View Full Version : Aero Ektar

12-Sep-2012, 05:17
Whilst stripping down the lens for bleaching back the rear element and cleaning the elements, I decided to have a little play with the front elements. It look like it could make a rather nice soft focus lens. Now while I currently don't have any film to expose (or a large enough back, it does look like it may cover 10x8 or larger). Just wonder if anyone else has explored this further than I have just dabbled - how would I work out the focal length and equivalent aperture? From the distance required to focus an image on the wall it appears to be in the 240 - 300 range. Hopefully I can cobble together a panel later on today and perhaps sacrifice a sheet of type 55. . .

12-Sep-2012, 13:10
Mine doesn't cover 8x10. Limit your short range exposure to this lens to 60 hours/year ... the rear glass is quite potent but you now that already since you're bleaching the rear element ;)

12-Sep-2012, 14:51
I was just thinking of this too, but was thinking of using the aperture and rear elements instead of front element. With the aperture in front of the elements it would be like the Kodak Portrait 305mm or 405mm where its' just rear elements behind a shutter/aperture.

Focal lengths in either case will be longer and aperture smaller (relatively speaking). but still could be interesting! Keep us posted.

29-Dec-2013, 21:30
"Limit your short range exposure to this lens to 60 hours/year"

Would it be useful and at all advantageous to store an Aero lens in a lead film travel bag?

Carsten Wolff
30-Dec-2013, 08:16
"Limit your short range exposure to this lens to 60 hours/year"

Would it be useful and at all advantageous to store an Aero lens in a lead film travel bag?

Any material should do: AFAIK, Aero-Ektars are primarily Alpha particle emitters (Thorium-containing rear element) which are easily shielded by a lens cap, cardboard, anything really; since most photographers wear clothes, the only irradiated areas would occasionally be hands and face and only relatively lightly so. There are many other radiation dangers we are (often unwittingly) submitting ourselves to that have far more dire consequences.
Get your home Radon tested, your bathroom tiles checked for radioactive glazing, don't sit in front of CRT screens and limit your high altitude flying exposure if you're worried about radiation before you unnecessarily put your Aero-Ektar in a lead box in the basement. :cool:

Wayne Aho
30-Dec-2013, 09:25
Aero Ektars are alpha, beta, and gamma emiiters due to thorium, about 1.5 to 2.0 millirem on contact, mostly gamma. (I don't have access to an alpha detector, so I can't give the alpha specs). The decay products (daughter products) are primarily radon, with some others being radium and actinium, which are also alpha emmitters. The glass in the lens acutally shields a lot of the alpha radiation. The small amount of thorium in the aero lens is legal to own, without a license, provided you do not grind or polish it. The regs recently changed, and the Aero Ecktar, if made today, would require a license to own (made pre-2013, 30% thorium limit, now, 10%. Aero ektars have been reported to have 11-13% thorium in them).

Best recommendation; keep away from children, and store it in a spare room (not a bedroom). I wouldn't be concerned with a lead shield for transporting during normal shooting, it would take half an inch of lead to reduce the gamma rads to half. Don't know if airport security would go Homeland Security (formerly known as going postal) on you if you took one with you on an airplane.

When transporting or storing, distance will reduce the level or radiation by the square. One millirem at one inch would be 0.01 mrem at ten inches. Back seat or in the trunk would be sufficient.

Carston is also correct about the glazed products, like fiesta ware, are very hot.

Probably more information than anyone needed to know.


30-Dec-2013, 13:40
Anecdotal story: sister in law got stopped at the Canadian border for radiation left over from a dye used in a medical procedure, it tripped their sensors. That might get you in the range of "what to worry about when travelling" with an Aero if a comparison could be made.

PS: there is no such thing as "more information than anyone needed to know" :)

30-Dec-2013, 14:34
I've carried my AE around in my bag for years, it sat next to me on my table when I was eating. I think people are overreacting about this lens because they hear the scary word "radioactive"

Really nothing to worry about unless you plan on grinding up the glass and snorting it.

Dan Fromm
30-Dec-2013, 16:05

Laurent L
1-Jan-2014, 01:53
Hi !!!

I've been looking for an Aero Ektar for three years before getting mine with the help of a friend who cleaned it and prepared it for my Pacemaker, this lens is amazing and fits with my tastes and projects. On the other hand I'm sad to notice that unchecked informations about safety issues come back each time someone tells about this lens. Thanks a lot Dan for this article in which we can read some reassuring informations:rolleyes:

My very-approximate calculations show that a few hours exposure close to an Aero-Ektar causes a smaller additional radiation dose than a trans-Atlantic plane flight. However, a one-year long close exposure would cause a significant radiation dose, one that would be several times higher than the naturally occurring dose. Clearly, you should not store Aero-Ektars under your bed!

There are so many informations about this legendary lens, many things are told (or shown on You Tube) that I can no longer make up my mind about safety issues. And frankly speaking, I think that I don't care !!! I live in the eastern area of France where the Tchernoblyl mayhem back in the eighties brought more radiations in my environment than many years of skinship with my Aero. Well, I don't touch it just for fun, I do not put it under my bed, but I use it as often as I want without thinking about if it's safe or not. :confused:

Aero Ektar safety issues are a bit like the hobo spiders bites, so many things told and shown... And in the end when you talk about it with scientists you understand that like for the Aero, the collective (and maybe subconscious) will to create a legend is stronger than the need for actual, checkable informations. Once for all, I would be grateful if a real doctor specialized in radiations issues would mesure the aero with accurate tools in order to stop once for all this neverending and sterile debate about its presumed dangerosity for the human body.

As a conclusion I'd say that I'll just keep using it, having fun with it and hoping to share my best shots with you. :)

1-Jan-2014, 17:19
I've shipped half a dozen Aero-Ektar lenses (on Speed Graphic cameras usually) to the USA, France, Australia, China, and other places, and not once was there a problem or delay. So whatever radiation it emits, and whatever detectors are employed at these Postal Offices, clearly do not pick up the radiation from an Aero. Caveat of course being that it was in a box with packing material.

1-Jan-2014, 18:37
Don't know if airport security would go Homeland Security (formerly known as going postal) on you if you took one with you on an airplane.


Never got bothered by TSA etc during transport ... they always check my bag because of the glass but I've never gotten a comment re: radiation.


8x10 user
3-Jan-2014, 09:40
I received an Apo Lanthar in the mail the other day. I had a good chuckle when I saw the big green tape saying that my item was inspected by US customs / Homeland security. I wonder what they thought when they saw that a lens was putting out radiation.