View Full Version : optar 203mm

30-Apr-2009, 08:02
this is a copy of the ektar 203, or is it a rebrand?

o got a chrome or two i did with this lens recently and the detail was pretty incredible..

they say 120 lpm?

Mark Sampson
30-Apr-2009, 09:29
I don't know for sure, but it's extremely likely that the Graflex Optar 203mm f/7.5 is a re-labeled (OEM'd) Kodak Ektar 203mm f/7.7, to be sold by Graflex dealers. Physically they seem identical. Most Optars were made by Wollensak, but perhaps not all. Remember that in the heyday, 1910s-1960s, those three company's factories were within a mile or so of each other. There was probably more co-operation than we realize...

Lynn Jones
30-Apr-2009, 12:09
They were made by Wollensak, lo these many years ago.


Jim Rhoades
30-Apr-2009, 12:29
If you ever get down to Roanoke, VA stop in the O. Winston Link museum and see an entire freight train station filled with his train photographs.

Then pay close attention to the equipment he used. Graphic view cameras and Wollensak/Optar lenses. He used what worked. Not having a computer he never suffered the ridicule of the masses of lens snobs telling him his gear could not do the job.

To the lens snobs that always want to flame me, when you have an entire freight warehouse filled with your prints as a museum, then you can tell me how stupid I am.

30-Apr-2009, 13:21
well i have been weighing up buying a 240mm, expensive lens and then i got this chrome back from the lab and holy crap was i totally stunned by the detail and resolution, noticeably more than the other 135mm optar I have. personally, I love the graflex.. prefer the slr to the speed, but thats due to handholdability and ease of focus.

30-Apr-2009, 13:48
the kingslake history of the rochester camera companies
is a pretty good read ...


Ernest Purdum
30-Apr-2009, 14:57
I think chances are that the 203mm Optar was made as a competitor of the Ektar. The f7.5 aperture is probably a small (very small) biti of one-upmanship.

One of the nice things about the Optar is that it is less well known than the Ektar and consequently usually sells for significantly less. I can't think of a better starting lens for a new 4X5 user. Quite likely it would become a keeper, too.

30-Apr-2009, 15:38
Jim said 'train photographs' like Lindberg flew a plane once.
How about night action photos with a gazillion flahbulbs spread all over the landscape
Moving steam locomotive inside a double track tunnel
Freight steaming by a drive-in movie, kids in convertible in the forground, F-86 on the movie screen.
Buy the book.

Jim Rhoades
1-May-2009, 07:33
Ed, your absolutely right. One of the neat things about this museum is all the equipment on display. I don't mean just the camera's and lenses. It includes the flash generators that he invented to trigger those "gazillion" flashbulbs. And the massive mutli-bulb reflectors he designed...and the Buick load of heavy cable to string it all together.

I'm suprised that he never fried himself while testing all this gear out. BTW that Buick convertible the kids were in at the drive-in was his. The plane on the movie screen was inserted in the darkroom.

Yeah, I'll admit that the modern plasmats are "better" than the older Optars, Ektars etc. But are the photographers?

John Kasaian
1-May-2009, 07:41
I've heard (and seen) nothing but good things about the 203 Optar. It ain't the name on the lens, but what you do with it that matters most IMHO.

1-May-2009, 19:22
Mark Is Correct. Rodenstock Made, For A Short Time Some Optars For Graflex
The 135mm Was One Of Them. Ican't Remember The Other But Don't Think It Was The 203. It Don't Matter If The Lens Is That Good It's A Keeper.
Wollensak's Quality Control Was Not What Kodak's Was. So It Was Possible
To Have Quality Gaps From Copy To Copy Of The Same Lens. I Have A 90mm Wa Optar And It's Very Sharp From F11-f22 I Like The Small Size To. Good Luck With It. Joe A

1-May-2009, 19:33
Graphic view cameras and Wollensak/Optar lenses. He used what worked. .

There's a Schneider 90mm Angulon on his GV.
(That's the best small museum I've ever visited, anywhere in the world. Not just photographic, either.)