Up next in my Collodion Wet Plate adventure is the 500mm Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar XVI 1. This beauty is from 1918, has an adjustable aperture, and a max of f/4.5. I am pretty certain I could do 16×20 plates with this. My whole understanding of photography and gear gets skewed when you start getting into large format photography. Imagine having a digital camera that the sensor was 11″x14″. You need an enormous lens just to cover it. So even at 4.5 its super shallow. Like f/2 on a full-frame (35mm) sensor.
I found this on craigslist of all places. A guy posted a text-only ad that he had “vintage camera gear.” He lived in a small cul-de-sac with 5 other neighbors. One of which was a portrait studio owner that mainly did school pictures in Lakewood and Aurora in the 60s and 70s. He recently passed and had no family so he gave his estate to his 5 neighbors. Amoung lots of old flash strobes, medium format mamiyas, old weird auto school picture cameras, was a Century Master Studio Camera with the Zeiss on it. I didn’t need the camera as it was huge and only had a 5×7 back for it. The guy wouldn’t sell the lens alone so I bought both and recently sold the camera making it a pretty sweet deal in the end for what I wanted; this awesome lens! I am a bit of a Zeiss ‘tard so to own something so awesome and old and Zeiss. WIN WIN!