About rehousing vintage lenses

Anna PifflAnna Piffl on 04.02.2014

Tags: rehousing optics vintage lenses

Suddenly, an ordinary subject becomes an exceptional image.

At IBC 2012, a good friend and business partner pointed out to me that P+S Technik should think about rehousing old Cooke Panchro lenses. Especially since P+S Technik has long-term experience with optics... and shortly after he sent his set of lenses in for review.

At NAB 2013 we were supposed to deliver the first 30 converted lenses... some things we learnt the hard way... we had to improve a few issues...
But it was worth it; by the end of 2013 we had already converted and delivered more than 200 lenses. And often I have been told the individual story of the lenses, as very often it was a creative D.P. who had recognized the potential of the Panchros lenses long before they became so popular again.
When I'm looking at these lenses on the projector with our engineers, they have a hard time to explain the great difference to a lens of recent origin based on technical data like charts, etc.. The Panchros look great, no distortion, no or very little color aberration, great resolution.
But due to the manufacturing methods 30-40 years ago, lenses of the same focal length are not equal.

The special feature, the bouquet, of these lenses is the sum of all their characteristics and can currently not be fully captured and reproduced by technical parameters. We will certainly learn again to make such lenses with the help of our colleagues on set. But until then, P+S Technik offers restoration and rehousing of your vintage lenses for ease-of-use with modern cameras.


Sophisticated mechanics

The sophisticated mechanics, the cam drive, the compact design and serial production of several parts made it possible to produce an individual product at reasonable cost. We currently deliver 5 sets per month.These days everybody wants to use these lenses for his/her next production... and has already final production dates...
Each lens is a little different and their condition is very different. When restoring the first few sets we did not dare to disassemble the inner optics unless requested by the customer. But optics with a lot of patina and a special bouquet are getting better if the patina is removed.


Manufacture and Restoration of Optics

We've learned to restore the glass and now each owner receives a recommendation for the service of his / her lenses. The following issues may occur and are serviced by us:

  • Removal of dust and oil in the iris
  • Treatment of fungal infection of the coating with disinfection similar as in hospital
  • Removal of fungus on the glue of the optics;the glue historically used was of organic origin (Canada balsam), this material is a good breeding ground for fungi. We can disassemble the glued lens pairs, clean them and precisely re-assemble and glue them again.
  • Renewing the glue, if the glue peels off the optical elements, which is easily recognized by the Newton rings. After cleaning the lens elements are precisely glued together.
  • Treatment of damaged surface on the front and back lens elements. Cleaning the lenses over the years partially removed the coating or produced scratches. In this case the only solution is the removal of the entire coating. Only professional techniques ought to be used when working with high value lenses. We spent six months to gather the know-how allowing us to restore the lens elements. Similar to images restorers we use historical techniques combined with modern methods. This is the only way we can guarantee no loss in quality of the optics, but restore their original performance.
  • Re-coating the glass surfaces with the historical coating. Due to our long tradition of working with optical elements, we can build on existing knowledge. On request, we also offer a modern multi-layer coating.
  • Worst Case I - Scratches in the glass. Polishing does not help here, it has to be precisely re-sanded. We build the appropriate grinding tool based on the radius of the individual lens - measured accurately to 1 micron (0.001 mm).
  • Worst Case II - crack in glass element, or similar; in this case a substitute part must be found. We have a small stock of original spare parts.






Individual Focus Rings

We do measure the focal markings individually for each lens, as well for the long distances. Focus rings are available with meters or feet (Imperial) scale.
We are proud, so many customers from all over the world entrust us with their optics. In spite of a a slight increase of the price after the first five sets, we still offer the best price-performance ratio based on a mixture of manual manufacture and modern technology.
Video Clip: Workshop at P+S Technik

Future plans

We have a number of requests to restore other historical lenses and convert (rehouse) them to mechanically state-of-the-art lenses. Based on the developed techniques, we are able to offer conversion for rare lenses as well at economic cost.

At the moment we are working on the lenses of the French manufacturer Kinoptik (www.kinoptik.com). We've pre-orders for several sets already. Those who are interested as well should get in touch. Delivery is planned for the third quarter of 2014. The more sets come together, the better offers we are able to make.


Complete sets

We can provide complete sets of lenses (Cooke Panchro, Kinoptik, Schneider, Zeiss MK1) on request. More information by email to sales@pstechnik.de or call 089-450982-30


Single lenses

You have a nice set of Panchro lenses, but miss one focal length?
We can offer focal lengths individually and can thus help to complete your set of lenses. More information by email to sales@pstechnik.de or call 089-450982-30



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