A while back, large format vintage lens pusher Richard Rankin sent me a storied lens to try – a Grubb Aplanatic B, a corrected achromatic meniscus lens. 12″ focal length, pillbox design, and a cadre of washer stops.
I’ve been wanting a true meniscus lens for a long time, and while this lens can arguably said to not be a traditional meniscus, well, it was close enough.
As soon as I got it, I uncorked it – removed the glass from the mount, put the mount and stops gingerly away in a drawer, and rear-mounted the glass to a lensboard. Added a dedicated Packard to the front, and I was off to see how this looked on 10×12.
Focusing this lens isn’t as bad as I thought it would be – there’s a pretty nice zone of surprising sharpness in the center of the field. I pointed the Star out the window, and was amazed that the bare lens, f/4.6, covered 10×12 easily! Sat the boy in front of the camera and burned a sheet of FP4+:
Nice, and I loved the effect, but the lens is capable of more than that. Tried again:
Okay, I’ll admit that that one is one of my all-time favorite pictures of the boy. This lens definitely has some potential! I start in to pondering about other applications than close portraits…
So, Maddie and a friend set up a lemonade stand a few weeks later. Beautiful day, light was wonderful, and I decide it’s a perfect opportunity to try something different. It’s bright though, and I’m not choking down the lens. FP4+ is the slowest film I have, so I tried the unthinkable – I pulled the film 2 stops to ISO32. Gave me a usable shutter speed with the Packard, though a pretty dense negative. The scanner pulled out an image, though:
I picked up another lens from Richard in the interim, and the Grubb has been dormant for weeks. But I had a rare moment of planning, and set the boy in front of the camera yesterday for a shot I had mapped out ahead of time: