Photo: ...Descending...
Pinkham & Smith Visual Quality Motion Picture lens-- 75mm f/3, on Nikon D3


Here you will find information on my use of soft-focus and Pictorialist lenses, and my techniques for mounting, using, and processing images from these lenses in this very digital world.

In addition, I will expound from time to time on the subject of "The New Pictorialism", and the development of a reflective style in current circles. Topics from Google Plus posts will find a home here, and perhaps some relative permanence in the ever-renewing world of social networking.

--Bruce Hemingway

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Darlot Pillbox Meniscus lens

Darlot Pill Box Meniscus lens, circa 1860-1880, about 180mm

A. Darlot was a French optical company, founded in the 1850s as Jamin-Darlot in Paris. In 1860 it became Darlot. It made camera lenses, marked "Darlot, Opticien" or "Darlot Paris" and the initials "AD" of A. Darlot, the letters crossed as logo.  B.F. & Co. refers to Benjamin French & Company, who were the sole U.S. Importers of Darlot lenses for many years.

This lens is a Pill Box simple meniscus landscape lens, which Darlot manufactured from about 1860 to about 1880. This lens is probably from the latter production.

The Pill Box design uses diaphram washers held in by a retaining mechanism, allowing the user to change washers to stop the lens down. Invariably, only the installed washer has survived. However, pictorial usage of such lenses dictated that the entire end cap be removed, so that the spherical distortion could be appreciated for its diffusion effects. My copy of this lens has one washer stop, which gives me the following apertures (roughly estimated):

  • With the end cap removed: f/5
  • End cap on, no washer: f/11
  • Washer installed: f/20

Here are some example images:
Washer installed-fully stopped down

Retaining cap removed- wide open

wide open

wide open

six image stitched- wide open lens- CameraFusion back
in color
I also have the Darlot-manufactured Puligny Adjustable Landscape lens featured in another post, as well as a Darlot No 2 Hemispherique Rapide lens and a Darlot wide-angle landscape lens. The latter two are entirely too sharp for my tastes.


  1. You have my creative juices flowing....I have one of these Pill Boxes which I recall is 24" or there a bouts...will place it on my V8.

  2. thanks, and good luck with your lens.