The Anastigmat Lens

One of the most fascinating stories in photographic history stems from the search for a faster and better corrected successor to the Rapid Rectilinear lens.  This quest culminated in the creation in the late 1800s and early 1900s of some of the most famous lenses of the twentieth century, many of which are in use today in only slightly modified form. During the heyday of the Rapid rectilinear lens, only two kinds of optical glass, crown and flint, were available.  Of the several kinds of aberrations that plagued lenses of this era, the most difficult to correct for was astigmatism.  A result of the inability of the marginal portions of lenses made from ordinary crown or flint glass to bring…Continue Reading

The Rapid Rectilinear Lens

Vintage Kodaks from the early part of the twentieth century usable for fine art photography will most commonly come equipped with either an Anastigmat or a Rapid Rectilinear lens.  Although the Rapid Rectilinear is the older design, when stopped down to f/16 or higher it is extremely sharp and, surprisingly, has excellent color rendition. The Rapid Rectilinear, a famous lens, has great historical significance and represents a landmark advance in photographic technology.  This has been described by Dr. John Loomis at the University of Dayton (original source Rudolf Kingslake): “One of the most important photographic objectives ever made was the famous Rapid Rectilinear or Aplanat of 1866. This design came midway between the invention of photography in 1840 and the…Continue Reading