Anastar 50mm f /3.5 as
mounted on a Kodak 35
Anastar 80mm f /3.5 as
mounted on a Kodak Reflex
Ektar 100mm f /3.5 as
mounted on a Kodak Medalist

From these cutaway images, you can clearly see the difference in three of the lens designs Kodak used. All of these lenses show their origins in the triplet design that was popular in the early part of the 20th century.

  • The first lens is an example of most Kodak normal length upscale consumer lenses and characteristic of many professional lenses--a Tessar design--four elements in three groups, although in this case Kodak designers reversed the last two elements, putting the positive element next to the stop. For a more traditional treatment of the Tessar design, see, for example, the design for the successor to the Kodak 35, the 44mm, f /3.5 Ektar for the Kodak Signet . Kodak called these lenses Anastigmat Specials (later Anastars) and Ektars. Both the first and second lenses above are front cell focusing; only the front cell is moved, while the remainder of the elements remain static. This is arguably not the best design, but it reduced production costs on non-rangefinder models. The success was in the details, since modern users find that such lenses on Kodak "folders" perform very well given their modest origins. The Tessar-design lenses used on professional cameras were unit focusing--all elements were mounted in a permanent relationship to each other and the entire collection is moved during focusing. The most common use of these professional lenses was in press cameras like the Speed Graphic and large single lens reflex designs, like the Graflex, both of which had moveable front standards on which the lens could be mounted. The Graphics had coupled rangefinders and the Graflex had direct focusing through a reflex mirror.
  • The second Anastar shown above was an unusual design for Kodak and followed an earlier design used on the German Ernostar and Sonnar lenses--four air-spaced elements. This design uses an additional second element that raises the maximum aperture of the triplet design.
  • The third lens above is also an unusual design for Kodak using five elements in three groups--a Heliar design, a specialty of Kodak designer Fred Altman--shown here as used in the Kodak Medalist. Kodak also used this Heliar design for a 105mm f/3.7 for small press cameras and as a 35mm 31° design as a wide angle lens for the Kodak Ektra. Five elements made this an expensive lens for the Kodak, but you might say that Kodak was an early adopter of the prosumer marketing strategy.


  Image Source: Kodak Data Book/Lens, Shutters and Portra Lenses ,
© 1948