Living in Nevada you'd think I would learn. Gambling Bad. Gambling BAD! When it comes to junk boxes of oddball brass lenses on Ebay though.....I'm a hopeless optimist. Pity me. So there's a junk box on Ebay a couple of weeks ago and I notice in tiny letters Bausch & Lomb (No. 8 V11 A). Well I happen to know that a No. 8 VIIa is a combination of 11 3/16 rear and 13 3/4" front to make a great 7" Zeiss Protar lens. Even if the rest is junk, this will be my prize. And the other bidders are well aware of that because there's no way the rest of that trash is worth $10 combined. Sure enough the box arrives and there's a beautiful brass barrel Bausch & Lomb No. 8 VIIa. No lenses in it, just an empty barrel. Arggghhhhhhh! It's happened again! The seller says he's no expert and wouldn't have known the difference if there was solid gold in that brass barrel etc. He offers me a $20 adjustment and I take it because that's the best I'm going to get.

So I take a second look at the "other" lenses. The Photex with the 5 blade shutter has 4 blades that sort of work. A balky aperture and it's a worthless old uncoated 7" dialyt. About the least desireable lens on earth. There's a 4" projector lens. Worthless. There's a rather nice old 12" triplet in an interesting spiral mount with no aperture, but the glass is spiffy. We'll give it a try on the 5X7 as a portrait taker sometime. That leaves a diminutive Hall & Benson "HalBen" wide angle 8X10. Hmmm. Interesting. The glass is filthy but it's OK. I do a lamp check and discover it's 2 elements / 2 groups. The final treasure is something called a "Waterbury Lens". It's hoary with wooly fungus but a trip into a bath of bleach and a wash with ammonia and H2O find it unharmed. Odd little thing. It has glass at the back and a springy ring that holds it's only aperture choice into the otherwise empty barrel. I check it with a lamp and it is 2 elements, 1 group.

I mount both of these on 4X4 boards and throw them in the Deardorff kit.


Hall & Benson New York "HALBEN" Wide Angle 8X10


Waterbury Lens, Scovill Mfg. Co. New York No. 101360&


Well, Sunday last I'm in Goldfield Nevada trying to swing a deal on a '39 Ford Pickup (which I later procured) and I have a little time so I turn east out into the historic mining district. I don't have a lot of time to waste so I decide I'll give the 2 little gems a test. I made 5 exposures. 3 with the little Wide Angle (which proves to be sharp as hell) and 2 with the Waterbury. I notice on the first shot that the Waterbury lens is going to vignette 8X10 so I move in close for a detail shot. Pics 1 and 2 below were done with it. I used Efke 100R film with a 25 red and a Polarizer. The red will help the non apo lenses to land the image on a single plane. The polarizer slows things down enough that I'm in the 1-3 second range in bright full Central Nevada sunlight.

I learn later that the Waterbury probably came on a Scovill 5X8 camera that was kind of a Model T Ford of cameras. Extremely cheap and made for the masses.

Please forgive the RR scans. These are just work prints on cheap Kodak RC paper done in a BIG hurry. The 5 photos are as follows:


First is with the Watebury Lens. I have no clue what the aperture is. I focus on infinity and since I don't have a ruler with me I count the inches off the best I can and decide it's roughly an 11 inch lens. Then I take my 300mm Nikor and set the aperture to roughly the same size opening. I go with f32. Logical. With no disc it's roughly f16 for focus and with the one remaining disk, f32. If indeed the Waterbury was made to cover the 5X8 format of 100 years past it would do a fine job of it with just a bit of fall off in the corners. The center is surprisingly sharp and contrasty. With only 2 air / glass interfaces and no non image forming light hitting the glass the contrast makes sense.


For this shot I move in for a "detail shot" which is where this little lens really can shine. This negative is beautiful. A shot I'd have liked no matter what lens took it. Still at f32 max I had to forego some depth of field at the top. It doesn't seem to hurt the composition though.


This was actually my second shot and done with the tiny HALBEN 8X10 WA lens. I never have found any info on Hall & Benson. In 1880 I suppose there were tons of small optical companies that dis-appeared similar to Stearns and Duryea in the automobile industry. This little thing is incredibly crisp. Certainly not up to anything modern but I'll bet it would compare fairly well to the 4 element 2 group Protar V of the same era. It's 183mm same as the 810 Protar. Perhaps no mystery there. I did the best I could with the scans for resolution / jpg size trade-off. Suffice to say I could enlarge a 4X5 section out of the center 5X and it would hold together OK.


Next was an interior shot with the HALBEN WA. It's the most dis-appointing of the group. At F64 there's still not enough dof to get near and far focused. Pushed beyond it's design. This wasn't an important shot as the light inside was completely impossible because of large sections of tin roof being gone and daylight streaming into otherwise "cave" like light.


Finally, I settle on a shot of an ancient interior door that has been forced into service as an exterior door in the desert elements for nearly 100 years. This is with the HALBEN WA and it's a negative that prints as well as anything I could have done with much newer lenses. Perhaps better. There is a certain feeling to this photograph that may have been lost with a 210 G-Claron's clinical sharpness. Perhaps not lost but certainly different. I like this picture.