Zeiss Ikon/Voigtlander/Contarex HOLOGON (10.0659) ultrawide Camera w/ 8/15 (15mm f/8.0)
& other Hologon Ultra-wideangle lens variations - part II

Zeiss Germany can be easily regarded as one of the most respectable icon in the optical industry, treasures by followers, respected by rivaries. Over the years, many of the original optical designs by the respective designers have been replicated, modified and/or evolved from the inspirational source. Unlike the Distagon, Biogon, Sonnar, Tessar etc. that we are so familiar with which can traced back to near a century old tradition, Hologon was not actually that distant and you can refer it as a modern design. Developed by Dr. Erhard Glatzel ("Glatzel Et Al"), along with Hans Schulz, Ris Ruth & Heinz-Dieter Schulz collectively filed in a patent application in US for a 3-elements wideangle objective as late in 13.04.1970 and eventually was awarded in May, 1972.
Optical diaphragm and illustration of Zeiss HOLOGON 8/15mm ultrawideangle lens   The design, "...a 3-element objective having a wide picture angle coverage of about 120°* and a relative aperture of about 1:8,; comprising two relatively thick and strongly meniscus-shaped dispersive lens elements sandwiches in between which is arranged with axial air spaces a relatively think collective lens element..". The original illustration captured picture is shown at left. The patent claim states " ..a 3-element wide angle photographic objective with spherical and astigmatic as well as image curvative and distortion correction, comprising TWO meniscus-shaped curved dispersive lens elements and a bi-convex lens elements and separated there from air spaces, the axial thickness of said dispersive lens elements being each greater than the axial widths of the adjacent air spaces, the thickness of the collective lens element is greater then the sum of the widths of said air spaces and these air spaces being each between 9 % and 29% of the total focal length of the design.

Credit: Original Image source. US patent office on filed designed of the original Hologon lens type by Glatzel Et Al.

While the center points of the radii of the boundary faces of each of the said dispersive lens elements are disposed within said design and have a distance from each other less than 50% of the associated thickness of the dispersive lens element and the length of the design is greater than the focal length of the objective. As objective according to claim 1, with additional chromatic correction, and in which the reciprocal values of the Abbe number of the dispersive lens elements are each between 0.001 and 0.03 grater than the reciprocal value of the Abbe number of the collective lens elements..". * The eventual lens used on the HOLOGON ultrawide camera has realized with a picture angle of approx. 110°

To let you see how difference is the Hologon design, I am using two illustrations here to let you witness the front and rear section of the lens design in an eventual production. The bottom left picture is unique. It is special because it was a 1966's Zeiss-designed 110mm 1:8 HOLOGON lens fitted for large format Linhof cameras where it was recently surfaced in an online auction conducted by well known Austrian auctioneer, Leica Shop® proclaimed it was. The Linhof hosted Hologon picture has an excellent illustration of both the front and rear section. For the 35mm format Hologon, as most of the available picture of the compiled collection had no illustration to show the distinctive curved surface of the lens, I had to use a photo that I have found via Google Search and has located this lovely picture posted on a web board discussion on Hologon.

Carl Zeiss HOLOGON 110mm f/8.0 for LINHOF w/compur shutter EXTERNAL LINED image of a closeup view of the hemi-spherical lens surafce of a typical Zeiss Hologon lens
Credit: Image of the Zeiss-designed HOLOGON lens for Linhof large format camera courtesy of Mr. Peter Coeln from LEICA Shop®, Austria who also operates a popular Westlicht Auction House; The LINKed image from photonet web forum belongs to Mike Elek. Images appeared herein belongs to the respective contributors and are copyright © 2008. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

Dr. Erhard Glatzel & his team member's invention fell during a difficult time for Zeiss towards the first quarter of the '70. It was equally interesting to note during such difficult time, Zeiss Ikon and Contarex had a series of multifaceted scientific photographic equipment (as well as some prototypes which never had the chance of going into actual production). In fact, some series such as the SE, Super Electronic (Pro-series) and even Hologon had been shifted from Stuttgart to Oberkochan during this stage and that was why you may notice some of these bodies/lenses may bear in the form of inscription or labels which marked "Vertrieb", a symbol signifies products made during such a shift. Technically, you can refer 1972 as the year where Zeiss Ikon, founded in 1926 unofficially** ceased production in 1972, ending a long but proud history of camera and optical design/production. Well, you cannot use the basis of the patent application as a rough guide. Zeiss had realized the potential of the design and probably they had already schemed a camera much earlier than that.

Reflex-based Nikkor-QD.C 1:5.6 f=15mm ultra-wideangle lens
Events and happening in the market place during that period could partially had Zeiss concluded a need to protect sales of their camera system, most notable development was Nikon's announcement during Photokina in 1970 with a 110°*** non-Ai Nikkor-QD.C 15mm f/5.6 AUTO ultra-wideangle lens for their reflex-based SLR system. The Nikkor reflex-Ultrawideangle lens was only being actually marketed in 1973 - which effectively a product introduced after the Zeiss Ikon / Contarex 15mm f/8.0 Hologon ultrawide camera was offered to the market ahead of the Nikkor. However, from here onwards, it was a known fact that single lens reflex system had cherished to be the dominating direction for all camera manufacturers in their respective camera/lens development.

*** Nikon next effort to break the 110° technological barrier was a 118° 13mm Nikkor Ultrawide in December, 1975.

<<<--- An early version of the Superwide 15mm Nikkor-QD-C Auto f/5.6 lens which eventually has been evolved into a much faster lens speed version in the Nikkor 15mm f/3.5s. Credit: Images of 15mm Nikkor non Ai lens courtesy of Mr. LARRY Johnson of SPLASH Production, US.
It was not known if Nikon announcement was aiming to take a lead by pronouncing world's first after realizing the submission of patent application in 1970**** by Dr. Erhard Glatzel & Company. Whatever it was, one of the problems faced by Zeiss was the Hologon design was not too practical and/or technically easy designed to be used on either Zeiss Ikon nor the Contarex rangefinder bodies. They probably had concluded a similar business model adopted by Victor Hasselblad successful deployment of the fixed lens Biogon SWC camera's path was more logical. This could had been resulted with the birth of the Zeiss Ikon Hologon ultrawide camera model - which replicated SWC style and had a fixed Zeiss Hologon 15mm f/8.0 super-wideangle lens permanently attached. Partly, the rangefinder system during that era truly lacking such a lens breed and Zeiss thought it could had commercial potential for ultra-wideangle photography for the rangefinder users market.

But you can also try to visualize what were Zeiss had in mind during such a difficult (financial) time. i.e. since the HOLOGON ultrawide camera was supplied as a single set lens/accessories ready camera, which means to say - it was also being designed as
system independent camera. Regardless you are using 35mm format Leica, Nikon, Olympus or Asahi Pentax 6X7, large format Linhof or the medium format Hasselblad and/or Mamiya, you acquired it because it was demand-driven for such kind of a special application lens. Besides, there was no compatibility issue with all possible photographic requirements with the lens were being equipped in a full setup. It was also a great idea too huh ? but unfortunately, competing 35mm format manufacturers each had their own ways in responding to such a "threat" to shield their pool of users away from an alien label; neither the consumer market nor the professional users also didn't responded as Zeiss thought it would/should be. Sad state.
**Further, the HOLOGON ultrawide was brought to the world attention with its introduction at the Photokina, 1972. Some of the series which include the Hologon camera were being marketed by other new firms such as Carl Zeiss Contarex-Vertrieb, until 1976. **** Note: Designs do not happened overnight and next morning you will rush to patent office for submission; so, the design probably had been realized at least a few years prior to conclusion in such a commercial decision.

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Credit: Image courtesy of Mr. Peter Coeln from LEICA Shop®, Austria who also operates a popular Westlicht Auction House as well as some of the primary Images courtesy of camera$@EBAY® who also operates an EBAY STORE. Both online trade centres can find many used RARE pieces of Nikon, Leica and other old classic photo equipment, ALL images appeared herein belongs to the respective contributors and are copyright © 2008. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.