I met Carlo a few months ago as I was looking for some honey. I discovered this passionate beekeeper lived only half a mile from my home.
As we got to know each other over time, I found out that this amazing 84-year-old was a true genius in building anything out of wood and metal in his well-equipped workshops.
I asked him to help me tame the biggest and heaviest lens I own so that I could finally mount it onto a 4×5 camera and give it some use.
A few years ago I actually devised a way to mount this beastly lens, but I was never entirely satisfied with the results, as they lacked the solidity such a heavy piece of glass demands.
Carlo was able to quickly solder together a metal cone, permanently attached to a clone of a Plaubel lens board (which he cut and carved by hand !) where the heavy 12-inch Aero Ektar f/2.5 lens would snugly fit.
The lens was to be further supported by a metal bracket that Carlo created, inspired by a plastic telescope lens bracket I had shown him earlier, but much, much sturdier than the original one.
Now came the shutter: we opted to drill a hole in a pine wooden board the size of the large Packard shutter we were going to use (1/10th of a second maximum speed!).
To attach the “shutter board” to the lens, Carlo hand-carved a slot of exactly the same diameter of the lens front element rim on the back. Once the rim slid into this groove, a couple of elastic bands were sufficient to stabilize and firmly attach the entire contraption to the camera body.
The heavy 12-inch Aero Ektar Lens can be a wonderful tool, giving you a very shallow depth of field and a creamy bokeh at a great focal length for portraiture (with a 12-inch focal length, this lens does cover 8×10 although I prefer using it on 4×5 and even 6×9, something I am able to do on the old Plaubel Supra camera by just changing the back).
It’s just that the lens is freakin’ big and heavy to mount anywhere but on a military aircraft!
Carlo was able to find a really good and elegant solution (in a retro-post-industrial style) that I truly love!
Here are some photos captured with the lens:
My heartfelt thank you to this wonderful and genial inventor friend of mine!
About the author: Giovanni Savino is a photographer based in Italy. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Savino previously lived in New York City, where he ran a Large Format Portraiture Studio in Manhattan for twenty years before the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to shut down his business and move across the ocean. You can find more of Savino’s work on his website.