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This old Carl Zeiss f/4.5 250mm lens belonged to my father, who said that it was used for some kind of wooden electrostatic-photocopy machine from a document-copying shop that he used to run.

Please help me identify what mount this lens has. The only information I could find on the net remotely similar to this was in Russian.

Was this made for some kind of large format view camera? Can this be adapted for a Canon or a Nikon DSLR? It has some kind of a screw mount.

image 1 image 2 image 3

  • I'm curious, though: can you include something to indicate scale? – mattdm Apr 11 '17 at 13:54
  • For what it's worth, here's the same lens "with an approximately 72mm screw mount". Does the ring with the holes screw off? – mattdm Apr 11 '17 at 14:19
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This is a "process" lens used to make copies on high contrast film for reproduction in newspapers, magazines, and books. The lens mounted on a square wood board with hole for the lens. The lens mounted with wood screws. On some, the board was metal, usually aluminum. If an aluminum mount was used it was also called a lens board. The lens mounted to metal boards with machine screws. These giant "process" cameras were common to print shops.

  • Can this be adapted for use with a dslr? For landscapes? – Janardan S Apr 11 '17 at 6:55
  • This a "process" lens. The design is optimized to image a flat surface and project that image on flat film. It will work OK as a camera lens but will be slightly compromised as a camera images objects that are at different distances and projects their images on flat film or digital chip. Your biggest problem will be figuring out how to mount. Your next problem will be, the lens will not couple to the camera body, you must operate the aperture manually. – Alan Marcus Apr 11 '17 at 15:08
  • Alan, are you sure this is a process lens? How do you identify it as such? Everything I can find about it online calls it a "large format lens". That doesn't mean it isn't or wasn't used that way, but I'm curious what indicates that it was designed/optimized for that particular case. – mattdm Apr 11 '17 at 15:53
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    I labeled it a process lens based on your description of its use. Likely it will work OK for landscapes. – Alan Marcus Apr 11 '17 at 17:43
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    @ Janardan S -- A process lens, like all lenses, projects a circular image. Only the central area of this circle is photographically useful. As a rule-of-thumb, the circle of good definition is about equal in diameter to the focal length. This lens is expected to have a good definition circle with a diameter of 250mm = about 10 inches. This lens was likely used on an 8X10 view camera (film size). Should yield a distortion-free and sharp image 10 inches in diameter. – Alan Marcus Apr 12 '17 at 14:01
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One adaptation strategy (awesome steampunk look included) would be to get a secondhand or cheap bellows that fits your DSLR, strip everything you don't need from the front end of the bellows, then drill holes in the front plate of that bellows and bolt the lens on semi-permanently. Make sure the lens sits flat-on. Use DC-fix, foam rubber, black electrical tape, silicone, whatever to light-tighten if necessary. Add extension tubes camera-side when your bellows is not long enough.

This kind of lens has not much of a reason to be retrofocus/telephoto in design, so expect it to need to be approximately ten inches (the focal length) away from the sensor to reach infinity focus.

The best use, however, would not be landscape, unless you love telephoto landscape shots.

Lenses like that are potent long focus macro lenses; if they are satisfactory at infinity too (read the comments, some might not be), try them as a relatively fast telephoto for astrophotography (moon and planets), night scenery, theatre....

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