I want to build a 6x6 camera around this lens - any ideas?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by mikedoran, May 21, 2012.

  1. [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]I have acquired the lens pictured above and would like to build a 6x6 camera system around it and I'm looking for ideas.
    The lens is believed to be a 1997 Leitz made Military spec. T* coated lens which is fixed focus, has a focal length of 17mm, f0.6, it has an field of view of 163 degrees, (which supposedly exactly matches the human eye).
    As far as I can tell everything from the surface of the lens to infinity is in focus.
    The lens produces a focussed Image circle of 59mm when focussed on ground glass and focus falls approximately 22mm behind the rear flange surface and 25mm behind the rear element.
    There is no shutter or diaphragm with the lens.
    My problem is I need to find a shutter system (preferably with a diaphragm built in) that will fit between the back of the lens and the focal plane, also the shutter will probably have to incorporate a removable roll film back.
    The alternative would be to open the lens case and machine a facility to drop in a large diaphragm/shutter from another lens.
    I don't know if you can see from the pictures but the rearmost tube is 75mm, and the preceeding one is 100mm. Whatever shutter/diaphragm arrangement that could be dropped in would have to be fairly huge with an opening of at least 60mm.
    So my question is if you were building a camera for this lens where would you start?
    Also in case you are wondering why anybody would go to all of that trouble just for a lens - I can't really begin to tell you how giddy i get looking through it, the images the lens produces really are jaw droppingly fantastically sharp and beautiful.
    Many thanks
  2. Wow! What a find.
    You could try an Ilex Acme #5 mechanical leaf shutter. It has an iris and a clear aperture of 63mm. But it's about 4cm thick - sounds like you don't have that much to play with. Countersinking into the 76mm-threaded front hole might work to save you some back focus.
    If you've got the cash, a Hartblei HCam gives you a thin modular body with a modern 645 focal plane shutter. It takes 645 digital and film backs. It is designed to shoot 35mm-format lenses onto these MF backs, so the body might be thin enough? Stefan Steib ("Mr. Hartblei") is the man to ask, and he's on record as basically saying that he'll consider any interesting design variant.
  3. Mike, What a cool lens. I can't imagine what the military would have paid for that lens, but I bet it was a lot. What is the flange distance? Is the 75mm tube a spacer between the lens and the film plane? You could simply buy a MF camera with a shutter in the body, like a Hasselblad 200x series, or equivalent from Mamiya, Pentax, Rollei, et. al. Sounds like you don't even have significant light fall off issues.
  4. Hi Ray,
    thanks very much for the response, I hadn't heard of either of your suggestions so I'll look into both. My budget might not stretch to the Hartblei if it's as expensive as I think it will be.
    My original thinking was to fit a Sinar/Copal fp shutter behind the lens and look for a large process lens to scavenge a diaphragm from - but I would much rather end up with something that looks elegant rather than a frankenstein - so the Hartblei route might be the way to go.
    The lens was an absolute find - I paid £70 on ebay, the seller's description was 'big lens!'
  5. You are an astute eBay purchaser. 70 pounds (a little over a hundred dollars)! I would probably consider it first as a great collectible (for yourself or to be trade to another) and research the link of Leitz and Hughes, which was no doubt what ius the present Raytheon factory that still operates at the Leitz site (from its 1950s indoor hockey rink beginnings) in Midland, Ontario, and makes military optics based on some former Leitz designs.
    Dr. Walter Mandler, chief optical scientist/manager at Leitz, later Leica (corporate and name change sometime in the 1980s), was said to have been somewhat bored with camera lens designs (he made some of the most notable and advanced Leica camera lenses of the 1970s to late 1980s period) and more interested in the higher challenges of the non-consumer optics. I would try to find out whether the design was from Leitz-Leica, or internal to Hughes.
    That said, I wouldn't hack up the back body of the lens to put in some sort of 3rd party leaf shutter, but would look at the possibility of have a mount made (or otherwise adapting) the lens as it is to a focal plane shutter type MF film or digital backed body, like a Hasselblad focal plane shutter body (2000 series?) or a similar other focal plane shutter 6x6 body. That way you leave this interesting find intact, and maybe you will have the widest angle 6x6 lens of any available.
  6. @Michael Axel
    I dread to think what it would have originally cost too, the glass is utterly exquisite and flawless and heaven knows how difficult it would have been to find a block of lens grade glass big enough just to make the front element.
    The serial number says 0007 so there are at least another 6 out there too.
    The flange distance appears to be 20-23mm - I get different measurements every time I try, the trouble is it is very heavy (38lbs including the flight case and 21lbs without) and almost impossible to measure when one hand is needed to hold one end up.
    I'll look into the Pentax Mamiya route - I'd forgotten about the Pentax 6x7 body etc, I'll avoid the Hasselblads as just typing the word makes me sweat.
    As you've guessed there is no fall off in the light, If you place a light meter behind the lens you actually get a 2 stop higher reading than from in front of the lens, it's almost like a torch.
    The 75mm tube actually houses various lens elements so it's more than just a spacer - Im half tempted to disassemble it to play around with the flange distance but I probably wont as I've ruined quite a few lenses by 'experimenting' and I think I'd be shot if I ruined this one.
    Thanks for your suggestions!
  7. Mike, nice hunk of glass. I do not believe an Image circle of 59mm will fully cover 6x6. I believe the minimum Image circle for 6x6 coverage would be 80mm diameter.
  8. lwg


    Raymond is correct that 80mm would be the image circle needed. And at 59mm it would be a bit to large to get the full circle on 120 film. Why not keep it simple and mount it to an old 4x5 monorail. At 38lbs you won't be backpacking it much anyway. Plus with the monorail you could build a bracket to hold the lens. Then focus by moving the rear standard. You could then capture the full image circle, which would be cool.
  9. I do not believe an Image circle of 59mm will fully cover 6x6. I believe the minimum Image circle for 6x6 coverage would be 80mm diameter.​
    True, but I think that Mike's idea is to make a circular fisheye (the strong barrel distortion in Mike's final photo shows that it's a fisheye), not a full-frame one which hits the format corners diagonally. A 59mm circle just fits inside the 61mm width of rollfilm, although at its widest point, the image might just overlap with the film edge markings. So a slightly oversized 6x6 square format would be perfect for this lens (61x61 mm rather than the usual 56x56 mm).
    maybe you will have the widest angle 6x6 lens of any available.​
    As a 163 degree fisheye, it won't be quite as wide diagonally as the 180 degree Zeiss, Kiev and Bronica 6x6 fisheyes. But it could cover about as much field, by virtue of showing the complete 163-deg circle rather than a square cropped from within a 180-deg circle...there's a simple little math problem for anyone who wants to calculate the respective areas in square degrees.
    Mike, I think it's important to emphasize that no existing focal plane medium format camera will do, except perhaps the Hartblei....unless you really want a strongly macro-only fisheye! Its 20-something mm back focus is a real limitation. And all the ultra thin medium format cameras I can think of have their shutter in the wideangle lens - SWC, Horseman, Alpa etc. You mentioned the Sinar modular shutter and that's another interesting possiblity. Somewhat like the Hartblei in their purpose, Sinar variants were sold to shoot Olympus OM or Nikon F lenses onto the original 36x24mm digital backs of the late '90s.
    Then again, there's one last possibility. Put it on ebay at a price of £10,000 and slap "Ultra Rare Leica fisheye collectors item S/N 0007" on the listing! And with the profit you make from the Chinese cardboard-box tycoon who buys it, treat yourself to...well anything you desire!
  10. Thanks so much for all the great suggestions, I'll try to reply to them in turn, Arthur thanks for the background information on Leitz Canada, (how do you even know that stuff?)!
    it would be nice to think that this lens was designed and made as a technical fun challenge but some indulgent/bored optical geniuses, I'm not much into collectibles and when you look through the lens it really is hilarious, wherever you point it the world does crazy things, I really want to shoot hundreds of places and things with it, if I have to slightly modify it then I'm leaning towards thinking it will be worth it just for the images.
    Also - I would have preferred to use it as a movie lens as this lens mounted to a moving vehicle would be such a blast to watch on a big screen - alas the flange distance precludes it...
    Raymond, I realise it wont cover a full 6x6 frame but I quite like the colourful circle in a black square look. If you crop the top, bottom and sides you miss an awful lot of the scene and I reckon if you can capture it then you should?
    LG, I was half thinking about going 4x5 but I want the convenience of being able to waste lots of film and not breaking the bank, so roll film (or possibly in the future when funds allow an interchangeable digital back). I have a design for a tripod mount incorporating a carrying handle which i'll start machining soon.
    Ray, thanks for the info on focal plane cameras, I was looking at an early Zenza Brionica SQ which has a shutter which looks the right distance from the film plane but It would require the near destruction of most of the camera to get the lens right in there, as would most of the others. As to your suggestion of selling it to an Oriental gentleman - I really fancy a unique camera that produces unique images, and If I did sell it for £10k I'd just blow it on a ton of crap.
  11. <p>Hmm. No SLR will do. They all have mirrors that will get in the way, given the lens' very short back focus.</p>
    <p>A standard monorail view camera won't do either, not even a Sinar with a behind-the-lens shutter. </p>
    <p>I've mounted a similar but longer, slower and much smaller .75"/2.8 Elcan lens in barrel with diaphragm on a 2x3 Pacemaker Speed Graphic. To see how it was done, visit http://www.galerie-photo.com/telechargement/dan-fromm-6x9-lenses-v2-2011-03-29.pdf </p>
    <p>The work was done by www.skgrimes.com I don't have a 4x5 Pacemaker Speed Graphic at hand, so can't measure to be absolutely sure but am fairly sure that your monster can be mounted on one, but with supports etc., much as my little one was on my 2x3 Speed. There are 6x6 rollholders for 4x5 Graphics with Graflok backs. </p>
    <p>About diaphragms. Putting one behind or in front of the lens will vignette the image and that's about it. Your best bets for controlling exposure are shutter speed and ND filters. </p>
    <p>Rebuilding the lens with a diaphragm inside it may be, but probably isn't, possible. Best to get an opinion from an expert photographer's machinist such as Adam Dau of skgrimes.</p>
  12. Mike, now I am getting the picture. This would make for an interesting composition.
  13. LG: 38 pounds? Wow, a bit heavy as a future camera lens, even for its apparent f 0.6 maximum aperture.
    Mike, I quite admire your desire to make it work as a camera lens, but you will likely need to find some niche applications for it. What those may be, I don't know. One possibility would be to ask the Leica Historical Society of America (LHSA) whether anyone has had experience with this unusual lens or know of anyone who has. Maybe Leica lens guru and former employee Erwin Puts in Holland (Google his name and you should get his webisite) would have some ideas about the particular qualities-applications of this lens.
    Information about Leitz Canada can also be had via Google if you are interested. Although they kept making optics there until the late 1980s the camerea production was repatriated back to Germany about 30 years ago.
    Some of the IMAX 3-D cinemas in Canada (and elsewhere?) use Hughes-Leitz optics for their projectors but I know not whether your lens was used in those applications.
  14. Hi Dan,
    Thanks for the Pacemaker Speed Graphic suggestion - I've just had a look at an example on ebay and that looks like the simplest and cheapest way to get a working setup to try.
    I had no idea they had FP shutters built in!
    The Hartblei Hcam looks like the best long term solution as it offers both film and digital backs and it looks like a professional setup - nothing worse than trying to shoot a serious subject in public with a camera that looks like it was made by a madman in an asylum - I'll have to save up for the £5k asking price though.
    Your link doesn't work for me - it just hangs - but thanks for the SKgrimes link.
  15. Hi Arthur, it weighs around 20lbs but 38 with its case, I'm sure I'll find a lighter way to safely carry it.
    Thanks for the IMax suggestion too - I just googled 'Imax lenses' and came up with the following two links...
    I've asked on several Leitz/ Leica sites for info on the lens and got nowhere - most frequent suggestion was that it was an xray lens - the serial number of 350 0003 on the lens on the second link is almost identical to mine which means that my lens was/is almost certainly an Imax planetarium type lens?
  16. Mike wrote: "I've asked on several Leitz/ Leica sites for info on the lens and got nowhere - most frequent suggestion was that it was an xray lens - the serial number of 350 0003 on the lens on the second link is almost identical to mine which means that my lens was/is almost certainly an Imax planetarium type lens?"
    Sorry, Mike, yours is engraved C530-0007. In the Elcan scheme of things C530 identifies it as type 530, -0007 is the individual lens' serial number. I think, have one Elcan catalog that says so, that the C prefix identifies it as an aerial reconnaissance lens. Elcan seems to have assigned serial numbers sequentially within type.
    The Imax lens is type 350 with no "C" prefix. Not close at all, but as always I could well be mistaken.
    Elcan made many lens types, of which a handful were for Leica cameras. These last are fairly well documented, the others aren't and there's much confusion about them.
  17. The back end of the lens resembles the type of mount used with projection lenses. And there is no shutter or diaphragm. That's also consistent with a projection lens. The Omnimax (dome type) IMAX theaters do utilize fisheye lenses. The Hughes/Raytheon/ELCAN plant does make the IMAX/Omnimax projection lenses.
    Put that all together, and what do you have?
  18. Thanks for the input guys, Rob.F I am leaning to the view that it is a projection lens of some sort, although the case the lens came in does seem to be slightly military in style and weight, also the Hughes 'C' designation suggests a military origin.
    I would be extraordinarily happy if it is an IMAX lens as I've just been finding out how much an Imax projector set-up costs and it appears they start at $400k for a basic installation with $50k being an average price for a custom Leitz Elcan lens - apparently the custom fisheyes can run to $70k!!!!
    Just as a curveball does anybody know of a lens type addition (a contact lens - if you will) that I could possibly add to the rear of this lens that would substantially alter the flange focus distance?
    The Alteration I was thinking of was to possibly get it to fill an 8x10 viewfinder? (yeah I know it's unlikely)!
  19. Two curve ball options come to mind:<br>A Barlow lens/teleconverter. But they are made to maintain the flange to film distance, only increasing the focal length, they could, in theory, also be used to stretch the flange to film distance. Just try a negative lens behind the fisheye.<br><br>A relay lens assembly. Intricate, and takes up most of the room between lens and film.<br>What you could do, is mount the fisheye on a standard (for instance the front, lens bearer standard of a view camera), put a complete camera (doesn't have to be a view camera. Could be any camera that has close focus capabilities) behind it, focussed on the aerial image produced by the fisheye. In effect you'll be making a reproduction of the image produced by the fisheye, instead of recording the image on film directly.<br>That should indeed work...<br>But difficult to build a usable light tight tunnel between the rear of the fisheye and the taking lens of the 'reproduction' camera. Make that front part a complete view camera (allows to focus the second, repro camera on the groundglass image too, that. Must be able to move the standards close enough, so perhaps a recessed board to mount the fisheye on), remove the focussing screen when set up, and throw a dark cloth over the lot when you're ready to expose.<br>Solves the shutter issue too: the 'repro' camera takes care of that. And you do not need to make a 1:1 recording of the image, so will be able to squeeze the image onto a smaller format, or enlarge part of it.
  20. Perhaps you could adapt it to a large format lens board? The Graphlex cameras had focal plane shutters and roll film adapters and also came in 2x3.
  21. imax projector lens sounds reasonable. 8x10? LOL it will never come close to covering that, no way, no how.
    an interesting lens to be sure, and a deal if you can resell it to someone needing an imax lens, but as a camera lens, there's better solutions. (RZ67 with 37mm fisheye for example). It doesn't look like it's designed for capturing images, there appears to be no internal blackening of the barrel, also hard to tell but it doesn't look like it has multicoating on it...
  22. Any progress ?!

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