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#1 Matthew French

Matthew French
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Posted 13 February 2012 - 06:06 PM

Hi All,

I have decided that my knowledge of lens types is pretty poor. I have spent some time reading through this section of the forum and there is some great info here.

I was wondering if people could post just a bit about their favorite lens series: the pros, the cons and why you consider them the best choice. Would be great to broaden my knowledge.

Thanks in advance
:ph34r:
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#2 Simon Wyss

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 05:43 AM

One single lens, we are in the Renaissance.

Two lenses, we are in the time of the invention of photography.

Three lenses, we are in the 1890ies. The triplet is already an anastigmatic design.

Four lenses, we have the Petzval type of 1840 and the Tessar type of 1902. These make for about the half of the trade. The standard speed Wollensak Raptar is a Tessar design. Many a modern point-and-shoot camera bears a four-element lens. Many projection lenses in cinemas used to be Petzval children until after WW II.

Five lenses, we have an economically well balanced starting point. Kern Pizar five-element lenses produce pictures as good as

Six lenses, like all those double-Gauss designs such as the Zeiss Planar of 1896 and its descendants. Here we are with cinema taking lens constructions up until the 1970ies.

Seven lenses, we have additional freedom of design but start to need an electronic computing device for the calculation. Todayʼs cinema projection lenses have seven free standing elements.

Eight and more elements, sometimes 20 or more, with wide-angle, retrofocus constructions, zoom, and very fast lenses


Anti-reflection coating since WW II, inventions around 1935



My pet is the simplest lens that provides me with an undistorted, sharp image. Can be a triplet 1:3,5, can be a mirror objective 1:5,6 (1:√32).


Edited by Simon Wyss, 14 February 2012 - 05:44 AM.

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#3 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 02:16 AM

Almost all modern lenses are variations on only a handful of basic lens designs, which as Simon pointed out, are mostly over 100 years old. This is an interesting albeit brief essay on the subject:

http://www.lensrenta...eneology-part-1

As far as personal choices go, I suspect your question is a little too broad. Different lenses suit different subjects or material. What format, what budget, what look, what constraints, what camera mount, what acquisition method etc?

If I had to choose a series as an abstract favourite it would be Cooke S4s - gorgeous, rich, warm, reliable, hand-scaled, mechanically simple, reasonably lightweight, perfectly imperfect.
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