Many of us have a penchant for vintage lenses and cameras, but few of us have ever shot with a lens quite like this.
While I love old cameras and lenses — truly, the older the better — I've not yet owned a camera or lens from the 19th century, let alone used one. So, whenever I see a photographer restoring and adapting old equipment, I'm wholly invested in it. As someone who enjoys photography and history, seeing some of the first photographic equipment ever made is a perfect balance.
In this video, Markus Hofstätter, a film and wet plate photographer, receives a carefully restored Dallmeyer lens. This large, opulent-looking cylinder was made by John H. Dallmeyer and first sold in 1875. The lens is a 290mm f/3 Petzval-design lens, which was incredibly quick for its day. In all honesty, 290mm f/3 wouldn't be considered slow today!
Hofstätter, upon receiving this antique, had to adapt and customize both the lens and the camera he aimed to use it on, which is an intricate process you can watch in the video. He then uses the setup to take beautiful wet plate portraits. This video is fascinating from minute one and well worth your time.
If you're interested in buying vintage lenses that really redefine "vintage" when used in a photographic context, Wet Plate Dreams provided Hofstätter with this lens and they have many different, rare pieces of equipment still for sale. Some of the field cameras they have for sale I want to buy just to display!