The Skopar is a Tessar-type lens, perfectly good for most purposes, especially for large format.

    -NT
     
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  3. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    The body, bellows and front standard is fairly generic and was available from many manufacturers under different names. I had one almost identical to yours but with a Zeiss Tessar 13.5cm lens.


    Steve.
     
  4. Perry Way

    Perry Way Member

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    I'm no pro at this part, but the "feel" I got was about 1920 based on the styling. I am kind of in awe of the workmanship. The spirit level still has spirits! WOW! What modern bubble level do you know still has fluid in it after a handful of years? And here is darn near a 100 year old camera and it's still in very good shape.



    That's roughly what I found on eBay as well. I found some commentary somewhere about plate versus film holders for the Avus. I would like to use film in this, not plates. If that is possible.

    Looks original in all ways to me. I saw those ones you're talking about but they seem to be from another era. And yes, it has the ground glass and it's in really good condition too. Same thing with the popup hood.

    From what little I know, it doesn't seem to be a Tessar type. I've taken the front elements off and they appear to be sandwiched not separated by air. But maybe I'm not able to see it clearly.

    Well thanks for your information. I'd like to shoot this camera without buying another one just to get some film holders.
     
  5. Andy38

    Andy38 Member

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    Voïgtlander Avus plate cameras exist in 6,5X9, 9X12 and 10X15.
    There are two 9X12 vertical models, made from 1914 to 1935; and yours is the later.
     
  6. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    [Anastigmat-Skopar 135/4.5]

    Well, you could be right; I'm just trusting the description in the Vade Mecum. I've never tried to dissect the one I have. Maybe some of them were reversed (which Voigtlaender do seem to have done; the Vade Mecum calls it a "rasset" design), which would put the cemented element in front...

    -NT
     
  7. Perry Way

    Perry Way Member

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    This site is excellent: http://www.cinci.de/plat_avus2.html

    And it seems to prove your point.
     
  8. Perry Way

    Perry Way Member

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    Thanks to everyone who contributed. If anyone has some plate holders (with the film insert) they want to sell or trade, I'm looking for them. I have some Hasselblad focus screens I can trade (got them too at the yard sale) or $'s.
     
  9. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    Nice camera!

    I have a Zeiss Maximar - which is very similar.

    I always thought the Skopar was a Tessar type, too... I'm sure the later ones are. But, companies tend to keep recycling the brand names, mavbe a 1920s Skopar isn't much to do with a 1950s or 60s Skopar?

    Please can you measure the width of the focussing screen, accurately, in millimetres?

    Not all 9 X 12 film holders will fit... (the same is true of most other sizes, too. The glass plate sizes were standardised, the external dimensions certainly weren't!)
     
  10. Philippe Grunchec

    Philippe Grunchec Member

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  11. elekm

    elekm Member

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    As far as I know, the Skopar has always been a Tessar type. Same goes for the Schneider Xenar.

    As far as a Zeiss lens on a Voigtlander camera, I would expect that the lens was replaced at some point, as Voigtlander cameras came with Voigtlander lenses. However, I hesitate to say "always," because you have to leave open the possibility that the camera was ordered with a Zeiss lens.
     
  12. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    I have an ICA cameras,a Volta, with a tessar lens.

    The Volta was later made by Zeiss-Ikon, after ICA was absorbed, but my camera is badged as an ICA - so might be expected to have a Goertz lens, maybe? But the Volta was bottom of the range, a very simple affair. It might be expected to have a very simple shutter and a humble lens. The Tessar is a very nice optic, in a compur shutter, so something doesn't seem right.
    I suppose that in 80 years or so - a lot can happen! I have a Butcher cameo with damaged bellows - and another similar folder with good bellows but a sticky shutter. I reckon the fix to get a working camera is too easy and too tempting for it not to have been a common occurrence :wink:
     
  13. Perry Way

    Perry Way Member

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    9x12 cm is the measurement of the opening for the image area, exactly.

    The ground glass has a little slack to it on the long side (12cm side) and can move around a little. Someone said it is not a stock ground glass as it is missing the Voigtlander logo stamped into the leather.
     
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  15. Perry Way

    Perry Way Member

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    If anyone has any film holders they want to trade for some Hasselblad focusing screens.. I have three Hassy screens I'll never use. Ebay has them priced generally in the $20 - $40 or higher range.
     
  16. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    Sorry,

    I didn't explain myself very well.

    I meant the external dimensions of the focussing slide - i.e: what would the width of the 9 X 12 cm holders be?

    I ask because I have various bits and pieces which I suspect are for an 9 X 12, including a roll film back, but I am not sure whether they would fit. I have bought many slides and holders in the past in the hope they would fit something or other - very often they do not, even if you get the right width, because the actual shape and thickness of the lip that engages in the rail on the back of the camera can vary, too. I have had plate holders that are just the right width to fit the camera, but have been bent from metal too thick to slide into the camera back...

    Best of all might be a picture of the edge of the holder?
     
  17. elekm

    elekm Member

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    ICA didn't make lenses -- just cameras. It used a third party to supply lenses, including Carl Zeiss Jena.

    Voigtlander was a bit different in that it made both lenses and cameras. Agfa also made lenses and cameras. I'm trying to think of an Agfa camera that came with a non-Agfa lens (Zeiss, Schneider, Rodenstock, etc.), but I can't think of one at the moment.
     
  18. Matthew Rusbarsky

    Matthew Rusbarsky Member

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    As far as plate and rollfilm back compatibility, do some internet digging. If memory serves, The back on your Avus is also compatible with the Zeiss Maximar (Zeiss had at least four different backs) and the Nagel Kodaks. It also seems to be the most common standard of several used at the time. My Suydam rollfilm back states on the packaging "For Voigtlander, Zeiss Maximar and Kodak Recomar"
     
  19. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    No, it didn't make lenses, but it did 'badge' some of the cheaper ones.

    The thing that is suspicious about my ICA camera is not so much that it has a Zeiss lens as the fact that it is a bottom of the range camera with a Zeiss Tessar lens and compur shutter - I would have expected it to have had a more humble optic... either an ICA badged 'Helios' or a Geortz anastigmat or something similar.

    I took my Haughton Butcher Cameo's lens off the front standard at the weekend to clean and service the shutter. The camera proudly boasts 'Made in Great Britain' on the outside. Hidden inside is some German writing, hinting that the camera is imported (I suspect possibly from ICA) -and stamped on the back of the shutter (where you can't see it until you take it off) is stamped 'Wollensak, made in the USA"!
     
  20. JPD

    JPD Member

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    The Tessar could very well be the original lens for your camera. The "cheap" single extention ICA Niklas could, for example, be bought with a Novar or Hekla in a simpler AGC shutter or a 4,5 Litonar, 6,3 or 4,5 Tessar 10,5 or 12 cm in Compur.

    http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info/ica_1.html
     
  21. JPD

    JPD Member

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    One of my Voigtländer Avus 9x12 has a Tessar. In my case, I know exactly why and how it happened. I replaced the Skopar with a Tessar in 2009. My 6,5x9 Avus now has a Dagor. Another 9x12 Avus came with a 6,3 Voigtar. I bought it because it accepted Compur 0 so I could use it with my Steinheil Orthostigmat. :smile:

    I'm a user when it comes to plate cameras, and like to try different classic lenses, but I've kept the original ones in case I want to sell the cameras to collectors.
     
  22. JPD

    JPD Member

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    Voigtländer Skopar 4,5/13,5

    It is a Tessar type. I went through some trouble when I wanted to clean the front and second element. I had to use a friction tool to unscrew the retaining ring for the front element. I hate this kind of lens mounts. :sad:

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum44/41987-possible-clean-lens.html

    Now the Skopar is clean, but I didn't find it sharp enough for my taste (sample variation, as many Skopars are very sharp), so I replaced it with a Zeiss Tessar. I'm now thinking about replacing the oh so common Tessar with a Eurynar or Iricentor. :rolleyes:
     
  23. Perry Way

    Perry Way Member

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    I saw some photos taken with an identical camera on an eBay listing. The seller showed a whole gallery of images he took with his. What I saw was the kind of clarity in the mid tones with an ultra rich grayscale that made me want to shoot this right away. I don't know if my mind is thinking the prevailing thoughts or if I'm out on my own limb, but I have this stigma about the very old camera manufacturers that were still around until just a few years ago, and Voigtlander being the first manufacturer, it is rather nostalgic for me. So, what I'm trying to say is I'm going to leave it stock with the Skopar lens unless I can find an upgrade in the Voigtlander line.
     
  24. JPD

    JPD Member

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    That's how I feel about Rollei, since I started collecting their TLRs. I want them as original as possible, and say "no" to any pre-war Rolleiflex or Rolleicord with later added flash sync, coated lenses or with a more modern viewing hood. :smile:

    Voigtländer Plate cameras are very nice. The more expensive Bergheil cameras came with a Heliar lens with a bayonet mount, so you can change lenses easily. I'm thinking about making a couple of bayonets that I can use with the other lenses I have.
     
  25. edp

    edp Member

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    If somebody were to sell such bayonets, I'd buy them. I've got a bunch of lenses that I'd like to try, but I'm simply too lazy to make them myself.
     
  26. JPD

    JPD Member

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    Ditto. I've asked a firm that has a CNC Laser cutter, and the first bayonet cut would cost about 800 SEK (100 USD). The following ones would be much cheaper, so I would sell a couple to make it worthwile. I can't afford it in the foreseeable future though.

    A guy in Germany (I can't remember his name. :sad: ) made Bergheil bayonets that he sold on eBay a couple of years ago. They were hand made from aluminum. I bought one for my 6,5x9 Bergheil, and it works very well. But if I have new bayonets Laser cut they would be of steel or brass, and for 9x12.