Is that a big lens in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

November 5, 2007

eBay continues to be a wonderful thing.  While I have two very interesting lenses for my 8×10, they are both “barrel” lenses and lack a full set of f-stops.  On the one hand, this simplifies things.  Just have fewer settings to fool with.  On the other hand, it complicates things because I have to find ways to manage “fast” film and short exposure times.

While a Packard shutter handles some of the issues, it raises just as many as it puts to bed.  The biggest problem with a Packard shutter is mounting the shutter.  They are (for the most part) intended to be mounted BEHIND the lens.  However, there is nothing wrong with placing the shutter in FRONT of the lens.  So far, this is what I have done through the creative application of rubber bands.  Works but isn’t that great. 

 So back to eBay to watch for a lens that is in my price range, has a working aperture adjustment and a working shutter.  Also required is coverage of the 8×10 negative.  What I got was an Ilex Paragon Anastigmat 14.75″, f/6.3 in an Ilex #5 shutter.  This is a big monster hunk of glass and metal.  Two and one-half pounds.  While not the heaviest lens around, there are other, bigger, multi-pound monsters out there!  The Ilex shutters are self cocking.  This one was listed as the two slowest speeds (1 second and 1/2 second) not working.  More truthfully, the seller should have included 1/5 second on the injured list.  But that doesn’t bother me.  Ilex shutters are also relatively simple mechanisms and a little cleaning and a light lubrication and it seems to be back on track.  The only missing bit of kit is a shutter release cable with an extra long throw.  Again, this is peculiar to the Ilex.  Being a self cocking shutter, the pin in the release cable must push far enough to both release the shutter and re-cock it for the next time.  I got lucky and one of my shutter release cables has a long enough throw to fire the Ilex shutter!

So, now I have a nice, “modern” lens to experiment with.  At 14.75″ (375mm) it is just a little on the long side of “normal” focal length for 8×10.  I’m happy with that, I generally prefer a little bit of perspective flattening that comes with a normal-plus lens.  This is gonna be great!


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