120 year old Bausch & Lomb + Beck lens, in action, on Portsdown Hill

Regular readers may know that my 2023 Christmas project was to make this 120 year old Bausch & Lomb + Beck lens fit on my µ4/3 cameras and actually capture some pictures with it. Unfortunately, at the time, the weather was too wet to take the thing outdoors. Fortunately by early January the weather became cooler and drier. Moreover we have the beautiful Portstdown Hill a few km drive from here.

Making a 120 year old lens work on a modern mirrorless camera, series…

  1. Making a 120-year-old Bausch & Lomb + Beck lens work on a modern mirrorless camera.
  2. 120 year old Bausch & Lomb + Beck lens, in action, on Portsdown Hill. (You are here.)
  3. How I mounted my 120-year-old Bausch & Lomb + Beck lens.

Here’s the official Portsdown Hill information board, actually taken through the Beck lens…

[Please click on images to enlarge]

The image of the sign was sharpened slightly using “local contrast enhancement” in order to make the text more legible. The rest are SooC, mostly developed from raw files, including this snap of the the RT tower at Fort Widley, taken roughly 25 metres away…

In addition to being quite a special place for me personally, Portsdown hill is also an 80 Hectrare SSSI and home to the increasingly rare red-tailed bumblebee. It also rises some 120 metres and offers stunning views across Portsmouth, Southsea, the Solent and the Isle of wight…

I checked the local VOLMET. which said, “Visibility one-zero kilometres or more, cloud scattered, temperature 3“. So up I went, armed with my Lumix DMC-GX80, my trusty Benbo Trekker tripod and my freshly-assembled ‘vintage-lens testing kit‘. Remembering also to take my thermal gloves and a woolly hat! 🙂

Looking across the city

Of course, an uncoated 120-year-old lens is not going to be as sharp or precise as a modern lens. It was also designed when the notion of colour film was in the realms of science fiction. So there is chromatic aberration that one would not get on a modern lens. This is especially noticeable if you click on the following images and enlarge them. Nevertheless, despite its various flaws and imperfections, I have to say, I really, really like this old lens, and its almost dreamlike quality…

Its night-time performance was interesting too. The chromatic aberration was even more apparent, especially if one zooms in on the street lights.  Yet somehow, it doesn’t seem to detract from the overall image. In fact I think this flaw actually adds to the dreamlike quality that images produced by this lens seem to possess…

Granted, bringing this old relic back to life is a fairly trivial achievement on the overall scheme of things. But it has bought out what my wife describes as my “inner six-year-old“, and I am absolutely chuffed-to-bits with it. 🙂

My photo kit for this session

  • Lumix DMC-GX80 mirrorless camera body.
  • M42 Screw Lens to µ4/3 adaptor
  • Soviet era Vorsatz M42 macro bellows.
  • M42 to flush mount adaptor (made for me by my photographer friend using his 3D printer).
  • 120-year-old Bausch & Lomb + Beck lens.
  • Ulefone Armor 3w smartphone, which served as a sat nav and as a remote control for the Lumix camera.
  • This was all mounted on my trusty Benbo Trekker tripod, via an Arca-compatible quick release.
  • I also carried a second µ4/3 camera, a Lumix DMC-GX7 in order to to photograph the kit and caboodle.

The 120-year-old Bausch & Lomb + Beck lens is circled in red in the photograph below…

My viewpoint on Portsdown Hill

The blue flag denotes the exact location of my tripod, certainly within a few metres anyway…

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