View Full Version : Zeiss, Kodak, and Bausch & Lomb...

Jonathan Barlow
11-Jun-2013, 11:17
What was the turn-of-the-century relationship between Zeiss, Kodak, and Bausch & Lomb?

I have lenses labeled "Zeiss Kodak Anastigmat" and "Bausch & Lomb-Zeiss Tessar" with the Feb. 24, 1903 patent cited. Was it Zeiss's patent and Bausch & Lomb was manufacturing the lenses under license in Rochester, NY for Kodak, or to be retailed by Bausch & Lomb itself?



Dan Fromm
11-Jun-2013, 12:01
Zeiss licensed B&L to make lenses unders Zeiss patents. At the time B&L was, I think, major manufacturer of photographic objectives in the US.

EKCo was one of B&L's customers. B&L had other customers. Lenses that B&L made for EKCo were engraved as Kodak wanted. Hence Zeiss Kodak Anastigmat. B&L Zeiss Tessars were sold to all comers, including EKCo.

What puzzles me is that EKCo sold cameras with a choice between an f/6.3 ZKA and a more expensive f/6.3 B&L Zeiss Tessar. See, for example, http://mgroleau.com/galerie.php?pic=kc_1912_25.jpg&dir=catalogues_kodak/1912&de=catalogues_kodak/index.html&titre=Kodak%201912 As far as I know they're the same lenses. The #2 ZKA (that's EKCo's numbering scheme) has the same focal length as the #4 B&L Zeiss Tessar (B&L's own numbering scheme). As far as I know, they're the same lens with different engraving.

Jonathan Barlow
12-Jun-2013, 10:38
Thanks for the information.

12-Jun-2013, 11:16
Dan, at what point did Eastman Kodak start manufacturing their own glass? I don't have my Vade Mecum with me on this laptop, I'm on travel. I know B&L started in the 1880s with microscopes and then asked Zeiss if they could make their patented binoculars before the lens collaboration. But I don't recall when Eastman started making their own lenses, I just assumed they did by the 30s.

12-Jun-2013, 12:45
One problem is that Kodak often sub-contracted, Eastman Kodak for instance were the US importers for TTH Cooke for a few years while Kodak Ltd (UK) were distributors for Ross lenses. In the UK Kodak used British lenses from Ross, Cooke and Dallmeyer or German lenses from initially Carl Zeiss Jena and after the take over of Nagel also Schneider.

In the UK it's probable that Kodak only made cheap simple lenses themselves, all the reasonable pre WWII Kodak cameras were sold with third party named lenses and it was the same after the war except fot the 101mm f4.5 Kodak London Anstar and 203mm f7.7 Kodak Ektar both Mount 370 and initially sold in Kodak Epsilon shutters. Mount 370 just means Compur #0 sizecompatible, both these lenses were almost certainly made by Ross, and the Epsilon shutters were Ross ensign improvements of the budget pre-WWII Mulcro, they come in varoius speed ranges, Kodak had the Epsilons modified to have there own short lived bayonet type flash socket. When import restrictions were lifted in the UK in the early 1950's Kodak began using Prontors instead.

In the US I think I'd also assummed Eastman Kodak began designing their own high quality lenses in the 1930's but they may have been making simple lenses earlier. Iknow in the 1930's they were selling Nagel Recomars with Kodak Anastigmats that were in fact CZJ Tessars. I seem to remember that they began quality lens design/manufacture because they were concerned about supply from Germany.


Dan Fromm
12-Jun-2013, 14:08
See http://www.dioptrique.info/base/m/m_kodak.HTM for some Kodak lens designs and patent dates. The earliest is 1915.

Also see http://www.bnphoto.org/bnphoto/KA_KASIntr.htm and http://www.bnphoto.org/bnphoto/KodakEktarsDB-Index.htm. Note the text "Does not include Schneider lenses rebranded as Kodak Ektars" at the bottom of the page the second link points to.

Ian, Folding Pocket Kodaks were sold in the US with an interesting range of lenses. I've extracted some from FPKs: a Cooke Kodak Anastigmat engraved Taylor, Taylor & Hobson Ltd; a number of f/6.3 Tessars made by B&L and so engraved; even a 130/6.3 CZJ Tessar. Before FPK production ended Kodak's own lenses, e.g., the dialyte type 170/6.3 Kodak Anastigmat in Ilex Universal, were fitted to them. If you want to be stupefied by overwhelming detail, visit http://mgroleau.com/catalogues_kodak/ and look at the catalogs.

13-Jun-2013, 01:03
Dan, as you pointed out to me a few monthas ago my 170mm f6.3 Kodak Anastigmat, in a W&Co, Rochester, Velosto shutter is in fact a dialyte, it's marked Made by Eastman Kodak, Rochester, USA. The Velosto shutter was the export name of the Optimo, I've seen the Optimo name on earlier UK made equipment so the trade name was already in use. The cells fit a late production Alphax shutter as well sold to me as a #3, the seller had 3 for sale and caleed them Alphax #1, #2 & #3 not realising that' the convention for sizing, it was cheap enough not to send it back :D

My 170mm Dialyte seems to be quite early, after WWI Kodak Ltd used only European lenses and shutters in the British market, they stopped importing them from the US. So the question would be did Eastman Kodak make this lens themselves, it's known they had a research department for lens design, but only after Mees had left Wratten & Wainwright in the UK to setup Eastman Kodak Research which was around 1913.

Incidently in the UK Kodak also used Beck and Goerz (pre-WWI) lenses on cameras as well as Ross, Cooke and Dallmeyer, I suspect Beck supplied many of the simple lenses after Kodak dropped Beck R-R's.


Dan Fromm
13-Jun-2013, 07:06
Ian, the 170/6.3 I mentioned above is engraved "Made by Eastman Kodak Co. Rochester N.Y., U.S.A." I can't date it, but it had to have come from a #3A or #4 FPK. The #3A with 170/6.3 in Ilex was last cataloged in 1929, the #4 isn't in the '29 catalog.

EKCo tried hard to monopolize the film and photofinishing industries, then moved to nearly complete vertical integration in camera manufacture. Collins (The Story of Kodak) gives the impression, doesn't state clearly, that EKCo began making anastigmats in 1913, made "simple lenses" before then.

14-Jun-2013, 08:51
I checked some BJP Almanacs and I found Kodak advertising 3a Autographic Kodaks Specials with Kodak Anastigmat lenses and Velosto shutter in the 1921 copy, which would have been published late in 1920. Interesting the Kodak advert use the term Kodaks Specials a few times.


Dan Fromm
14-Jun-2013, 09:11
Ian, EKCo made a variety of grades of Folding Pocket Kodak. The Special was the top of the line.

Go take a look at some of the catalogs on Mario Groleau's site. The link is in post #2 in this thread. The site's text is in French, the catalogs are in English. You'll see that there are many variations ...

14-Jun-2013, 13:05
Thanks Dan, I think it takes time and a few people chippingt in to put dates on the evolution / choice of lenses Kodak used not helped by Eastman Kodak and Kodak Ltd often differing. It really needs the Vague Mecum being put online as a Wiki Database

Interesting that Kodak are using what they thought were the best lenses possible on the top models their range of cameras. So just looking at the 3a's they go from a Zeiss Kodak Anastigmat, presumably a Tessar in a Compound shutter in1912, to the 170mm f6.3 Kodak Anastigmats in Optimo (or Velosto0, and some of these are Tessar type and others Dialyte.

The 1921 BJPA adverts state that the Kodak 3a lens is the highest class Anstigmat, and that prices for Cooke, Ross or Bausch and Lomb Anastigmats can be found in their catalogue.

WW1 has to muddy the water as Compound shutters would have disapeared which is why Wollensak and later Ilex shutters become more common, Eastman Kodak only really using German shutters on cameras orv with lenses made in Germany even after WWII.

A question that needs asking, in light of the Zeiss Kodak Anastigmat in a Compound shutter on the Kodak Specials (Ia, 3a etc in the 1912 link you gave), is were these B&L Zeiss lenses or CZJ as they are in a German shutter, particularly as not long after Kodak were using Wollensak shutters and later Ilex.


Dan Fromm
14-Jun-2013, 14:51
Ian, B&L made Compound shutters under license.

EKCo differentiated clearly between B&L ZKAs -- dropped the name in 1915, with WW-I -- and CZJ Tessars.