QUICK FACTS: ULF 450mm F4.5 French Petzval, Circa 1850’s, Brass Plated, Internal Aperture Control, ULF Coverage @ Infinity TBD (11×14, 8×20, 16×20)
HISTORY: This very old mid-19th century Petzval lens comes from the absolute most exclusive French lens-making workshop: Derogy.
Getting a Derogy Petzval lens from the 1850s with ULF coverage is a dream come true for me. I also plan to use it on my 8×10 camera for collodion dry plates and making kallitypes. I think the 450mm focal length is really nice for landscapes on the 8×10 and 8×20, so I am pretty excited about that too.
It is a heavy lens (about 4000g/8.8 lbs), so use our lens support system for this lens.
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Derogy’s workshop was one of the very early fine lensmakers in Europe and he achieved high respect for his lenses spanning decades.
I believe the Derogy French Petzval is extra special and has an extra x-factor over the traditional Petzval lenses.
Like most mid-19th-century lenses, this lens does not have exterior engravings on the outer sleeve, like the later lenses do, but it has fine writings on the front achromat objective, with the maker’s name. This is one of the largest Derogy Petzval’s ever made.
The lens has a focal length of 450mm at a speed of F4.5.
It will cover 11×14 for sure and maybe even 14×17 on portrait distance, and it proudly comes with fine Petzval characteristics that we all know and love from this unique period.
I’ve tried it at infinity on my 16×20, and it definitely vignettes. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on my creative intentions. I’ve mainly used it for closeup work in the studio so far and it is a very special lens.
This lens came in a really nice and authentic condition, the brass has a warm golden lacquer and shows only minor wear. I feel inspired just looking at this lens. I think about all the photographers over the last 175 years that used this lens before me.
The rack & pinion mechanism is complete and still working. The glass is absolutely lovely; it is very clear and shows only minimal cleaning marks and dust specs, which is amazing for the age of this lens. This won’t affect the image quality at all. This lens is in incredible condition for being about 170 to 175 years old.
QUICK LENS SPECIFICATIONS
Height: 27cm (10 1/2″)
Width: 12cm (4 3/4″)
Weight: 4000g (8.8 lbs)
As for the lens, there is no serial number anywhere. The early French lens makers didn’t engrave most of their lenses back then, and the concept of serial numbers wasn’t standard operating procedure yet. But looking at its layout and the fact that it wasn’t engraved, it can surely be dated back to the late 1850s to early 1860s.
If you want to dive more into the early French makers, check out the book by Corrado D’Agostini: Photographic Lenses of the 1800s in France. it is expensive if you can even find a copy, but a good source of information on this lens. I have a copy of all three of Corrado’s lens books and I cherish them.
WILD HORSE PRINT MADE WITH THE DEROGY LENS
Hole for lens board ~ 129.5mm
Lens Cap Outer Diameter ~ 141.5mm
Derogy 450mm F4.5 (Left) – Dallmeyer 3B 290mm F3 (Right)
A ton of history and good info at this link to include here.