“ It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible....”

Oscar Wilde - The Picture of Dorian Gray

Some basic information about lenses for use on the Carbon 1117 :

I only have a handful available. The most useful is probably a Nikkor 450 M - a remarkable lens, lots of coverage, and a short standard lens on 11x17. Short standard lens at infinity, that is…

People often ask about equivalent focal lengths- and that equivalence is often expressed as a crop factor, particularly in relation to lenses for 35mm. For ULF, that relationship can only be expressed for lenses used at infinity. So that 450mm becomes something like a 40mm equivalent on 35mm, when used on 11x17. Still with me? However, I can use that 450mm to make a close up portrait, and the distance between the lens and the film might be 900mm- double the focal length. Essentially, 1:1, what a 35mm shooter would call a macro…

So that 450mm is acting like a 900mm, or the equivalent on 35mm, an 80mm- like a portrait lens. Let’s call it focus zoom, for want of a better term. Magnification is a big issue on ULF, unless you’re photographing distant landscapes. Close focus will become difficult using longer lenses, it’s easy to run out of bellows, even if they’re over a meter long.

Oh, and crop factor, for converting to em, Full Frame, 35mm, from 11x17 is approximately 0.08. At infinity...

These are some of the lenses I'll be trying out on the C1117 -

Let's start off with the one that's already been mentioned - the Nikkor-M 1:9 450mm - A short standard lens on the larger formats, like a 40mm on 35mm. Lots of coverage, difficult to find the edge of the image circle, almost impossible to find the edge of the circle of illumination.

If I only had this lens available, I’m sure it would make me a better photographer. Though I've actually attempted that discipline on one of my trips, and it didn't work. Maybe I ought to try it for longer...

Nikkor-M 1:9 300mm - Quite wide on 11x14 and 7x17. This lens just covers 8x10, according to the manufacturer’s specification, but the requirements for producing a contact print on ULF are often a lot less demanding than making an enlargement from a smaller format.

It doesn't come close to covering those formats, of course, even stopped down smaller than f/45 it’s possible to see softening around the edges of the image, though it’s a gradual Tessar type softening, and it isn’t mechanically vignetted. It has necessitated a few crops already, though I'm finding 7x17 to be extremely long, and I'm tending to revert back to the 2x1 ratio I'm more accustomed to anyway.

Of course, a lens with more actual coverage would be welcomed, but I’m enjoying pushing this one past its limits, at least until something with more coverage comes along.

Oh, and just to be clear. those caveats about coverage really only apply to subjects photographed in the mid to far distance, the lens will be extremely useful for tabletop, or still life photography.

Nikkor-Q 1:10 260mm - Again quite wide on the larger formats. More coverage than the Nikkor - M 300mm, though it does exhibit mechanical vignetting sooner, and clips the corners of 7x17 and 11x14.

Not in fantastic condition cosmetically, but with good glass, this lens is not in a shutter and it’s quite large and heavy. It only stops down to f/32, which makes a little less than universally useful.

Due to its wide angle of view, it’s difficult to use with a Packard shutter, or filters, for that matter. Using it is still on my to do list, I look forward to trying it on slow material, possibly paper negatives.

Suter Aplanat B 13x16 f/8 - I’m not sure of the vintage of this lens, but it's from sometime in the mid to late nineteenth century. Serial Number just short of 3,000. A rapid rectilinear, with slot for waterhouse stops, in barrel, no shutter.

At 18”, it shares a focal length with the 450mm Nikkor, so it hasn’t been used much at all. However, the rear group has a focal length of 750mm, and I’ve devised a way to mount it behind the Copal 3 of the Nikkor, at somewhere near the correct spacing from the diaphragm. This should turn it into a useful long landscape meniscus, I look forward to trying this one out.

36” f/6.3 Air Ministry Reconnaissance lens. At 9.5kg, including the board, a very heavy piece of WWII memorabilia,. Much less than useful, but an interesting challenge nonetheless.

The lens only stops down as far as f/16, and it’s too big for filters, so I’m limited to low light or slow film. Using a big Packard shutter, an instant speed somewhere between 1/10th and 1/15th of a second is available, depending on how hard you pump the bulb.

It’s a telephoto, so it only draws 550mm at infinity- at full extension, I can make a nicely framed upper body portrait at 5 meters distance on 11x14.

I bought this lens to use as a surrogate for other antique lenses, hopefully I’l find a nice one mounted on a 9” Century board sometime. I must go and bother Eddie Gunks again…

So that’s the sensible (?) lenses out of the way. Another thing I’m looking forward to trying is making some circular images. I remember reading somewhere that a lens projects a circular image…

I’d like to try a 90mm or a 72mm Super Angulon on 10x12. It will nearly fill the width of the film, and will produce a very wide circular image - 115º in the case of the 72mm, a little less than that for the SA 90mm f/5.6. I just have to try to think of what picture I’m going to make. The bellows compress enough to allow me to make the picture, the dovetail mounts on the camera back can be swung around 180º to get the front and rear standards close enough for infinity focus.

Lenses that don’t cover the format can be used too, you just have to use them closer up. There’s an 11” f/3.3 Voigtlander Petzval that I’d like to use for a still life sometime...

So, all in all, a great adventure awaits. Sometimes, you don’t even have to expose any film, just making images on the large focusing screen brings its own satisfaction. Albeit a rather childish one…