September 15, 2010

Classic Lens Designs

Okay, I keep looking for a nice Zeiss solid-body viewfinder camera. Thing is there are just too many lens types out there. Sometimes I think it be nice to get a Voigtlander Vito or something like that BUT the number of lens names is dizzying. Which one exactly, is supposed to be the equivalent of a four elements in three groups?

Wonder no longer. Here is a list of lens - you can figure which Schneider or Voigtlander design is the equivalent of whichever Zeiss design!

The Biotar lens I bought today would be six elements in four groups.

I used to be quite snobby about not wanting a three element lens on a vintage viewfinder and have consequently avoided them. However, my camera repair man Horst Wenzel - trained in Hasselblads and Leicas - says my triplet TLR, Yashica 635 with a Yashikor 80mm lens, will do fine even against the Yashinon found in the Yashicamat 124-G.

Unless, of course, he says, I plan to blow my negatives up four feet by four feet.

Anyhow, a recent article/sale announcement at Japan Exposures regarding a boutique design triplet has me thinking about being open-minded about triplets as well.

Certainly, Pentax Espio Mini's (aka UC-1, seen above) have done okay with just three elements.

1.Agfa Agnar 1:6,3; 1:4,5; and Agfa Apotar 1:4,5; 1:3,5
2. Zeiss Novar 1:6,3; 1:4,5; 1 :3,5
3. Voigtländer Vaskar 1:4,5
4. Steinheil Cassar 1:4,5; 1:3,5; 1:2,8

5. Schneider Radionar 1:4,5; 1:3,5; 1:2,9
6. Agfa Solinar l :4,5; 1:3,5; 1:2,8
7. Zeiss Tessar 1:3,5; 1:2,8
8. Schneider Xenar 1:3,5; 1:2,8

9. Voigtländer Color Skopar 1:3,5
10. Schneider Xenotar 1:2,8
11. Voigtländer Ultron 1:2,0
12. Rodenstock Heligon 1:2,0

13. Schneider Xenon 1:2,0; 1:1,9
14. Zeiss Biotar 1:2,0
15. Zeiss Sonnar 1:1,5
16. Voigtländer Nokton 1:1,5


  1. Cool page. Interesting to see the different lens designs. Thanks for posting

  2. you're welcome. i never thought i would get into lens design - because i don't really understand chromatic aberration and all that stuff - but i do like the physical object.

  3. What a clear and useful chart.

  4. This is very helpful!

  5. Thank you. I have a Schneider Radionar 105 4.5 on a 6x9 Franka Rolfix that I've been very happy with altho I've never shot it at a very wide aperture.