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Was there ever an Ektar lens made for Leica?

Frank Horn , Mar 24, 2002; 03:14 a.m.

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.

Responses

Robert Marvin , Mar 24, 2002; 09:48 a.m.

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, NY.

Wilhelmn , Mar 24, 2002; 01:13 p.m.

It wasn't 50mm, but something odd like 44 or 48mm -- I don't remember exactly.

roger michel , Mar 24, 2002; 08:43 p.m.

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.

roger michel , Mar 24, 2002; 08:52 p.m.

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.

Eliot , Mar 24, 2002; 11:09 p.m.

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.

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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.

Frank Horn , Mar 24, 2002; 11:32 p.m.

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.

Eliot , Mar 25, 2002; 12:25 a.m.

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.

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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.

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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.

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The lens is definitely coated, suggesting early post war vintage.

Mark Sampson , Mar 25, 2002; 08:48 a.m.

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.

Robert Martinez , Dec 11, 2005; 02:06 p.m.

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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