P. Angenieux Paris 35mm F/2.5 [Retrofocus] Type R1

Wide-angle prime lens • Film era • Discontinued

Sample photos


Model history (2)

Features highlight

12 blades
Series VIII


Production details:
Production status: Discontinued
Original name:P. ANGÉNIEUX PARIS F.35 1:2.5 TYPE R1
Optical design:
Focal length:35mm
Maximum format:35mm full frame
Mount and Flange focal distance:Exakta [44.7mm]
M42 [45.5mm]
Diagonal angle of view:63.4°
Lens construction:6 elements in 5 groups
Diaphragm mechanism:
Diaphragm type:Manual
Aperture control:Aperture ring
Number of blades:12 (twelve)
Closest focusing distance:<No data>
Magnification ratio:<No data>
Focusing modes:Manual focus only
Manual focus control:Focusing ring
Physical characteristics:
Weight:312g (Exakta)
Maximum diameter x Length:⌀?×69.8mm (Exakta)
Filters:Series VIII
Lens hood:<No data>
Teleconverters:<No data>
Source of data:
EXAKTA unlimited booklet.

Manufacturer description #1

The introduction in 1950 of the RETROFOCUS wide-angle lenses has been widely recognized as one of the most important events in the history of photography. The significance of this event was proven by the early enthusiastic acceptance given to the RETROFOCUS and is now more than ever apparent by its continually growing success on the market.

The RETROFOCUS was the first product resulting from a planned series of entirely new types of lenses. In offering them to you, we feel that in addition to their superior advantages, you will also be interested to know what photographic needs originally led to their creation.

The initial problem we had to solve arose from the ever increasing use of miniature single lens reflex cameras. They were not equipped to use wide angle lenses with extremely short focal lengths - an inherent difficulty with all cameras of this type - and a satisfactory solution was generally considered impossible until the introduction of the RETROFOCUS.

The f/2.5 RETROFOCUS 35 mm lens, our first product, was followed by the f/3.5 RETROFOCUS 28 mm lens. The field covered by the RETROFOCUS 28 mm is 74 degrees (as compared with 64 degrees for the RETROFOCUS 35 mm) and its back focal length is about 38 mm. The pictures rendered by both lenses are perfect, without distortion, and their over-all quality comparable to results obtained from the finest lenses available on the market.

The same problem existed with miniature single lens cameras in connection with the use of very fast 50 mm lenses. Again, miniature cameras did not permit their use with very large openings. To overcome this difficulty, our new 50 mm 1:1.5 lens is now available. This new introduction fills this particular need in the miniature camera field.

The remarkable performance of the three types of lenses which are now on the market, the 28 mm, the 35 mm and the 50 mm focal lengths add immeasurably to the versatility of the 35 mm reflex cameras. In addition, and because of their exceptional quality, these lenses are currently being used with equal success with cameras of widely different types.

Lenses of longer focal lengths than the types afore mentioned, have been adapted, without any difficulty, for the 35 mm single lens reflex cameras. Our objective, therefore, was to find a formula which allowed increase of speed without making the lenses too bulky. As a result, we now have the new lens types P1 and P2, with outside measurements kept to a minimum. The quality of these types was immediately appreciated by even the most discriminating of experts, and used with complete success in the photographic world.

Judging from the encouraging comments constantly received, our chosen determination to avoid the beaten path in search of better and more versatile lens equipment has been eminently successful. As a result of this acclaim, we intend to follow this line of conduct and search for new ideas and designs.

Manufacturer description #2


From the world-famous laboratories of French lens-maker Pierre Angenieux have come two wide angle lenses for the Exakta which have startled the photographic world. These lenses are of an entirely new type, which makes them unique in the field of photography. All the postwar advances in lens design and construction have been built into these Angenieux lenses with amazing results. You can virtually see the difference in your pictures when you use an Angenieux Retrofocus lens!

Their high speed and even distribution of light over the entire field makes Retrofocus lenses especially suited for color photography. Loss of light at the edges of the picture is non-existent. All aberrations are fully corrected and the pictures are remarkably clear!

Extreme wide-angle coverage, a valuable asset to the miniature camera user may be obtained with either of the Retrofocus lenses. Both lenses will cover a huge area. The 28-mm Retrofocus lens has an angle of view of 74°. The 35-mm Agenieux Retrofocus lens has an angle of view of 64°. Even when focused upon a near object, the depth of field is extreme with both Retrofocus lenses. The black lightweight Retrofocus mount has duplicate diaphragm stops and distance scales on both sides engraved in white to simplify adjustments.

Manufacturer description #3

Einäugige Spiegelreflex-Kameras vom Typ der EXAKTA Varex setzten bisher dem Gebrauch von Weitwinkel-Objektiven mit kurzer Brennweite eine bestimmte Grenze, weil der hochklappende Spiegel in seiner Bewegung nicht behindert werden durfte. Diese Schranke zu durchbrechen gelang erst neuartigen Spezial-objektiven, bei denen die Brennweite kürzer ist als die Schnittweite (= Entfernung von der Glasfläche der Hinterlinse bis zum Brennpunkt). Zu derartigen für einäugige Spiegelreflex-Kameras entwickelten Konstruktionen gehören auch die beiden Rétrofocus-Objektive aus den Optischen Werkstätten von Pierre Angénieux, Paris. Beide Linsensysteme werden in Spezialfassung zur EXAKTA Varex und den früheren Modellen passend geliefert, haben eigenen Schneckengang zur Naheinstellung, eine Tiefenschärfenskala und sind selbstverständlich mit reflexmindernder Oberflächenvergütung versehen. Trotz großem Bildwinkel und hoher Lichtstärke zeichnen die beiden Objektive das ganze Negativ gleichmäßig tadellos scharf aus. Bei den mannigfaltigen Aufgaben, die das Erfassen eines großen Bildwinkels bedingen (Innenaufnahmen, Architekturen usw.), sind die Rétrofocus-Objektive am Platze und natürlich auch dort, wo aus besonderen Gründen bei relativ großer Öffnung eine sehr günstige Tiefenschärfe verlangt wird.


Single-lens reflex cameras of the EXAKTA Varex type previously set a certain limit on the use of wide-angle lenses with a short focal length because the returning mirror could not be hindered in its movement. It was only possible to break through this barrier with new types of special lenses in which the focal length is shorter than the back focal length (= distance from the glass surface of the rear lens to the focal point). Such designs developed for single-lens reflex cameras also include the two Rétrofocus lenses from the optical workshops of Pierre Angénieux, Paris. Both lens systems are supplied in a special version to match the EXAKTA Varex and the earlier models, have their own worm gear for close-up adjustment, a depth of field scale and are of course provided with an anti-reflection coating. Despite the large image angle and high speed, the two lenses ensure that the entire negative is perfectly sharp. The Rétrofocus lenses are appropriate for the diverse tasks that require the capture of a large image angle (interior photos, architecture, etc.) and of course also where a very favorable depth of field is required for special reasons with a relatively large aperture.

Manufacturer description #4

TYPE R11 28 mm f3.5 and TYPE R1 35 mm f2.5:

These lenses are of an entirely new type, which makes them unique throughout the camera world. The distance between the rear element and the film is longer than the focal length, and therefore, they can easily be adapted to all types of 24 x 36 mm reflex cameras.

Their high speed and even distribution of light over the field make them especially suited for color photography. Loss of light at the edges of the picture is considerably less with the Angenieux lens than with ordinary wide-angle lenses (set at identical speeds). All aberrations are fully corrected and the pictures are remarkably clear, without any distortion whatsoever.

From the Exakta magazine (Summer 1950)

In response to a long-time need and demand by KINE-EXAKTA owners, KINE-EXAKTA has added a new and unique lens to its family of lenses the Retrofocus f 2.5, with a wide angle and 35 mm focal length.

Miniature camera owners for years have sought a lens that would offer three very important advantages - high speed and large aperture, wide angle and short focal length. For technical reasons, it has been impossible to use shorter lenses than 40 mm with the KINE-EXAKTA. Out of the laboratories of famous Paris lensmaker Pierre Angenieux has come the answer at last - the Retrofocus - and it is available now exclusively to KINE-EXAKTA owners.

The Retrofocus is an inverted telephoto objective with a very large aperture, a design unknown until now. Wide open at f 2.5, it can be used with the greatest success for high-speed and dim light photography.

It can also be used for all normal photographic needs and may be closed down to f 22. The lens has excellent definition throughout its entire coverage area and furnishes photographs that are crisp and sharp over the entire negative area.

Extreme wide angle coverage, an invaluable asset to the miniature camera user, may be obtained with the Retrofocus. The lens has an angle of 64° as compared with 45° to 40° of 50 mm and 58 mm lenses and will cover a huge area even when focused upon a near object.

Depth of field, which miniature camera owners are constantly seeking to increase, is extreme with the Retrofocus.

The Retrofocus is coated, of course, and comes in an attractive black-and-chrome, lightweight mount with bayonet fittings so that it can be inserted in the original EXAKTA camera mount.

An unusual feature of the Retrofocus is the duplication of the diaphragm stop and distance indicators on both sides of the mount.

From the Film and Digital Times magazine (Special Report - October 2013)

1950. Design and manufacturing of wide angle Retrofocus lenses for 24x36mm format still photography. These lenses used an inverted telephoto design, with a negative lens group at the front that increased the back focal distance. The first lenses were intended for rangefinder cameras, but the added distance was a boon to accommodate the extra room occupied by mirror mechanisms in the emerging technology of single-lens reflex cameras.

The first Angénieux Retrofocus still format lens was the R1 series, 35 mm f/2.5, introduced in 1950.

Angénieux Retrofocus lenses came in focal lengths of 24 mm, 28 mm, and 35 mm. The R11 28 mm f/3.5 came in 1953, followed by the R51 / R61 24 mm f/3.5 in 1957.


A single-lens reflex (SLR) still camera requires the lens to be further from the image plane. Otherwise, the camera’s mirror would hit the rear element. For example, the flange focal distance of a Leica rangefinder was 27.80 mm, while the flange focal distance of a Praktica SLR was 44.4 mm.

LENS-DB: No, the flange focal distance of Praktica SLR cameras was exactly 45.5mm.

This extra distance limited the use of traditional wide angle lenses. Retrofocus lenses solved this by being able to increase the back focal distance.

Pierre Angénieux’s Retrofocus design allowed the use of wide-angle optics on the interchangeable-lens SLR cameras that were coming to market at the time: Exacta, Praktica, and Contax in Germany, Alpa in Switzerland, Rectaflex in Italy, and later, Canon and Nikon in Japan.

LENS-DB: When referring to Canon SLR cameras, the author means Canonflex series cameras with the Canon R breech-lock mount, introduced in 1959.

Angénieux was building around 45,000 Retrofocus lenses a year in the 1950s. It’s been said that Angénieux’s design inspired the other lens manufacturers to produce wide angle lenses for almost every 35mm SLR and spinning mirror reflex motion picture camera that would follow. Only in the past few years, with the potential of good electronic viewfinders, have we seen a return to shorter flange focal distances.

From the Popular Photography - ND magazine (October 1951)

A new and welcome departure in wide-angle lens design is provided by the 35-mm Angenieux Retrofocus lens (f/2.5) now being furnished as an accessory for the various 35-mm Exakta cameras. By inverting the principles of telephoto lens design, the manufacturers of this lens have created an objective which can be mounted in a barrel considerably longer than its effective focal length. It can therefore be used with single-lens reflex cameras without interfering with the mirror movement, which is utterly impossible with ordinary wide-angle lenses.

From the editor

The lens was produced for Exakta, Exa, Praktica 35mm SLR cameras, and, MOST LIKELY, for Canonflex, Nikon, Rectaflex 35mm SLR cameras.

The closest focusing distance is 3 ft. for lenses with distance scale in feet and 1m for lenses with distance scale in meters. Since these values differ by as much as 8.56cm, we had to leave the "Closest focusing distance" field in the specification blank.

Lenses with similar focal length

Sorted by manufacturer name

M42 mount (59)
Asahi Super-Takumar 35mm F/3.5 [357, 43571]A5 - 40.45m⌀49 1962 
Asahi Auto-Takumar 35mm F/2.3 [335, 43350]S6 - 50.45mA65 1959 
Asahi Super-Takumar 35mm F/2 [43931]A8 - 70.40m⌀49 1967 
Asahi Auto-Takumar 35mm F/3.5 [336, 43360]S5 - 40.45m⌀46 1959 
Asahi Super-Takumar 35mm F/2 [368, 43680]A8 - 70.45m⌀67 1963 
Asahi Takumar 35mm F/4 [329]M5 - 40.45m⌀46 1957 
Asahi Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 35mm F/2 [43932]A8 - 70.40m⌀49 1971 
Asahi Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 35mm F/3.5 [43572]A5 - 40.45m⌀49 1971 
Chinon 35mm F/2.8 MC
aka Auto-Alpa 35mm F/2.8 MC
A6 - 60.30m⌀52
Cosina Voigtlander Ultron 40mm F/2 Aspherical SLA6 - 50.40m⌀52 2002 
Enna Munchen Lithagon 35mm F/3.5 Type 2M4 - 40.50m⌀52
Enna Munchen Lithagon 35mm F/2.8 Type 1P6 - 50.40m⌀52 1955 
Enna Munchen Super-Lithagon 35mm F/1.9P9 - 80.30m⌀52 1958 
Enna Munchen Lithagon 35mm F/4.5 CP4 - 40.80m⌀52 1953 
Enna Munchen Lithagon 35mm F/3.5 C Type 1P4 - 40.40m⌀52
Enna Munchen Super-Lithagon 35mm F/2.5 CP6 - 60.50m⌀52 1956 
Enna Munchen Lithagon 35mm F/2.8 Type 2P6 - 50.40m⌀52
Fuji Photo Film [EBC] Fujinon-W 35mm F/2.8A7 - 60.40m⌀49 1970 
Fuji Photo Film EBC Fujinon-W 35mm F/1.9A8 - 60.40m⌀49
Fuji Photo Film Fujinon-W 35mm F/3.5A4 - 40.40m⌀49
Auto Mamiya/Sekor 35mm F/2.8A6 - 50.40m⌀49 1966 
Auto Mamiya/Sekor SX 35mm F/2.8A7 - 50.40m⌀52 1974 
Mamiya-Sekor 35mm F/2.8 for CPA6 - 50.50m⌀52
Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Lydith 30mm F/3.5P5 - 50.33m⌀49 1963 
Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Primagon 35mm F/4.5 [V]P4 - 40.40m⌀49 1955 
Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Helioplan 40mm F/4.5 VP4 - 40.50m 1952 
Olympus G.Zuiko Auto-W 35mm F/2.8 for FTLA7 - 60.30m⌀49 1970 
Panagor 35mm F/2 AutoA8 - 60.30m⌀58
Pentacon 30mm F/3.5P5 - 50.33m⌀49 1971 
Kuribayashi K.C. Petri Orikkor 35mm F/3.5P5 - 50.90m⌀49 1959 
Ricoh Auto Rikenon 35mm F/2.8A6 - 50.40m⌀49
Ricoh Auto Rikenon 35mm F/2.8 EEA6 - 50.40m⌀52
Sankyo Kohki W-Komura 35mm F/2.5P7 - 50.60m⌀55
Schneider-Kreuznach Isogon 40mm F/4.5M4 - 40.50m⌀49 1951 
Schneider-Kreuznach Curtagon 35mm F/2.8 [I]A6 - 50.35mS.VII 1958 
Schneider-Kreuznach Curtagon 35mm F/2.8 [II]A6 - 60.30m⌀49 1966 
Soligor C/D 35mm F/2 P (s/n 1xxxxxxx)A8 - 70.30m⌀58 1974 
Soligor C/D 35mm F/2.8A6 - 50.35m⌀49
Mir-24M 35mm F/2 [MC]A8 - 70.30m⌀58 1976 
Mir-1V 37mm F/2.8P6 - 50.70m⌀49
RMC Tokina 35mm F/2.8
aka Tokina SL 35mm F/2.8
A6 - 50.35m⌀52
Vivitar 35mm F/2.8 Auto (s/n 22xxxxxx)A6 - 50.45m⌀52 1969 
Vivitar 35mm F/1.9 Auto (s/n 28xxxxxx)A8 - 60.30m⌀55 1973 
Vivitar 35mm F/2.8 Auto "Chrome Nose"A6 - 50.30m⌀52 1967 
Vivitar 35mm F/2.8 Auto "Bright Band" (s/n 22xxxxxx)A6 - 50.30m⌀52 1968 
Yashica Auto Yashinon-DX 35mm F/2.8A6 - 50.40m⌀52
Yashica Super Yashinon-DX 35mm F/2.8P6 - 50.45m⌀52
Yashica Auto Yashinon-DS 35mm F/2.8A6 - 50.40m⌀52
Yashica Auto Yashinon DS-M 35mm F/2.8A7 - 60.30m⌀52
Yashica Auto Yashikor 35mm F/2.8A6 - 50.60m
Yashica Super Yashinon-R 35mm F/2.8P? - ?1.00m⌀46 1961 
Carl Zeiss Classic Distagon T* 35mm F/2 ZE / ZF / ZF.2 / ZK / ZSA9 - 70.30mE58 2006 
Carl Zeiss Skoparex 35mm F/3.4A6 - 50.30mB50 1968 
Carl Zeiss Distagon [HFT] 35mm F/2.8
aka Rollei-HFT Distagon 35mm F/2.8
aka Voigtlander Color-Skoparex 35mm F/2.8
A5 - 50.40mE49 1970 
Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Flektogon 35mm F/2.4 [electric] MCA6 - 60.19mE49 1975 
Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Tessar 40mm F/4.5 T Type 1M4 - 30.60mE30.5
Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Tessar 40mm F/4.5 [T] Type 2M4 - 30.40mE49
Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Flektogon 35mm F/2.8 Type 1P6 - 50.36mE49 1953 
Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Flektogon 35mm F/2.8 Type 4A6 - 50.18mE49 1961 
Exakta mount (24)
Enna Munchen Lithagon 35mm F/3.5 Type 2M4 - 40.50m⌀52
Enna Munchen Lithagon 35mm F/2.8 Type 1P6 - 50.40m⌀52 1955 
Enna Munchen Super-Lithagon 35mm F/1.9P9 - 80.30m⌀52 1958 
Enna Munchen Lithagon 35mm F/4.5 CP4 - 40.80m⌀52 1953 
Enna Munchen Lithagon 35mm F/3.5 C Type 1P4 - 40.40m⌀52
Enna Munchen Super-Lithagon 35mm F/2.5 CP6 - 60.50m⌀52 1956 
Enna Munchen Lithagon 35mm F/2.8 Type 2P6 - 50.40m⌀52
Isco-Gottingen Westron 35mm F/3.5P5 - 40.50mS.VIII 1958 
Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Lydith 30mm F/3.5P5 - 50.33m⌀49 1963 
Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Primagon 35mm F/4.5 [V]P4 - 40.40m⌀49 1955 
Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Helioplan 40mm F/4.5 VP4 - 40.50m 1952 
P. Angenieux Paris 35mm F/2.5 Retrofocus Type R1A6 - 50.80mS.VIII 1959 
Sankyo Kohki W-Komura 35mm F/2.5P7 - 50.60m⌀55
Schneider-Kreuznach Curtagon 35mm F/2.8 [I]A6 - 50.35mS.VII 1958 
Schneider-Kreuznach Curtagon 35mm F/2.8 [II]A6 - 60.30m⌀49 1966 
Steinheil Munchen Auto-Quinaron 35mm F/2.8A7 - 50.23mS.VIII 1958 
Steinheil Munchen Culmigon 35mm F/4.5M4 - 41.7 ft.S.V
Steinheil Munchen Cassaron 40mm F/3.5 VLM3 - 30.60m 1952 
Vivitar 35mm F/2.8 Auto "Bright Band" (s/n 22xxxxxx)A6 - 50.30m⌀52 1968 
Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Tessar 40mm F/4.5 T Type 1M4 - 30.60mE30.5
Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Tessar 40mm F/4.5 [T] Type 2M4 - 30.40mE49
Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Flektogon 35mm F/2.8 Type 4A6 - 50.18mE49 1961 
Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Flektogon 35mm F/2.8 Type 2S6 - 50.35mS.VIII
Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Flektogon 35mm F/2.8 Type 3A6 - 50.36mE49 1960 
Interchangeable mount (13)
Sankyo Kohki W-Komura 35mm F/2.5 [Unidapter]P7 - 50.60m⌀55
Sankyo Kohki W-Komura 35mm F/2.5 [Unidapter Auto]A7 - ?0.50m⌀55
Komuranon 35mm F/2.5 K·M·CA7 - 50.50m⌀58
Sigma[-XQ] MF 35mm F/2.8 [Flash Auto] [YS]A6 - 50.50m⌀52 1975 
Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm F/2.8 (s/n 1xxxxxxx) [T-4]A6 - 50.40m⌀49
Soligor 35mm F/3.5 [T]P6 - 53 ft.⌀46
Soligor 35mm F/2.8 [T]P6 - 50.50m⌀49
Mir-1A 37mm F/2.8 [T]P6 - 50.24m⌀52 1972 
Auto Tamron 35mm F/2.8 [Adapt-A-Matic]A6 - 50.30m⌀55 1969 
Tamron 35mm F/2.8 [T]
aka Soligor 35mm F/2.8
P6 - 50.90m 1961 
Vivitar 35mm F/3.5 [T]P5 - 50.90m⌀46
Vivitar 35mm F/2.8 [T]P6 - 50.90m⌀52
Vivitar 35mm F/2.8 Auto (s/n 37xxxxxxx) [T-4]A6 - 50.45m⌀49 1968 
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Chromatic aberration

There are two kinds of chromatic aberration: longitudinal and lateral. Longitudinal chromatic aberration is a variation in location of the image plane with changes in wave lengths. It produces the image point surrounded by different colors which result in a blurred image in black-and-white pictures. Lateral chromatic aberration is a variation in image size or magnification with wave length. This aberration does not appear at axial image points but toward the surrounding area, proportional to the distance from the center of the image field. Stopping down the lens has only a limited effect on these aberrations.

Spherical aberration

Spherical aberration is caused because the lens is round and the film or image sensor is flat. Light entering the edge of the lens is more severely refracted than light entering the center of the lens. This results in a blurred image, and also causes flare (non-image forming internal reflections). Stopping down the lens minimizes spherical aberration and flare, but introduces diffraction.


Astigmatism in a lens causes a point in the subject to be reproduced as a line in the image. The effect becomes worse towards the corner of the image. Stopping down the lens has very little effect.


Coma in a lens causes a circular shape in the subject to be reproduced as an oval shape in the image. Stopping down the lens has almost no effect.

Curvature of field

Curvature of field is the inability of a lens to produce a flat image of a flat subject. The image is formed instead on a curved surface. If the center of the image is in focus, the edges are out of focus and vice versa. Stopping down the lens has a limited effect.


Distortion is the inability of a lens to capture lines as straight across the entire image area. Barrel distortion causes straight lines at the edges of the frame to bow toward the center of the image, producing a barrel shape. Pincushion distortion causes straight lines at the edges of the frame to curve in toward the lens axis. Distortion, whether barrel or pincushion type, is caused by differences in magnification; stopping down the lens has no effect at all.

The term "distortion" is also sometimes used instead of the term "aberration". In this case, other types of optical aberrations may also be meant, not necessarily geometric distortion.


Classically, light is thought of as always traveling in straight lines, but in reality, light waves tend to bend around nearby barriers, spreading out in the process. This phenomenon is known as diffraction and occurs when a light wave passes by a corner or through an opening. Diffraction plays a paramount role in limiting the resolving power of any lens.


Doublet is a lens design comprised of two elements grouped together. Sometimes the two elements are cemented together, and other times they are separated by an air gap. Examples of this type of lens include achromatic close-up lenses.

Dynamic range

Dynamic range is the maximum range of tones, from darkest shadows to brightest highlights, that can be produced by a device or perceived in an image. Also called tonal range.

Resolving power

Resolving power is the ability of a lens, photographic emulsion or imaging sensor to distinguish fine detail. Resolving power is expressed in terms of lines per millimeter that are distinctly recorded in the final image.


Vignetting is the darkening of the corners of an image relative to the center of the image. There are three types of vignetting: optical, mechanical, and natural vignetting.

Optical vignetting is caused by the physical dimensions of a multi-element lens. Rear elements are shaded by elements in front of them, which reduces the effective lens opening for off-axis incident light. The result is a gradual decrease of the light intensity towards the image periphery. Optical vignetting is sensitive to the aperture and can be completely cured by stopping down the lens. Two or three stops are usually sufficient.

Mechanical vignetting occurs when light beams are partially blocked by external objects such as thick or stacked filters, secondary lenses, and improper lens hoods.

Natural vignetting (also known as natural illumination falloff) is not due to the blocking of light rays. The falloff is approximated by the "cosine fourth" law of illumination falloff. Wide-angle rangefinder designs are particularly prone to natural vignetting. Stopping down the lens cannot cure it.


Bright shapes or lack of contrast caused when light is scattered by the surface of the lens or reflected off the interior surfaces of the lens barrel. This is most often seen when the lens is pointed toward the sun or another bright light source. Flare can be minimized by using anti-reflection coatings, light baffles, or a lens hood.


Glowing patches of light that appear in a photograph due to lens flare.

Retrofocus design

Design with negative lens group(s) positioned in front of the diaphragm and positive lens group(s) positioned at the rear of the diaphragm. This provides a short focal length with a long back focus or lens-to-film distance, allowing for movement of the reflex mirror in SLR cameras. Sometimes called an inverted telephoto lens.


A photographic lens completely corrected for the three main optical aberrations: spherical aberration, coma, and astigmatism.

By the mid-20th century, the vast majority of lenses were close to being anastigmatic, so most manufacturers stopped including this characteristic in lens names and/or descriptions and focused on advertising other features (anti-reflection coating, for example).

Rectilinear design

Design that does not introduce significant distortion, especially ultra-wide angle lenses that preserve straight lines and do not curve them (unlike a fisheye lens, for instance).

Focus shift

A change in the position of the plane of optimal focus, generally due to a change in focal length when using a zoom lens, and in some lenses, with a change in aperture.


The amount of light that passes through a lens without being either absorbed by the glass or being reflected by glass/air surfaces.

Modulation Transfer Function (MTF)

When optical designers attempt to compare the performance of optical systems, a commonly used measure is the modulation transfer function (MTF).

The components of MTF are:

The MTF of a lens is a measurement of its ability to transfer contrast at a particular resolution from the object to the image. In other words, MTF is a way to incorporate resolution and contrast into a single specification.

Knowing the MTF curves of each photographic lens and camera sensor within a system allows a designer to make the appropriate selection when optimizing for a particular resolution.

Veiling glare

Lens flare that causes loss of contrast over part or all of the image.

Anti-reflection coating

When light enters or exits an uncoated lens approximately 5% of the light is reflected back at each lens-air boundary due to the difference in refractive index. This reflected light causes flare and ghosting, which results in deterioration of image quality. To counter this, a vapor-deposited coating that reduces light reflection is applied to the lens surface. Early coatings consisted of a single thin film with the correct refractive index differences to cancel out reflections. Multi-layer coatings, introduced in the early 1970s, are made up of several such films.

Benefits of anti-reflection coating:

Circular fisheye

Produces a 180° angle of view in all directions (horizontal, vertical and diagonal).

The image circle of the lens is inscribed in the image frame.

Diagonal (full-frame) fisheye

Covers the entire image frame. For this reason diagonal fisheye lenses are often called full-frame fisheyes.

Extension ring

Extension rings can be used singly or in combination to vary the reproduction ratio of lenses. They are mounted between the camera body and the lens. As a rule, the effect becomes stronger the shorter the focal length of the lens in use, and the longer the focal length of the extension ring.

View camera

A large-format camera with a ground-glass viewfinder at the image plane for viewing and focusing. The photographer must stick his head under a cloth hood in order to see the image projected on the ground glass. Because of their 4x5-inch (or larger) negatives, these cameras can produce extremely high-quality results. View cameras also usually support movements.

135 cartridge-loaded film

43.27 24 36
  • Introduced: 1934
  • Frame size: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm
  • Area: 864mm2
  • Double perforated
  • 8 perforations per frame

120 roll film

71.22 44 56
  • Introduced: 1901
  • Frame size: 56 × 44mm
  • Aspect ratio: 11:14
  • Diagonal: 71.22mm
  • Area: 2464mm2
  • Unperforated

120 roll film

79.2 56 56
  • Introduced: 1901
  • Frame size: 56 × 56mm
  • Aspect ratio: 1:1
  • Diagonal: 79.2mm
  • Area: 3136mm2
  • Unperforated

120 roll film

89.64 56 70
  • Introduced: 1901
  • Frame size: 70 × 56mm
  • Aspect ratio: 5:4
  • Diagonal: 89.64mm
  • Area: 3920mm2
  • Unperforated

220 roll film

71.22 44 56
  • Introduced: 1965
  • Frame size: 56 × 44mm
  • Aspect ratio: 11:14
  • Diagonal: 71.22mm
  • Area: 2464mm2
  • Unperforated
  • Double the length of 120 roll film

220 roll film

79.2 56 56
  • Introduced: 1965
  • Frame size: 56 × 56mm
  • Aspect ratio: 1:1
  • Diagonal: 79.2mm
  • Area: 3136mm2
  • Unperforated
  • Double the length of 120 roll film

220 roll film

89.64 56 70
  • Introduced: 1965
  • Frame size: 70 × 56mm
  • Aspect ratio: 5:4
  • Diagonal: 89.64mm
  • Area: 3920mm2
  • Unperforated
  • Double the length of 120 roll film

Shutter speed ring with "F" setting

The "F" setting disengages the leaf shutter and is set when using only the focal plane shutter in the camera body.

Catch for disengaging cross-coupling

The shutter and diaphragm settings are cross-coupled so that the diaphragm opens to a corresponding degree when faster shutter speeds are selected. The cross-coupling can be disengaged at the press of a catch.

Cross-coupling button

With the cross-coupling button depressed speed/aperture combinations can be altered without changing the Exposure Value setting.

M & X sync

The shutter is fully synchronized for M- and X-settings so that you can work with flash at all shutter speeds.

In M-sync, the shutter closes the flash-firing circuit slightly before it is fully open to catch the flash at maximum intensity. The M-setting is used for Class M flash bulbs.

In X-sync, the flash takes place when the shutter is fully opened. The X-setting is used for electronic flash.

X sync

The shutter is fully synchronized for X-setting so that you can work with flash at all shutter speeds.

In X-sync, the flash takes place when the shutter is fully opened. The X-setting is used for electronic flash.


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Image stabilizer

A technology used for reducing or even eliminating the effects of camera shake. Gyro sensors inside the lens detect camera shake and pass the data to a microcomputer. Then an image stabilization group of elements controlled by the microcomputer moves inside the lens and compensates camera shake in order to keep the image static on the imaging sensor or film.

The technology allows to increase the shutter speed by several stops and shoot handheld in such lighting conditions and at such focal lengths where without image stabilizer you have to use tripod, decrease the shutter speed and/or increase the ISO setting which can lead to blurry and noisy images.

Original name

Lens name as indicated on the lens barrel (usually on the front ring). With lenses from film era, may vary slightly from batch to batch.


Format refers to the shape and size of film or image sensor.

35mm is the common name of the 36x24mm film format or image sensor format. It has an aspect ratio of 3:2, and a diagonal measurement of approximately 43mm. The name originates with the total width of the 135 film which was the primary medium of the format prior to the invention of the full frame digital SLR. Historically the 35mm format was sometimes called small format to distinguish it from the medium and large formats.

APS-C is an image sensor format approximately equivalent in size to the film negatives of 25.1x16.7mm with an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Medium format is a film format or image sensor format larger than 36x24mm (35mm) but smaller than 4x5in (large format).

Angle of view

Angle of view describes the angular extent of a given scene that is imaged by a camera. It is used interchangeably with the more general term field of view.

As the focal length changes, the angle of view also changes. The shorter the focal length (eg 18mm), the wider the angle of view. Conversely, the longer the focal length (eg 55mm), the smaller the angle of view.

A camera's angle of view depends not only on the lens, but also on the sensor. Imaging sensors are sometimes smaller than 35mm film frame, and this causes the lens to have a narrower angle of view than with 35mm film, by a certain factor for each sensor (called the crop factor).

This website does not use the angles of view provided by lens manufacturers, but calculates them automatically by the following formula: 114.6 * arctan (21.622 / CF * FL),


CF – crop-factor of a sensor,
FL – focal length of a lens.


A lens mount is an interface — mechanical and often also electrical — between a camera body and a lens.

A lens mount may be a screw-threaded type, a bayonet-type, or a breech-lock type. Modern camera lens mounts are of the bayonet type, because the bayonet mechanism precisely aligns mechanical and electrical features between lens and body, unlike screw-threaded mounts.

Lens mounts of competing manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc.) are always incompatible. In addition to the mechanical and electrical interface variations, the flange focal distance can also be different.

The flange focal distance (FFD) is the distance from the mechanical rear end surface of the lens mount to the focal plane.

Lens construction

Lens construction – a specific arrangement of elements and groups that make up the optical design, including type and size of elements, type of used materials etc.

Element - an individual piece of glass which makes up one component of a photographic lens. Photographic lenses are nearly always built up of multiple such elements.

Group – a cemented together pieces of glass which form a single unit or an individual piece of glass. The advantage is that there is no glass-air surfaces between cemented together pieces of glass, which reduces reflections.

Focal length

The focal length is the factor that determines the size of the image reproduced on the focal plane, picture angle which covers the area of the subject to be photographed, depth of field, etc.


The largest opening or stop at which a lens can be used is referred to as the speed of the lens. The larger the maximum aperture is, the faster the lens is considered to be. Lenses that offer a large maximum aperture are commonly referred to as fast lenses, and lenses with smaller maximum aperture are regarded as slow.

In low-light situations, having a wider maximum aperture means that you can shoot at a faster shutter speed or work at a lower ISO, or both.

Closest focusing distance

The minimum distance from the focal plane (film or sensor) to the subject where the lens is still able to focus.

Closest working distance

The distance from the front edge of the lens to the subject at the maximum magnification.

Magnification ratio

Determines how large the subject will appear in the final image. Magnification is expressed as a ratio. For example, a magnification ratio of 1:1 means that the image of the subject formed on the film or sensor will be the same size as the subject in real life. For this reason, a 1:1 ratio is often called "life-size".

Modified M42 mount

The mount was modified by the manufacturer to allow exposure metering at full aperture.

Manual diaphragm

The diaphragm must be stopped down manually by rotating the detent aperture ring.

Preset diaphragm

The lens has two rings, one is for pre-setting, while the other is for normal diaphragm adjustment. The first ring must be set at the desired aperture, the second ring then should be fully opened for focusing, and turned back for stop down to the pre-set value.

Semi-automatic diaphragm

The lens features spring mechanism in the diaphragm, triggered by the shutter release, which stops down the diaphragm to the pre-set value. The spring needs to be reset manually after each exposure to re-open diaphragm to its maximum value.

Automatic diaphragm

The camera automatically closes the diaphragm down during the shutter operation. On completion of the exposure, the diaphragm re-opens to its maximum value.

Fixed diaphragm

The aperture setting is fixed at F/2.5 on this lens, and cannot be adjusted.

Number of blades

As a general rule, the more blades that are used to create the aperture opening in the lens, the rounder the out-of-focus highlights will be.

Some lenses are designed with curved diaphragm blades, so the roundness of the aperture comes not from the number of blades, but from their shape. However, the fewer blades the diaphragm has, the more difficult it is to form a circle, regardless of rounded edges.

At maximum aperture, the opening will be circular regardless of the number of blades.


Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

Maximum diameter x Length

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

For lenses with collapsible design, the length is indicated for the working (retracted) state.

Weather sealing

A rubber material which is inserted in between each externally exposed part (manual focus and zoom rings, buttons, switch panels etc.) to ensure it is properly sealed against dust and moisture.

Lenses that accept front mounted filters typically do not have gaskets behind the filter mount. It is recommended to use a filter for complete weather resistance when desired.

Fluorine coating

Helps keep lenses clean by reducing the possibility of dust and dirt adhering to the lens and by facilitating cleaning should the need arise. Applied to the outer surface of the front and/or rear lens elements over multi-coatings.


Lens filters are accessories that can protect lenses from dirt and damage, enhance colors, minimize glare and reflections, and add creative effects to images.

Lens hood

A lens hood or lens shade is a device used on the end of a lens to block the sun or other light source in order to prevent glare and lens flare. Flare occurs when stray light strikes the front element of a lens and then bounces around within the lens. This stray light often comes from very bright light sources, such as the sun, bright studio lights, or a bright white background.

The geometry of the lens hood can vary from a plain cylindrical or conical section to a more complex shape, sometimes called a petal, tulip, or flower hood. This allows the lens hood to block stray light with the higher portions of the lens hood, while allowing more light into the corners of the image through the lowered portions of the hood.

Lens hoods are more prominent in long focus lenses because they have a smaller viewing angle than that of wide-angle lenses. For wide angle lenses, the length of the hood cannot be as long as those for telephoto lenses, as a longer hood would enter the wider field of view of the lens.

Lens hoods are often designed to fit onto the matching lens facing either forward, for normal use, or backwards, so that the hood may be stored with the lens without occupying much additional space. In addition, lens hoods can offer some degree of physical protection for the lens due to the hood extending farther than the lens itself.


Teleconverters increase the effective focal length of lenses. They also usually maintain the closest focusing distance of lenses, thus increasing the magnification significantly. A lens combined with a teleconverter is normally smaller, lighter and cheaper than a "direct" telephoto lens of the same focal length and speed.

Teleconverters are a convenient way of enhancing telephoto capability, but it comes at a cost − reduced maximum aperture. Also, since teleconverters magnify every detail in the image, they logically also magnify residual aberrations of the lens.

Lens caps

Scratched lens surfaces can spoil the definition and contrast of even the finest lenses. Lens covers are the best and most inexpensive protection available against dust, moisture and abrasion. Safeguard lens elements - both front and rear - whenever the lens is not in use.