Oldies: Nice to know, need to know and how/where to find out

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Soeren, Feb 17, 2008.

  1. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    Hi guys/gals
    Just saw some nice old plate cameras and some interesting ol brass lenses and started wondering if I should buy some. I just don't want to waste my money without knowing on what so I'd like to do some research. Somewhere here on APUG some of you have mentioned a book called something like "........ vademecum"??? a book about lenses i think? Where do I get it and where to get something similar about cameras.
    Are there any articles on the subject "using wintage plate cameras" and the like?
    How about filmholders for those?
    Anything I should be aware of?
    Regarding old lenses: Which would be good starters for portraits, close ups and stills?
    Kind regards
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    If you search googles archives of usenet articles you'll find plenty of info on old lenses. Some of it conflicting -) The fairly common stuff will be well argued about.
     
  3. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    "The Lens Collector's Vade Mecum" is a CD that's sold on the net. It's probably the best resource available, but falls sadly flat on anything not sold in the UK. So the information on German lenses is frequently erroneous if not completely missing, and French optics are even worse.

    I happen to like the classical German "Reisekameras", rigid-front rear-focussing plate cameras. Be aware that there are two basic types of these: The "simpler" type has coarse focus by inserting the back in "keyhole" slots in the baseboard, and tend to become a bit wobbly after a century or so. The "better" type have a continuous focus track as well as extra extension.

    Never buy a plate camera without plate holders. Film adapters for plate holders are standard, and relatively easy to find. Plate holders are not standardised, and finding a plate holder to fit an existing camera is almost impossible.

    Good lens makers from "the Brass age" include Busch, Suter, Voigtländer and several others - but you won't go wrong with an Aplanat made by one of these. Good Aplanats are good. There are "fast" f:4 portrait Aplanats, "normal" f:7-f:8 Aplanats, and f:16'ish wide angle Aplanats.

    I can't think of any articles about using old plate cameras. Maybe I should write one...
     
  4. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

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    Ole's point of NOT to buy if there is no plates is proberly the very best advise.
    Like finding a needle in a haystack... They look right, but almost never fit.

    that said, I have actually had the luck to find the right cassettes to one of my old mahogany beauties (ebay) (asked the seller to mesure the excact size - and it fit!)

    then there is another thing: you live in Denmark. We have a museum of Photography placed in Herning.
    Bjarne Meldgaard (the leader of this museum) has kindly allowed me to come from time to time, to look through the "millions" of odd stuff (read cassettes) they have in their cellar...

    (he calls me a friend of the house..:rolleyes:smile:

    the Vademecum is (as I know it) a download from the net - not a book.

    on Oles suggestion, I have also bought Hartmut Thiele's book "Deutche Photooptik from A-Z". a real german book with serial numbers and their references to age and so on. (nothing on value of the lenses, but IF you buy something outside EU that is more than 100 years old, you have no customs to pay - only 5% "brugtmoms" - and then a book like this is really good to have!!)

    last suggestion: write me. I maybe able to help you (as I have helped KajF). (and I have the vademecum as well as the other book mentioned)

    WARNING though! : be careful! this is a world of addiction you're getting into!
     
  5. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I have done that too - I had two holders and managed to find three more thanks to a very helpful ebay seller. But I would never bet on finding holders to fit a camera!


    Here's a typical "good" 13x18cm Reisekamera. Note the continuous focus track. The iris mount is the reason I bought it, but when I had received it I decided it was to good to butcher. So I got another iris for the other camera...
     

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  6. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

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    Yes - gotta love those irises!
    have one too, but they are SO expensive on Ebay......:sad:
     
  7. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    This is a link to the one I bought. English only, I think. And while Ole is undoubtedly right about its shortcomings, I think it's a worthwhile purchase.
     
  8. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    That's the one. Get it - it's the best there is.

    Then we'll hash out its shortcomings and inconsistencies in the open forums. :smile:

    No, I'm really serious: There is no better reference work available. There is no subtitute, and in about 90% of the cases it's really useful. The last 10% are why some of us have a bookshelf full of old, musty books printed in Fraktur...
     
  9. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    Thanks guys. I found the "... Vade mecum". Its a download only for non US residents but thats ok.
    The"Deutche photooptik..." is a bit harder. There is one on Ebay at the moment listed a "buy it now" price but it seem a bit high.
    How about old Voigtländers and Zeiss Ikon plate cameras? Other brands that are good users besides looking good :smile:
    Kind regards
     
  10. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Søren, I'm with Ole. The VM is a very useful guide to lenses. It stands out from books on "optics for photographers" with lists of lenses appended because it reports on how well many of the lenses mentioned shoot. The optics books with lists of lenses appended are useful, sometimes, for finding a lens' design. Unfortunately design isn't always a good guide to how a lens shoots.

    But, as Ole pointed out, the VM is incomplete and sometimes incorrect. I'm not sure just what Ole's practice is, but given the small mountain of lenses he's accumulated it might be close to mine. When I see a lens on offer and want to know what it can do and the VM says nothing useful about it, if the price is low enough I just buy the thing and try it out.

    My rule: if a lens appeals and the price is low enough, buy it. I've got some clinkers, but also some very pleasant surprises.

    Note that the VM is about lenses, not about cameras. I've bought old (and some not so old) cameras for the lenses attached to them, sometimes for the shutter the lens was in. Kodak folders and aerial cameras, mainly. Remember that the camera is just a light tight (you hope) box that holds lens and film. There's not reason to use an old camera if you have a modern one that will accept the old camera's lens.

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
  11. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

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    you can always buy the Mckeown guide to old cameras...

    something like this:http://cgi.ebay.com/McKeowns-Camera...goryZ712QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    the newer, the more updated pricesettings, but older are good to see what is in play...(good for tax/no tax)