Palar Anastigmat 40/2.8

Compact black enlarger lens. Later versions (5xxxx – curved 5 aperture) not marked Anastigmat. Image circle: 43mm.

Weight 45 g
Dimensions 40 mm
Focal Length (mm)


Max Aperture (f)


Min Aperture (f)


Aperture Type

Curved 5

Sharp (Near)


Sharp (Far)


Serial Numbers

45001, 50678


  1. 16:9

    First, we have to give kudos to a lens of this focal length with a proper 43mm image circle covering full frame.
    Second, we have to give further kudos to some unexpectedly impressive Zone 1 results at close range: wide open it scores 8.0, rising to 8.9 at f5.6 and peaking at 9.0 at f8. Enlarger lenses don’t get much sharper than that.
    Third, we have to acknowledge rather abysmal resolution in Zone 3 at close range: opening at 6.3 and struggling to top 7.5 at any aperture.
    Fourth, we also have to acknowledge that these dismal full-frame corners get conspicuously worse as you move the focal plane to distances as short as 4m: dropping to 5.4 wide open and struggling to top 7.0 even well stopped down.

    What we have here, then, is a fine lens for Micro Four-Thirds shooters looking for a cheap 40mm tilt/shift macro, and prepared not to tax it too far with extreme movements.

    For other applications, it behaves somewhat like a projector lens, but without the shallow depth of field – or the chromatic aberration. Rendering is low/medium contrast with pentagonal bokeh balls and quite prominent swirl, giving a fair imitation of a Petzval lens on a full-frame sensor, but the interesting stuff happens only outside the remoter parts of Zone 2, so if you’re looking for a vintage look for video, you’ll need the whole sensor to see it.

    This wasn’t ever a high-end model, and they’re practically given away at the moment. However, its central sharpness is a shock and there are certainly creative applications for it. Unlike certain 50mm lenses its FFD is conveniently long for a 40mm lens (35.5mm = 15.5mm extension on Panasonic S-Series and Canon RF), which gives a focal range of around 25cm to infinity (and beyond!) with a short helical and slim M42 adaptor.

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