Photagraphy's first lens, the Wollaston Meniscus

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Reinhold, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. Reinhold

    Reinhold Subscriber

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    Since I started playing with meniscus lenses a while ago, I've learned that they were the first true lenses designed for photography. Back in 1812, a chap named William Wollaston layed the groundwork for the glass we use today.

    It's a super simple design and gives a fascinating peek back to the early days of putting an image onto a piece of paper. Here are two examples taken with my 5x7 Deardorff using my 250 mm lens, One was wide open at f:5.6, and the other was stopped down to f:16. Both are appealing examples of photography over 100 years ago.

    Here's the lens that I used:
    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum379/93998-250-mm-f-4-3-wollaston-meniscus-lens.html

    Reinhold
    www.classicBWphoto.com
     

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  2. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Very interesting indeed.

    This raises an interesting question... what types of lenses were used on camera obscuras back in 17th-18th century?
     
  3. F/1.4

    F/1.4 Member

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    Wow! What would be really interesting is to see:

    a pinhole
    This lens wide open, stopped down
    A modern 250(ish)mm wide open, stopped down
     
  4. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    I can't give you a source at the moment since my books are packed away for our upcoming move. But there were compound lenses used in the camera obscura. There were even designs to rectify the inverted image without the use of mirrors. One book that comes to mind was a book about Ver Meer's use of the camera obscura. It may have been called Ver Meer's Camera.
     
  5. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Very nice info! Would a subject, at say 10 feet from the lens, be sharp if shot wide open or would it look like that sample (ie dreamy and soft)? I love both those photos!! Thanks for the share!
     
  6. Reinhold

    Reinhold Subscriber

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    I don't have an example of wide-open portraits with these lenses that I can post. Typically I've used f:8, mostly because my subjects prefer some (relative) sharpness in their portraits.

    Here are some examples shot at f:8 ...

    Reinhold

    www.classicBWphoto.com
     

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  7. zsas

    zsas Member

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    These are glorious portraits! The one of Larry is my fav of the set! Great info and photos!
     
  8. Neanderman

    Neanderman Member

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    It appears you are using a forward mount? Have you played with turning the lens around and using it behind the aperture? That became the favored way to mount simple, meniscus elements.

    Ed
     
  9. Reinhold

    Reinhold Subscriber

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    I am using the classic Wollaston design. The meniscus lens is placed behind the aperture stop cards, with the concave face of the lens facing the subject. The location of slot for the stops is 10~15% of the focal length in front of the lens.

    Here's how Wiki shows it...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camera_lens#The_earliest_photographic_camera_lenses

    The lens barrel is quite deep, so there's a very effictive lens hood inherent in the design.

    Reinhold
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    thanks for the link !
    and it is great to see another person using
    these old designs :smile:

    john
     
  11. Neanderman

    Neanderman Member

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    Ah. That wasn't apparent from the pictures (on your other posting about this). :smile:

    Ed
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 21, 2011