Bausch & Lomb Protar convertible ???? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hello LF fans! I'm talking to someone about an old B&L Protar convertible lens, 8 3/4" - 11" - 13 3/4", in an old air regulated shutter. I have yet to see it in person. I've talked with Steve Grimes about it, primarily about the shutter, but he said it might be a "Casket Set" due to the five aperture scales on the shutter. I've read the disadvantages of "convertible" lenses but at the same time I've read they will sharpen up some with the use of a yellow or orange filter when using B+W film. Does anyone know anything about this lens? It's quality, usability, coverage or anything else? Is there another convertible that might be better? Your help would be greatly appreciate

-- Tad Cornwell (, March 05, 1999


I'm a big fan of older glass and convertibles in particular. As I recall, Cooke and Wollensack were suppossed to be better than most, Zeiss Protars being the best. If this is one of the Protars made by B&L under agreement with Zeiss, you should be o.k.

It can be hard to find people with extensive knowledge/experience. I've found focal length combinations for sale that I couldn't find any citations for in current price guides. Finding a company catalog would help. Perhaps a call to Ron Wisner, assuming he still has time to answer questions on lenses. Negotiate a testing period to see if you like it.

Based on the focal lengths I'm assuming it's for 4 X 5 and based on that I'm assuming you're going to make some enlargements. Depending on how much the person wants, you could use info from Grimes re: "Well, it's gonna cost me $X.XX to get the shutter regulated", etc. to negotiate a lower price. If you get it down low enough than the experiment won't hurt too much if it's a failure.

Assuming you will enlarge from 4 X 5, I would tend toward newer glass myself. If you wanted a convertible than the Symmars would be the way to go. If you were going to make contact prints though....

-- Sean yates (, March 05, 1999.

FWIW I believe it was Jan/Feb '98 View Camera in which Patrick Alt, Ron Wisner and Roger Hicks discussed using older lenses and there was an article about the Wisner Convertibles as well.

-- Sean yates (, March 05, 1999.

Assuming that a lens with such a name should work perfectly with the two elements together (so at least the first 100 $ are well spent), I agree completely with Sean Yates, expecially for the possibility of having a TRIAL PERIOD to be able to test the various combinations when you want to use only one group (placing it before or after the aperture iris, with the convex side in the direction of the film or of the subject etc.etc.) I have a Zeiss ProtarLinse series VII made in the year 1923 which performs extremely well using the two elements together (focal lengt about 210 mm) and gives good results even with one group only, but my judgement is also related to the price I payed the lens: $60 in the fly-market of Rome!

-- Franco Rallo (, March 12, 1999.

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