CLA or replace old Kodak lens?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by alan_gage, Jul 5, 2004.

  1. Hi all,

    This winter I picked up an old Newton New-vue 4X5 camera and finally
    started using it in the last week. The lens that came with it is an
    old Kodak 6 3/8" f4.5 Anastigmat with a #3 supermatic shutter. It also
    says "no. 32" on the lens but I'm not sure what that's referring to.

    All the shutter speeds sound correct, but I don't really trust them
    that much considering the age this lens must be. It also looks like a
    fine spider web on the inside of the lens. I don't know if it's fungus
    or just dust. It doesn't really look like the fungus I've seen before.

    Anyway, I'm just trying to figure out if I should spend the money to
    have this lens CLA'd or just buy a used one to replace it. For now I
    think I'd be pretty happy having only one lens with a focal length of
    around 135mm. I really haven't found any information on this lens and
    was wondering about it's quality. I realize I should be the one to
    judge if it's good enough for me, but I don't want to put too much
    stock in the results with dust/fungus in the lens. The few pictures
    I've taken with it so far look pretty good to me, though that's only
    with a loupe and contact sheet (waiting for lens board to do 4X5 on my

    Does anyone know if this lens is even coated? Does anyone know the
    reputed quality of this lens or have any experience with it? If it was
    your lens would you CLA it or replace it?

    Thanks much,

  2. Alan-

    Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the lens you've got. I did find a thread about it at
    Also, there's one for sale on for $145 (which seems kind of "hopeful" to me).

    If you have a repair shop in your town you should be able to make a deal with them to look over the lens and tell you what's going on with it for around US$20.

    You should be able to tell if the lens is coated by holding it a foot or more under a light bulb. If the reflection you see is the same color as the light (i.e., yellowish if you're using a standard incandescent light), then the lens is most likely uncoated. If the reflections take on another hue (pinkish, bluish, etc.), the lens is probably coated. If you see multiple reflections that are different colors, the lens is multicoated.

    Best of luck with this. (Personally, I'd probably take the lens to have it looked over; if it's under $50 to have it CLU'd, then I'd think it was a bargain. If it'll cost more than that, it's probably worth trying to find out about the lens before you spend the money on it.)

    Be well.
    Fiddlefye likes this.
  3. Re The lens that came with it is an old Kodak 6 3/8" f4.5 Anastigmat with a #3 supermatic shutter. It also says "no. 32" on the lens but I'm not sure what that's referring to.

    The pre World War 2 Kodak lens books gave numbers to lens designs. The No32 is a Kodak Anastigmat F 4.5; of 6 3/8 inch focal length; which covers a 4x5" plate at f4.5 : angular view 35x42 degrees; Filter Series VII. It is a 4 element; 3 group design; corrected for infinity to 1/3 subject size; at F4.5 . It is for Press; Commercial; and Studio cameras.

    The No31 lens is a 5 1/2"
    The No33 lens is a 7 1/2"
    The No34 lens is a 8 1/2"
    The No35 lens is a 10"
    The No36 lens is a 12"
  4. You have a lens of very high quality for its era; and still a decent lens by todays standards. If Pre WW2; it probabaly is uncoated; if Post WW2; it probably is single coated. The "no. 32" is listed in both pre WW2 and post WW2 Kodak lens manuals. Kodak started to coat military lenses during the war; then most post WW2 lenses. Later they added an "L" as their symbol for coating. Here I have several lenses that are coated; and have no "L"; these are WW2; and just after WW2 lenses. The "L" was added as a marketing tool. <BR><BR>If about WW2 or later; it might have the Camerosity serial code; C=1; E=4; R=5; etc. A lens made in 1945 might be serial number ER1234; a 1949 lens a ET7779; a 1955 lens a RR4556. <BR><BR>An old lens that is uncoated and or dusty really could use a nice lens hood; to keep the contrast up; flare down.<BR><BR>I would keep the lens.
  5. The old Newtons are good cameras. I picked up a Brand 4x5 awhile back; design is similar but not the same. Both are decent designs, and built like a tank.

    Be sure and check your bellows for light leaks! If it's leaking, this could make your lens look bad when it's not.

    This spider web stuff sounds like fungus to me. I've seen fungus in that configuration before, once. I was able to clean it right off and it hadn't etched the glass yet, so the lens is fine. After cleaning, you could leave the cleaned lens elements on a windowsill for a day to catch the ultraviolet light to really kill the stuff off so it won't come back. (Just make sure the elements aren't focusing the light to a point -- you wouldn't want to set the place on fire!)

    You should be able to easily unscrew the elements from the shutter to see if the fungus is on the outside surface of elements. If so, you're in luck. It should clean right off. If you're reluctant to undertake this yourself, go to a local, trusted camera repair place and see what they can do. Just try to find someone experienced with large format equipment, to hedge your bets.

    The shutter, if still working well, is a keeper! Well worth a CLA.

    In fact, the whole thing is a keeper.

    One more thing about fungus: It can migrate into the shutter too. When you take off the elements, you could look for signs that it's gone onto the shutter or aperture blades. If it's there, you might just want to get the whole thing cleaned out at once.

    If you get the fungus cleaned off the elements and it's etched the glass, you could fill in the etching with flat black paint or ink. Just make sure it's not glossy. This won't affect the pictures; if used in enough quantity it might slow the lens down slightly, but that would be the only effect. This is an old lens repair trick, and works when you have scratches or nicks, even to fill in glass bubbles that break through to the surface.
  6. Hopefully it's uncoated and has a lot of defects in addition to those spider webs. If not take it outside and roll it around on the sidewalk, drop it on a concrete floor, let your cat play with it. Deliberately screwing up photographs by using ancient defective lenses is the "in" thing these days. Look at what Sally Mann has been able to accomplish using lenses like that. Getting this lens might be the break you've been looking for.
  7. You might try actually making a picture with it and evaluating the result. Nah....
  8. Hi Bill,

    You might try actually reading the whole post before making a smart remark...NAH!

    "I realize I should be the one to judge if it's good enough for me, but I don't want to put too much stock in the results with dust/fungus in the lens. The few pictures I've taken with it so far look pretty good to me, though that's only with a loupe and contact sheet (waiting for lens board to do 4X5 on my enlarger)."

    Now that may smart ass reply is out of the way.... ;-)

    Maybe I should add that it's a cheap loupe at that and I'm still not very good at evaluating negatives. The replies I've gotten have made up my mind that I'll just send the lens in cleaned and repaired. I just wanted to make sure these old lenses didn't have a terrible reputation for continuing problems or something. Unfortunately the closest "local" repair shop is a few hours away; so I'll have to send it in.

    The serial # on my lens didn't come close to matching the examples given and the little bit that I looked last night I couldn't see any signs of coating on the lens. I'll look again when I get off work and compare it to my old Rolleiflex from the early 50's. That is if there's any coating left since I took Brians advice and have been carrying it around in a shoulder bag filled with gravel (can't wait to see how much better my pictures are!!).

    I want to thank everyone (even you Bill, for giving me something to smile about when I got up this morning) for their responses and information, it was just what I wanted to know.

  9. Alan; are there any two letters in the first part of the serial number??? ie the date code part?<BR><BR>The pre WW2 Retinas had Ektars; that were really made by Schneider; and they didnt have any "camerosity" date codes..
  10. I use a 7.5" Kodak Anastigmat. It's usually the first one I go for when I'm going out due to it's size. Stopped down, my sample performs very well.
    Some great reading on Ektars and Kodak Anastigmats;
    Kodak Ektar Lenses

    I'd keep it. Try it out, it might be better than you think!
  11. HI Kelly,

    I forgot to mention in my follow up post that I'm at work now and I'll post the serial number when I get home tonight...or during my noon hour if I can remember.


  12. Let me give you at least a few points on the side of NOT sending it out for CLA right away.
    To put i tin perspective, for the most part I am not a fan of old, grundgy glass. There are
    a number of reasons for shooting LF and the ultimte clarity of the image is one of them.
    You will not even begin to see the possibilities of a 4x5 chrome or negative with the lens
    you have.

    Now, that doesn't mean throw it away, it does mean think hard and evaluate how much
    you are going to have to spend to improve its performance. A goo dCLA for the shutter
    will cost you somewhere between 50-80. If any owrk has to be done on the lens elements
    that includes removing them from their housings, separating elements, recementing after
    cleaning, etc. you could be running the tab up even higher and you will still have an
    uncoated lens with some defects in the glass. I suggest you do two things: 1) make sure
    you get an estimate from the technician befor ehe does any work. 2) if you can, borrow or
    rent a modern lens and shoot it with your camera and compare the results with what you
    get from your old lens then go from there.

    We too often forget but, even at 350-500 each lenses are relatively inexpensivbe when
    you consider the number of years over which you are going to amortize them (I have
    lenses I have been using for 20+ years and one for nearly 40).

    Good luck and enjoy
  13. Thanks for the link Phillip, that's an interesting read.

    I guess I was more tired then I thought last night as I looked at the serial # on my way to bed, and at the time I didn't totally understand what Kelly meant by "Camerosity" and that each letter corresponded to a number "1-9" and "Y"="0".

    My serial # is EM32-3222K...which makes it....hmmmm....OLD! Or 1943 to be more accurate.

    I'll get the lens sent out in the next day or two and look forward to getting it back and giving it a real workout. The bellows appear to be in good shape and I couldn't pickup any light leaks; but the seam where the 2 edges of the bellows are glued together is seperating. I'm open to any ideas about repairing that if possible, maybe that should be it's own thread though...or the answer is probably in the archives if I looked. I'll talk to the guy who does my repairs too and see if he does any work on large format cameras themselves or bellows.

    Thanks again all,

  14. Good points Ted, but I think I'll ignore them anyway. ;-)

    The lens is all packaged up and ready to go. I talked to the guy that does my repairs and he said if everything goes as planned it should be in the $50 neighborhood. Even if it's not the best lens it will at least let me get the hang of LF and figure out which focal length(s) I want when I do upgrade lenses.

    As far as thinking of a new lens as a long term investment...why would I want to do that? Film will only be available for a few more years anyway so I won't be able to use it for 20+ years. As soon as I save up enough money I'll by a REAL camera (Digital Rebel) and blow all my old MF and LF prints out of the water...just you watch!


  15. Alan & Ted & the group; <BR><BR>Here is a shot with an uncoated 4 element "Tessar type design"; a 127mm F4.5 Kodak Ektar; in infrared; with a 35 megapixel digital scan back. The lens is an EA code; from 1941; two years older than Alans lens.<BR><BR> The lens resolves more than the "obsolete" digital back; so a "newer/better/modern" lens would be a waste of money; for the central core of the image. This lens here was tested at 80 line pairs/mm in the center; but is way down to 15 at the far corners. The 127mm is really a 3x4" camera lens; but was used for many 4x5 press cameras; were corner sharpness wasnt required for low enlargements. <BR><BR><IMG SRC=><BR><BR><IMG SRC=><BR><BR>The Jet Ski is blurred; it moved during the scan. The buildings are 2440 meters/8000ft/1.5 miles away from the camera; across a hot lake. <BR><BR>
    <IMG SRC=>
  16. The digital back takes minutes for a scan. Anything that moves is blured. Thus the grass in the lake is blured; but the buildings are very sharp. This is an indoor studio back; for still life usage. It requires an IR filter for true color.
  17. I figured I should update this. I've had the lens back for a few weeks now and have taken some pics with it. Unfotunately most of the pics aren't that interesting because I haven't had a whole lot of time and they've mostly been experimenting with development times.

    I did get a couple sheets of Provia back though and they look great. Looking at a few of the pics under a loupe it looks like the edges may be softer then I'd like...more experimentation will tell for sure though.

    Overall I'm very happy with my decision to get it CLA'd. It only cost about $65 (shipping included) and I think the lens will serve me very least through my learning stage if not longer.

    Thanks again for the advice and lens information,

  18. Glad it seems to be working out.
    Can you tell us who you had do the CLA?
  19. Lots of lenses even with heavy fungus still can make good pictures.

    ditto for shutter
  20. Did you notice the posting date of this thread?

    "alan_gage was last seen: Sep 9, 2013"

    So it seems unlikely you'll get a response from Alan, and the chance of the repairer still being in business is also quite slim.
    akocurek likes this.

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