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Alan7140

Learning how to use tools again

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Rediscovering the thing that went missing with digital as far as modifying and re-hashing the actual equipment is concerned, the old cameras really do enable a hands-on ability to shape things the way you want without having to have a degree in computer science or electronics.

 

Whilst it was fun using the Thornton Pickard with the f/8 lens that came with it (even though the shutter was there just for looks rather than functionality as both the main spring and shutter curtain had disintegrated), the f/8 aperture was a bit dim as far as focusing went, and it was subject to some strange fall-off behaviour which suggested out-of-alignment elements.

Luckily I recently found a 210mm f/4.5 Carl Zeiss Tessar (dated 1935) for US$40 delivered on ebay. As it is a classic design from Carl Zeiss and still being used in some modern lenses today, and as these 210/4.5 lenses usually sell for around US$150-$200 plus postage I took a chance as the photos of it didn't show any scratches or bad flaws.

 

Some time involved with stripping and cleaning the lens and re-lubricating the aperture control, then manufacturing a new lens board from 6mm marine ply, and cobbling up a mount from an old Hasselblad filter adapting ring (for the lens mount) and a brass lens flange of unknown prior use (to be used as a spacer), plus some routing and inletting work, gluing and a few screws, and the lens is now able to be mounted or removed and interchanged with the original without having to have altered the original lens board.

 

Already the brighter image is apparent on the ground glass viewing screen which will aid focusing greatly, and I'll try it all out today and tomorrow to see if this has also fixed the focus falloff problems as well. It should also have a better image circle which will enable more camera back and front standard movements without vignetting. Photos: new lens first, then with the old one re-fitted - a 5-second job 😁 .

 

gn3ydWP.jpg

 

fLVps8X.jpg

Edited by Alan7140
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looking forward to seeing the pictures.

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4 hours ago, crowecg said:

looking forward to seeing the pictures.

 

As am I looking forward to the weather for taking them - this is Tasmania, after all, one season every hour. :D  When I wrote the above it was still and sunny, perfect for what I had in mind. By the time I loaded the negative material it was cold, cloudy and windy, and 10 minutes later it was raining.

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Wow, beautiful camera. 

 

I see the lens goes to f/64.   Any thoughts of shooting it at that aperture?

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10 hours ago, blurmagic said:

Wow, beautiful camera. 

 

I see the lens goes to f/64.   Any thoughts of shooting it at that aperture?


Not really a problem - granted there might theoretically be a slight loss in definition owing to diffraction, but the large format (half plate, 6½x4¾") means that my maximum intended enlargement of 16½x22¾" (so only 3.5x) would be very hard pressed to show that. Not that I'll make a habit of going to that extreme, however f/45 will have to be used on bright, sunny days with the subject in full sunlight as I'm trapped with using the lens cap as a shutter and need at least 3 seconds exposure to make sure any residual vibrations caused by sliding the lens cap off the lens won't affect the image overly.

 

Luckily the rear mount thread of the lens is effectively M62x0.75mm (even though the lens is stamped N60), and that is the thread of a Copal #3 shutter, so when I find one at the right price I'll see if that can be made to work with the lens for shorter times and wider apertures without vignetting - the shutter is designed to sit in between the front and rear element groups so it may very well affect the image circle, hence the remark "at the right price".  ;)  Unfortunately I missed a working shutter for $60 on ebay last week when I was still unsure of the actual lens mount thread as I hadn't received this lens yet, and wasn't willing to take a guess as I'm simply not into gambling. 

 

For shallow DOF I do have an old 1920's ½ plate Görlitzer Camera Werke studio stand camera with a rather large 240mm f/4.5 Voigtländer lens that can only be used in the studio, although my maximum flash output of 2,000w/s at 1 metre distance only gets me to f/5.6 with the Ilford Multigrade paper I use for my negative material, so I'm currently missing out on all the middle apertures in the situations I'm shooting in, inside and out.

 

3 ISO is an exercise in patience and good humour, believe me! :D 

 

Whilst it's challenging, I can however see the day where I'll probably surrender and buy a 4x5" camera again and shoot film, if only for the ability to use my 4x5 Durst enlarger and do proper silver enlargements rather than digitising the paper ½ plate negs, inverting to positive and printing them on my inkjet printer. I do like using the antique cameras, though, and while I could adapt a 4x5 back to either, I equally prefer to shoot the format they were originally built for.

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I finally got 5 minutes without much wind and almost full sunshine (through upper-level cloud), and dashed out the back gate, set the camera up and took one shot with the Tessar lens and one with the Thornton Pickard's original lens (6 seconds between f/32-45), processed the paper negs and breathed a sigh of relief that I did not, in fact, waste my money on that 1935 Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar.
 
As it turns out, the TP lens is not the 8¼"/210mm I thought it to be, but more like 9½"/240mm, so the 50% enlargement sections of the 2,400dpi 165 megapixel scans don't exactly match each other for comparison, but close enough to confirm that the TP lens is well below par in image quality, as I had expected.
 
First the full frame of the TP lens & enlargement (vignette at top left caused by focusing cloth hanging a bit too low when fashioned as an impromptu lens hood), then the Zeiss Tessar with enlargements to the same degree as one another following. All exposures, processing, scanning and computer post processing identical to each other. Point of focus was the star picket at left, and the leaves of tree moved in a breeze in the Tessar shot as well. Resizing for Web does mess things around a bit, but in reality the Zeiss lens result is visually far better even without enlargement.
 
The final photo would print without resampling at 106cm x 79cm at an Epson printer's native resolution of 360dpi. This section is of the point of focus enlarged (without resampling) to that size. Apart from my elderly Epson V700 scanner busting a blood vessel trying to scan this at 2400ppi (I didn't have the two weeks to wait for it to scan at its full resolution), and it left a lot of little artefacts in the process. It's pretty clear that these paper negatives are for all intents and purposes completely grainless even at that sort of an enlargement were they to be properly drum-scanned. Not perfectly sharp at that size, but this is a 1935 lens that has had a hard life after all, hence the low price.

And just to add - the reason for me buying the CZJ lens after suspecting all was not well with the Thornton-Pickard lens is absolutely confirmed in the full photograph - the focus falloff increasing towards the right and upper right is very visible, particularly when compared to the same area of the CZJ Tessar's image - both at the same initial focus point and both at the same f/ stop.
 
Thornton-Pickard Rapid f/8 Rectilinear lens:
sGNjjIM.jpg
 
CZJ 4,5/210 lens:
WvxfXzL.jpg
 
Section TP lens:
6alkMQo.jpg
 
Section CZJ 4,5/210 lens:
ViIRbFl.jpg
 
Section at point of focus for print at 360dpi, native resolution (106cm x 79cm / 42" x 31") :
KRc2DpQ.jpg
 
 
 
 
 
Edited by Alan7140
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Fantastic Alan! I would so much love to do this but I have zero of the required skills and knowledge ... Maybe I get old enough that I can dig into that once my work-life ended ...

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Never mind the words ... just hum along and keep on going...

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Thanks, Chris.

I started from an almost zero skills base as well, but these days there's a wealth of knowledge, how-to tutorials and videos and FaceBook communities all sharing just about anything one needs to know, resources that I admit to having used heavily. I did have a small residual skill-set in basic things learned from my mechanic Father when I was growing up, but the rest has been perseverance, heaps of mistakes and Internet help, and I'm still far from being expert.

 

At the moment I'm adapting a Kiev-60 metering prism to fit  my Pentacon Six TL bodies. The Pentacon prism, aside from being totally ugly, is awfully expensive as an accessory purchase on ebay, and then you are in the lap of the gods as to whether what you get either works or is accurate.  I have a nice Kiev-60 prism from a rubbish body I bought "totally rebuilt" from ARAX in Ukraine which never wound on properly and to which they said to "send the camera back" for a refund, but I would have lost all my postage money and ended up with no camera - a replacement wasn't offered, just an unspecified "refund". Thanks, ARAX, but no thanks. As I have two Pentacon Six TL bodies, adapting the prism I already have that works to a camera that I see no reason for it not to work just fine on seems perfectly logical. Again, something you just cannot even contemplate with modern digital equipment! :) 

 

As it turns out the wind mechanism failed completely about six months after their warranty expired anyway, so I an now re-purposing bits and pieces of it for other purposes and spare parts - my next project will be to fit the mirror to fit my Omega grain-focusing device in the darkroom, the front-silvered mirror of which has become all-but unusable after 40 years of handling in a work situation. Probably making a new mount for the mirror on the device will be the way to go - cutting the mirror to fit might require better tools and skills than I have at present. A replacement mirror would cost nearly as much as the ARAX camera body cost, so between these two re-purposings I'll actually be financially ahead, as well as picking up more skills in the process.

 

Not to mention that I am finding this a helluva lot of fun at the same time! :D :D 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Alan7140

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How does this old film camera fair when it comes to wide aperture "bokeh" photos?  I would image you could get extremely narrow DOF and creamy background blurs with it.

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12 hours ago, blurmagic said:

How does this old film camera fair when it comes to wide aperture "bokeh" photos?  I would image you could get extremely narrow DOF and creamy background blurs with it.

 

Indeed I could, however I'll need to find a shutter that fits this lens at the right price, or get some ND gel filters (the lens appears to have a 59 or 60mm filter thread, for which I have been unable to find any commercially made filters) as the 1.6 ISO speed of the paper negative material would render an exposure outdoors in sunlight of around ¼ sec at f/8-5.6, or about ⅛ sec wide open. Using the lens cap as a shutter is not possible at such a speed without shaking the camera's non-too-sturdy front standard, so realistically such experimentation will have to wait until a good used Copal #3 shutter pops up on ebay - as far as I can figure the lens should be a straight screw-in fit for that shutter's 62mm thread.

 

I have a big 1920's half-plate studio stand camera in my studio which has a Voigtländer 4,5/240mm uncoated lens which gives interesting results, where 2,000w/s of flash about 2½ feet away from the subject just gets just enough exposure at f/4.5, and I have been tempted to get someone to pose using the Tessar on that camera, but the distance to out-of-focus background is limited, plus I don't have all the fussy 19th Century-type props to get the full effect by cluttering up the background. The studio camera has a universal iris-type lens mount which will accept the Tessar, and I have thought of comparing the two lenses, but previous use of that Voigtländer lens has shown it to be excellent (it's from the same era as the Tessar, and is a legitimate Heliar lens - the sort that brings big bucks these days :) ), so maybe that comparison would be inconsequential.

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