How to use the Lens section...

I have adapted the Kodak Reference Handbook and Data Book format and content in preparing the tables in this Lens section. The organization of these tables follows Kodak publication conventions, with some exceptions.

  • One of the most complete sources of pre-1940 Kodak lens production is the booklet Kodak Lenses and Shutters of 1939 that pre-dates the Kodak Handbooks and Data Books. Because it shows details for more expensive Kodak Anastigmat and Anastigmat Special lenses that were not generally included in later Handbook and Data Book editions, I have included them in the 1939 table. Later tables describe these lenses in less detail and the least expensive lenses like the Kodars are ignored completely in these tables.
  • To understand more about how this section follows Kodak conventions, see the section below.
  • I know very little about movie cameras and lenses, so Ciné-Ektars are not included on this site.
  • Projection Ektars and Ektanons for Enlarging and Enlarging Ektars and Ektanons are included in the separate Enlarging Lenses section, since details seem to have first appeared in 1954. Early naming convention for Projection Ektars and Anastigmats included lenses for enlargers and projectors; lenses for projectors are not included on this site.
  • With a couple of exceptions, the Ektar contents of each new edition of lens and shutter data is tabulated separately to allow users to compare how lenses and shutters changed. Click the lens icon in the first column to view the lens design and description from the Kodak publication.
  • Detailed specifications open in new browser windows; you will need to close these with your browser Close [X] control when you are finished viewing them.

About the specifications for Kodak Ektars and their siblings...a rather dry tale of Kodak documentation

It is fortunate for we Kodak collectors that Kodak provided extensive published information about their optics. Much of the information for this site which focuses on equipment developed by Kodak from about the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s comes from volumes begun about 1940 when Kodak first published the Kodak Reference Handbook. This was preceded by an individually bound small volume--a 1939 title, Kodak Lenses and Shutters--that appears to have established the format for the original Handbook and later Data Books.

The Reference Handbook was a loose-leaf collection of pages in 10 sections with tabbed section dividers -- Lenses, Films, Filters, Kodachrome, Papers, Darkroom, Development, Formulas, Copying, and Slides. While these sections may have corresponded to the way that some amateur and professional photographers viewed their photographic activities, this organization also was heavily influenced by the way that Kodak viewed its product lines. In fairness, Kodak documentation was a nice combination of well-researched and well-written information about photographic processes and materials that featured almost exclusively Kodak products as well-placed examples. Pagination changed with each section; section 1 had pages beginning 101, section 2 with 201, etc. This allowed Kodak to add and change pages, within limits. All pages were published in roughly octavo format (5 3/4 x 8 1/2) with 17 rectangular holes punched in the left margin to keep the pages carefully aligned on the 17-ring binders.

This loose-leaf style of publication was handy for technical writing, but for those Kodak collectors who also collect books, it creates some craziness relating to bibliography. It made establishing the bibliographic state of individual early volumes very difficult. One of my copies of the original 1940 Reference Handbook is a nicely maintained copy, the work of C. Russ Van Vliet of St. Paul, Minnesota, who carefully collected all of the original and updated pages and many of the Kodak product brochures, user equipment manuals and technical papers that were published in this format.

While Kodak may have issued updated pages to holders of the original Handbook, between 1940 and 1945, and they also published new editions of the Handbook during this period; the first major update process was initiated at the end of WWII. An October 1945 announcement introduced the Kodak Photographic Notebook , a supplementary binder that could be used to house Kodak articles issued in this format, additional Reference Handbook pages and other personal notes. The newsletter announced that updates to the Reference Handbook would be in the form of separately bound Kodak Data Books. This announcement was the first of a series of Kodak Handbook - Notebook News that would be published occasionally and mailed to registered owners of the Reference Handbook and Notebook, informing them of new and revised Kodak products and Data Books, available through Kodak dealers.

Kodak undoubtedly saw that the stream of new products following WWII was outstripping the original looseleaf concept. As part of this gear shifting, the Data Books were to be labeled Third (Fourth, Fifth...) Edition when they contained major changes, and the edition name, plus a "<year> Printing"-style note when only minor changes were made. The Data Books publication convention also allowed Kodak to target publications to different audiences--beginners, who might buy only a single book, through advanced professionals who might compile a small library.

Eventually the Kodak Reference Handbook was expanded to two binders and more specialized volumes -- Kodak Color Handbook, Kodak Professional Handbook, Kodak Industrial Handbook and Kodak Graphic Arts Handbook -- were published in this same format. For many years many Kodak publications--though not camera manuals--were in this format, punched so that they could placed in the special 17-ring binders. The last version of the Notebook I have has a vinyl cover with six rings spaced so they engage the 17-hole documents. The holes in Kodak publications also engage some generic 3-ring binders. Yet later, Kodak data books were published in an 8.5 x 11 format.

The Handbooks and Data Books varied over editions in the amount of information given for specific lenses. Typically more information was given for professional lenses and less for lenses mounted on consumer cameras. It is also possible to trace Kodak's opinion of the performance of their products over time; superlatives for older lines became more muted as newer lines were released. The tables in this section of the site reflect the availability of Kodak-published information. They never intend to entirely replace the pages in the printed books, which provide more details about aperture and shutter features, depth of field tables, angle of view and infrared focusing.

When I started this site in 1999, I attempted to create most textual information in HTML pages to reduce bandwith load. Newer pages are more likely to contained scanned text, accounting for some differences in formatting.

Kodak Lenses and Shutters (1939) was published as a separate booklet, now available in .pdf format from Michael Butkus' . The Lenses, Rangefinders and Shutters section, © 1940 and © 1942, 1945 of the Reference Handbook were published in the loose-leaf format; Data Book: Kodak Lenses, Rangefinders and Shutters: For Revising Kodak Reference Handbook © 1942, 1945 Second 1946 Printing was one of the first Data Books published. While rangefinders continued to be described in this Data Book, the title was changed to Data Book Lenses Shutters and Portra Lens, Third Edition, © 1948; a Fourth Edition (1952), Fifth Edition (1955) and a Sixth Edition (1958) followed. By the Sixth Edition Kodak no longer produced Ektar lenses for consumer cameras. The Kodak Professional Handbook appeared first in 1952 and later editions may have still continued to list professional Ektars. The latest professional Ektars I've seen were produced in the mid-1960s and the last consumer Ektar may have been on the top models of the Kodak Instamatic. Volumes in the Kodak Handbook series are frequently available in online auctions and at local booksellers.

Ektar Home Page
Kodak Lens Index  
About Ektar lens data
Kodak Lens Lineage  
Kodak Ektar Summary
Kodak Lens Coating  
Kodak Lenses and Shutters © 1939
Kodak Reference Handbook: Lenses, Rangefinders and Shutters section © 1940  
Kodak Reference Handbook: Lenses, Rangefinders and Shutters section © 1942, 1945
Data Book on Lenses, Shutters and Portra Lenses, for Revising Kodak Reference Handbook, © 1942, 1945; Second 1946 Printing   
Kodak Data Book: Lenses, Shutters and Portra Lenses, Third Edition, (1948)
Kodak Data Book: Lenses, Shutters and Portra Lenses, Fourth Edition, (1952)  
Kodak Data Book: Lenses, Shutters and Portra Lenses, Fifth Edition, (1955)
Kodak Professional Handbook, Equipment Section, (1952)  
Kodak Data Book: Lenses, Shutters and Portra Lenses, Sixth Edition, (1958)
Kodak Lens Serial Numbers  
Enlarging Lenses      

This booklet predates the first edition of the
Kodak Reference Handbook and contains detailed information about many more lens models and considerable background information about Kodak lens design and production.

Kodak issued replacement pages to registered owners of the original Kodak Reference Handbook which was published in a loose-leaf binder; the replacement pages contained updated information about new products and processes. Newer versions of the Handbook would have contained these pages.
© dates in this material appear for 1940, 1942, 1943 and 1945 and perhaps other dates. One of the first separately bound Data Books was published in 1946 "For Revising Reference Handbooks," and noted as Second Printing.


10/29/2010 20:44