vintage lenses: collectors or users?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by darinwc, Jan 25, 2011.

  1. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    I am amazed at the prices of vintage lenses these days. So I have to ask ..

    Are the people buying these lenses users or collectors?
     
  2. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Well.. hoarders call it "collecting", impulsive spenders call it "using".
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Well the problem is the digital fraternity have discovered them as well so that fuels prices further.

    Surprisingly they are about at reasonable prices usually with a camera.

    Ian
     
  4. Barry S

    Barry S Subscriber

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    I think there are a lot of hybrid collector/users out there. I generally think of myself as a user because I use my lenses and I'm not so concerned about museum-grade condition, but I've got more lenses than I use on a regular basis. The same is probably true of a lot of people buying vintage lenses. Shooting wet plate has been my downfall, since I don't like the look of modern lenses with the process. Factor in the lenses needed to shoot different size plates and things start to multiply.
     
  5. Moopheus

    Moopheus Member

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    Yes and no.
     
  6. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    i hope the prices keep going up ...

    pretty soon i am going to sell off everything i have
    along with a few hundred sheets of azo .
    its better than the lottary or the stark market.
     
  7. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes.

    I blame the collectors for driving up the prices to where I have to use my collection to earn money for more lenses...
     
  8. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Yep. Users selling of their "hmmm-i'll-get-me-another-nicer-one"-superfluous lenses for high prices to fund that "another-nicer-one", plus some more.
     
  9. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Darin, define your terms. I ask because I have no clue what you mean by vintage lens. Name names.

    My best guess is ancient non-anastigmats. This may be too broad 'cos there doesn't seem to be much demand for rapid rectilinears/aplanats. Among early anastigmats, only Planars seem to command silly money.

    Name names. There are certainly cult lenses but I have no idea what the cultists do with them. Pray to them, perhaps, burn incense in front of them, incorporate them in shrines to their household spirits, ...

    I have and have sold a couple of cult lenses, but they're all post-WW-II. Postings on the Hong Kong Old Lens Club site ( http://translate.google.com/transla...h?q=%22old+lens+club%22&hl=en&lr=&prmd=ivnsfd ) give the impression that those characters use their cult lenses.

    John, if you want to take advantage of Petzval mania, sell soon. There's no telling how long it will last.
     
  10. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    I guess I should have qualified my question a little better.

    I am mainly looking at the +- 1900's vintage brass large format lenses.
    I think a Dallmeyer 3b just sold for $1600 on ebay.

    Perhaps that was a rare lens but petzvals and similar lenses seem to gain a premium.
    I know that swirly bokeh type prints are increasing in popularity but at the prices these go for I cant help but think that people are snatching them up for collections.

    I mean if you buy a soft focus lens to use, how many do you need? Theres only so many uses for these.
     
  11. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Thanks for the clarification. Never touch that stuff m'self.

    What was the 3b's focal length? I ask because there's not really that much around that will cover larger formats. On the other hand, 130477113984 closed today for $408. Two Apo-Ronars on a process camera board, 890/14 CL and 485/9. The 890 covers 30" x 40".
     
  12. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Most of my stuff is becoming vintage, not just lenses!

    Jeff
     
  13. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    I think it boils down to swirly envy. A bloke has a swirly lens but thinks that lens might be swirly-er, so he buys it. Then another. Then another. It's an addiction sort of like those pretzels with the peanut butter inside.
     
  14. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    Swirly envy, eh? Maybe they are compensating for something?
     
  15. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    My stuff, hell.

    I'm becoming vintage.

    Unlike the old commercial, I'm getting older, not better.
     
  16. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    I see prices going up here in Japan, too. Unfortunately non-film users are buying lots of lenses- specifically I've seen plenty of fantastic Contax and M42 lenses going to waste on little plastic non-film cameras.

    Call me a fence-builder/snob/whatever, but I think they should stick to their crummy plastic kit lenses.

    The current "trend" here is moving away from long-focus to wide angle. 90mm lenses aren't moving much, and 135mm can't be given away. More for me :D
     
  17. vet173

    vet173 Member

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    As you might consider a particular filter for a certain look , I can also add to the mix a specific lens flavor, or personality if you will. Some very distinctive visual differences can be had. To answer the question, I have 6, I NEED more.
    John
     
  18. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

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    If you want some lens for your collection, than a Dallmeyer might be the thing...

    BUT if you want swirley backgrounds, then look for unnamed Petzvals - some are really cheap.. and swirl like hell....

    I have too many lenses - I buy them because I want to use them, but....

    always just one more I want..
     
  19. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    I just bought an antique lens, so I'll offer some thoughts. I'm not a collector. I just like finely made old things, and especially like the mystery of using something very old. Last summer I started using a c.1959 Kodak Brownie Hawkeye. I liked it! I then bought a c.1937 Voigtlander Bessa, nearly mint condition. I still shoot about one 120 roll per week. I then bought a c.1914 Kodak Special No. 1 and had it fully restored. I will use it when it gets warmer outside (synthetic shutter could shatter in the below zero cold here now.) SO, last week I bought something even older, a c. 1870s Derogy 5.5" Petzval lens. I love its beautiful brass. I love the flowing engraved scripts. I love the sense of grace it gives my Shen Hao 4x5 field camera! I am not a collector, but really appreciate finely made cameras. More than that, I am entranced by the connection they give me to photographers of the distant past. The Derogy has no shutter of course, but I shoot at night a lot anyway. For the record, I have virtually NO interest in what I call the "second wave" of lens technology, that which came after about 1885. I have no interest in buying a lens from 1900. A 1930 Voigtlander Bergheil in dark green, maybe. I paid $650 for the Derogy from a collector. He seems to buy & sell all the time. I had bid on an 1842 Ross Petzval in December, but dropped off at $1,600. I really wish I had taken it to $2,000. For me, the history and connection to the past are very important. I might yet sell the Derogy for something significantly older, but until then I really am in love with it!

    New NIkon lenses are costing over $2,000 now. To me it seems that $650 for something so historic, so beautiful, is almost obscenely low. The lens would have cost a small fortune in 1872! For me, the lens not only can make art: it is itself art!

    Kent in SD
     

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  20. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

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    hi Kent.

    While I understand all your comments, it sounds like you're "just" entering, what could be a fun/interesting but also time consuming and costly journey....:whistling:

    You sound a little like me... a couple of years ago..

    I also love the craftmanship - the beauty and the connetcion to a past ara..
    In lenses and in cameras too..

    What you see in your Derogy, I saw in my first Gandolfi camera.
    I truely also love the old lenses.
    But as a user of the lenses, I quickly realized that one thing is the beauty of the lens - a second (and more important for me) quality makes a difference.
    the character/quality of the images you can get from the lenses..

    As much as I love the same lenses as you, I also love the "second wave" as you call it.
    Firstly because some of those are as beautiful as the older ones, but more important: if you stay pre 1885, you're somewhat limited in the choises of different image quality (?)

    I have not much interest in lenses that makes tack sharp images (I have what I need, I think).
    But the softer lenses are my weakness!
    And there's a LOT of fantastic lenses made from 1885 and foreward.. (WWII approx).

    so I started like you - then the sickness hit me (GAS), and now I am lost in the world of beauty! exteriour as well as interiour...

    And there's always just one more, I need to have and try...:blink:

    Let's talk in a couple of years! That could be interesting.

    (BTW: you camera set up looks beautiful!)
     

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  21. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Perhaps not the guys selling all those lenses.
    First, because collectors collect, and not distribute.
    Second because all those lenses were bought in the first place for the mounting rings they camwe with. The mounting ring secured, the superfluous lens will be sold again.
    :wink:
     
  22. eddie gunks

    eddie gunks Member

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    you must have missed the 3b and the 3d that went for over $3000!

    look at it this way. if you wanted a new top of the line DLRS and a 400mmf4 or 600mm f4 lens you will be in for like $10,000 or so. AND you can buy as many as you want all day long......so a couple of grand for a "rare" (relative) lens is not so bad.

    collectors by mint stuff for the most part. so the 3b that sold for 3000$ that did not even have the flange or waterhouse stops was probably NOT bought by a collector
     
  23. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Eddie,

    I don't know many serious collectors of photographica. The one I knew best was the late Charlie Barringer, co-author of the Zeiss-Ikon Compendium and one of the founders of Zeiss Historica.

    I've seen many of his treasures, some of which were decidedly shabby. For example, an 80" Zoomar mirror lens with what looks like a bullet hole in the front mirror. For another example, a small pile of S-Planars and S-Ortho-Planars, all with badly scratched glass, dents, ...

    I asked him why he settled for junk like that. He replied to the effect that they were plenty good enough for him and that because of condition their prices had been very right.

    Also, there are still machine shops that will make flanges.