Yousuf Karsh.

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by Keith Tapscott., Apr 25, 2007.

  1. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    Does anyone know which Camera format and lens focal length that Karsh used for his famous portrait of Winston Churchill?
     
  2. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I believe it was 8x10, with a 14" Commercial Ektar lens.
     
  3. wilsonneal

    wilsonneal Member

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    I second that. The camera was a Calumet. Karsh evidently had them painted white as he thought that black cameras looked drab.
    Neal
     
  4. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Neal- actually, the predecessor to the Calumet C1 was produced in raw aluminum finish (magnesium?) and is more square in appearance, but uses many of the same accessories. The camera in his portrait on Wikipedia appears to be one of said early pre- C-1 Calumets. If Karsh painted them white I don't know, but every once in a while you'll find one of the pre C-1 Calumets on ebay and they are almost always in the raw metal finish.
     
  5. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    Thanks for the replies, what would be a more modern lens equivalent to the 14" Ektar?
     
  6. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Rodenstock and Schneider both make 360mm lenses. They're much bigger and much heavier than the Ektar. They also won't give the same look/feel that the Ektar does - they're super-multi-coated, and ultra-sharp. They don't have the same smooth out-of-focus areas the Ektar does either. If you want that look, then you need classic glass.
     
  7. gordrob

    gordrob Subscriber

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    Here is a link to Karsh that shows a picture of him posing with his camera.

    http://www.cbc.ca/lifeandtimes/karsh.html

    The video the link refers to shows Karsh at work trying to photograph Leonard Bernstein on location as well interviews about his life.

    Regards
    Gord
     
  8. wilsonneal

    wilsonneal Member

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    Interesting. In his autobiography, he states that he ordered several Calumets painted white and kept them in various parts of the world so that he didn't always have to schlep a kit with him. His memoir is a fun read.

     
  9. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    It's the Ektar look that lead me to a two year search of a 14" Ektar Commercial lens. I paid what it was worth as a mint lens and shutter and don't regret it in the least and I am not a rich man by any means. Sometimes you have to have the right tools for the work at hand. I am so glad that the previous owners kept it in its original wooden box, I am sure that is what contributed to its longevity. They are out there, just start looking.
     
  10. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    I think part of this is how the modern lenses (the rodenstock and schneider mentioned above) are mounted in Copal 3 shutters which have few shutter blades as opposed to the Ilex or Kodak Universal #5 shutters which the 14" Ektar is usually seen mounted. These puppies have buttery smooth circular apertures which greatly helps with the out of focus areas when shooting stopped down.
     
  11. phfitz

    phfitz Member

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    Keith<

    you can try:

    Comercial Congo 360/6.8

    it's the same coated tessar type lens in a modern shutter.

    have fun with it.
     
  12. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    It certainly seems that was so. I also asked the same question on another forum and I got this reply from Professor H. Lynn Jones formerly of Calumet.
    Cheers.

    http://www.ilfordphoto.com/photocommunity/forums/theforum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=7641
     
  13. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    I see that it stops down to f/90 and covers 10x12 format.
    Thanks for the link.
     
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    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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  16. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    I would like to thank everyone who replied to this thread.
     
  17. polaski

    polaski Member

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    OK, the camera is interesting. What is even more interesting is Karsh's story about the Churchill photo session. Churchill, being a painter and micromanager, kept telling Karsh how to make the photo. Karsh followed his instructions, until the last shot, when he stepped up to Churchill and took Churchill's cigar out of Churchill's mouth.

    The result was a great photograph of the toughest man of the 20th Century.
     
  18. Videbaek

    Videbaek Member

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    Toughest? C'moooooon. Ali would take him any day.
     
  19. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    The best equivalent to a 14" Commercial Ektar is a 14" Commercial Ektar. There are a lot of them around and at reasonable prices.
     
  20. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    Apparently Churchill's wife never liked the picture. She felt it made him look tougher and meaner than he really was.
     
  21. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    Sinar Norma 8x10.

    I have just recently bought my first 8x10 Camera, an old Sinar Norma. The lens that I have for it is a Nikon 240mm f/5.6 Nikkor-W. Perhaps at some time in the future, I will buy a lens of around 360mm/14 inches for portraiture.
    Getting similar lighting quality to Karsh`s portraits would be quite an achievement, any suggestions?
     
  22. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    What does a Kodak 14 inch commercial Ektar lens look like?
     
  23. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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  24. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    big piece of glass in a huge Ilex #5 shutter. Don't drop one on your foot- your foot will not soon forgive you. But your film will love you for it if you use one. Beautiful image rendering, lovely smooth tones and easy gradation from sharp to out of focus.
     
  25. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    Thanks for the link and information, which Sinar lensboard would I need to buy for one of these lenses?
     
  26. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    You'll have to get a blank lensboard and have it custom drilled to an Ilex #5 size hole. It is significantly larger than a Copal #3 shutter.