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Kodak 5-1/2" Anastigmat
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DHF845



Joined: 20 Jul 2008
Posts: 99
Location: Hudson Valley Area, Upstate NY

PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2009 11:54 pm    Post subject: (started with) 5-1/2 inch K.A. Reply with quote

FWIW: I like portrait lens perspective, to control depth of field, & get in close to my subject. In 35mm I use a 90mm lens, with 2-1/4 sq. I like a 135mm, with 2-1/4 x 3-1/4 I like a 150-165mm. I've been shooting 2x3 format with a 3x4 Series D (w/120 rollfilm back) and 165mm/f=3.5 Erneman 'Ernon'. It's perfect-for me, that's "normal". What's called "normal" by camera manufacturers is what's cheap for them to install, and gives the buyer satisfactory images. It's "standard", not normal.
Ancient photo history: Oskar Barnack, inventor of the 35 mm still camera, used a 35 mm cine camera lens on his prototype (he was a Cinematographer by profession). That lens was a 50 mm 'Ernst Leitz Anastigmat' (later renamed, according to Leica legend, the 'Elmar'- 'Ernst Leitz anastigMAt, TessaR-type'). Barnack built the "Ur Leica", in 1912-1913. The 24 x 36 mm frame was double cine frame size. He felt 50 mm was close enough to the 43 mm 'ideal' focal length. So we end up with the 50 mm standard lens, the 35 mm frame size, the film cassette, the control layout of 35 mm cameras, thanks to the capricious mind of one guy. Barnack figured it out before WW I even began. It's amazing how an industry was standardized around the idiosyncrasies of one camera.
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troublemaker



Joined: 24 Nov 2003
Posts: 715
Location: So Cal

PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 4:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, good point. Standard issue.
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Dan Fromm



Joined: 14 May 2001
Posts: 1892
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Trouble, what you're saying is very much Through The Looking Glass.
`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

DHF, for formats larger than double frame 35 mm "normal" has always meant "focal length approximately the gate's diagonal." You're confusing practice in motion picture equipment and derivatives with practice everywhere.
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mopar_guy



Joined: 07 Aug 2008
Posts: 126
Location: Washington, the State

PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Trouble,
In the original posting, you were wondering if anyone had personal experience with the 5 1/2 inch Antistigmat lens. It doesn't seem to me that any of us has used one of these dinosaurs. You shouldn't have much to lose if you have a lensboard that will accomodate the lens. Why not just put the thing on a Speed Graphic and shoot a roll of film at some test subjects. Good luck.
Regards,
Dave
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DHF845



Joined: 20 Jul 2008
Posts: 99
Location: Hudson Valley Area, Upstate NY

PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 8:45 pm    Post subject: 5-1/2 inch K.A. Reply with quote

troublemaker-Actually, I have that exact lens on my 2x3 RB Series B. I've done alot of work with it. It's a great all-around focal length. Not contrasty like modern lenses. I use a Sky 1A/UVB filter, or Yellow Wratten K-2. It's not coated at all. It renders colors in a grey scale like the old Tri-X Ortho I used to shoot.
No filter, wide open, it's interesting for portraits outdoors. Minute degree of softness. When sun refracts inside the lens (and it will), it produces a gentle 'aura' around the subject's hair. It's tack sharp at f=8 or smaller. Bokeh is pleasing-it has a very round iris. It's a top-quality lens from gentler era, when Pictorialism was what most people used Graflexes for.
"Normal", "standard", "correct", are all artificial ideas to me. I know the formula for mathematically determining the average normative focal length, but who really uses it, other than camera manufacturers? We all seem to prefer longish or wide angle lenses. To paraphrase 45PSS: "The best lens is the one that produces the best photos for you".


Last edited by DHF845 on Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:00 am; edited 1 time in total
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Dan Fromm



Joined: 14 May 2001
Posts: 1892
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DHF, I can't speak for others' preferences. Mine have changed over time and vary with format in ways that I don't understand and can't explain.

To begin at the beginning, 35 mm still. For years my walking-around lens was a 105. Faster and less vulnerable to shake than the 200, let me shoot people without violating most folks' "personal spaces" much more often than a 50 or 55. But nowadays I find the 55 a bit long much of the time.

Super 8. 6 mm, my shortest focal length without vignetting, usually felt too long. I used the shortest fl available most of the time, longer ones, up to 300 mm but rarely longer than 150, as needed to get tight framing when close approach wasn't possible.

2x3. Although I've gone to considerable trouble to be able to shoot long lenses (the longest so far is 480 mm) my most-used focal length is 100 mm. After that, probably 47 mm.

What do you tend to use most, by format?

Cheers,

Dan
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BrianShaw



Joined: 24 Dec 2006
Posts: 65
Location: Los Angeles, CA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mopar_guy wrote:
Trouble,
In the original posting, you were wondering if anyone had personal experience with the 5 1/2 inch Antistigmat lens. It doesn't seem to me that any of us has used one of these dinosaurs.


I have one in a dial-set Compur shutter that I think came originally on the 1940 Anniversary Graphic (4x5) that I use occasionally. Most of my work with that camera has been hand-held, many with flashbulb illumination, and I haven't really scrutinized the negs with a microscope... but both the B&W and color transparencies have been quite satisfactory.

The coverage seems good enough with no movements. I haven't really fiddled to see if any movement is possible. I'm not holding my breath, though. One thing that improved performance noticably was a lens hood. Unfortunately don't have a scanner so sharing images isn't possible at this time. In general, though, it is a lens I'll continue using and can't wait for the opportunity to shoot portraits using roll film with it.
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DHF845



Joined: 20 Jul 2008
Posts: 99
Location: Hudson Valley Area, Upstate NY

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 5:55 am    Post subject: 5-1/2 in. K. A. Reply with quote

Dan-I like a long lens most of the time. For dance photography, I use a Nikon F2 with a 135 mm Nikkor. For candids and street photography, I use a Leica with a 90 mm Elmar (that's one sharp lens). The 90 distances me just right from subjects. I use a 35 mm Summicron as an alternate lens. For me, it's either get close, or take in a wide angle of view.
When I shoot 2-1/4 square, I use a 127 mm Ektar. When I shoot 2x3 format, I go to a 5-1/2 in. Kodak Anastigmat. To get in close I have a 10 in. Tele-Optar. I always use a yellow K-2 filter on the Optar. All 3 lenses go on a 2x3 RB Series B with 120 film backs.
I also use an f=3.5/16.5 cm. Ernemann "Ernon", mounted on a Series D, for 2-1/4 x 3-1/4. I shoot pictorial landscapes and portaits with it wide open. I stop it down for architecture and industrial landscapes. Its perspective and tonal qualities resemble the Leica's 90 mm Elmar, my all-time favorite lens.
I like compressed perspective, narrow depth of focus, and grainy, high-contrast black and white.
Best wishes, -Dave.


Last edited by DHF845 on Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:16 pm; edited 2 times in total
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troublemaker



Joined: 24 Nov 2003
Posts: 715
Location: So Cal

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had all the King's men put the camera back together again and I'll make some exposures when time allows.
I already had slip ring adapters for a hood or filters, but I ussually like to shoot these dinasaurs using just a nice hood.
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DHF845



Joined: 20 Jul 2008
Posts: 99
Location: Hudson Valley Area, Upstate NY

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BrianShaw-The 5-1/2 in. Kodak Anastigmat I described is in barrel, not leaf shutter. Internal refraction is affected by internal surface of lens barrel, spacing of lens elements/groups, and variables in batches of glass. Rolling production changes made to lens design also affect the results you get. Your 1940 lens will probably be sharper. It may have some internal coating to reduce refractivity.
"Individual results may vary". Results from your lens will probably be different.
I interpret troublemaker's info to mean his lens is an uncoated, barrel-mounted, earlier version of a No.31 Kodak Anastigmat, 5-1/2" E.F.. If the focal length is indicated by format (i.e. 4x5, 5x7) instead of inches, it's an early version of the K.A..


Last edited by DHF845 on Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:18 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Billy Canuck



Joined: 04 Apr 2006
Posts: 155
Location: Calgary AB Canada

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with everything dhf845 said. I have a 6-3/8" K.A. (1931) on my RB Graflex 3x4. With a 6x9 roll film back, the focal length is about the same as a 77mm lens on a 35-mm frame. The Graflex is my favorite portrait camera.
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DHF845



Joined: 20 Jul 2008
Posts: 99
Location: Hudson Valley Area, Upstate NY

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:29 pm    Post subject: 5-1/2 in. K.A. Reply with quote

I agree with everything Billy Canuck said, and add: Not just portraits, but subjects that lend themselves to slow processes and thoughtful compositions.
I use a Graflex like a view camera-for me it's about the formal aspects of creating the visual image. Different cameras lend themselves to different approaches. IMHO, no one has ever created the camera that's perfect for every situation.
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Dan Fromm



Joined: 14 May 2001
Posts: 1892
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I dunno, Dave, I've been contemplating getting a Graflex forever, am now thinking hard about a Big Bertha rig. I can use long lenses on my 2x3 Graphics, as I mentioned, but with a long lens they're (plural, it takes two, assembled into a tandem Graphic, to focus a long lens) pretty slow-working. A single Graphic is also slow-working whenever it has to be focused using the GG. An SLR would be much quicker.

This is completely opposite to your view of Graphics as quick-shooting RF cameras and Graflexes promoting contemplation. But we have different applications. And as you said, there ain't no one camera that's ideal for all purposes.

Cheers,

Dan
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troublemaker



Joined: 24 Nov 2003
Posts: 715
Location: So Cal

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 2:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The 5-1/2" KA I have does not have the No. 31 moniker, but it is certainly old and I'd guess early 1930's. My 6-3/8's and 7-1/2" KA's do. None of these are coated lenses. I also have the 101 and 105 EKtars uncoated and may look for the pre-Ektar 203 lens. (I'm not sure about my 15" Tele-Optar. The user guide that came with it is 1943, and the glass looks uncoated; the images are not contrasty either like other obviously coated Wolly optics from a couple years later and after the war years.)
The GG image of the 5-1/2" is super good, but one can see with the naked eye that it certainly wont cover 4x5 at all wide open and is probably a stretch to say it would stopped down. One thing I noticed is that the lens has a really nice background out of focus look for selective focussing and shallow DOF, which I like about my other uncoated vintage lenses.
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DHF845



Joined: 20 Jul 2008
Posts: 99
Location: Hudson Valley Area, Upstate NY

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

troublemaker- We're on the same page lens-wise. I too like the effects I get in photos made with pre-war, uncoated lenses. Interchangeable lensboards rule because they allow us to experiment with different optics.
Dan- IMHO, Hand-held Speed Graphics, having wire-frame finders, are great for 'grab shots' (they're slow reloading, though). We'd both agree that a Leica III-C is not suitable for view camera work. The right tool for each job, y'know?
You should definitely build a Big Bertha! Did you see the Home Portrait Graflex on the hated auction site? You need a Home Portrait for an authentic Big Bertha. It looks in decent shape. I think it's a later model-closer to 1940- look at the nobs used.
"1920'S GRAFLEX LARGE FORMAT HOME PORTRAIT CAMERA Item number: 370106508340
Current bid: US $21.50
End time: Jan-16-09 20:16:00 PST (3 days 20 hours)
Shipping: US $18.58
Item location: Joplin, MO, United States"

I once took an Auto Graflex Jr., attached a military-surplus 400 mm lens and a German 120 film back, and went out and shot football with it. That 'Mini-Bertha' got me wierd looks. Ultimately wasn't as easy to use, or as practical, as a Nikon F.


Last edited by DHF845 on Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
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