Lanthar lenses : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Just curious, Does anyone know what a Lanthar lens is? I did not see any info on them on the main page. They pop up from time to time in the used ads for outrageous sums of money. Why are they so special? Josh

-- Josh (, May 11, 1999


They're so special because there's an aura of mystique surrounding them and they're collectible. Voightlander made a series of lenses to fit various cameras, called Apo-Lanthar. How apo they are and how they'd compare to modern lenses I don't know personally but a couple of well-known photographers/photograpy writers whose opinions I trust have said that they're good lenses but not in the league of modern lenses, many of which sell for _lots_ less.

-- John Hicks / John's Camera Shop (, May 11, 1999.

They are made from a very dense "rare earth" glass called lantham? (i think) and are famous for being a "hot" lens(slightly radioactive). They are prized for being some of the sharpest best performing "classic lenses" on the used market. oops gotta go...I'll dig up an old view camera mag see if i can find the article.

-- trib (, May 12, 1999.

I understand that the Apo-Lanthar is a variant of the heliar design wherein one or more elements (although I believe only the rear element) is made of lanthanum (rare earth) glass. This lens is reputed to have very high resolving power. Somewhere on the net is a comparison chart of large format lenses produced by an interested professional. The Apo-Lanthar rated a 7/10, which was more or less a median score. That's about the extent of my knowledge.

-- Ian Binnie (, May 13, 1999.

A followup. My father owns a Voigtlander Apo-Lanthar that he purchased back in the 1950's. Very recently, I had the shutter serviced and the lens mounted on a Crown Graphic. We took some sample negatives last weekend. To my admittedly untrained eye, the resolution and contrast were excellent. I wouldn't pay collector prices to own one, but this lens is really very nice to work with.

-- Ian Binnie (, July 08, 1999.

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