Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Incredible Good Fortune!

So... what would you do if... say... you went to a marche de puce... you know the one... the one you regularly haunt... because there are so many interesting things... but no canne de marche (at least, none seen worthy of being taken home)... and... let's say...  it's a beautiful, sunny day... and you have three guests visiting from the States... the best of friends, I should stress... where you want to share with them the wonderful experience of wandering and looking and bartering and giving money in exchange for old, sometimes junky things that you might or might not need... where upon wandering previously aforementioned aisles... peacefully minding one's own business... keeping an eye on things... and helping negotiate prices and conversations...  hoping that something interesting... like many animals in the animal kingdom... watching for bright and shiny objects... casually... um... HAH!  There's something now!!!... let's take a closer look... shall we?... why... it's a table filled with camera goodies... containing lots of film-era Japanese SLR junk... manned by an interesting sort of fellow...  and there's a tingling in me-bones... as if to tell me there might be a treasure just waiting to be uncovered... perhaps an 85mm Tak f/1.9?... like the one I foolishly sold before moving here?... or perhaps an overlooked 50mm f/1.2 Nikkor that like the one I foolishly sold several years ago?... if only I had not been foolish...  if only I have the eyes to... ah!... wot's this then?... with slightly trembling hand... reaching across the gap...  Huh... a small brass-barrel optic... I wonder if all it's elements are there?... it's old... that's for certain... and the optics are dirty... but no scratches... in spite of the jumbled display...  "Quel est le prix, s'il vous plait?"... what's the value of something you know nothing about?...  ah... wot's that?...  Oh...  you just dropped the asking price by half?...  [thinking] c'est pas trop chere...  "un moment, s'il vous plait... je cherche ma femme"... the interesting seller nods his head knowingly... as if I'll never come back... but off I go to find out if my wife has a couple quid on her... and... she does.  Oh happy days.

At lightening speed, money leaves my hands and into them comes a small brass-barrel optic.  I wonder what it really is.  Well, for the price, it's worth taking a chance.

Once home, after a wonderful extended lunch with our State-Side-Friends, and after a short nap, I take a closer look.  No.  There are absolutely no markings on the barrels that might indicate who made this thing.  Yes.  There's the slot to slide the aperture control disks. Only, it did not come with any, which is hardly surprising.  Frankly, if this optic works out, I'll want to shoot it wide open in any event.  Yet it confirms to me that this is a taking lens and not a projector optic.  This is either a portrait or scenic lens, depending on it's design.

I disassemble it to clean the lenses.  Four elements in three groups.  Indeed, they are quite clear.  No scratches.  Nice.  The cemented pair are even in excellent condition.  Shocking, actually.  Canadian balsam seldom lasts this long without falling apart.  Particularly after a lens has led the kind of rough life this little guy has.  Well, semi-difficult life, as the barrels are in perfect condition too.

OK.  Time to take measurements.

Out comes an above standard slightly garish very manly bright orange Castorama issue tape measure.  Project an image onto a handy white envelope and measure, et voila!

Huh.  The focal length is 15cm.  Good.  The lens diameter is... um... interesting... it's 5cm.  That makes this an, what?, an f/3 optic??  Damn!!! that's a fast lens for an old brass barrel.  Quickly now, let's use The Force (the NSA monitored Google) to see what lens designs might make this length and speed possible.

Well then, isn't that interesting?  There's really only one design that fits the focal length, aperture, and element layout from what I can tell.  Yes.  It's close to being an early tessar formula, but the second air-spaced element is all wrong for it to be that particular design.

Until new information arrives, I believe I have a 15cm f/3 Petzval formula optic of indeterminate manufacture and age.  Have you any idea how long I've been looking for one of these???

Now then, how to inexpensively rig this thing so I can stitch a series of images using a FF DSLR?  Yes.  It'll be more money.  I know this.  But.  Something just must be done.  Right?  Maybe a cheap set of Chinese-stone-hammered bellows and extension tube set?  Hmmm... yes, they might just do.

Exciting times, these.  Might help add that little "something" to my Dark Romanticism, Steampunk, Victorian Gothic themed images....