Kodak No. 1 Autographic Jr. with Kodak 108mm f7.7 Anastigmat lens

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John Wiegerink

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I really didn't know where to ask this question, but figured here might be the best place. My question is about the lens. I was wondering if this 108mm f7.7 Kodak Anastigmat is similar in design to the 170mm f7.7 and my 203mm f7.7? I've done some searching and come up with not much about the lens configuration. Some say it's the same as the Rapid Rectilinear, and some say it's just a simple triplet. Does anyone know the design of the 108mm f7.7? The camera is in nice shape, but needs a new bellows, which I have. Might put this back in working order and see what it does. Thanks in advance, JohnW
 

Donald Qualls

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It should be easy to tell whether it's a Cooke-type triplet or Rapid Rectilinear type could meniscus: unscrew the rear element/group from the shutter. If it's deeply concave on the shutter side, the lens is a Rapid Rectilinear or Periskop type; if it's pretty shallow, it'll be a triplet (or just possible a Tessar type if there's a weak third reflection of a light source in the glass).

Working from the back side this way, BTW, won't affect front element focusing calibration if the lens has that (but if it has that, it's not a Rapid Rectilinear; I don't believe those change focal length with modest changes in element spacing, though they do change aberrations).
 
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John Wiegerink

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Don,
I unscrewed the rear group off and the shutter side glass is perfectly flat. By the reflections, the best I can tell is that this is a four element lens. Don't know if it's a dialyte or plain tessar. I also unscrewed the front group and from what I can tell, both the inner elements of the front and rear groups has knurled rings. I didn't try to unscrew those, but it tells me it's not a Cooke triplet or RR type lens. I might try to put this on another 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 plate camera with ground glass panel to see what it looks like.
Forgot to say that this is a "unit" focusing lens.
 
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Donald Qualls

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Most likely Tessar type (4 elements in three groups, with a cemented doublet replacing the rear element of a triplet) -- those date back to the 1890s. Dialytes have uncemented rear groups, which would give a fourth reflection (two stronger ones replacing the faint one at the cemented surface) there. You'll see knurled retaining rings even for cemented doublets, commonly, just there to keep the group in place.

BTW, the shutter side of a Tessar rear group isn't flat, but it's a pretty large radius concave on that surface. It should slightly magnify by reflection from that first surface, but by looking at the glass you could mistake it for flat in some cases (especially slower lenses like your f/7.7).

FWIW, I've got a triplet that just covers 4x5 if I stop down to f/16 or smaller, and focus to about 12 feet or closer. That f/7.7 Tessar might do as well (but if you've got a 2x3 plate camera, that would be a good home for it, too.
 
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John Wiegerink

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Don,
I think I finally found my answer? Here is one finding:

Kodak Anastigmat This group is the classic dialyt lens used on Kodaks early in the 20Century. It was famous for the sharpness of the negatives, and seems to have survived as a speciality product into the 1950's. It is a dialyt type. Series 1 f8.0 initially in 1914. Seies 11 f7.7 from 1915, eg in 170, 203mm. It was used on the Pony Premo and well into the 1920's. The example seen and used was No152,42x in Kodak ball bearing shutter, patents to 1913. The design may vary, but a VPK with f7.7 in B.J.A. 1925, p368 will probably be the classic type.

Here is the second:

Kodak Ektar f7.7 Dialyt The practice was to use 78mm for VP; 108mm for 120mm; 130mm for 116; 152mm for 2C; 170mm for 3A; and 203mm for up to 5x7in. There was good performing front cell focusing on the three shortest lenses and in general these lenses were so good that it was many years before a better Kodak lens could appear. (see Ed Romney, Camera Shopper, May/June 1989, p27) They were convertible and excellent in close-up, and are still valued today. (Sadly customers in popular sizes began to look for faster lenses in the late 1920's and the sharpness inevitably suffered as the speeds rose, even though new designs were used).

Both of these came from here https://lens-club.ru/public/files/pdfs/efd1d578d75c4eb4e3d78b8e0d571ca9.PDF

I'm assuming it's a Dialyt and if so it should be excellent.
 

Donald Qualls

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Okay, nice. Now I'll have to check my AVPK to see if it's that same lens (they were offered from f/16 meniscus up to f/6.3 triplet over the run, including a Periskop double meniscus -- but a dialyte looks much the same as a Periskop without detail examination of reflections or dismantling groups from the shutter.

Probably not, since it seems to be still fixed focus...
 
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John Wiegerink

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Don,
I double-checked the rear inner element, and it sure looks flat to me. I also see four reflections in the rear group and in the front group. I just dug up my old Kodak Recomar 18 and will mount the lens on that for testing. I have to wait until I get back to my cottage for testing, since my Kodak sheet film holders are there, along with a box of Efke 25 sheet film. I do like both the uncoated 170mm f7.7 and the coated 203mm. Both render images very nicely. Sharp, but not killer sharp and with just enough contrast for what I do.
 

Donald Qualls

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four reflections in the rear group and in the front group.

Yep, that's a Dialyte -- though the Anastar in my Reflex II also has four reflections in the rear group. It's not a Dialyte, though (too fast, Dialyte doesn't go to f/3.5); it's "something else" a 4-4 design that's (as far as I'm aware) unique to Kodak in the 1950s.
 
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John Wiegerink

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Yep, that's a Dialyte -- though the Anastar in my Reflex II also has four reflections in the rear group. It's not a Dialyte, though (too fast, Dialyte doesn't go to f/3.5); it's "something else" a 4-4 design that's (as far as I'm aware) unique to Kodak in the 1950s.

Don,
When I was doing the camera show circuit back in the 70-80's I picked up both the Kodak Reflex I and II. I really thought that they were very good cameras as far as their viewfinder and image quality went. There was a fellow that used to come to a show in South Bend, IN that was really keen on both of those cameras. I loaned him both to try out and as often happens in a case of loaning, I never saw him or the cameras again. No big investment lost, but I did miss the Reflex II. I have often thought of getting another, but they aren't as cheap as they were back then. I have several Rollei TLR's and Yashica TLR cameras, but the Kodak Reflex was such a simple design that just plain worked. Oh, and I don't mind respooling 120 onto 620 spools. I'm going to do some research to see just what that Kodak 80mm f3.5 Anastar lens design is. Maybe it's something similar to the Tessar on the Rollei 35? Take care, JohnW
 

Donald Qualls

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The Anastar 80 mm Lumenized f/3.5 was not a Tessar type -- possibly the only Anastar that wasn't (I have one on a Signet 35 which is a Tessar). The Anaston on the Reflex I was a Tessar type.

Here's a brochure for the Reflex II that shows a cross section of the lens (unfortunately without noting the aperture/shutter location, though I think it's in the large gap between groups 3 and 4 -- my camera has film in it, so even if I were at home now I couldn't verify). I presume the "Lumenize" coating allowed using the air space between the 3rd and 4th elements along with glass that hadn't been available before WWII to further optimize the optics, though the Zeiss Planar and later Tessars with updated glasses seeming pushed this design off the market.

I don't even respool for mine, just trim the 120 spool flange flush with the backing paper. The inside key won't quite grip the trimmed 120 spool well enough to use for takeup, but as long as I carry a few 620 spools, I can choose what film to use on the fly instead of being limited to what I thought to respool before leaving home (BTW you can buy new manufacture 620 spools on eBay now).
 

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I have a hard time believing a 108mm 7.7 Kodak anastigmat has more than 3 lenses, - and consequently don't think you should expect 170-mm equivalent covering power. But of course you'ill find out eventually.
 
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John Wiegerink

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Until I actually had one in hand, I doubted if it was the same design as the 170mm f7.7 Kodak Anastigmat and the 203mm f7.7 Ektar. I don't have either of those lenses with me at the moment, but will compare the with the 108mm when I get back. I'm 100% sure it's not a three element triplet since I see the same identical four reflections when looking at both front and rear groups. That tells me it's no triplet. The reflections look almost identical in size also. I was going to try this on a Kodak Recomar 18, but the lens plate opening is too large for this lens. I'll wait until I get to my cottage and put in on my 4X5 camera to check coverage and test with a roll-back. It was made to cover 2 1/4 x3 1/4 format. Don't know how well it does that at f7.7, but my 203mm f7.7 does a pretty good job on 4X5. This 108mm f7.7 might too? I'll post my findings later.
 

Donald Qualls

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I have a hard time believing a 108mm 7.7 Kodak anastigmat has more than 3 lenses, - and consequently don't think you should expect 170-mm equivalent covering power.

I have a 105 mm f/4.5 Agnar triplet that covers 4x5 -- barely, stopped down to f/16, and focused (with the front standard -- front-element focus set to infinity) to 12 feet (which is hyperfocal for that focal length and aperture). IMO, it's fairly likely any triplet (and possibly Tessar type as well) will do the same at the same aperture and focus distance.
 
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