View Full Version : 210-ish lens like 135 graflex optar?

17-Dec-2016, 07:00
I have a 135 graflex optar that I got at a yard sale, and love.

Looking for something similar in a 210-ish focal length. I love the way that the graflex renders, pops and is sharp, even on the wider side.

Will be used on a 4x5.

Any sample images and opinions are appreciated....

17-Dec-2016, 07:08
Look for a 203mm Ektar...

Steve K

Dan Fromm
17-Dec-2016, 07:44
Well, the 135 Optar, whether made by Wollensak or Rodenstock (which do you have?), is a tessar type. So you want a 210 tessar type. The best of the lot is supposed to be the 210/5.6 Xenar.

17-Dec-2016, 07:45
I agree with you that this type of lens renders beautifully, at the expense of edge sharpness at wider openings, but stopped down they're good all the way across. Any f/4.5 Tessar type lens in that focal length will do what you want. Ilex Paragons are similar, common, and cheap, definitely the best bang for the buck, but the 190mm version is much easier to find than the 215. Within the limitations of scanning, here's one of each:
The 190 on 5x7 at around f/11: https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeldarnton/14692136852/in/dateposted-public/ This is a stretch for the lens, but crop out a 4x5 piece and it's quite good all the way across. I scanned this better later, and there's more fine detail in the neg than in this particular scan.
The 215 on 4x5 at f/4.5: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mdarnton/12154146424/in/dateposted/ These lenses have a nice creamy thing going on in portraits, and my particular lens came from a portrait studio I worked at as a teenager.

I haven't seen a similar length Wollensak lens easily available, or I'd have one, but it should work similarly. I would say, however, that if you like that type of rendering, you need to stick in the Tessar family, and maybe with the f/4.5 versions if you need the speed, though f/6.3 Tessars are nice lenses, too.

For the record, the 203mm Ektar, and similar lenses in the f/7-7.7 speed range, is the right length, but as non-Tessar types are probably the wrong type of glass for what you like. There are Tessar Ektars in that length, but Kodak = $$$ in this type of lens, usually. If you're just looking for the 210mm focal length, and don't care about rendering, Fujinon-W lenses in that length are common and cheap as dirt, with nice modern shutters, and clean, sharp, modern rendering.

17-Dec-2016, 08:13
The 210mm f6.3 Congo/Osaka Commercial is a nice Tessar type lens usually reasonably priced as well.


17-Dec-2016, 08:28
There was a 203/7.7 Optar. Mine covers 2" x9" [homemade rollfilm panoramic. You should be able to obtain one cheaply

17-Dec-2016, 08:39
What's the difference between an ektar and a Tessar in practical terms? I know they have different designs, but is there a difference in rendering? I found a commercial ektar (10") that was in my price range. I have a fujinon 210 that although I like, I've never loved... and keep going back to the graflex....

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Dan Fromm
17-Dec-2016, 08:54
Ektar is a trade name, not a design type. It is best translated as "Our best lens of this focal length and application." I have in hand a couple each of 101/4.5 Ektars (tessar types) and 127/4.7 Ektars (also tessar types) and a 105/3.7 Ektar (heliar type). Also several Cine Ektars. And one lone Wide Field Ektar. The 203/7.7 and its predecessor the 203/7.7 Kodak Anastigmat a dialyte types. 6" and 7" Aero Ektars are sort of double Gauss types.

Asking about the practical difference between an Ektar and a Tessar makes no sense.

Commercial Ektars are f/6.3 tessar types, are said to be among the best f/6.3 tessar types. The Commercial Congo Ian mentioned is supposed to be a Commercial Ektar copy.

Fuji made a number of 210s of different design types. For details see http://www.subclub.org/fujinon/byfl.htm

Chauncey Walden
17-Dec-2016, 11:18
If you can find a 210 Xenar I think you will be happy with it.

17-Dec-2016, 11:23
Another lens to look out for are the late production 210mm f6.1 Xenar lenses, these were sold off quite cheaply in the eraly 2000's by Schneider through a small number of dealers, like Robert White in the UK, Badger Graphics etc in the US.

It's worth mentioning that the slower Tessar designs are the sharpest overall, Zeiss stated their f6.3 Tessars were the best for Commercial use.

The faster 210mm Tessar & type lenses are also much larger, the only relatively modern f4.5 one I've seen an Iston (made in China) was in a Copal #3. My own 21cm f4.5 Tessar is in a Compoud,

You're only using the center of the image circle with a 210mm lens as it'll cover 7x5, I wouldn't rule out the 203mm f7.7 Ektar while it's quite a different design it's also excellent from Infinity up to 1:1 and is sharp at wider apertures.


David Karp
17-Dec-2016, 12:09
A 210mm f/6.1 Caltar Pro is the same as the above mentioned Xenar. Schneider made them for the now defunct Calumet chain.

17-Dec-2016, 12:53
Wollensak made a 210mm f/6.8 Raptar.

Mark Sampson
17-Dec-2016, 16:43
@EdWorkman, the 203/7.5 Optar and the 203/7.7 Ektar are the same lens, despite the nominal difference in their widest f/stops. It must be that Kodak OEM'ed some for Graflex, back in the day. That was before my time, of course, but I have used both lenses and they look identical Both provide excellent results, although I never did an A/B test.
I'd suggest that the OP find a Commercial Ektar or one of its 1950s-60s competitors, like the Ilex or a similar-era Xenar, as they will have similar contrast and sharpness characteristics to his 135 Optar.

Will Frostmill
17-Dec-2016, 17:36
I've seen a really inexpensive 203/7.7 Ektar around. If the OP is interested, pm me and I'll shoot you a link. It's unlikely to have the same kind of rendering that he's looking for. It's not a Tessar formula.

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Mark Sampson
17-Dec-2016, 19:59
If you couldn't tell from my previous post, you can't go wrong with that 203 Ektar.... even if it's not a Tessar design. I regret selling mine.

18-Dec-2016, 02:28
A 210mm f/6.1 Caltar Pro is the same as the above mentioned Xenar. Schneider made them for the now defunct Calumet chain.

Calumet are still trading, it was only the US side that went. It's still the biggest chain of professional photo stores in Europe.


David Karp
18-Dec-2016, 08:44
I did not remember that!

18-Dec-2016, 14:45
Something compact like the 135; the Optar/Ektar 203. It's good. A real good value for the money and worth getting to know.
Something tessar; (it's bigger though) Fujinar SC 210, Xenar 210, I have the fujinar and like it.
Higher end tessar and compact; Nikon 200mm M

22-Dec-2016, 15:27
Thanks for all your help, my Kodak 215mm f/6.3 Commercial Ektar arrived today, and its honking and sweet.

I had to make a homebrew blackboard lens board, since the hole size is 49mm.

I cant wait to try it out this week.