View Full Version : Supplication from Ultra-Untutored Newbie with E. Suter Basle Aplanat B No 6 16x13

02-24-2012, 09:22 PM

"Newbie" would be a far too generous term for me to use to describe myself; I had thought that with a dozen years of 35mm and a couple years of fooling around with a Bronica SqAi, I could say I knew something about photography, but if I've learned anything, it's that I know virtually nothing. I'm new to the site, and while I do have waiting for me at home --I'm abroad for the time being-- a Crown Graphic and a Graphic View II, I haven't yet had a chance to shoot so much as a single frame with either of them. You might think that with this apologia I've cleared the way for my questions, but wait till you get a laugh out of this...

I got hold of a E. Suter Basle Aplanat B No 6 16x13. I made myself vulnerable to this by drooling over pictures of big fat lenses removed from military aerial cameras; this Aplanat B is gorgeous --and I haven't the least notion of what it is, other than a). beautiful b). clean as a whistle; furthermore, the guy who pulled it out of an old wooden 8x10 knows as much about it as I do, i.e., zip.

I've scoured the internet for mention of this lens and have come up with next to nothing --this thread here is about the only thing I found.

Alright, so here's the punch line: shameless naif that I am, I have this horrible need to ask whether there would be any way this thing could be deployed in the 4x5 Graphic View. I realize that by now everybody is roaring, but I had to ask. I'm such a boot that I don't quite know the significance of its huge focal length --if I remember correctly, one mention reported it as between 450mm and 600/650mm (yes, I'll be researching this matter a.s.a.p.). If the full coverage (if my understanding of the terminology is accurate [and it may not be]) is something like 11 inches by 14 inches, does this mean I will of necessity have to build a camera to those dimensions, or can I simply utilize a narrower field?

As you can see, I am soaking wet behind the ears. Any idea what sort of camera I could use this with? What shutter could be fitted to it? Any idea what resource I could use to pick my way through this minefield?

By the way, I'll be visiting every analog photography forum I can find --maybe the church bulletin board too-- and posting this verbatim, so apologies in advance for being both pesky and repetitious.



02-24-2012, 10:02 PM
Hello Joe and welcome to APUG. The View II is a great camera, espescialy if it has the Grafloc back on it. Anyway, any lens that you could mount and focus can be used. For time exposure with slow film, you could just uncap and cap the lens for exposures. Regarding the lens you have, try focusing it like if you were to use a magnifing glass to start a fire. You could measure the distance of the glass to the image when focusing on the sun and would know the bellows draw needed to focus at infinity.

You could also check it indoors by focusing an image of say a lamp at one end of the room onto a wall and see how far away the film would have to be.

It may be to large for the format but that is just a wild guess. Good Luck.

02-24-2012, 11:36 PM
Welcome Home Joe !


02-25-2012, 12:13 AM

You can always use a larger format lens for a smaller format, but I fear the bellows length you would need for this particular lens. You'll have to figure that out, as mentioned above, and give it a go. For 4x5, 360mm is already quite long; I was using a 360 lens with a tele design and that was still pushing the limits of my crown graphic... if I remember correctly, the bellows had to be fully extended.

02-25-2012, 02:20 AM
Did you see this thread: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?18713-Suter-Aplanat-A-No-3

Based on that it is probably a 480mm. You could focus that with the Graphic View.

If you have not used a view camera before, I'd recommend starting with a lens that has a shutter and known aperture scale.

Len Middleton
02-25-2012, 09:13 AM

Think of the light coming from the lens as a cone. When you focus at infinity the cone is at its shortest length, and the diameter of image it provides is its smallest. As mentioned above, it you can fit it on the camera (lensboard large enough) and focus it (long enough bellows draw) you can use a lens with more coverage than the format needs when the camera is "squared up".

It is much easier to get a bigger (longer focal length lens) to cover a given format than a shorter lens. You will generally find wide angle lenses more expensive, or not as good image quality for the same money as a longer one that covers the format.

As we focus closer, we need more bellows, but also the cone gets bigger and can cover more area. This is why one can use a small enlarger lens for macro work, even it it will not cover the format at infinity. Or sometimes use lenses not able to cover the format at infinity, when photographing at portrait distances.

The excess coverage (more than required for a squared up camera) is used when we want to change the composition or the plane of focus.

Ideally we take our image out of he centre of the lens, as that would be the best image quality, but that is not a requirement. We can chose to take the image (i.e. place the film) anwhere in the area the cone presents an image (rise or shift). That is essentially what is done when the image is shifted. Think of photographing the top of a tall building without getting keystoning, or getting a photograph straight on a mirror without being in the picture.

To focus closer we move the lens away from the film. By changing the angle of lens axis or film plane (tilt or swing), we can focus both close and far at the same time, on another plane.

And that is why you will find so many ways of adjusting your Graphic View monorail...

That should provide you something to think about until you get your hands on your camera again.



02-25-2012, 09:43 AM
There is one concern when you use a small portion of the image circle- stray light. The dimpled bellows eliminate most of that issue, but... just something to keep in mind if you notice that there is overall lack of contrast or fog patterns.

Mark Fisher
02-25-2012, 11:22 AM
If the graphic view doesn't have enough bellows length, you could build an extension on the front of the lensboard. That wouldn't be too hard.

02-25-2012, 12:05 PM

You got a nice lens, there. I suspect yours is a bit younger than mine - S/N 5844. Does yours have an iris? Mine uses waterhouse stops.

It's interesting that yours is marked 16x13. I would have to guess that those dimensions are inches, as cm would make no sense. Ny Suter, however, vignettes slightly on a 12x20.

Mark's got a good suggestion about building an extension, if you don't have enough bellows. Be careful about hanging too much weight off the front standard, though. You might want to consider a separate support for the lens. I use a monopod sometimes.

When you really get nuts about old lenses, you'll wind up doing things like I've done - the aluminum pieces in the photo allow the lens cells to be mounted into a semi-modern shutter (Ilex 5). The knurled brass piece on the front allows 77mm filters to be used, as well as a new rubber lens shade.

You know about GAS, don't you :p


Len Middleton
02-25-2012, 12:29 PM
I got hold of a E. Suter Basle Aplanat B No 6 16x13. I made myself vulnerable to this by drooling over pictures of big fat lenses removed from military aerial cameras; this Aplanat B is gorgeous --and I haven't the least notion of what it is, other than a). beautiful b). clean as a whistle; furthermore, the guy who pulled it out of an old wooden 8x10 knows as much about it as I do, i.e., zip.


I hope that one of you had the foresight to get the lensboard and flange for the lens, or at least the flange...

Unless of course you can turn flanges yourself on a lathe, then you will have a lot of large format friends...

If you did not get the lens flange, get back to the seller (if you can), as it is important piece for mounting the lens (rather than being part of the camera).

Hopefully my advise is not required,


03-03-2012, 09:16 AM
Oh my... Looks like you've already started getting into 8x10 before you crack off a single sheet of 4x5...

Welcome to APUG ;)

Jim Fitzgerald
03-04-2012, 05:13 PM
I have the same lens S/N 3052 and it uses waterhouse stops. The glass is great and I use mine on my largest camera which is my 14x17. Not much room for movements and it covers. I believe it is a 20 inch 508mm lens. Great glass don't ever sell it. I have not used mine enough and will do some portraits and landscape with it soon. It is like a wide angle on my 14x17!