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Nicht immer nur Kaviar ... (English Version)


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Wollensak was an old and respected firm, but only made ONE model still Camera.   That was the Wollensak Stereo 10.  It shared a body and many features with the Revere 33.   It did have faster lenses, F 2.7, and also had a top shutter speed of 1/300.  While alll stereo cameras back in the day we’re designed around Kodachrome film, this limits them today in many ways, since ASA 10 film is a distant memory.    A Solid Camera with the smoothest  operation imaginable!  Focusing is beautifully handled by rotating the knob on the left top.  It’s BIG!  It kind of reminds me of a ‘50s Ocean Liner 😀

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My array of Lenses by Thomas Grubb of Dublin, consisting of Patent Lenses, Patent Stereo Lenses, a Patent Doublet (this is the 'Rapid Rectiliear' lens Grubb had produced prior to Dallmeyer patenting it) and Petzvals. I have used them and hope to increasing do so despite their 1860s heritage. These were 'had made' lenses and the same model varies slightly in focal length indicating that they were ground and assembled individually. Similar threads also show tolerance which, given that these were made in the days before electrically operated machinery, is hardly surprising. Most show signs of ~10 years of moderate to heavy use.

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This is “what I build”,  probably made about fifty of them over the years.  Fully functional Wet Plate or Daguerreotype Camera, a generic copy of the English Style Daguerreotype Camera, in half Plate format.   This type of camera was used well into the Wet Plate era,   My personal camera of this type, with a Holmes Booth and Haydens lens saw me through 15 years as a Civil War Re-enactment photographer.  I estimate about ten thousand plates were made over those years.   Unfortunatly.............since “Free Speech” has been canceled in the USA, the reenactments are O V E R.

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1 hour ago, pgk said:

My array of Lenses by Thomas Grubb of Dublin, consisting of Patent Lenses, Patent Stereo Lenses, a Patent Doublet (this is the 'Rapid Rectiliear' lens Grubb had produced prior to Dallmeyer patenting it) and Petzvals. I have used them and hope to increasing do so despite their 1860s heritage. These were 'had made' lenses and the same model varies slightly in focal length indicating that they were ground and assembled individually. Similar threads also show tolerance which, given that these were made in the days before electrically operated machinery, is hardly surprising. Most show signs of ~10 years of moderate to heavy use.

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My collection of Grubb Aplanatic lenses which now reside with me about 3 miles from where they were made here in Dublin. The rings are washer stops, some of which were marked with f stops at a later period as f stops as we know them did not exist in the 1850s and 1860s. I believe that I showed those marked with f stops before on the forum.

Interesting items above include an early helicoid lens from the late 1850s on the left of the back row. This is one of the earliest lenses with a helicoid that I have seen and I would be interested to hear from any one who has seen one and I am not talking here about the rack and pinion on Petzval lenses which is a different design altogether. Thomas Grubb soon abandoned the helicoid design in favour of the pill box design which allowed the washer stop to be moved in our out, but the main focus method in those years was either a sliding box and later a bellows which was moved in or out to achieve focus at the plane of the photographic material, wet plates and later dry plates. The lens on the right of the back row is a doublet from a later period which was produced by Howard Grubb, the son of Thomas, for their London agent Watson & Sons. 

In 2019 I brought Paul (pgk) around the locations in Dublin where these lenses were made and where the makers had lived in the 19th Century. Paul was actually following on that occasion in the footsteps of Thomas Grubb by making an address to the Royal Dublin Society (RDS), where I am a member, about his marine photography. Here is a summary of the address to the RDS by Thomas Grubb on 26 March 1858.

One interesting feature of the Grubb lens was the micro-signature (barely visible to the naked eye) etched on the side of the glass on the front of the combined glass elements.  I will do a separate post about that because of size limits here.

William

 

 

 

 

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I mentioned in my previous post that Thomas Grubb 'signed' his lenses with a micro-engraving (barely visible to the naked eye) on the concave front of the compound elements near the rim. The engraved number matches the number on the lens barrel. This was mentioned in contemporary advertisements.

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Here is an example from Grubb Aplanatic 582 which is the middle lens in the front row of picture in my previous post. Apologies if this is not fully legible, but what this says is 'Grubb Patent No 582' and it is engraved in tiny contemporary 'long hand'. Bear in mind that if I handed you the lens you would have great difficulty in seeing this without the aid of a magnifying glass. The image of someone engraving this with a tiny instrument by candlelight in the 1850s or 1860s is fixed in my mind and if any of you come to Dublin, I will happily show you where this was done. 

 

I have written a mini article or blogpost for the British Photographic History website about this topic.

https://britishphotohistory.ning.com/profiles/blogs/signing-19th-century-lenses-a-common-practice?xg_source=activity

You will be glad to hear that I have been able to find such an engraving with a matching serial number on all of my Aplanatic lenses made by Thomas Grubb. I believe that Paul has also found these engravings on his examples. My later Howard Grubb/Watson doublet lens does not have such an engraving.

Can you imagine the amount of Leica Forum space that would be taken up if Leica/Leitz lenses had similar engravings?

William

 

 

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Here's another example of the 'rice writing' on Grubb lens 2215 ("Grubb Patent N 2215"). Bear in mind that I have measured some of the letters as being 0.6mm high!

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Here's my 1937 Rolleiflex Automat. It is one of the earliest Automats which can be identified by the lacking shutter release lock.
The uncoated Tessar 7,5cm lens was a little hazy when I got it, but the front group unscrews easily and after cleaning the surfaces on each side of the shutter/aperture it was sweet and clear again.

I use it regularly and it is fully operational. The matte screen is rather dull so focusing takes the time it takes. Who's in a hurry anyway? Otherwise it handles like a modern camera.

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Do Vintage Cameras appreciate in value?  No. As a rule, especially when you consider inflation.....the $400 Nikon F in 1969 Dollars is now the $100 Nikon F in 2021 Dollars.   Shocking, isn’t it?  Well, here’s maybe the leader of the pack in appreciation.  The 50 Cent Diana of 1969 is now the $40 Dollar Diana of 2021!  In many ways a very liberating camera to use, weighing only a few ounces.  It has scale focusing, instant (about 1/60) and bulb, three aperature settings and a Neck strap!   It’s a camera which “creates” an image instead of merely recording one.  Each one is a tad different, offering uncertain exact shutter speeds,  occasional light leaks, vignetting and best of all,  a uniquely Artistic single plastic lens.  Made with many different nameplates, by the Great Wall Plastics Factory  in good old Communist China. It really, in the World of Cameras, is something different.    So popular in fact, new editions are Still made!!!

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that's the first camera I owned- it was on the shelf in a supermarket amongst the kids toys. I begged mum to get it for me- and as it was just a few dollars she did. I remember how the film cost considerably more than the camera...

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Hi,

In my opinion, the Nikon big finders are an acquired taste. Some years ago, I wasn't a huge fan of the Nikon pro-bodies due to those big finders. I suppose I'm a bit stupid but, for me, the aesthetics of the camera is really important.

Then I discovered this one and to my surprise, at the hand I felt a kind of the "M3 sensation" in a reflex. Later on several other F, F2 and F3 have joined the family (with metered and non-metered prism) but this one was the guilty of all of that.

Take care,

Augusto

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Truly a lovely camera.  I’ve always liked how “solid” it felt as you pushed the shutter button.   It IS too bad the Photomic finders have not held up well electronically.   That Ftn finder though ......just speaks “Camera”.  

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FWIW, older lenses, even when used on modern digital cameras, can produce surprisingly good images technical. Here's one taken on a Grubb Doublet (Sir Howard Grubb) which dates from around 1893 (which is when they were advertised for sale). Its not up to modern lenses and this is a central 24x36mm crop of course, but after adjustments inphotoshop the result is not as bad as we might think it could be.

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On 3/16/2021 at 9:39 AM, tranquilo67 said:

Hi,

In my opinion, the Nikon big finders are an acquired taste. Some years ago, I wasn't a huge fan of the Nikon pro-bodies due to those big finders. I suppose I'm a bit stupid but, for me, the aesthetics of the camera is really important.

Then I discovered this one and to my surprise, at the hand I felt a kind of the "M3 sensation" in a reflex. Later on several other F, F2 and F3 have joined the family (with metered and non-metered prism) but this one was the guilty of all of that.

Take care,

Augusto

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Those who like big finders should try this, a Nikon DA-1 Action Finder, seen here on a Nikon F2. I have not actually used this yet, but I do like using my Nikon F with an eye level viewfinder. The F2 and other gear were given to me by a friend last year. I still have a bottle of wine in return for my friend when Covid is over. I kept the professional items which he gave me and gave the other items, including a Nikkormat, to a local photography school. This F2 was used to take some astonishing photos of remote parts of Yemen in the mid 1970s and still has some desert dust on it, I believe. I also got a Photomic head with the camera, but the meter has decided to retire. For someone with bad eyesight like myself, a finder like this is wonderful.

 

William

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, willeica said:

Those who like big finders should try this, a Nikon DA-1 Action Finder, seen here on a Nikon F2.

This is going to date me but in the 1980s I used to use a Nikon F with this action finder (it fits if you take off the nameplate) with a 20mm f/4 Nikkor in an Ikelite housing underwater. It enabled the full viewfinder image to be seen when wearing a diving mask! The set-up worked but was unweildy and exposure (a mix of available and flash illumination) was tricky with no meter, to put it mildly. There were some Nikon FEs modified to take the actionfinder for NationalGeographic but these are reare birds (~50 made perhaps).

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2 minutes ago, pgk said:

This is going to date me but in the 1980s I used to use a Nikon F with this action finder (it fits if you take off the nameplate) with a 20mm f/4 Nikkor in an Ikelite housing underwater. It enabled the full viewfinder image to be seen when wearing a diving mask! The set-up worked but was unweildy and exposure (a mix of available and flash illumination) was tricky with no meter, to put it mildly. There were some Nikon FEs modified to take the actionfinder for NationalGeographic but these are reare birds (~50 made perhaps).

Paul, I'm very used to using cameras with no meters. I will look around for a Photomic head to replace the one that has taken 'early retirement', but for me a built-in exposure meter is not essential. I will send you some screen grabs of the Yemen photos by email. I'm not sure that I can post them here as they are being lined up for a project on Arabian architecture. According to one academic they are considered to be of 'extraordinary documentary value'. It is always nice to have provenance with a camera.

William

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Another odd-ball I've just snapped during a lull in shooting...

This one is rather unusual because it isn't what it first appears to be. Or at least it sort-of is but sort-of isn't. At first glance it's a run-of-the-mill Kiev IIIa - of which some 150,000 examples were made over the years - but the nerds eagle-eyed amongst you will have clocked that the name-engraving is weird. Instead of the usual 'Kneb' above 'Kiev' it bears the legend 'Kuib'(*).

This from the Sovietcams website (SIC);

"Very interesting camera released in 1958 (quantities still unknown). The camera has Roman/Ukrainian logo instead of Roman/Cyrillic. Do exist the presumptions, that those very few cameras are made to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Ukraine independency (1918). Following the legend it could be only 40 commemorative copies released in 1958."

The list of known cameras is noted on the page and some examples - mine among them - were dated 1959. Here she is sporting a '58 Jupiter-12;

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Snapped on my M-D Typ-262 / 90mm f2.5 Summarit.

Philip.

* Kuib is the Ukranian version of Kneb.

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I’ll have to show my Nikon F. I’ve wanted one since I first touched one in 1981, but didn’t get my act together until last year.

I love the clunky Ftn finder and the sound and feel. It has something the otherwise superior F2 doesn’t have.

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1 hour ago, nitroplait said:

I’ll have to show my Nikon F. I’ve wanted one since I first touched one in 1981, but didn’t get my act together until last year...

Beautiful example you found for yourself into the bargain! Lovely 55mm Micro-Nikkor, too! That's the second one in the thread. Truly a Fantastic lens!

The F2 was, as you mention, a superior camera (and I used F2 cameras in place of my F's for my work when I became a pro) but somehow the original F has something intangible about it which makes me love the F which is something I never quite felt for the 'better' camera in quite the same way.

As far as the 'sound and feel' aspect goes; one of the many things I love about the F is that, electrical-contact-point on the rewind-knob side of things and the frame-counter 'window' incorporated within the wind-on lever housing aside, there is no plastic to be found anywhere on the (pre-comfort-tip) F body whatsoever. As I was using mine in the days when Canon were busy introducing the utterly horrendous ToyTown-esque A-1 there really was a feeling in the air that the days of truly top-quality professional 35mm SLRs were drawing to a close. And so it proved to be (IMHO).

The F3 was (for me, personally, and absolutely no offence to lovers of the camera intended!) just the first of many steps in the wrong direction. 'Form Over Function' was the name of the game and the styilists had taken over completely. It might have wowed the fashionistas but a so-called "Professional" SLR which, if the battery failed, had just ONE shutter-speed available? Pathetic.

Somehow I missed a whole page of new posts so apologies for my tardiness in my appreciation of your offerings!

Philip.

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On 3/12/2021 at 6:42 AM, romanus53 said:

Hi Philip, I'm sorry to say that the F-36 sent some smoke signals the last time I powered it up, so the F sits on the shelf, unvaluable and unsaleable as it is.

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I'm glad my daily walk-around-camera is the M10 which is a little bit easier to carry and I still have a drawer full of adapters for all the old lenses.

Sorry for missing this earlier!

I'm familiar with the Topcon RE Super - I used to lust after them as a kid! - but am unfamiliar with the lens, Romanus. Could you give us some more info? I'd be very grateful!

Philip.

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