Old 1869 Voigtlander lens was the worlds first fast lens!

Friend and fellow blogger Uncle Gordy (aka Gordon Coale) just loves hunting down interesting old stuff, one day it’s old typewriters then the next old cameras or lenses. Must have something to do with living on an island! Though this time I think he has found himself some buried treasure!

The early Petzvals were shot wide open.
In the late 1850s John Waterhouse invented the interchangeable diaphragm with a hole that was dropped into a slit in the lens tube.

Gordy goes on to tells us:

“It was a Voigtlander lens designed by mathematician Joseph Petzval in 1840 that made commercial photography possible. Until that time a fast lens was around f17. The Petzval design was a blazing f3.5 and very sharp in the center.

I picked up this beauty from Eddie Gunks. Beautiful glass, a flange, lens hood, and a Waterhouse stop. It’s a 9″ suitable for 4×5 and 5×7. I have a hole saw ordered to drill out the lens board. In the meantime I need to pull the lens tube out and replace some felt and then lock the lens tube in the mount. The focusing knob is missing and that is what usually keeps the lens tube from falling on the floor.

Now that’s what I call serial number engraving!

The big Voigtlander will be mounted on my Toyo View D45M. Petzval images have their own look. The center is sharp but the Petzval design has a curved field so the sharpness falls off away from the center.”

Very cool find you have there Gordy, can I borrow it for a while? Now I wonder if it will fit on a Micro four thirds camera?

You can follow Gordon’s adventures in photography, collecting stuff and politics etc… here

2 thoughts on “Old 1869 Voigtlander lens was the worlds first fast lens!

  1. My name is Grit Roetgering. I am the mother of Constantijn.It is true. We have such a camera with the number 22737. Please send your answer to my e-mail: gritr@me.com.

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