Was there ever an Ektar lens made for Leica?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by frank_horn, Mar 23, 2002.

  1. The Hove Leica Pocket Book that I have does not show a Kodak Ektar made for Leica. Does anyone recall if there was one made? Perhaps screw mount? I was told that glass for the Ektar was imported from Germany.
  2. The Kardon Leica copy came with an an Ektar normal len. I've
    seen reproductions of '40s ads stating that it was available
    separately to "upgrade" Leicas, but I have no idea if many were
    actually sold. The lens should be at least the equal of a
    Summitar. AFAIK, Ektar glass was always made in Rochester,
  3. It wasn't 50mm, but something odd like 44 or 48mm -- I don't remember
  4. the kodak ltm ektar was a 47mm f2. it is a 4 element tessar design,
    with the air space between the frst and second elements i think. the
    kardon lens was not a commercial ektar -- i.e. no special apo
    correction, but like all rochester products had the benefit of first
    class materials and unbelievable QC. i had grimes work on a
    commercial ektar for my 8x10 and he was stunned by the quality,
    centeringt, etc.
  5. as for the german connection, i'd have to do sme research, but i have
    a vague recollection that some kodak lenses had finish work, at
    least, done in germany. as any retina collector knows, there is
    certainly a kodak-germany nexus.
  6. I bought a Kardon Leica (? IIIc) copy SM camera a while back. I has
    a placque on the back that says U.S. Army Signal Corps and has a
    contract number etc. It came with a Kodak Ektar lens 47 mm (1.9
    inch) F/2 lens that has a focussing wheel. The lens also says
    Precision Instruments on it. I'm still looking for a lens cap for
    this lens, which was missing. The kit also included a brown leather
    camera case.


    Interestingly, there was an operation/repair manual for this camera
    on sale on eBay, that went for $ 107 (too rich for my blood). The
    lens is in Leica SM. To my knowledge, this is the only Kodak lens
    offered in Leica mount, but I could be wrong.
  7. If the *instructions* went for $107, one wonders what the whole unit
    would go for!!! I know that the Ektar was made in Rochester, NY, but
    I heard they imported the material, a rare earth found in Germany,
    called "lanthanum" (not sure about sp). I had the 47mm Ektar on a
    Eetina IIA and also on a Kodak Bantam Special, in 828 film size.
    Neither of these were coated lenses; they were that old.>>>One reason
    German glass is so good might be that they have these rare types of
    earth. Perhaps no other place has such material.
  8. Frank. I just took the unit out and I can report the following. The
    lens is coated. The front ring says "Kodak Ektar Lens 1.9 in. (47
    mm) f/2 RM419" (don't know what the latter means). On the otside of
    the black front ring it says "Made in USA by Eastman Kodak Co.
    Rochester N.Y." Then on the chrome ring behind that it says "PREMIER
    INSTRUMENT CORP. (not Precision Instrument as I said above). The
    rest of the lens is chrome with distance scale in feet. The most
    unusual thing about this lens is that it also has a focussing wheel,
    which is relatively uncommon but occasionally seen in SM lenses.


    The camera says Kardon on top and has a very tall shutter release as
    well as an overly large shutter wind dial, suggesting it was made to
    be operated with gloved hands. The back of the camera has a metal
    placque containing "Signal Corps U.S. Army, Camera PH-629/UF", the
    serial number, a long contract no., and "Premier Instrument Corp."
    The camera has shutter speeds to 1/1000, a slow speed dial down to 1
    sec, separate RF and VF windows, dioptric adjustment, and chromed
    Leica thread mount. All in all, like a Leica IIIb or IIIc.


    I tested the RF by comparing distances on the lens distance scale
    with those of my Leica M4-P when focussed on the same object, and the
    distances agree very closely. I have no idea why the focussing
    wheel, except that maybe someone thought it would be easier to work
    with gloves.


    The lens is definitely coated, suggesting early post war vintage.
  9. Lenses labelled "Kodak Ektar" (or variations thereof) were designed
    and built in Rochester. "Ektar" was a designation meaning "top-of-the-
    line" rather than a specific optical formula. Retinas and other
    German-made Kodaks naturally used optics from Schneider and
    Rodenstock. The age of an Ektar lens can be found in the serial# by
    using the following scale:
    C A M E R O S I T Y
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
    so lens "RM417" was made in 1953.
  10. I am in posession of a Kardon Camera PH-629/UF (SN 526) with a Kodak Ektar 47mm f:2 lens (EO25283).
    Based on an article in a photography magazine years ago, this camera was manufactured starting in WWWII as a US Government initiative to replace their Leica's issued to the US Army Aircorps crews for aerial photorecon missions. It was a not only a knock off of the Leica, but a patent infringement by our government; ergo, the creation of dummy company Kardon USA and awarding contract to Premier Instrument Corp. and awarding of contract no. AF 33(038)-6864. My understanding is that Kardon USA setup was to shield everyone(especially Kodak) from any potential patent infringemement litigation by Leica (Germany was our mortal enemy then, remember?); i.e., all's fair in love and war.

    Hopes this sheds so light for everyone on the subject of this fine Leica knockoff. Even the weight and picture quality is identical to the Luftwaffe version, including the grey finish with black leather wrapping.

    Bob Martinez Jr.

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