Edward Weston's Rapid Rectilinear?

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It is really cold up here in Wisconsin this weekend so I've been doing more reading about LF photography than doing any. (The wind chill is below zero.) I've browsed through Edward Weston's Daybooks again and found the passage where he talks about making his famous green pepper photos. He says he shot them with a used rapid rectilinear that he got for a bargain price of $5.00. What might that lens be?

In general, he was always complaining about his 8x10 falling apart and wishing for a new one. Of course, he also used a Graflex.

-- Tony Galt (galta@uwgb.edu), March 10, 2002


This is the lens Weston purchased used in 1924 for 25 pesos. It is an unsymmetrical form of Rapid Rectilinear and 11.25 inches focal length. It had no shutter and was used with a behind the lens Packard shutter. He later gave it to Brett (1937) and Brett in turn gave it to George Eastman House.

-- Merg Ross (mergross@aol.com), March 10, 2002.

And who was the maker of this lens?

-- Arthur Gottschalk (Arthurwg@aol.com), March 11, 2002.

Apples for Apples, $5 1924 dollars = about $250 now. You would have a nice variety in that price range on Ebay this morning. Edward had some ignorance going as he always would "modify" the aperture scale to allow apertures in the f256 range for those shots that took hours at a time. Then he would say "ruined, movement, must have been the trucks driving by" etc. AA finally clued him in in the 1940's that diffraction was killing him at those kinds of apertures. Probably what was ruining the shots. Even with diffraction a contact printed 8X10 would likely still look very good at f90 or 128. FWIW

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@lnett.com), March 11, 2002.

The lens did not bear a maker's name but the iris diaphragm was marked R.O.and C. CO. (Rochester Optical and Camera Co.) The smallest opening was marked "256" which was the old "Uniform System" equivalent to f/64.

-- Merg Ross (mergross@aol.com), March 11, 2002.

I was curious about the inflation adjustment between 1924 and 2001 ...


offers a different answer, putting $5 in 1924 money at $50.03 in 2001 (it doesn't extend to 2002).

Still a significant bargain. Fred

-- Fred Leif (frederickl@aol.com), March 11, 2002.

Tony, The name rectilinear means distortionless John Henery Dallmeyer invented it in 1866 in London. The rapid type was a symetrical with two cemented pairs around a central stop. Kingslake states that,"This lens (type)was highly successfull; being fitted to fitted to all the better cameras for nearly 60 years" (Kingslake p 59, A history of the Photographic Lens).


-- mike phifer (pmikecathy@aol.com), March 16, 2002.

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