Meniscus Grooviness on 10×12…

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+:

Grubb Aplanatic

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:

Lemonade Stand...

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:

Again, I’m pleased with the dreamy, almost ethereal quality of the image.  The lens is amazing.  I need to pack the rig down to the little local waterfall and see what it does to a landscape.  Soon…


2 thoughts on “Meniscus Grooviness on 10×12…

  1. Beautiful images !
    Good seeing you post on this blog again =) I regularly come back to read some of the “repairs” and builds you have done 🙂

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