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  Friday  June 3  2005    01: 29 AM

the mother of invention

I've done all my product photography with my Mamiya Universal/Super 23 and the 100mm Mamiya lens. Until the shutter jammed. I haven't had it fixed and I needed to shoot some bags for Ace Leather Goods so I pressed the Burke and James into service. The only lens I had mounted was the 254mm Elgeet which is pretty long with the 2.25x3.25 back. I took the Kodak Ektar 127mm lens off the Speed Graphic and built an adapter lens board to do the job. The pictures came out great and it was easier using the Burke and James than the Mamiya. I decided to do a quick and dirty lens test while the camera was set up. I had several other lenses, some that were pretty old, that I wanted to check out to see if they would be useable.

The lower left lens is the Kodak Ektar 127mm from 1947. It's wide angle on 4x5 (36mm equiv.) and slightly long on the 2.25x3.25 back (55mm equiv.) To it's right is a 150mm Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar from a 1930s Speed Graphic. The lens on the upper left is a fast (f3.5) 210mm Carl Zeiss Jenna Tessar from a Graflex Series D 4x5 SLR probably also from the 1930s. Middle top is a 210mm Schneider G-Claron (1972) that Marja-Leena sent me. Upper right is the lens that came with the Burke and James, a 254mm Elgeet from somewhere around the 1960s to 1970s. It's a normal lens for 5x7 but equivalent to a 91mm lens on the 2.25x3.25 back.

I took a series of shots of my work station with the lenses, except for the Elgeet, taped onto the adapter board. I kept backing up so that each lens saw the same scene. The lenses were set to F22 and I used a 1 second exposure.

The red squares are the areas I enlarged for comparasion. I figured the Zeiss 210 would be the worst since the front element was covered with what looked like fungus, some which had etched onto the glass. Then the order would from old to new. I was surprised at the results.

The Ektars have a good reputation so I was surprised to see it last. Maybe there was a little tripod shake. The Zeiss 210 with the fungus did way better than expected. Short on contrast but pretty sharp. I've since taken cold cream to it and the fungus is gone. It should do better. It was a toss up between the Elgeet and old Zeiss 150. I was very surprised the Zeiss did this well. And the Shneider is scary sharp. I expected sharp but this is really sharp. I think all the lenses will be most useable and the two 210s will complement each other. The Schneider is a copy lens and needs to be stopped down to f22 to work. It's f9 wide open which will make it hard to focus in low light. More testing to do.

These pictures were taken with a 2.25x3.25 back but all the lenses will cover 4x5. The border shows the extra area.

And the Schneider and Elgeet will cover 5x7. The border shows the extra area. I have a 5x7 back for this camera I need to repair.

I really only need to pick up a 100mm Wide Field Ektar and I will have a pretty nice and complete set of lenses for very little. And there are some nice 310mm and 350mm Russian lenses that can be had for 35 to 40 dollars. I do need to get some sheet film!