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  1. #1
    Whiteymorange's Avatar
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    3A with a Tessar/Koilos?

    A parent at the school where I teach just ran into this camera and bought it for my "good old stuff" cabinet in the art/photo studio. It's a Kodak 3A Folding Pocket Camera, Model B-4. So far, so good. It has a regular back, a combination back, ground glass insert, two double plate holders and... and here's the part that seems weird... a 4x5 B&L Zeiss Tessar f6.3 series IIb lens, in a Koilos shutter ("Made in Germany" stamped in the aperture plate.) Above the lens, "B.& J." is stamped into the aluminum face of the shutter and that face is also decorated with what some have called Deco but I see as more late Art Nouveau patterns.

    Interesting gear in remarkably good, unrestored (read-somewhat dirty) condition. I have a few questions of the initiated, if anyone wants to step up and admit to being so. The format was 3 1/4 by 5 1/4. Can I fit 4x5 film septums in there? Has this lens got any history? I have a few tessars and like them, (most of my camera gear has come through the kindness of strangers and is ancient and honorable) but was the B&L connection a positive one in the Zeiss line?

    Sorry to be so ignorant, but I've found that Apug has invalidated all that have tried to teach for years about looking things up yourself instead of just asking others. I get so many fascinating bits of stuff when I ask anything here that I'm addicted to throwing out questions--- sort of like trolling. I've done the usual google or two but it seems an odd combination of lens, shutter and camera. Most are the Rapid Rectilinear type and I can't find too many Koilos shutters on Kodaks.

    Any info? Thanks in advance for any attention at all.

  2. #2

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    4x5 into 3 1/4 x 5 1/4 (don't you mean 3.5 x 5.5?) doesn't go.

    B&L made Tessars under license from Zeiss up to around the time that the US entered WWI. After that, B&L made the same Tessars but with no reference to Zeiss. Two versions in many focal lengths: Ic, f/4.5; IIb, f/6.3. f/6.3 tessars are supposed to be better than faster ones. More coverage, sharper. FWIW, I have a couple of B&L IIbs and have taken a few shots with them. IMO there are better lenses, but they're very usable.

    Not sure about the Koilos shutter. Are you sure that's what it is? And are you sure it is engraved B&J, not B&L? If B&J, the thing smells of a replacement by the dread Burke & James.

    Nice windfall,

    Dan

  3. #3
    athanasius80's Avatar
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    I agree with Dan, nice windfall indeed.

    First off, you have a "postcard" format camera designed for 122 film. You could make a regulation postcard from a contact print. The format isn't quite 4x5. I'd either cut down The B4 model is approximately 1908-1909 according to the Mangum Kodak site.

    Koilos is indeed a shutter. It was first made by Gauthier (Paris and Germany) in 1904 and from 1906 on had an air piston mounted like a Compound. Sears, Roebuck offered the Koilos as a deluxe shutter until about 1910-1911 when the Wollensak Optimo took its place. I've never seen a Koilos shutter on a folding Kodak, but that doesn't mean it wasn't available. The Bausch & Lomb Tessar was a Kodak factory option. B&L seemed to have usually used Volute or Compound shutters, maybe the Koilos was a retrofit or a customer request. Either way, Cool!

  4. #4
    Whiteymorange's Avatar
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    As usual, a wonderful set of responses. Thanks! I think we each got the size wrong, though, Dan. It seems to be 3.25x5.5, according to http://www.vintagephoto.tv/3afpk.shtml
    and the Koilos is really marked B&J. I'll post some pics of it asap. The idea of a retrofit by Burke and James is a fascinating one. Did they do that or would it be an end-user creation, I wonder? I plan on using it with sheet film somehow... maybe 9x12? I'll fiddle until I find a way. 120 presents possibilities as well, there are lots of posts about adapting for modern roll film. The lens quality isn't great? Ah well, it wasn't considered the best lens in the stable even then, I guess, but it will be interesting.

    As to the quality of the windfall: Wow! I stand humbled by the amount of good luck and good will that has come my way lately in terms of cameras and gear. In the past 2 years I have been gifted with more than I can list, including some wonderfully preserved folders and oldies, like a No5 Cartridge camera and an identical twin to the Folmer and Schwing that Jim Galli is selling right now (good deal on a wonderfully usable camera, by the way.) I've got a pile of great old 35's and MF's, I've got old lenses I can't get time to try and I've got newer cameras like the Cambo 4x5 with a Schneider 210 that Bill Hahn has just donated to my school. (Thanks, Bill!) I have great hopes of taking at least one image with each camera and each lens and displaying them in the glass cases at school. I then get the kids to use them as well - good antidote for "digital fever."

    The old saying that there is a fine line between a hobby and mental ilness is becoming more understandable every day, but hey... what a way to go crazy.

    Thanks again.
    Whitey

  5. #5
    Mongo's Avatar
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    As an aside: The lens on your 3A should cover 4x5 just fine. Remember that the 3A had front rise and fall, so the image circle is even larger than needed to cover the 3.25 x 5.5 frame. I've taken a couple of lenses from 3A's and used them on 4x5. One's a very nice B&L Rapid Rectilinear...with proper shading it's a very nice lens for general use. Movements are limited, but the images are fine. I've been very pleased. And where else could I have gotten a B&L RR in a functioning shutter for $12?
    Film is cheap. Opportunities are priceless.

  6. #6
    Bob F.'s Avatar
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    An end-user refit of the lens is a possibility - I have heard of people replacing the original lens with ones from a Speed etc. I went the other way and took the lens off my 3A (Kodak Anastigmat in an Ilex shutter) and mounted on a panel for my 4x5.... Disappointingly sharp when stopped down!

    Cheers, Bob.

  7. #7
    Mongo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob F.
    An end-user refit of the lens is a possibility - I have heard of people replacing the original lens with ones from a Speed etc.
    I had no trouble mounting an old 90mm f/6.8 Angulon on one of these cameras. The perfect lens for the 6x12 camera that I'm creating out of a 3A.
    Film is cheap. Opportunities are priceless.

  8. #8
    Whiteymorange's Avatar
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    'cuz I said I would

    Here is a shot of the shutter on this beast. Does the B&J look like anything you've seen before?

    and... "4x5 into 3 1/4 x 5 1/4 (don't you mean 3.5 x 5.5?) doesn't go." Amazing how even simple math eludes us when we get excited, isn't it. I take the Duh! award for the day, no problem. The actual opening in the plate holders is 3.25x5.25 - ergo the measurement error...but the arithmatic, and common sense, seem to have eluded me in the flush of acquisition. Thanks, Dan, you were gentle about it. I only imagined the "you idiot!" at the end of that quote. You didn't even have to say it.

    Oh yah, 9cm into 3.25 inches don't go either (read above comment on simple math.)

    I'll get it eventually...

    Mongo - I plan on putting the lens/shutter on a 4x5 and maybe even a 5x7 to see what the edges are like. Might as well play with the thing, right? Thanks.

    Whitey

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Whiteymorange
    Here is a shot of the shutter on this beast. Does the B&J look like anything you've seen before?

    and... "4x5 into 3 1/4 x 5 1/4 (don't you mean 3.5 x 5.5?) doesn't go." Amazing how even simple math eludes us when we get excited, isn't it. I take the Duh! award for the day, no problem. The actual opening in the plate holders is 3.25x5.25 - ergo the measurement error...but the arithmatic, and common sense, seem to have eluded me in the flush of acquisition. Thanks, Dan, you were gentle about it. I only imagined the "you idiot!" at the end of that quote. You didn't even have to say it.

    Oh yah, 9cm into 3.25 inches don't go either (read above comment on simple math.)

    I'll get it eventually...

    Mongo - I plan on putting the lens/shutter on a 4x5 and maybe even a 5x7 to see what the edges are like. Might as well play with the thing, right? Thanks.

    Whitey
    Um, Whitey, every village has its idiot. I've been it in most of the villages I've lived in.

    Thanks for posting the image. Your lens is even older than my one B&L Zeiss Tessar IIb, s/n 1733784.

    But look closely at the shutter. If I'm reading it correctly, the maximum marked aperture is 3,9. That's not quite equal to 6,3. So odds are that your lens' cells were swapped into it. If I were you, I'd check whether the marked apertures are even close to what they say.

    About using the lens on 5x7. Check to see what the focal length is. Odds are it is 6 1/4". If so, it will cover 4x5 with some movements but 5x7 will be a considerable stretch.

    Cheers,

    Dan

  10. #10
    athanasius80's Avatar
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    Whitey,
    That shutter's definately a Koilos. I strongly suspect that Burke & James (B&J) married the lens, shutter, and camera together. Think of it as SK Grimes circa 1910. This wasn't too unusual at the time, and I think my vintage Sears photo catalogs advertized "We'll retrofit your lens into our new shutter for..." service. So it might be a mutt, but its a cool antique one. Try out the lens and post some prints for us.
    Good luck.
    Chris

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