New Vintage Large Format Lens Project by Tim Layton

December 06, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Vintage Large Format Lens Project by Tim LaytonVintage Large Format Lens Project by Tim Layton I have been wanting to research, document, mount, and photograph a standard still life scene my collection of vintage large format lenses for many years in order to see and compare the optical qualities and characteristics for each of the lenses and also compare them to each other. 

As I get deeper into the project, I suspect my experience will take me down some paths that I am not aware of at this point. 

I hope to discover some new uses and applications for these lenses and then use them in my photography. I suspect I will likely uncover some lenses that really excite me, and others that possibly disappoint. I think the process itself is a real treasure and I am excited to see what I uncover and how I will apply this new information in the future. 

I know that I have researched a wide variety of vintage lenses over the years and while it was possible to find some background information, I could rarely ever find any sample photos taken with the lens.  In this project, I will be sharing as much information as I can about each lens and also creating some brand new photos for every lens in my collection. 

Vintage large format lenses by Tim LaytonVintage large format lenses by Tim Layton I have a passion for photographing floral still life with large format cameras and I hope to find some new lenses that drives me to start a new study.  My Winter Tulips 2013 study was one of my all time personal favorites and also one of my best selling when I was making handmade silver gelatin prints in the darkroom.

In recent years, I have been following the Wild Horses of Missouri and photographing them with my Nikon F6 35mm film camera and then enlarging those to 8x10 large format negatives in order to make large scale silver gelatin prints.

THE NEW PROJECT

Vintage Large Format Lenses by Tim LaytonVintage Large Format Lenses by Tim Layton I am really excited to finally do this project because I have been collecting these lenses for a lot of years.  While I typically mounted them on a temp lens board and exposed a sheet of film or two with them, this new project is going to really help me visualize the optical characteristics of each lens and hopefully help other analog photographers that may be interested in the same or similar lenses.

In this new project, I am mounting all of my current vintage large format lenses on my Chamonix 8x10 camera and photographing a still life scene that I have created in my darkroom.  The scene that you see to the left of this paragraph is the still life scene that I am photographing with the lenses.  You can see a list of my current large format vintage lenses on my "Vintage Lens Page".

Chamonix 8x10 Camera With Iris Lens Board & Sinar Shutter by Tim LaytonChamonix 8x10 Camera With Iris Lens Board & Sinar Shutter by Tim Layton So I don't have to make a new lens board for each lens and also use a shutter, I have mounted an Iris lens board on the front of my Chamonix 8x10 view camera and behind the front standard, I have a Sinar Copal Shutter. 

This configuration allows me to mount any lens with a rear lens barrel width up to a little over 3.5 inches and I can use faster panchromatic film like Ilford HP5 because I have a reliable shutter.

My plan is to photograph the scene with each lens wide open at maximum aperture to see how it performs and what type of image it renders. 

Ultimately, I plan to make a second pass stopping the lens down to an aperture of maybe F8 or F11.  Since I have dozens of lenses to photograph and sheets of film to develop, I am going to shoot the lenses wide open because I bought many of these lenses for their soft focus or bokeh qualities. 

Most of the lenses will fall into the 4x5 or 8x10 formats and so my plan is to use Ilford HP5 film in both formats and develop with my modified version of Kodak D76 that I mix from raw chemicals. Since the lenses span multiple different formats, I will be using the relevant reducing backs on my Chamonix 8x10 view camera.

Follow along as I work my way through my vintage large format lens collection and hopefully we will both learn something and enjoy the journey. 


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