Kodak Autographic Special No 1 with Bausch and Lomb Tessar

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by ralf_j., May 4, 2008.

  1. Some time last August I saw a presentation by Mike Connealy on the Kodak No 1 Special with a Bausch and Lomb Tessar and was surprised with the quality of the camera and images the photographer made with it. As Mike mentions, this camera started production some 93 years ago and was made for nearly 5 years.
    I managed to find one some time last Fall and was filled with anticipation while waiting for its arrival. When it arrived, I cracked the package open and was disappointed to see the beat up field case which enclosed the camera; however when I opened the case it was as if I had opened a prized vintage wine perfectly preserved for almost a century, cosmetically that is. Upon a 10 minute inspection I was able to determine that the shutter needed service, the lens a cleaning, the whole camera a good dusting, but most impostantly the bellows were leak free.
    After these services were fullfilled I took it out on several ocassions and was surprised with the tonality this lens rendered on the negatives. IMHO, it is of other-worldly, dreamy effect. The negatives were sharp but without overdoing the contrast which I came to admire more and more after 4 rolls had gone through the camera. Ease of use and pleasing results made this camera a true winner in my book.
    The other day I picked up some eye drops to ease some allergy related dry eyes and the recommended drops were made by, you guessed it ... Bausch and Lomb. It made me a little sad that a manufacturer of such a fine lens has completely abandoned photography, but such is life; I am sure they were not the first and certainly not the last to exit the world of photography...
    Here is the camera and some photos taken with it.
    The Lily Pond
    Exposure unrecorded, on Kodak E200
    The Regatta
    Exposure unrecorded, on Fuji Neopan Acros 100
    The Afternoon Bather
    Exposure unrecorded, on Fuji Neopan 400
    A Moment of Peace
    Exposure unrecorded, on Fuji Neopan 400
    Mom's Tomatoes

    Exposure unrecorded, on Fuji Neopan 400
  2. Ralf, thanks a lot for the report!

    Could you attach any cropped parts of these photos? I'd love to see how camera handled details.

    Thanks again!
  3. Beautiful Ralf. Great lens, and that was a Super Duper shutter for it's day too. I almost bought one of those cameras one time to use the lens and shutter for a press camera, but ended up with something else. Now I'm glad I didn't orphan a good frame. Very Nice!
  4. Lovely old camera and you have handled it well. Love the lighting in the portrait, keep burning film!
  5. Inspiring work with that great old Kodak. Hope you will have a chance to show us more from it.
  6. Ralf,

    Super Photos! I like the Tree in the Garden. I think the seascapes are breathtaking. Like Tony said

  7. Gorgeous tones and great compositions. The seascapes remind me of work by Gustav Le Grey in the 1850s. Who would've guessed that old lens is so sharp? The photos do have a "glow" which is why we keep going back to these old folders.

    Doesn't Bausch & Lomb still grind lenses for the military and space program? When I was in Rochester in the early 1990s B&L had lent a Norden Bombsight to the Eastman House.
    Truly they were one of the world's great optical companies, but like so many things American were under valued and missed only after they were gone.
  8. Ralf

    Excellent pictures from a real classic. It really is a good and fast lens for this camera. It uses 120 film, isn't it? Thanks for sharing, Minh
  9. Ralf,

    Great camera in great hands. The pictures are incredible. "A Moment of Peace" is real charming.

    Thanks for sharing them!
  10. Very nice ! Thanks
  11. I know somebody who's been to BBG and Coney Island here.
  12. Bausch & Lomb still makes lots of eyeglass lenses. Not to mention the classic Ray-Ban sunglasses.

    It's a wonderful camera, I've got three with different lens/shutter combinations.

    I've made a block of aluminum to connect a viewfinder from a Kodak Vigilant via the tripod socket. It's on the "wrong" side, but much nicer than a reflex finder.
  13. Gents thank you very much for the feedback. <p>

    Eugene, I scanned these negs sometime last September, and it would take a while to locate them, so I will just include a larger photo of the afternoon bather at the end of this.<p>

    Cliff, thank you very much for the comments, it is receive kind of words and constructive feedback.<p><p>

    Tony thankd very much for encouraging words. Burn film? You bettcha! BTW, would a camera like this likely appear in your used camera market in Australia?<p>

    Russ thanks for stopping by; I would loive to see some results from your B&L you have laying around.<p>

    Minh, thank you for your comments, this is one of the rare kodak cameras that uses 120 film, so no conversion needed here ;-).<p>

    Gracias Luis, it is one of my favorite photos of the series as well :-D<p>

    Frankling, thanks for the kind words and your visit.<p>

    Frank, you guessed correctly, well almost :), the seascapes are of Manhattan beach in Brooklyn also which is a continuation of Brighton Beach which leads to Coney Island.<p>

    John, thanks for stopping by and the additional information. I am always ready. I was aware of B&L involvement with the medical field as far as their optics are concerned; it is just disappointing for them not offer optics for at least the large format users leaving Schneider and Nikon to dominate there.<p>

    <img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2227/2466809524_3dc8f010e8_o.jpg" width="1000" height="656" alt="The Bather" />
  14. Chuck - thank you for your comments. I think I got lucky with the lighting at that moment. After all, part of the fun, is about capturing the light at the right time :)
  15. Ralf, really rare to see an old gem like this in OZ unfortunately. Gotta stop buying them anyway, so that's a good thing!

  16. I would like to have one of these -- anybody know where I can find one?<P>Also, I seem similar items listed on ebay as Kodak #1 JUNIOR. How does that differe from non-junior cameras? Thanks.
  17. Bill, they show up from time to time on *bay. Lat week there was one offered set on a Compur Rimset shutter.
  18. Thanks, Ralf.<P>I've been trying to find and test for comparison puroses what Leica's competition would have been when it was introduced, to see if I can figure out why it became such a hit. The closest I've come so far is an Ikonta 520/2 with f:4.5 Tessar, but it's from 1929, several years after the Leica was designed (their final IQ up to 8x10 is comparable).
  19. Bill, I could be mistaken but I don't believe that Leica had much competition when they started selling 35 mm cameras. A rigid body 35 mm camera, even with a collapsible lens, just isn't the same kind of machine as a folder that shoots 120 film.
  20. Hi Dan.<P>Depends on what you mean by competition. Clearly the Ernanox and Maximar plate/sheet film types weren't. But the Leica and small roll film cameras were both intended to be carried in small pouches (of very similar sizes), and required similar effort/knowledge to make snapshots.<P>My question is: say you're a guy with plenty of money, why buy a Leica instead of the competition? The Leica was initially a PITA. You had to load your own film in a darkroom, and enlarge every frame, whereas a folding roller you picked up film at the local pharmacy or camera store, and contact prints were plenty big.<P>I just want the experience of trying both.
  21. You've explained why the Leica took a while to take off. And, of course, 35 mm film was pretty awful in those days. Bigger negatives were better, and they could be contact printed.

    But if you want to try an old Leica, by all means do. Its been decades since I had one ready to hand, I think the last one in the house was a IID. As I recall it there are worse punishments than using a Leica. A Russian copy might be less expensive than the real thing, though. FWIW, when I needed a cycling camera in 1971 I spent $25 on a Retina II instead of not much more on a Leica with 50/3.5 Elmar from Wall Street Camera. You might enjoy a Retina.

    As for small roll film cameras, if you want compact and relatively light look for a Bessa 66 in good order or a Perkeo. I now have a Perkeo II; a pleasure to use but I have doubts about (choose at least one) the Color-Skopar and my steadiness. If you want to try an old roll film camera, just do it.

    Opinions differ, of course, but I don't see any 6x6 or 6x9 camera as competitive with a Leica.
  22. Hi again, Dan.<P>I've been using Leicas nearly 60 years (down to only 8 bodies), already have Retina IIa, Zeiss Ikonta III, Bessa II, etc.<P>My interest is purely historical. As you say, 35mm film was really pretty awful when the Leica was introduced (it was respooled movie film tails), and I want to understand WHY the Leica was successful, in spite of its drawbacks, compared with the then-available competition.
  23. In a word: WOW!

    Those are some wonderful pictures and a wonderful camera.
    I doubt my No.2 Autographic comes anywhere near that kind of perfection.
    Not with all those pinholes in the bellows at least..
  24. Ralf, can you tell me how much this camera weighs? Thanks, Bill.
  25. The weight is just shy of two pounds. Ooof!
    Very little of the camera is aluminum, most is brass or pot-metal, and the sides are Bakelite. Even the leather is thick.
    There's a later Series II version with much more aluminum. But they aren't as nice looking, or as heavily built.

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