Information on Old Lens : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I've been playing around with an old brass barrel lens purchased recently from KEH. The lens is labeled "Plasmatic Extra Rapid Portrait, George Angell, Detroit, Michigan, 124." It also indicates the plate size covered (6.5 x 8.5) and has aperture markings of 4,8,16,32,64 (US system I presume). Although it is not indicated, the focal length of the lens is about 8 to 9 inches.

Any clues about the design of the lens or information about the manufacturer? Is "Plasmatic" a likely variant of Plasmat, making the lens a relative of the airspaced Dagor? Anyone out there from the motor city who has heard of this company? (Anyone else suprised at the ability of old lenses to make sharp contact prints!) Thanks for your help.


-- Dave Willison (, June 14, 2001



I think that "Plasmatic" here is a likely variant of plasmat. You can take the lens apart (say for cleaning reason;-)) and examine its construction. Any information from Prof. Woody Wooden's book? George Angell is unlikely a factory's name, it's more likely the owner's name. In late 1800s', there was an artist/photographer/art dealer called George R. Angell in Detroit, Mich. He also was a board member of Detroit Museum of Art. Could the lens be a gift to him?

-- Geoffrey Chen (, June 14, 2001.

The lenses commonly called 'plasmats' these days (more correctly: double-gauss construction) didn't come into common use until the 1920s. If the lens is earlier, and with a portrait tag to it, I'd say it's highly unlikely that it bears any resemblance to a modern Symmar, Sironar, or Nikon-W. It's more likely to be of Petzval construction. Symmetrical, but more like a wide aperture rapid-rectilinear than a Dagor.
-- Pete Andrews (, June 15, 2001.

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