This Ilex Oscillo-Paragon 56mm f/1.9 I have....

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by aterimagery, Jul 12, 2012.

  1. aterimagery

    aterimagery Member

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    I bought this old oscilloscope camera cheap off of eBay mostly so I could get the polaroid back off the thing to use for pinhole cameras, but I figured I'd tinker around with the actual camera to see if I could come up with any good use for it.

    I don't think I really have much use for the camera as-is, and I don't want to bother trying to modify it or anything, but I noticed that I should be able to take the lens and shutter out and use them on something else like perhaps a view camera or at least sell them and perhaps recoup the cost of the whole thing.

    After unscrewing the lens it seems that it's an Ilex Oscillo-Paragon 56mm f/1.9. From what I understand these oscilloscope lenses are not exactly THE most awesome lenses, but my LF-nut photo instructor was impressed with the f/1.9 so I figured that I'd put a little more research into it to decide if it was worth keeping the lens and shutter for use with whatever large format camera I end up buying. (I'll probably get one in the next 6 months for sure, likely in the next 3 months.) The shutter is an electronic shutter which should also be an Ilex though I haven't bothered to remove it yet.

    Is there anything interesting I can do with such a lens/shutter that I can't do with a more general use view camera lens? Like for example, even if it's not that great in general, can it do anything like close up shots without lots of bellows extension or is f/1.9 a huge speed improvement over most LF lenses, even if the optical quality isn't so great?
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I have a 90mm f1.9 Dallmeyey oscilloscope lens it'll just cover 645 at Infinity, it's designed for cose-up work but sharpness/definition isn't critical particularly at the corners.

    I use mine as a loupe, and the shutter a Prontor Press has been swapped for something more useful.

    It's worth trying for some extreme experimental close ups, don't expect too much but it might be interesting.

    Ian
     
  3. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    I have heard that the problems with oscilloscope lenses stem from the fact that they were designed to take pictures of a curved ground–the old CRT screen–at very close distances. I know that the 75mm one I had was not much use as a whole lens. It proved separable, however, and the front and back element gave me very nice images on 4x5.
     
  4. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Oscilloscope CRTs haven't had curved faces since about 1930. Later ones are all flat.

    The o'scope lens would be only slightly better than a dime store magnifying glass.
    They're "optimized" (if I can use that term very loosely) for 1:1 ratio, so if focused
    at infinity the image circle will only be about 2" (half the CRT display width).

    I wouldn't waste much time with it.

    - Leigh
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 12, 2012
  5. SMBooth

    SMBooth Member

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    I found the best use for it was the shutter in a pinhole camera.
     
  6. cyberjunkie

    cyberjunkie Member

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    Lately i have seen fast oscilloscope lenses being sold for good money on Ebay.
    Probably somebody got impressed by the fast speed :smile:
    Most of these lenses are not impressive at close range (intended use was 1:2 to 1:1), and quite miserable for general photography.
    Coverage is very small, don't be fooled by the use of leaf shutters.
    Some Dallmeyer lenses are in a class apart, but i can't understand their practical use (despite the considerable price they fecth most of the times).
    I own one, a Shackman-branded Dallmeyer on Copal No.1 (possibly a Rareac), which i bought very cheap, to reuse the good shutter.
    It is a 51mm f/1.9. Can somebody explain me why they are bought for such silly prices?
    I am very curious because i can't imagine any present day use for them...
    In the past i purchased a few "oscillo" lenses, either alone or with the camera, to use the Alphax No.3 shutter and set aside a couple of Polaroid backs for possible future use (which didn't materialize).
    Now i've given up searching for them, as the price are getting too high for my taste.
    Anybody looking for an "american size" shutter (either No.2 or No.3) should be aware that electronic version needs the "command box" to be operational, and that their use outside the studio is almost impossible (if you don't carry around a generator!).
    The command boxes aren't exactly easy to find, and 99% of the shutters on sale don't come with one. Nevertheless, there are a few of them on sale on the Bay, right now. Not very cheap, but if i had an Ilex Electronic i'd buy one!
    Another warning. Some of the Alphax don't accept a standard cable release: they have a sort of pushbutton, which is screwed on top of the same place, where (in other Alphax made for camera use) there is the standard conical thread for the cable. I had to remove the pushbutton and have the shutter re-threaded for standard cable.
    I had to learn all these informations the hard way, by buying and then finding what's wrong.
    I am happy to share them now, so that you can check in advance.
    Whatever... the shutters that used to belong to an oscilloscope camera saved three of my lenses from oblivion.
    I am happy to use a big old Petzval with an external shutter, but i'm not so keen on using 8x10" wide-angles without a proper between-the-lens shutter.
    Now i have three wides, scaled from 159mm to 210mm, which are a real treat. The total cost i sustained was much lower than buying them in shutter.

    have fun

    CJ
     
  7. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    CJ,

    Silly people, silly prices. More seriously, cultists, primarily in the far east. Visit www.oldlensclub.hk, and you'll probably have to use Google Translate.

    Control boxes for Ilex and Melles-Griot (successor to Ilex) "electronic" shutters can be powered from a small 12v battery pack and an equally small inverter. If you want to make your own controller, see http://www.chemie.unibas.ch/~holder/shutter/index.html

    No relevant to the OP, but I have a 'scope camera in the closet with an integral controller for a #3 Ilex electronic shutter (yes, I have the shutter too) with marked (click-stopped, in fact) shutter speeds from 4 seconds to 1/125 in one stop steps. 1/125 is incredibly fast for a #3 Ilex electronic. I bought it with the idea of pulling the circuit board and making a portable ... Easier said than done, metal has to be cut. The shutter runs quite slow at all speeds.

    'scope camera mechanical shutters (Ilex, Alphax) for 75/1.9 lenses have restricted apertures, don't open as wide as the same shutters sold for use on LF cameras. Still useful for front-mounting lenses, but the diaphragm has to be removed. My 60/14 Perigraphe is stuffed into the front of one.

    If you're interested in my view of shutters rescued from 'scope cameras, it is here: http://www.galerie-photo.com/telechargement/dan-fromm-6x9-lenses-v2-2011-03-29.pdf

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
  8. aterimagery

    aterimagery Member

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    I have the whole Tektronix C-53 camera (currently only using the oscilloscope back) so I essentially have the shutter and control board, it would just be a matter of cutting the thing up. I already figured out the input voltage on the power input pin (15V) and have an old 16V power brick from a broken HP printer, so I can and have operated the shutter.

    SMBooth: I like the pinhole shutter idea. I just bet that it will burn battery power while it's left open but it sounds like if I can get the control board to do what I want it might be great for <15sec exposures. Then again I have an old Polaroid with an "automatic" semi-electronic shutter and it would probably be easier to just use that since it runs off of 3v and I can control the speed of it by replacing the CdS cell with a potentiometer (theoretically anyway.... I haven't actually done it yet.)
     
  9. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Be a lot simpler and more reliable to use a lens cap. Or a bit of black tape.
     
  10. cyberjunkie

    cyberjunkie Member

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    Hi Dan,
    your articles about 6x9 lenses and Apo-Nikkors have been religiously saved on my HD, together with your collaboration with E. Bertrando about Boyer lenses.
    All of them are very informative, anybody interested in those matters should read them.
    There is one small problem though... i guess that the availability of information, and the well deserved consideration for some Boyer lenses, helped a little bit in driving up the prices :smile:

    Back to the thread:
    i guess i have been lucky, all the Alphax No.3 i found have properly dimensioned diaphragms.
    Some Polaroid shutters have that problem, both Prontors and Copals. I think that all the 75mm focals are affected, and some 105mm ones. 127mm's are a safe bet.
    Unfortunately there is practically no use for a No.1 shutter with restricted diaphragm. The only lens i am aware of is the Kowa Graphic 150mm f/9.
    For front-mounting, a better choice ( as explained in the document linked by Dan Fromm) are the Polaroid MP-4 shutters with no diaphragm.

    have fun

    CJ


    Sent from my Android tablet
     
  11. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Thanks for the kind words. What's really funny about the Boyer bubble is that their 6/4 double Gauss lenses aren't that good. Neither Beryls, which are quite good as dagors go, nor Apo-Saphirs, which are very good, bring silly money. I'm also amazed by how much hopeful eBay sellers ask for Saphir B enlarging lenses. Saphir Bs just aren't competitive with more modern plasmat type enlarging lenses.

    Back on topic, sort of: lucky you, with your usable Alphaxes! I have an Alphax #3 that holds a 75/1.9 Oscillo-Raptar whose rear cell I can't get out of the shutter. Its diaphragm opens to ~ 25 mm, and that's all.

    Cheers,

    Dan