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  1. #1
    djgeorgie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Wilmington, DE
    Medium Format

    Antique 122 film cameras. Can the lens be fitted on a 4x5?

    The Kodak 3A used 122 film. 122 film is the "postcard" film format. I think the nominal dimensions are 3.25in x 5.5in

    Could a lens from one of these old kodaks work alright with a 4x5 camera?

    I have everything I need for 4x5 photography, just not the lens. And Kodak 3A cameras are fairly cheap. Busted ones are even cheaper.

    Would focussing at infinity cause any problems?

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  2. #2

    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Multi Format
    I don't know why you couldn't fashion a lensboard and make it work. Who knows--might do OK. Probably no movements, but better than no lens at all. Give it a try.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    If you mount the lens on an appropriate lens board there should be no trouble at all. The only problem is that a lot of those lenses are very slow, like f11 or f8 max aperture, which can make focussing a bit tedious.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    You can probably make it work, certainly worth a try. I have a Bausch & Lomb Rapid Rectilinear, of about 140mm focal length, that came off a Kodak Autographic 1A folder. That camera had been sitting in a box full of photo "junk" for years; one day I started rummaging around in it, and I was like a kid on Christmas morning when I realized that the lens on that folder was still quite usable. I've used this lens with some movements on 4x5 (a Cambo SCX monorail). I've also used it with one cell removed to get something approaching 300mm that will cover 8x10 (a Toyo 810 field camera). The lens mount on mine is roughly 35mm, I had no trouble fitting it to the standard lens boards on my Cambo and the Toyo.

    Edit: The maximum aperture on my RR is f/8 and oh yes, it is not easy to focus, especially with one of the cells removed - I think the aperture then is closer to f/16.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Multi Format
    #3A Folding Pocket Kodaks -- that's the 3 1/2 x 5 1/2 size -- are like oysters. Some contain pearls, others don't. Finding a pearl can require looking in many oysters.

    #3A FPKs were fitted with lenses whose focal lengths ranged from 6.75 - 7.25 inches. The good ones (Special and Autographic Special) had, among others, f/6.3 Tessar IIb lenses in Compound or Optimo shutters. These are very good lenses even by today's standards and cover 4x5 with ample movements. Some of the cameras had f/6.3 Cooke Kodak anastigmats, i.e., good triplets, also in Compound or Optimo.

    To learn more than you thought you wanted to know about FPKs for the US and Canadian markets, see http://mgroleau.com/catalogues_kodak/ . The site in in French, the catalogs are in English.

    FPKs made for the UK market had a wider range of lenses from all of the leading makers, can be found -- sometimes -- on ebay.co.uk and even turn up in the US.

    Happy diving,


    p.s., study the catalogs to learn to recognize the crappy lenses. If an FPK has a Ball Bearing Shutter, it has a crappy lens. Bottom-of-the-line and all that.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Sub 35mm
    Blog Entries
    hi djgeorgie -

    i have a kodak 3a folder that belonged to my grandparents ..
    i don't know if it is the same one you have or are looking at ...
    the lens on it is an ilex 170mm .
    i don't think you will have trouble focusing at infinity
    since the long end of that roll film format is 5.5" it will have
    an illumination circle of at least 5.5" in diameter.
    so it will probably "cover" and give you a tiny bit of movement
    before it vignettes ...

    you mention the camera+lens are cheap, sounds like the perfect use of the lens
    that is, if you can't find a 2nd 122 film spool and roll your own ...

    have fun

  7. #7
    Ian Grant's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    West Midlands, UK, and Turkey
    Multi Format
    Dan's right there's a variety of Kodak lenses. He's not menyioned the 170mm f6.3 Kodak Anastigmat - Dialyte version in a Velosto (Optimo) shutter or the Zeiss Kodak Anastigmat which is not not the same as the Bausch & Lomb Tessar.

    Kodak often used lenses made in the country the cameras were sold or made in, or distributed through. So US made lenses are rare except on very early Kodak Ltd (UK) cameras made in the US. Kodak sourced Tessars from B&L as well as Zeiss (Germany).

    It's worth looking at the combination of lens/shutter as they went from budget to high end in terms of quality.

    Last edited by Ian Grant; 04-28-2013 at 04:39 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: typo

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Bombay, NY
    Large Format
    I've done it, and it works fine. As to lens quality, it depends on what you want, as they all have different signtures. I use a 7 inch Rapid Rectilinear mounted in a Ball Bearing shutter. I focus on the ground glass. I also have a Bausch & Lomb tessar mounted in a compur shutter, which also does everything it's supposed to do. Which one I use has to do with the subject matter more than anything else.



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