This 136-year-old large format lens keeps up with modern day DSLR glass

This 136-year-old large format lens keeps up with modern day DSLR glass


Photographer Stern Mathieu has an ongoing series titled ‘Weird Lens Challenge,’ wherein he takes old, strange and unusual lenses for a test drive to see how they perform.

In his latest episode, he reviews a 136 year old large format camera lens—one of the first to ever have an internal aperture mechanism.


According to Stern, the lens’ focal length was roughly 135mm on his Sony A7II camera and was shot with an aperture of f/4. Unsurprisingly, the process of mounting the lens to his camera wasn’t easy. In a blog post Stern wrote:

After mounting it with some cardboard pieces to keep it tightly blocked in a m42 macro tube, and then screw it on different macro m42 tubes and to a m42 helicoidal ring that was screwed to a M42 to Nex Adaptor ring then to the Sony A7II , the lens was able to focus.


As the video shows, the lens performs far above what I would’ve ever anticipated. Not only is it sharp, it’s bokeh is smooth and its color reproduction is great, making for a very pleasing aesthetic.

YouTube video

One thing to note is that this lens was designed to be used with large format cameras. Thus, attached to a full frame mirrorless camera, the sensor is only capturing the very center of the lens’ image circle. This means the less sharp corners of the lens aren’t being shown, which very likely contributes to its apparent sharpness.

Below are a few screenshots taken from video captured with the lens:

Lens_Old_7 Lens_Old_6 Lens_Old_5 Lens_Old_4

To check out stills captured with the lens, head on over to Stern’s website. You can follow his future videos by subscribing to his YouTube channel.

[via Reddit]

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