The Fellsphoto Vintage 6x9 Gallery




the HELIAR lens


all-time Voigtlnder classic

(text and photos from Frank Mechelhoff's website 'Taunusreiter')

A 5 elements/ 3 groups Triplet derivated lens, similar to the Zeiss Tessar but with a split front-element. Invented 1900 by Dr. Hans Harting, later executive board member at ZEISS, even at age 78 recalled to VEB Carl Zeiss Jena to help with postwar reconstruction and appointed Honorary member of Academy of Sciences in Berlin (DDR). The design was slightly altered during its production time, at last after WWII with coating to the "Color-Heliar" from Voigtlander R&D team headed by Dr. A.W. Tronnier 1952. A simple and harmonical construction (slightly curved lines) but this wasn't able to produce a fast lens and therfore to some extend outdated by the market in the middle 1950's. The Medium format (MF) lens was f/3.5 105mm.Very sharp but some soft contrast wide open. One of the very best lenses ever for landscape and portraiture. In Large Format (LF) there were 15cm, 18cm, 21cm, 24cm, 30cm, 36cm and 42cm Heliars with f/4.5, covering formats from 9x14cm to 21x27cm

Also American KODAK made some very fine Heliar type MF and LF lenses in the 1940's and 1950's. Even today their reputation  isn't challenged . Some Japanese companies like Pentax and Nikon kept the Heliar design for 35mm makro lenses well into the 1980's (100mm f/4 lenses).

Until 2001 there was never a Voigtlander Heliar standard lens for 35mm film cameras - then Cosina build a limited edition in Leica screwmount (3.5/50mm) and it's amazing performance added  probably a last page to the glory of the classical Heliar... up to 2006 where Cosina even managed to build a f/2.0 lens of that specification with a limited edition CLASSIC-HELIAR (1756-2006)


Heliar 1900
Heliar 1950

Heliar 1902 - according to Naumann
Color-Heliar 1950 - Voigtlander publication "last version"
Heliar-Design (Large Format Lens) in a 1960's Zeiss-Ikon lens brochure.


Heliar 1935
Heliar in Compur Rapid leaf shutter, 1935 Rangefinder Bessa - this is a cool folder camera for 120 film (6x9 cm)


Color Heliar
Its successor in the Bessa-II: coated lens, the most famous (and expensive) folder camera...


Heliar Large Format lens, 15cm (covers 10x13cm with some reserve power) in Compur-Press shutter (Size No.1), build 1945 - coated already. Maybe an US Army photographer took this one home from conquered Germany - gone back in 2003.





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