Sunday, November 7, 2010

Aero Ektar on a Graflex

One of the nice things about the Aero Ektar is its easy compatibility with the common Graflex Speed Graphic cameras.  Speed Graphics have a very useful focal plane shutter that allows just about any lens with or without a shutter, or a pinhole, to be easily used for medium to large format shooting, and at a very low cost.  A lot of people don't think that the Speed Graphic has any real movements such as the ability to swing, tilt and shift, but that is debatable. While in stock form "The Speed" isn't a shapely circus contortionist bent like an extreme pretzel, it does have a drop bed, a useful rise, and plenty of tilt back on the front standard. Extreme swing and forward tilt can be added by modifying the front standard, like this example linked here.

Shown on a Slick (Not Slik) tripod with a large knuckle type head that is so easy to position and use.

About the famous Yellow Dot. Some Aero Ektars you see have a mysterious and apparently cult-inducing Yellow Dot on the lens shade.  The origin and meaning of the Yellow Dot has been much discussed on several websites and in forums, but as far as I know the real meaning of the dot, if any, is not known.  I have had three Aero Ektar lenses in here, with and without dots, and I can say that as far as I can tell, there is not any difference between dotted and not, none at all, except at least a hundred dollar premium on ebay for those lucky enough to be marked that way.  Keep in mind that thousands  of these lenses were produced and are very common, and although the auction prices have risen to the $300 level recently, good examples can be bought for less, if you shop around.

If you get an Aero Ektar, I recommend you visit this site for an excellent mount and shade. I have both!

The Aero Ektar is the poor sister in a sense to the much more expensive and luxurious Schneider Xenotar 150mm f2.8 lens, which can be fitted, at even greater cost, to a Compur No. 2 or Copal No. 3 shutter, for those unfortunates who are stuck with mere Linhofs.  I have that lens on our primary test camera, here. 

The Xenotar is cool, but not a very great lens unless you need f2.8, and they are way too expensive on ebay.  The Aero Ektar and its war surplus connotation is appealing, and the extra inch of focal length and f2.5 aperture make it very good for those who want selective focus.

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