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, …

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 …

Agfa-Gevaert

Colour and Collaboration The Agfa story begins in 1867 in Rummelsburger See, on the outskirts of Berlin, when chemists Paul Mendelssohn Bartoldy and Carl Alexander von Martius founded the Gesellschaft Für Anilin-Fabrikation mbH. For the next 120 years, this expertise cast the die for Agfa’s successes and failures: aniline is a base ingredient in dyes, …

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 …

Fuji Enlarger Lenses

In the mindset of US and European buyers, Fuji enlarger lenses occupy a tier below the Big Three of Nikon, Rodenstock and Schneider. Fujinar models were replaced by the Fujinon range in the early 1980s and were available as four-element Tessars, designated ES, in focal lengths from 75-135mm and apertures from f4-f4.5; and premium six-element …

Enlarger Lenses: Nikon

This article will focus on the Nikon EL-Nikkor N range. It’s hard enough to find good examples of these relatively recent lenses without trawling through first-generation examples that require a lifetime of miraculous caretaking to still be useable in 2022. Anecdotally, it’s reported that the new versions are optically superior – with better coatings. However, …