B&L Rapid Rectilinear question
I have previously used someone else's B&L Rapid Rectilinear lens mounted in a Kodak Ball Bearing shutter on my Crown Graphic and I liked the images. Last week, just by chance, a Kodak No 3A Folding Autographic camera with a B&L Rapid Rectiliner came into my posession (free!) but the shutter blades are all damaged and it cannot be used, while the glass elements of the lens (front & back) are both in excellent shape. I would consider putting them into another used shutter but I do not know how to find out what size shutter to use. I tried it in the Graphex shutter for my 135mm Optar, but the lens elements were too small for the shutter threads. I have searched on the internet for some information, but I always see that lens just in reference to the Kodak Ball Bering shutter (or the equivalent) or in a shutter-less barrel form. Can anyone provide any information on what size shutter to look for? Or is it a lost cause and I should just look for another Kodak 3A? Thanks.
Though they are still great lenses, they won't fit any modern shutter without costing a LOT more than what the thing is worth. They are from a time when shutters had no standard sizes. I would just look for a donor camera with a working Ball Bearing shutter. I have several of these lenses and they are indeed very good. BTW, if you find another shutter, it will likely not be very accurate. Most I have tested run about 1/25 at all speeds. You can speed up the faster speeds a little by bending the spring to give it more oomph.
Glenn's right about the old shutters. It's useful to know exactly what speed the shutter's running at, but every old ball bearing shutter I've found is either seized up or has fast speeds that all run the same. I don't know how repair-able the shutters are; perhaps someone can chime in on that subject.
Probably the best thing to do is to find another 3A on eBay with the same lens, that's listed with bad bellows or a fogged lens. Find out from the seller if the shutter works, and if it does you'll probably be able to get the thing for a song. The old B&L RR lenses are very nice. I like shooting mine wide open when light conditions allow, as well as using it for landscape work with slow film (using the old trick of removing and replacing the lens cap to start and end the exposure).
Film is cheap. Opportunities are priceless.
Just take out the damaged leaf shutter blades, put this great lens on a Speed Graphic camera and use the focal plane shutter instead...
I got a lot of five old Rapid Rectilinear lenses for a few dollars on eBay. These are great fun to use, but as Glenn and Dave said, the shutters are not very usable and to costly to replace by something more modern. IMHO a camera with a focal plane shutter is the easiest way to experiment with these old lenses.
Try to shoot with a 5" RR wide open on a 4x5 Speed Graphic, you will get wonderful pictures with that unique vignetted look.
Ball Bearing shutters are very basic little beasties. No retard escapement or anything. Speeds are controlled by varying the pressure on a hair spring. That idea doesn't work all that well, but on the other hand, I've never gotten a gummed up sticky one. I don't think you would necessarily have to find one off a 3A. I believe most were the same size.
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I don't actually have a Speed Graphic or I would have done surgery to remove the blades and used the focal plane shutter... my 4x5 is actually a homemade camera cobbled together from various parts, including a crown graphic bellows, front standard and lensboard, with a graphloc back, all mounted on a rigid wooden frame... not ideal but it works...
The shutter blades were all bent, like someone had stuck a pencil through them when the shutter was closed. I took it apart to see if I could flatten them sufficiently to get it to work but I could not - - I could make it open and close, but light leaked through the edges where they were not completely flat.
Thanks for the advice. I will continue to watch for another RR in a Kodak shutter.
One piece of advice: don't buy the lens by itself, you will end up paying more than buying the whole camera. An used Kodak Autographic 3A with a nice RR, leaking bellows and bent front standard shouldn't cost you more than a few dollars.
Originally Posted by wclavey
I gave up looking for a 3-A after being outbid too many times. Then what do you know...one was given to me at work...and the same day won one on eBay $5.50 + shipping...I think the photo looked worse than the bubbly description - either no one else was interested or that scared off bidders who don't like inaccurate descriptions.
This is actually the first BB shutter I have seen that didn't work...amazing.
Does anyone know what the f.l. actually is? I eyeball it as somewhere between 6 and 7 inches from the back to an image on a wall, but don't know where to measure from (mid shutter?) so it might be longer than my estimate.
One lens pair has a spot of white fuzz inside...I don't think these cells come apart easily at all.
Oh, I forgot to mention, the first had a good glass (after cleaning) rusted stuck shutter & very bad bellows. The 2nd has ok glass (pretty good shutter), only semi-bad bellows.
The guy on eBay who had replacement 3A bellows is all out :O(.
There are apparently 3 varieties/vintages of lenses on the folding pocket 3-A's. I used ths following instinct to decide which ones to bid on.
Based on other Autographic's I've seen, the meniscus ones have a small sloping 'lens' front and a hole, no glass visible in front of the shutter.
The Rapid Rectilinear-equipped ones have a more massive lens visible with the distinctive black-painted lens cell.
There is an Anastigmat variety I have not seen yet to visually recognize in an auction listing...I imagine that would be the most refined lens.
At least in my two cases, a 32mm push-on adapter fits (may not be good for the painted finish), so I can add a lens hood.
Originally Posted by Murray@uptowngallery
You are right about the three categories of folding Kodak 3A, but there are many variations inside each category. Usually, the meniscus or RR lenses are fitted in Kodak Ball Bearing shutters (up to 1/100 and self-cocking), and the more expensive 4 glass Tessar/anastigmats are in Compound, Wollensack, Compur or Kodamatic shutters (up to 1/300, separate cocking lever). For example, my No.3A Special Kodak Camera model A has an f/6.3 Zeiss Kodak Anastigmat No.4 in Compound shutter, but Bausch & Lomb Tessars, Zeiss Tessars and Cooke Anastigmats are also fairly common.
You can check the following auctions numbers for anastigmat-equipped 3A cameras on e-Bay: 170000345400, 7631271313
Focal length for lenses on 3A cameras are usually 170-173mm (6.7-6.8 in.).