Struss Pictorial Lens

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Chazzy, Jul 17, 2005.

  1. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    As someone who is interested both in Pictorialism and the silent film era, I am curious about the "Struss Pictorial Lens" invented by Karl Struss. Did any of the major lens manufacturers ever put it into production? In what sort of numbers? I don't think I have ever seen one offered for sale.
     
  2. JG Motamedi

    JG Motamedi Member

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    I have seen one or two. I think Lens and Repro had one a few years ago, perhaps still. As I recall, it was a meniscus lens, two cemented elements in one group, like the Imagon or the Kodak Portrait.

    In any case, from the Vade Mecum:

    Struss Pictorial lens f4.0
    This was a simple meniscus lens. Some information was given in Photominiature No184, and some biographical information in Modern Photo. 02/1977 p61. Struss was the camera man for "Ben Hur" in Hollywood, and developed the lens when still quite a young man. The initial design seems to have been glass. Later versions in 1922 were made of 'natural' fused quartz, and were said to work at f5.6. One barrel could take a number of lenses interchangeably, or later there were up to 4 barrels for 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.5in and elements for 5.0-21in focus. It was described as 'very soft but with firm delineation and sharpens up on closing down'. It was suggested to use 18in for 5x4in. (B.J.A. 1921, p782). ​

    I like the "Ben Hur" connection. I imagine Charlton Heston using a Struss Pictorial lens with spikes while on his chariot, or was that the other guy?

    According to the Vade Mecum, it was "sold by Fredk. W. Keasbey, Box 303, Morristown, N.J.,USA."
     
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  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    There is a portrait of Struss by Strand.
     
  4. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    I'm just guessing that he worked on the Fred Niblo _Ben Hur_ of the twenties, not the talkie of the fifties. But I don't believe he died until the seventies, so I suppose he could have worked on either, or both. I rather prefer the silent version, actually. I get tired of Heston delivering all his lines in all his movies like an oracle. :smile:

    Very interesting information about the lens. I have to get a copy of that Vade Mecum book. What is the best place to look for one?
     
  5. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Will have to investigate, but the Amon Carter Museum in Ft. Worth had his work and one of his lens, plus the notes he had written for the lens as part of an exhibit. Be a good reason to go back just to check it out. Will post what I find...maybe one day this week after work if time allows.
     
  6. JG Motamedi

    JG Motamedi Member

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    Oops, yes, you are correct of course, must have been the pre-Charlton (why does my computer keep correcting it as "charlatan"?), and undoubtedly far better version version of Ben Hur.

    The Vade Mecum is a necessity, and can be bought from http://www.mwclassic.com/ or found occasionally on ebay.
     
  7. Siskiyou

    Siskiyou Member

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    I have an "18 in. Struss Pictorial Lens #704" f5.5-22 which once belonged to my godfather, the Oregon photographer Walter Boychuk, active in the '40s-'60s.

    I would like to learn it's collector's value and perhaps correspond with interested people.

    Thanks.
     
  8. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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  9. luvcameras

    luvcameras Advertiser Advertiser

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