Meet the lenses

With in the last few of years, we’ve had some luck with fortunate opportunities to collect a few different lenses, at present, I have used each of the lenses, each of them offer different unique prospective, as well as some interesting histories. I’m listing them in chronological order of acquisition

Darlot Rapid Hemispherical

darlot lenses.jpg

I suppose, aside from the lens on our Gennert Cycle camera our first historic lens, came on a camera, that I like to call the Franthony (french made camera using Anthony hardware and design) it came with Darlot rapid hemispherical #2 size lens. this lens is composed of two doublets – another name for the lens is Rapid Rectilinear or RR540px-Rapid_rectilinear.svg


It’s interesting that Darlot’s catalog entry states that the #2 covers 10×12 but more often then not people use it a smaller format camera thinking its only good for 4×5 or 5×7 – I typically use it on my 5×8 Rochester Optical, but have used it without any issues on my 8×10


Darlot Rapid Hemispherical #2 with it’s flange mounted on the ROC’s lensboard

Rochester Optical Co. Single View Lens

ROC single view Lenses.jpg

The next lens in our line up, is a simplistic Rochester Optical Co. Single View lens, meaning it has a single doublet and that’s been made as near rectilinear as is possible in a single doublet, it also has a rotating diaphragm, with different sized apertures, it’s while the lens is designed as primarily as a landscape work they will make excellent groups and even portraits – I’ve found this to be true, all be it it’s also slow – it before acquiring an appropriate sized wide angle lens was the came the closest for view area covered for the Chasing O’Sullivan project  – another curious aspect about the single view lens is that it’s on of the oldest lens designs dating to 1839

according to catalogs this lens was design for a 5×8 camera, yet I’ve found it covers an 8×10 without any issues what soever and provided about an 80 degree view area.


our lens came with it’s flange and lens cap, it’s since been remounted on a new lens board


The Dallmeyer 6.5 x 8.5(whole plate) Rapid Rectilinear


This lens was purchased from Will Dunniway, one of our pillars within the wet-plate community.  It was purchased primarily to work with the 8×10 for general photographic use, and has been used occasionally for different photo’s, it does cover a full 8×10 without any vignetting  and interesting thing about the Rapid Rectilinear or Aplanat is that it’s design was introduced by Dallmeyer in 1866 and is considered one of the most important lens that was introduced, it remained one of the most common lenses used on the better camera’s for 60 years.


our lens came with a flange and lens cap

Darlot Petzval 2-3

darlot lens

this was our 1st true petzval style lens –

The Petzval lens (or Petzval portrait lens) is the oldest notable lens design for photography. It was calculated and designed by the native Slovakian mathematician and physicist Jozef Maximilián Petzval, and first used for Voigtländer‘s early metal camera “Daguerreotyp-Apparat zum Portraitiren” in 1841. It was the first camera lens made on the basis of scientific calculation, and was the fastest lens of its time, with an aperture of around f/3.5 – compared to the f/16 or more of typical contemporary camera lenses. This could reduce the average Daguerreotype exposure time from around 10 minutes to 30 seconds.

The design has two separate doublet elements; the front one cemented and the rear one (in the original design) with an air gap (as shown in the illustration). An aperture stop is placed between the two doublets.

The lens gave sharp definition in the centre, but covered only a small field for its focal length, and tended to vignette.[1] These features were quite acceptable for portraiture, and lenses based on the Petzval design remained in use for studio portraiture for many years.

This lens offered a wonderful swirly bokeh, which was considered an artifact, and by most 19th century photographers something that was generally avoided, it’s however become the rage for modern specialty or among the Hipsters, a modern lens made by Lomographry that attached to either Cannon or Nikon camera is available  our lens was sold as we have a replacement lenses that provides the same coverage, however we also have the  Jamin Darlot  that I talk about later in the same post

this lens came without a flange or lens cap, the lens cap moved to the Darlot No. 6 and was used with the flange pictured


The Mexican – as we call it
Eclipse Rapid Rectilinear, 8×10 American Photo Supply Co. Mexico

This lens has provided to be a very good, basic and reliable lens. there is litle to no information about American Photo Supply Co. Mexico, other than a few mentions in legal documents or statements in book. As a resualt there is also no real information on who made orriginally made the lens or even how to date it. One indavidual believes that it was likely produced by Bausch and Lomb,  and that it had been imported and labeled for American Photo Supply, Co, which was located in Mexico City, Mexico in during the turn of the 19th century – this lens was purchased through ebay from Mexico


our lens features an Iris aperture, that’s controlled via the small nob on the top of the lens, the numbers start at 5 and go to 128, this numbers appear to be represented as a distance measurement or an early Dallmeyer interpretation rather than the conventional numbers that we recognize today to represent our depth of field.

A Brief history of American Photo Supply Co. Mexico from what we could find.

Information is limited, at least in America –

From what information I’ve gathered is that Thomas Crump, an American Banker saw a interest and need in Mexico, moved there and opened an large store, starting in the late 1800’s to about 1906 -7 when he was run out of Mexico as pamphleteer – American Photo Supply, Co. Mexico specialized in primarily importing cameras and supplies into Mexico, the majority of imports were apparently re-labeled or made specifically for American Photo Supply Co. Mexico – also note, apparently initially there was not competition for Thomas Crump, until the 1900’s when Kodak moved in.

Curiously there is some amazing photo’s taken by Mexican photographers in late 19th and early 20th centuries using everything from wet-plate to film..  most of the information was found via a Mexican Suite, a History of photography in Mexico by Olivier Debroise

our lens came with it’s lens cap, the flange, came with our 4×5 speed graphic


Darlot 4-4 portrait (unmarked, magic lantern lens)


This lens was a bonus find for us, it came attached to a magic lantern, it may not be manufactured by Darlot, if it isn’t, it’s a very good copy of a Darlot 4-4 sized lens.. Petzval style lenses were a very popular design, principally due to their speed and sharpness for portrait work, it was found that they also worked extremely well for magic lantern lenses, which in most cases could be used interchangeably with a camera, with the only difference, often times being nothing more than a simple slot for a waterhouse stop. this lens provides and interesting drop off for it’s dept of field, that when focused correctly creates a wonderful effect.  the 4-4 is considered as being for an 8×10, if you notice it does have a shallow depth of field, dropping out of focus just behind my parents, also creating a slight swirly bokeh, the exposure was maybe a second..

8-16-15 mom & Dad
taken using the 4-4 on a whole plate


Our next set of lenses was purchased as a collection, from a photographer who was getting out of wet work as a whole. This photographer learned the  wet-plate collodion process from John Coffer  (foundation to modern Collodianists) –  he experimented with many different photographic techniques, as well as accumulated many different tools, lenses etc for modifying and building camera. As part the deal, we were given several backdrops ,chemicals and bottles, along with some other lab ware. When he first met us, he was impressed by my work, and how I was making the wet-plate process work for me, without having had any formal classes, and that I had been working hard to not be a slave to the process. He also knew the difficultly at acquiring the antique lenses, along with the fact of the price jump on the lenses. The majority of the lenses were sold to us knowing that we would appreciate and use the lenses. More than reselling them at a today’s inflated market value however still due to cost of the lenses they were purchased in smaller groups.  today we have one lens out of the collection, that we are simply waiting for the money to purchase, the lenses we selected are as follows:

  • Darlot lens 1-3
  • Dallmeyer  Patent 2B portrait lens
  • E.Suter Basle No. 3116 Aplumat B No. 5
  • Voigtlander  pre-Euryscope # 4 rapid rectilinear  serial No. 26659
  • Voightlander, portrait Euryscope Series III No 6, serial No. 58025
  • Darlot hemispherical  wide angle lens No. 6
  •  Jamin Darlot 2-3 (this is our last lens to acquire)

each lens will be explained in further detail

Darlot  1-3


This is a curious lens, in that it looks like a small 1-3 size petzval lens, however upon further inspection it turned out to be a rapid hemispherical the elements have the same signature and number on them, I’m not sure if it lens was originally made that way or if it was put together from other parts – needless to say it only covers about a quarter plate and requires the rear element to be unscrewed a turn or two to gain a good focus – I’ve successfully used this lens to capture some wonderful images. such as this one of my daughter, it’s been used for a few other quarter plate Ambrotypes.

hannah - ambrotype 2-28-16

This lens came without a flange or lens cap – ironically the lens cap and flange are interchangeable with the Darlot No. 3

Dallmeyer 2-B patent Portrait lens.




From the serial number 25463, and records from Dallmeyer our lens was likely produced the same year it was sold, to an individual with the last name of Haes on June 27, 1876  the nature and style of lenses few photographers purchased multiples of the same lens. when the records show several lenses being sold to say a company they simply reference the name such as Anthony – with that it’s safe for us to assume that the lens was likely sold to the only known photographer at the time with the last name of Haes. that indavidual was English photographer  by the name of Frank Haes – Frank Haes  was a noted photographer  often as the 1st photographer to photograph a live elephant, he according to the back of a couple of carte de visite or CDV’s we’ve been able to find, that were likely taken using the same lens was a photographer to the Royal Family and had received a Vienna Medal of Merit in 1873


frank haes CDV

Needless to say I’m very pleased with this lens, the glass is in immaculate condition. the lens offers some amazing flexibility,  with a coverage of up to about 5×7 plate.  an interesting feature feature of the Dallmeyer’s adaptation of the Petzval design is that it allows the rear element to easily unscrewed increasing or decreasing the focus area the lens creating a soft focus around the primary subject. – this has become one of my favorite lenses to use.

our lens came without a flange or lens cap, eventually I’ll have one made by Andrey Badeev

E.Suter Basle No. 3116 Aplanat B No. 5

E suter #5

This lens, can almost be called a sleeper, it’s provided to be an excellent Aplanat or Rapid Recliner lens  with a full coverage of 13″x 11″ this means it easily covers an 8×10 with no noticeable fall off

out lens came as pictured, it uses the same flange as the Mexican

here’s a little history on E. Suter

E. Suter was a lens and camera maker, founded in 1878 in Basel, Switzerland. It was the first factory size camera business in Switzerland. Suter made cameras and lenses, and imported goods from other makers like Mackenstein, Paris. Emil Suter designed and manufactured brass barrel lenses, based on his own patent of 1900, comprising an eight element two group design. Another product line where licensed lens types likePaul Rudolph‘s original construction of the Anastigmat for Zeiss, the Protar. A further of Rudolph’s lens constructions made by Suter was the Doppel-Plasmat. Suter’s Reisekameras were of the well established tailboard constuction Continental View type. The Swiss-Box and the Detectiv Magazin camera were quite individual constructions. The Cupido was a 9x12cm plate camera, a unique construction with self-erecting bellows. This invention seems to have been shared with Hüttig, even the name Cupido was also given to such 9×12 cameras of the camera maker from Dresden and its successor Ica. Suter’s and Hüttig’s Cupido were different except their use of the same bellows unfolding mechanism.


Voigtlander  pre-Euryscope # 4 serial No. 26659


for all intensive purpose this lens is basically a Rapid Rectilinear, however it’s also according to it’s serial number along with the references that I could find said to have been made in 1879. it’s marked as Voightlander & Sohn Wien Braunschweig  – which according to Antique Camera’s   was sometime after the “in” and “und” were removed from the name inscribed on the lens

our Voightlander came with an original waterhouse stop and flange.

Voightlander, portrait Euryscope Series III No 6, serial No. 58025

This is a very large and heavy lens –  we lovingly call this lens Voightzilla,  the lens cap was custom made in the traditional fashion, by Andrey Badeev in the Ukraine, the lens is roughly dated about 1899

This is a non-petzval portrait lens, with a iris aperture, and will cover up to 14×17. But works exceptionally well for an 8×10.  I have used the lens, it does produce wonderful sharp images. however I’ve only used it a limited extent as the majority of my portraits 5×7 or smaller – more often than not it gets used as a show piece, when doing educational presentations.

our lens came with it’s original flange, the iris did need some oiling, and now works extremely well.  _DSC4371


 Darlot Hemispherical  wide angle lens No. 5


These are in my opinion outstanding lenses, while it’s difficult to date Darlot lenses, many of them are 1855 to 1870

this particular number 5 had a new flange made by the same individual who we’ve purchased this collection from and as No.6 Lens it’s acts like a “normal” lens on my camera. I have shot with it, and it does proved with a beautiful crisp image – but unfortunately, I can not really take full advantage of the lens

the lens sadly has a deep scratch in the real element which doesn’t seem to effect the image quality, it came with a custom made flange


 Jamin Darlot 2-3 (this is the last lens on our list to purchase it’s a lens we just want) 

Jamin Darlot, like any Darlot lens. they are difficult to date, but it’s my understand that the lenses which bear the name Jamin Darlot were only made for a couple of years from 1860 – 1861 it is a petzval lens, that should be able to cover up to about a 5×7, and if things work out right we’ll have the lens in a few weeks.

This concludes the collection brass of lens that we’ve purchased from the same photographer, however in addition I purchased a 150mm lens and a 4×5 enlarger from the same gentleman

Other interesting lenses, again this is mostly in chronological order


The next lens has been a great help and is very versatile, it’s what is often called a casket lens. this tiny lens is unmarked as to who made it. It has 4 interchangeable elements, one may almost think the lens is a joke simply due to it’s size, however by changing the elements around even removing one I can change it from a Rapid rectilinear to a wide angle. I can change it’s field of view and back FL all the while changing the size of plate it’ll cover.  It also has iris aperture that opens up to 3 and stops all the way down to 18


next to Voightzilla, this little lens looks like looks like Bambi, but do not let it fool you.

voightlander and satz

our lens came with in it’s casket, with a lens cap and 4 elements, with no mounting flange – I haven’t found one yet.

and for our most recent and at present final contestant

 No. # 3 Darlot Hemispherical wide angle lens


This Lens is pushed to just covering edges of an 8×10 but truly shows it’s 90 degree field of view. it’s amazing however, until I get to location, I fear that I may still need an 8″ focal length wide angle  – my single view while it’s a landscape lens, and does provide a semi wide view angle it’s likely about 70-80 degrees and has a 10′ FL, with this one being a 6″ it truly shows its full field of view while keeping the image relativity flat, it’ll be wonderful to use in places such as Virginia city, as I can practically be in-front of the building,  and capture the whole area.

note, how close I was to the image hay, and how much I was able to capture on an 8×10 glass negative, that was printed out on salted paper.

our lens came with it’s mounting flange, the Darlot 1-3 can use it’s flange, as the wide angle now uses the lens cap from 1-3



7 thoughts on “Meet the lenses

  1. Pingback: Questions and Answers – Battle Born Historical Photographry

  2. Jason Smith

    Hi, great site.

    I have just purchased a Rapid Rectilinear 81/2 x 61/2 lens, serial no. 39277.
    It is in pretty good condition. Do you know the value of this lens?



    1. I take it that its a Dallmeyer Rapid Rectilinear, whole plate, they are good general purpose lens, and will cover an 8×10 plate. average price is around $300.00 – $400.00 the serial number suggest that the lens was made around 1885


  3. what a wonderful lens to receive as a birthday gift. The Dallmeyer 3d Lens is a typical Petzval style lens, the 3 number, according to Dallmeyer ascribed the lens to be for a whole plate 6.5 x 8.5, – however, most report the 3 as being used without any problems up to 8×10. The last part, the letter indicates how fast the lens is

    then Dallmeyer was good about keeping track of the serial numbers again via the same webpage it looks like your lense was sold in 1877


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