What’s in a Name?

Frequently, confusion. As if we didn’t have enough trouble cataloguing lenses with names like Nooky and Veginar, (thanks Leica and Kodak), Delta-world is far from the semantic ideal of one name for one thing. Major changes to a lens design sometimes go unflagged, while other, outwardly dissimilar lenses are optically identical. In many cases we …

50mm Heroes

Everyone and their aunt made a 50mm enlarger lens. And if you use a 50mm enlarger lens, you have to ask: why not use one of the hundreds – nay, thousands – of standard 50mm taking lenses, which everyone’s aunt and uncle made too? Adding to the excitement, we even find the odd wide angle …

The Rodenstock Story

Almost a century and a half of optical engineering: from taking lenses to sunglasses; from Rodenstock to Linos to Qioptiq to Excelitas. Rodenstock lenses and lens cells can be dated as follows: 50 000 1910 200 000 1920 400 000 1930 700 000 1935 900 000 1938 950 000 1940 2 000 000 1945 2 …

Meyer Optik

Based in Görlitz, a designation that often appears on their lenses, Hugo Meyer & Co was founded in 1896. The maker was an early pioneer (from 1918) of Plasmat lens manufacture and successfully rebuilt its production facility after the war to continue manufacture until 1960. Meyer’s enlarger lenses – labelled Helioplan – were redeployments of …

The Schneider Story

Jos. Schneider Optische Werke has been a major player in global lens manufacture during our lifetime; it’s therefore strange to think of the company as a relative newcomer: ‘only’ being established in 1913 – almost forty years younger than their rivals Rodenstock. And yet within twelve months, Schneider released the first of many Symmar lenses, …

Projector Lens Group Test 2: Fast 90s

Just as surely as the major makers offered a bread-and-butter plastic-barrel 85/2.8, most offered an optically superior upgrade that could be specified at purchase or simply retro-fitted. These lenses typically jumped to 90mm and were always a little faster: commonly f2.4 or f2.5. The glass wasn’t just longer, it was deeper: the deluxe options eschewed …

Projector Lens Group Test 1: Basic 85s

If you average out all the lenses sold with all 35mm slide projectors, the most average – the most commonly fitted and seen – would be the plastic-barrel 85mm f2.8. Zeiss, Rollei, Wilhelm Will, Isco, Schneider, Rodenstock, Cabin et al – their entry-level bog-basic triplets were always the best sellers, most often selected by customers, …

The Steinheil Story

For over a century the Steinheil name was synonymous with elite German optical engineering but it’s probably unfamiliar those whose interest in photography extends no further than recent decades. Steinheil’s American advertising of the 1950s and 1960s claimed ‘a century and a quarter’ of experience for the company – and it’s true that in 1826 …

The AICO Story

Enlarger lenses and other photographic accessories bearing the AICO brand are common in the UK market. The name has been mistaken for ‘Alco’ (as in Alco-Pop), and confused with both Aico (the ‘European market leader for home safety’ named in 1990 after its founder Ken Ainsworth) and www.aico-lenses.com (the Hangzhou-based purveyor of CCTV and industrial …