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Thread: Yousuf Karsh.

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    Yousuf Karsh.

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

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    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    I believe it was 8x10, with a 14" Commercial Ektar lens.

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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

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    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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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.

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

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    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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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.

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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

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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.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    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.

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    Curt's Avatar
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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.
    Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it. - Paul Strand - Aperture monograph on Strand

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    Jeremy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    Rodenstock and Schneider both make 360mm lenses. 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.
    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.
    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

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