Yoshizen's Blog

Vest Pocket Lens on A7R

Vest'P(1)-DSC09764On here, the images of Vest Pocket lens from the field test.  (Give a close eyes to this photo and see how the details and rich tones are there ! —– by the way, the image looks a bit more greenish on iPad screen.)


—– If the image looks fuzzy, the lens was fully open (F6.6).  (But mind you, the original Vest Pocket camera’s image was 6×9, therefore we are only seeing its cropped center here.)



(They are the sample)   Left = F6.6 / Right = F11) — Pantograph was fully extended for close up.



(Amazingly sharp image together with nice halation of spherical aberration from the F6.6 Vest Pocket lens ! )







(This photo above, look the cobbles and see their blurred pattern —– but, on the small contact print of card-size image, who would notice it ? )




Well, Vest Pocket lens on the Sony A7R was the camera who took those photos though, behind of those, there were many more minutely blurred photos, seemed to be caused by the wobbly lens structure.  Otherwise, some photos were amazingly sharp, considering that they came from such old single glass lens !  (And it would rise a very serious question, that is, the great effort the manufacturer spending to create 10, 20 elements lenses using ED glass etc, what sort of practical significance was made ? —– of course, unless otherwise, there couldn’t be such as 14mm F1.8 lens or 18mm~400mm Zoom etc etc still, —– ? )     In reality, often, those expensive technical samples were made for demonstration purpose and made only 100 or so to display in their showroom.  In contrast to the millions of  18~55mm plastic kit lens.  Funny fact was, even after the people was made to believe that “the Larger the Better” myth suddenly changed into iPhone camera. —– It indicates that, so-called fine sharp image might be just a formality nobody actually bother. )


Kodak Vest Pocket Camera


  (Photo left = Vest Pocket A-127 camera.    Photo middle = Insert + Lens unit was pushed out. The round cup on the front panel is the Hood ring removed from the lens front.  Photo right = the half of the Vest Pocket camera was attached on the Sony A7R body)

Probably the most iconic vintage camera must be the Kodak A-127 Vest Pocket Camera.  Among the thousands of cameras, this camera was designed on the almost revolutionary “Cut the corner” philosophy.  On the surface, you might think that this camera was a toy though, actually the camera was 6×9 medium format (43mm x 65mm exact).  In today’s sense, if the camera was a medium format, it could produce quit high-resolution high quality picture —– but, you were wrong.  Virtually all the user of this camera had only seen their picture on a tiny 6×9 size contact print.  Think, how much a name-card size tiny picture could show the details ?  Imagine, to make a picture of photo-booth instant print, how many pixel was needed ?  (I guess, Kodak must have had many consumer test and found “good enough” compromise.)  The size of the picture to carry in a wallet (to show his baby or give his picture) IS 6×9 = card size.  To make 6×9 photo, lens focal length got to be at least 80 mm, and the size of the lens should be about 10mm.  So, on this Vest Pocket camera, the single glass lens was 12mm diameter though, a ring or hood which is restricting the aperture to 7.3mm was placed on front of the lens. (It’s mean, the lens was F6.6 but with the ring, F11. —– with this rather small aperture, a kind of pan-focus = focus-free was created = a bit of out focus may not to be a matter in a small print. ( = hence camera has no focus control) 

So the structure was designed in the same minimalist approach.   The camera consists  1) Outer shell    2) Insert with film gate   3) Lens / Shutter unit and the bellows to connect  Lens unit to Insert and the supporting pantograph   4) Bottom cover —– other than in the Shutter unit, very few screw was used, hence the Insert will be slide out with a simple push  (photo above middle)  Technically, Lens unit and the Insert, connected by the bellows and the pantograph can be seen as the Lens with focusing mechanism = it’s mean, just place the Lens unit / Insert to the front of a digital camera, we can make the pictures of Kodak Vest Pocket Lens, (which I did) — provided,  pantograph should be press-down to the correct point to have an image in focus. (photo right)

K-vest  F'open /  F13 ?The test shot showed rather promising results. (But shoot with an extreme  care ! —– Photo above left = the iris of the lens (without front ring) was fully open = F6.6.    The next, with the front ring which makes F11  (Photo right ) —– F6.6 showed nice softness and when it was stopped down, the image became more solid ! —–  though, the field test showed the other trouble of this optics —– because of not very solid lens support structure, they are pretty susceptive to the vibration =  image get easy to blur = considering the shutter shock made by the small lens shutter (when it was on the Vest Pocket) and the Square shutter in the A7R’s body, the effect seemed to be completely different, especially if there was a funny resonance on the wobbly pantograph  frame. So, I’ll show you the field test shot on the next post.



Omg, Argus-C camera

Encountering something is always out of blue. (You may find what you expected when you’ve been chasing it, but otherwise it would be an unexpected sheer coincidence.)  So, the story here is having such unexpected coincidence. —– A female photographer developed a film left inside of a camera and found the photos of the Mt.St.Helens eruption in 1980. (The story and the discovered photos were amazing enough) 

But for me, what amazed was, the camera which she found in a thrift shop, an old Argus camera, was the same camera I used when I was a boy.  It was in the 1950s, the camera said to be bought from an American soldier.  On that time, American were everywhere in Japan —– not because of the occupying GHQ, but also the Korean war was going on. (Seeing the advancement of Communists, American regret to disarm Japan — so, try to re-arm Japan with so-called “Self-defence Force” which they said “Not contradicting Japanese Constitution which renounced the means of war = because they are only for self-defence not to attack others” then ! = Since then Japan is having this contradiction and the paradox. )

The camera was an American = Argus-C.  The adjustment of double image in the range-finder was linked to the focus of the Lens = it was rather cleverly designed and easy to use even for a 8,10-years-old boy — though both F-aperture scale, shutter speed scale was funny. —– Film used was a Fuji Neopan-S, B/W film and the  Exposure was a guess-work from a film instruction such as “Bright sunny day, use F8 and 1/125th second” kind.  The camera worked well until a shutter blade break off and ruined whole film one day,  still I remember quite a few images such as I did attempt to take close-up of an insect etc without using proper close-up accessory but with an improvised magnifying glass etc.  (Many years later, I got Pentax SP with close-up ring.)   So, to see an old friend was a good surprise ! 



Kodak Red Bellows Lens


(Photo left / Kodak folding No.1A — image from CameraWiki)

Well, even if you were a keen photographer and have an interest to the old cameras, you may not know the Cameras with red bellows. — They were 100 (110) years old Kodak Pocket Folding Cameras. (I got two of them though they are in a box, bottom of the pile of 50 boxes = I’ll show you a photo one day.)

— I bought just a lens in a junk box of George’s Camerafare shop in the Portobello Market.


When the camera mean big wooden camera, Kodak started to sell “Pocketable” folding cameras for the consumers.    (Be prepared, the size of a pocket then could take even today’s laptop.   😀  )


We may guess, it was a situation like teaching the people to have a selfy and send it through Net phone.   

The Kodak preloaded the teaching App on the camera body = all the instruction were written there. =Such as : Use 1/100 for Moving Objects or Gray day, Use Tripod and with B setting for 1/2 second !  ETC. ETC.  (Shutter was triggered either by pressing a lever  or using an Air pump ! )  In fact I was rather impressed to see the quality of the manufacturing standard = after 100 years, they are still working ! )

The camera was made by Eastman Kodak Rochester USA though, the Lens was made by Bausch & Romb Optical Co. Rochester, USA (once before, Sunglass, Ray-Ban was a part of this company) of which they call, Rapid Rectilinear lens. ( though, it only meant, no distortion)


The second photo above center shows the lenses = front and rear element seems to be identical (both showed the same focusing length = symmetrical design)     And each lens seems to be a single lens.  

Mounting the lens on a bellows to have a test shot = the image seems not bad ! 


Thanks to the bellows extension — have look a close-up.


Then to see the So-called Softness on the same test bench.   It seems this lens showed no Zeiss kind of softness.  (The photo left was taken by Sony A7R —– to be fair, I did the same shot on the Canon 5D Mk3 as before (right) —– in comparison, Sony showed much higher crispness and Canon seems softer) —– Still, this matter needs more critical test to find the reason.

Much more serious question over this old Lens IS, = No focal length was found still, the extension of the bellows showed it is 175mm.   Even though the front plate was saying F4, the diameter of the lens IS 24mm = F-aperture should be F7.3 but from a measuring of the exposure indicates that this lens got a brightness of only F10. —– It is quite puzzling.

= To see the old lens is fun in deed, still it is not necessary a gold mine to find any nostalgic image !  (Unless, use a homemade emulsion on a glass plate together)  😀

Such as a photo of dried Rose by A7R above — this sharpness might be created by the digital process in the camera, not an original optical image.)


Ensign !

Oh my goodness, after 43 years, Britten leave the bunch of Europe.

—– After 43 years mean, a year before I came here, Brit joined EC.

It was just after the oil shock and the time Britten was in a doldrums. 

(Before North-sea Oil boom)

Still, something amazed me of this country then was that as the law 

was changed, the gay couple became eligible to have a council housing

like a married couple. (otherwise, single man was almost impossible

to get it in the priority queue = single mother, disabled, married with

children —- has higher priority) (Though, I didn’t know whether it

was due to the European regulation or trend of the human right issue)


Ensign is a national flag on the (battle) ship, so it symbolize somewhat

patriotic though I’m not talking about the politics here —– but

an old camera called Ensign made by the Houghtons, England.

Ensign Anastigmat Lens 6" (?) F7.7

Ensign Anastigmat Lens 6″ (?) F7.7

( A fog on the photo above was caused by a fungi and no coated lens)

Yet this is just a mediocre old camera made around 1910s and the

lens was a common anastigmat lens.  Nothing special or remarkable.

(If the lens was giving visibly too distinctive image, no one would

buy such camera.   😀 )

My friend Gordon wanted to use this lens to shoot on his

8mm cine camera. (so, I was asked to modify it to C-mount fitting)


The camera got the same design of the then trendy (!) folding camera

of a quarter plate size (4″x3″ = its contact print would make a post card).

The photo above left showed yet another old camera of the same era,

which I have talked about before.

The name of the lens Anastigmat mean, Ana (non) Stigmat (optical

aberration showing  cross-shaped ghost image) and designed to

eliminate not only Stigmat but also the other aberrations as well.

 (only in the certain level — just able to produce good enough

image = like the photo on top)


Strangely this lens doesn’t say what focal length — still, the maximum

F-aperture seemed to be F7.7 and the diameter of the lens is about

19~20mm —> 20 x 7.7 = 150mm —– and the 150mm lens for 4″x3″ 

size will make about 45° angle of view = good for full length portrait shot

on 2m distance.


To dismount the lens (together with shutter unit) it needs to use

caliper like tool from the back of the lens. (Photo above right)


Lens (and shutter together) was stacked on front of the bellows,

and 150mm lens for 35mm camera is a good telephoto lens.

—– but mind you, here only the center of the lens

= best part was used.


So, the image quality is not too bad other than the foggy halation

caused by the fungi.   But, neither the pleasing softness was there

— just an ordinary image.


People might have a false dream toward the old lens which could

create an archaic nostalgic image though, most of them would

make just ordinary image  only with foggy halation, caused by the

non-coated surface reflection if not a fungi. 

Because the visible difference on the image was created by the

uncorrected aberration which has to be (more or less) corrected 

except the very old primitive design such as the Petzbarl lens of

the Dageleo type era.     And, even if the lens happen to have an

aberration, it’s not apparent on the cropped center of the image. 

In fact, the false impression of the nostalgic image was made by 

the low resolution of the old film / plate, it may not be replicated

on a modern DSLR.

(Old film’s latitude was much narrower = shadow details lost but

with the halation inside of film emulsion, edge of the dark part

was eaten and together with the halation on the lens surface

made the image looks rather soft = created the image like a copy

of an old cinema frame = this is the reality of nostalgic image.)


Old Camera — Miranda S


Few days ago, one of my friend (in fact, a friend of friend) gave

me an old camera.  It was a very early model of SLR (Single Lens

Reflex Camera), Miranda S which was made around 1968~70.

After the World war 2, burnt-down country Japan was recovering

in amazing speed though, the camera such as Nikon, Canon was

producing were the old style Rangefinder Camera — still, those Nikon

which went to the Korean War with the American photographer

was highly praised (only the camera kept working under -40 degree

Korean Winter!) and started to gain good reputations world wide.

In 1962, the Asahi Kogaku produced Asahi Flex, the first 35mm SLR ! 

(Later, this company started to produce the SLR using penta-prism

— and changed their name to the Pentax.)


The camera I was given, Miranda S was rather like an Asahi Flex, but

not in a perfect condition to work. = winding-up nob was broken — still,

I could test the function by charge-up the shutter by force rotating the

winding-up sprocket, then click the shutter.

The shutter dial was rotating while charge-up and a release moment.

(It’s an old design soon to be disappeared.)

And the mirror was not quick return, neither the iris was automatic.

To see this Design as the starting point = I can see how the later

development came such far !



—– the peculiar things of this camera was, that this one got a waist-level

finder = not a prism view finder. = look down the image which was

left-right reversed ! —– My guess was, that this camera was used by an

academic to take photos through microscope, telescope kind — if not

the owner lost the interchangeable prism finder.


Miranda started to make their camera, called Orion Camera first. 

Then,  changed the name to Miranda, their Miranda Sensolex model was

sold well (I remember their poster.  🙂  ) —– anyhow, to encounter such

old Japanese camera, exported to the Europe was a big surprise to me.


I may not able to shoot a photo with this camera since its winding-up

shaft was broken, yet still, even just watching 50 years old

mechanism still working was a great joy.



Antic Camera ? — Doppel Anastigmat Lens

Antic Camera-1-A09A7997

OMG !  —– In an odds and ends box in a camera shop, among the modern

high-tec camera or broken lens kind etc, I found a 100 year old camera !

It looks pretty much like German Ihharge kind but, this one was very small.

Before roll film was invented, the camera then was using a glass plate as a 

photosensitive material.   And a contact print was a way to make a print

= hence the size of the glass plate was often “Postcard size” —– though,

this camera was using “6 cm x 4.5 cm size” so, pretty small in deed as

you can see from the photo above. 

Antic Camera-2-317-001

On the lens, it was written “Steinheil Munchen Doppel anastigmat 1:5.4  f=7.5cm”

— Doppel mean Double, so the lens seemed to be a symmetrical design of

stuck of a convex meniscus and a concave meniscus placed both side of an iris.

(altogether 4 lenses)    Back of the camera has detachable focusing glass.

= After framed and focused, focusing glass has to be changed to the glass plate

to take picture. 

Antic Camera-3-316-001

75mm lens for 6 x 4.5 cm photo size mean, this was a camera of so-called

medium format camera ( such as Hasselblad, Rolleiflex etc) and the 75mm

lens could easily be used on a 35mm DSLR body — which I did with a

help of Pentax Helicoid Extension Tube. (on Nikon or on Canon) —– what

I realized was that this lens doesn’t have a clear crispy sharpness of the 

modern lens, but neither beautiful softness. (of a kind what I like)  in other

word, it was just an old dull lens ! (No mythical subtle touch of “old lens” ) 

Antic Camera-A2-A09A8023

I can see the character of this lens here still, I wouldn’t pretend to be a

master to appreciate this softness = it is just a lack of sharpness which

never improve with smaller F-aperture. (this photo was fully open = F 5.4)

(Lens got a lots of fungi = can’t create any sharp photos anyway.) 

Antic Camera-4-315-001

The lens was mounted on a Pronto (later called Prontor) shutter — and

amazingly, after 100 years, they are still functioning. (more or less)

The photo above left was shot by using Pronto shutter 100th. (while

5D’s shutter was open with B setting, then click Pronto shutter)

and the photo right was a comparison, Pronto was opened on T setting

and a photo was exposed by the 5D’s shutter.

Antic Camera-5-A09A8007

Something peculiar on this type of  camera then was that the most of them

were having  “Lens Rise control” ! —– Do you know why and what for ?

Set the camera on slightly low angle (about waist high) — thanks to

the “Lens Rize” (without looking up) it is possible to take picture of the

whole body, while making the leg looks longer !   🙂  


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