View Full Version : Kodak Commercial Ektar Lenses

Robert Eaves
5-Dec-2003, 13:54
I am looking for any comments and/or recomendations on Kodak Commercial Ektar Lenses. I'm looking for something in the 10" to 12" range to use on a 4x5 field camera. Any comments would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Bob Fowler
5-Dec-2003, 14:34
I've used Commercial Ektars in the past, but I don't have any at the moment. I like the 10" model (12" is a bit long for my tastes). Almost all (all?) that were shuttered were in shutters made for Kodak by Ilex. I'm quite fond of Ilex shutters, especially the #3 and #4. They're very easy to work on and built like a tank.

As for the glass, some (maybe even most) are single coated, but as they are a Tessar design, it's not to big of an issue. The ones I've had were sharp and had nice contrast. When they were introduced, they were very well respected for color work. I've since replaced mine with Ilex Paragons, which I feel have a better "look" for portraiture.

Ernest Purdum
5-Dec-2003, 16:22
They are well-regarded lenses, a little physically large for some backpackers and a little long (particuarly the 12") for the bellows of some backpacker's cameras. In buying one, an"L" in a circle amongst the markings means that it is (single) coated.

Because of their good reputation, they are rarely available at bargain prices. Occasionally, a later prduction equivalent shows up, such as a Commercial Congo or Komura. The Congos are available new. I just saw a Komura on eBay, but I don't remember the focal length. One advantage of these is that they are in shutters that conform to current standards.

Raymond Bleesz
6-Dec-2003, 06:42

My very first lens for 4x5 which was given to me was a Ektar flash supermatic 152mm. It produced very good negatives, however, I had no way of comparision. That was in the late 80's. Since then, I have purchased another lens, and lenses, a Rodenstock at 155mm in a lens deal. Now that I have two lenses in that approx wide angle coverage, I have the ability to compare.

I'm now parcial to the Ektar for several reasons. It's very sharp for one. Perhaps more importantly, it is small & light weight as compared to the Rodenstock. However, when doing studio work/strobe, being that it is an older lens design, it is not as quick focusing as the Rodenstock. But I still use it for strobe work, dependant upon what I'm doing.. This info may be of use to you. Raymond

fred arnold
6-Dec-2003, 12:54
I've handled a 14" Commercial Ektar, as I was contemplating it for the same reason. My observation is that while probably more than fine optically, it's in a shutter the size of a tea saucer that may or may not fit on a 4" lens board, and is heavy to boot. You'd probably be better off looking at either a G-Claron, or 300mm Nikkor-M. It's notably bigger than my 12" Raptar in #4 Betax, which already causes stability problems when racked out for semi-close work.

Have you considered one of the Wollensak 15" tele-raptars, mounted in a shutter? Probably similar in weight but will require less bellows.

Arne Croell
6-Dec-2003, 14:04
As others have commented, they are very good lenses but somewhat bulky for a field camera. Occasionally some haze can be found between the lens elements in the front cell, degrading contrast - this is something to watch out for.

John Kasaian
6-Dec-2003, 21:38
Robert, most 12" Commercials I've seen are in #4 Acmes. If its not too large for your camera, it would be an excellent lens for the price. If size is an issue, I'd go along with the earlier recommendations of looking at the G-Claron---the 240mm is especially attractive, and the 300mm Nikkor M. I have both the 240 G-Claron and the 300mm Nikkor M as well as a 14"(not 12") Commercial Ektar. All are IMHO great lenses. Price-wise, I think the 240 G-Claron would be the way to go on a 4x5---much less than the Nikkor, not too much more than what a good Commercial Ektar would go for and a newish little lightwieght Copal #1 shutter to boot---a fine combination!

Steve Gangi
22-Dec-2003, 09:16
The Commercial Ektar is a very nice lens and I use a 12 incher for 8x10. It is a bit large, in a #4 Acme shutter, and may be too large for a 4x5. It depends on how big your lens boards are. They also are a little heavy. But if size and weight are not a problem, they give good results.

Stan Kirschner
21-Oct-2004, 18:16
I am looking to replace an Ilex 4 so I can use my Kodak Commercial ektar cells.
The front one has a screw diameter of about 2 and 3/8 and the rear is about the same 2 and 3/8. Anyone one have a shutter that will fit my cells? Thanks..Stan..In Vermont

John Kasaian
21-Oct-2004, 19:12

IMHO, Unless you want to invest in some serious machining your best bet is to find another Ilex #4 with "made for Eastman Kodak" on the face.

Antonio Montesione
22-Oct-2004, 17:23
Two of the best photographers in the world (my opinion ) are Yousef Karsh and Phil Charis. Both used the Kodak Ektar lenses. Phil Charis still uses that one lens, a Kodak 300mm Ektar (12 inch) F 4.5 on his 5x7 view camera. He has taken some of the finest color portraits ever made on this planet. Karsh liked the Ektar 14 inch F6.7 Ektar for his black and white portraiture on the 8x10 camera. For that reason, I purchased both these lenses 30 years ago and still use them for all of my work. I shoot these two lenses on my 8x10 which has a 5x7 and 4x5 reducing back. This gives me various perspectives on each format by just changing the back or the lens on the same camera. The Ektars are fabulous lenses. They are still being used today. If anyone would like to see samples of photographs taken with these lenses, please drop me a line.

2-Apr-2011, 13:23
I found a Kodak 14 inch Ektar 6.7 with a #5 Ilex shutter for sale locally for $450. I am now looking for comparables on Ebay but wanted to ask here. Is this reasonable??


Frank Petronio
2-Apr-2011, 13:55
The lenses render beautifully, sharp yet smoother than the more modern glass. And the shutters are excellent designs and very rugged. The downsides are the shutters won't have the faster speeds of a later Copal/Compur and they are heavy for their length (but a 12"-300mm Symmar in a Copal 3 is no lightweight either...) The lens also don't have modern/common metric-sized filter threads.

Like a lot of things, it is the alternative choices that help you decide.... If you want a lighter lenses there are good alternatives like that 240/9 Fuji and the 300/9 Nikkor, Artar, G-Claron process type lenses... If you shoot wide open and even coverage/edge sharpness/precise detail then the modern Rodenstocks/Schneiders will be best. If you just want a longer lens's reach without using tilt movements, then a Tele-design.

2-Apr-2011, 14:04
Thank you very much for your response. What is the comparable focal length for the 14 inch Commercial Ektar?

2-Apr-2011, 14:08
I found a Kodak 14 inch Ektar 6.7 with a #5 Ilex shutter for sale locally for $450. I am now looking for comparables on Ebay but wanted to ask here. Is this reasonable??


I'd say $450 is a fair price if the lens is in excellent condition. These were workhorses of lenses, so a lot of them are pretty scratched up with gummy shutters. The glass is unlikely to be pristine, but if there are only light cleaning marks and the shutter is accurate, I'd say go for it.

Dan Fromm
2-Apr-2011, 14:09
14 inches x 25.4 mm/inch = 356 mm.

Surely you went to elementary school.

Frank Petronio
2-Apr-2011, 14:21
8" ~210mm

10" ~ 240mm

12" ~ 300mm

14" ~ 360mm

2-Apr-2011, 14:24
Thanks Frank!
Dan, I am a professional musician and I usually don't have to count past 4. :)