An ancient wide angle lens

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by chauncey_walden, May 25, 2008.

  1. This is for Dan Fromm who said in another thread: "The ancient lenses that really aren't up to modern ones are wide angles and telephotos. There's been great progress in those types, much less in lenses of normal construction." Perhaps this is true in his experience - I know he has had a lot of it! But, I have one old wide angle that never ceases to amaze me. It is a tiny 75mm S-M Perigraphe with wheel stops, which I guess qualifies it for ancient. I use it on a 4x5 Speed Graphic. Here's a shot taken in the desert near Tucson. True, there is a little flare from the sun rising over the mountains in the background but, it is multiUNcoated and thus would not be expected to be totally free from this. What is amazing is that it covers 4x5 without a whimper. The corners are as solid as the center. Of course, this little scan isn't going to really show what it can do, but it will give you the idea.
  2. Wow, that does look good, well composed and sharp as. I do find that wide angles benefit from coating as you are more likely to include a light or bright area in your shot. I use a Rodenstock Grandagon with multi-coating on my 5x4, controls the flare really well.

    For a lot of my shots these days, I prefer the single or non-coated lenses when using B&W, keeps the details in the shadows better.

    As you say, don't write off the old lens designs as they are more often then not, damn near as good as the new ones. The only advantage with modern coatings is for colour work, especially transparencies.

  3. Dan must speak for himself but I don;t think he is saying that wide angle lenses and telephotos did not exist or work in times past. Rather that the design and manufacture of medium focal length lenses matured much earlier than other focal lengths. Wide angles and telephotos had to wait for advances such as coatings and high refracive index glasses to come along before we get modern designs.

    But as you demonstrate the older designs stil work nicely.
  4. Chauncey, I didn't know that you had a Perigraphe. I've wanted to try one ever since I learned about 'em. By repute, and in work I've seen with 'em (Christian Nze, for one), they're fine lenses. We agree that (a) w/a lenses have been made for a long long time and (b) oldies can be very good.

    Where we disagree is about their disadvantages relative to newer lenses. I see a couple of advantages with modern (post 1950 or so) wide angles. Larger maximum apertures, so easier focusing and composing. Better coverage near wide open; the oldies get full coverage, i.e., put sharp(?) image in the corners, at smaller apertures than modern lenses. I put the (?) in because IMO at f/45 nothing is particularly sharp.

    But yes, as soon as the first anastigmats were made there were very capable w/a lenses. I have one such just now, a 62/18 CZJ Protar. It is a loaner, I have to return it, so I've tried it out. Migod, f/18 is dim. Focusing is hard, composing harder. My 65/8 llex, which has more coverage, is much easier to use and covers 2x3 (that's what I shoot) just fine wide open.

    I mentioned anastigmats because early anastigmatic w/a lenses can be pretty good, subject to dimness and not so great sharpness when used as intended. I'm completely ignorant about wide angle rectilinears, hope someone who knows more will chime in. The ones I've read about have the same handicaps as early w/a anastigmats; they're slow and have to be stopped way down to get full coverage.

    Tell us more about y'r 75 Perigraphe. Maximum aperture, serial number. Since it is engraved SOM I think it has to be post-WWII.

    I've shot similar desert scenes around Ajo with a w/a. Same results, and I knew I was going to get them so I have no excuse. Lots of foreground.


  5. I don't think they were using wheel stops Post WWII. Someones reference book is wrong.
  6. Um, Cliff, when was the SOM name first used?
  7. I think we are agreed, Dan. But this has taken a weird turn. I just always assumed that it was an old lens (I know the design is old ca 1910) because of the wheel stops - which are marked somewhat unusually, by the way, 14, 20, 28, 40, 56. But, hey it's French! Your comment about post-WWII and asking for the serial number had me dig it out for a closer look. I also dug out the Vade Mecum and read through all of the SOM Berthiot writeup. I got to the part about the lenses on a Verascope stereo and noted that the numbers there were less than mine - 480,xxx - (and the Verascope came out in the 1938-1940 period) and finally got all the way to the end of the writeup where comments were made on serial numbers to find that it is probably early 1940's. Not ancient in any book - heck, I'm not ancient. The lens is tiny, less than 5/8 inch thick and 1 1/2 in diameter. There probably is just no room in there for an iris aperture. The diameter of the glass itself is only 1/2 inch which is probably why I never noticed that it is COATED! Faint perhaps, but a real coating. Boy is my face red.
    Anyway, it is one of a baker's dozen barrel lenses in an Orvis reel case that I have for my Speed Graphic. Another in there is a 135mm f/16 Dallmeyer WA Rectilinear of 1886 which is a very good lens. (I also have a nice Bausch & Lomb WA Rectilinear of about 200mm that covers 8x10).
  8. Certainly a picture of the lens would have been helpful. The SOM lenses were, I thought, cinema lenses, and certainly wouldn't have had wheel stops. If the French were using wheel stops in the 40's and 50's they were really backward. And the lens coating is not really an issue, since there were many lenses "retro coated".
  9. Cliff, French lens makers confuse even the French. Berthiot offered lenses that were engraved, at various times, Berthiot, Lacour Berthiot, and SOM Berthiot. Berthiot was a major lens manufacturer, made lenses for a variety of still cameras in most if not all formats. The ones we see in the US are mainly for cine cameras, there were others. Relatively modern trade names include Flor, Olor, and, yes, Perigraphe.

    Chauncey, there's ancient and then there's ancient. Some old designs persisted unchanged for over half a century.

    My copy of the most recent edition of Les Chiffres Cles is in the office, I'll check it tomorrow and let you know what it says about when SOM was founded or took over Berthiot, if it says anything.

    To get back to your 75 Perigraphe, what is its maximum aperture?


  10. Here's a quickie:
  11. This sure doesn't look like the cinema lenses of the 40's and 50's. If it was that recent, it must have been a re-production of their old 1880 lenses.
  12. Cliff, the lens is an anastigmat. Wasn't designed in the 1880s, no anastigmat design is that old. 1910 +/- is more likely. And Perigraphes -- there were several models with different maximum apertures -- were in production into the 1960s. I'm sure the lenses were recalculated from time to time.

    As I wrote, Berthiot offered a full line of lenses for 35 mm, 6x6, 6x9 and larger formats. These all went away with the collapse of the French camera industry in the '60s. Berthiot soldiered on with cine and TV lenses; Boyer made their living, for the most part, with process and enlarging lenses, Hermagis died; Angenieux went its own way, ... Similar collapses happened in the UK, Italy, and even Germany and Japan.
  13. Here is a photo of the Berthiot Plate camera with that lens, clearly not 1940's technology. They were advertising extra rapid F6.? models by 1907. In fact I found one reference to the Lacour Berthiot 14/90 "Perigrafe" dating to 1865. So this one being marked SOM is either a re-production of the old lens or the SOM mark is older than the VM says it is.
  14. Cliff, B&L made Protars until at least 1960, Ross made f/16 w/a lenses, Ser. V Protars by another name, into the early '50s. Do you mean to say that these lenses were replicas made to please collectors? It seems much more likely that they were made and sold to be used.

    I have to thank you for forcing me to look at Fabre. See . He makes it pretty clear that the name perigraphe and the adjective perigraphic were applied to lenses that antedated anastigmats, i.e., wide angle rectilinears. We always have to remember that a trade name can be applied to more than one design type.

    I'd appreciate your reference for when Lacour and Berthiot joined forces, also your 1865 Perigrafe reference.

    When I get to work tomorrow I'll look in my copy of Les Chiffres Cles to see what Pont says about Berthiot's history.
  15. Did B&L and Ross put the Protars in flange mount brass barrels with wheel stops, in the 50's and 60's?

    I would agree with Chauncey's original statement that this lens being of an ancient and primitive construction, with it's wheel stops (maybe not as old as originally thought) , does indeed do a good job. Thank You Chauncey, for posting the photograph so we could all see the results from this fine lens.
  16. Cliff, when you ask me questions or present me with objections I answer to the best of my ability. Please give me the same courtesy. Not answering a direct question just won't do.
  17. Chauncey, I've got to work and looked to see what Pont has on Berthiot. Nothing useful, alas, just the list of serial numbers that was published in the VM.
  18. I have the similar uncoated lens in the brass barrel. The engravings on the side says:
    < 31287 Lacour Berthiot Fab Opt. n Paris Perigraphe Anastigmatique Symetrique No2 >
    There are no any marks on the weel stops, no focus engravings on the barrel.
    The focus appears to be known when seeing the image on the GG. It is about 90mm. It gives good colour landscape pictures in retro style.
  19. Victor, if P-H Pont's Berthiot chronology is correct, your lens was made between 1900 and 1905.
  20. Thanks, Dan.
    BTW the lens is used on the Sinar Norma 4X5.
  21. I have similar to Victor's Randin lens except digits - 31281. Lens was adopted to macro bellows and successfully used as soft portrait lens attached to 35mm SLR.

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