Fast lens Aero Ektar f 2.5
A short history..

Designed by Dr. Paul Rudolph in 1896 based on the double Gauss design (in 1817, C F Gauss described a telescope objective consisting of a pair of meniscus shaped elements, one positive, and one negative.) The design was 4 groups of 6 elements, and a flat field design. Symmetrical optical configuration producing low spherical aberration and astigmatism. The normal wide airspace separating the positive and negative elements in the double gauss design made a large amount of spherical aberration. Rudolph thickened the negative elements and reduced the airspace as much as possible, which corrected the spherical aberration and the sagittal/ tangential astigmatic aberration. Rudolph also inserted a "buried surface" into the thick negative elements of a cemented interface separating two type of glass having the same refractive index, but different dispersive powers. Not widely used until coating processes were available, due to light loss from the large number of transmission surfaces causing very low contrast. Due to it's complexity and high number of transmission surfaces, it really did not come into it's own until coating was developed. The planar was used as a base for lens derivatives, though in asymmetric form. Almost all the high-aperture lenses supplied on Japanese cameras are modification on the Planar.

The Aero Ektar is a well know variant of six element Double Gauss designs.

Patent issued 1944

Full name:
Kodak Aero-Ektar f2.5 7in (178mm)
5x5 EE ****,
Made in USA by Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, N.Y.

According the prescription USP 2,343,627 (Aklin/Kodak) it is a seven element Biotar type.
It has 6 stops: 2.5, 4.0, 5.6, 8.0, 11.0, 16.0 llllllllllllllll

It is a tradition among optical designers to present lens designs for the focal length 100 mm.
This way they can compare designs with a standard focal length. To make it into the focal length 178 mm, multiply all dimensions by 1.78. To make it into the 12 in (305 mm) f2.5 version, multiply all dimensions by 3.05.


Production started somewhere in 1940. All Serno's start with capital E which stands for 4
CAMEROSITY - 1234567890 (use this coding to find year of production.
The lens was designed and developed for the Aerial cameras a.o K24 during WWII and used with Flash-bombs for Rec. missions.
The K-24 shown here is a manual type and designed for 5x5In film. Most cameras however were electronically operated.(See below)

Complete cameras can be obtained from E-bay, prices from USD 99 and up. Shipment can be steep as weight exceeds lbs 30. llllllllllllllll

Aero Technica 45

Probably thanks to the experience gained during WWII the Linhof Aero Technica 45 evolved.

Compact motorized camera system primarily for high quality oblique aerial photography. Large 4x5 in. or 6x9 cm images on 5 in. or 70 mm perforated rollfilm (approx. 150 exposures per magazine load). llllllllllllllll

Master Technica 45

According many photographers this camera is the non plus ultra.

Allthough our Speed Graphic sometimes referred to as "The Poor Man's Master Technika" , we know our Pacemaker beats the Master on one important feature at least - The focal plane shutter.
Simple construction but build like a tank...

We have to disappoint Linhof owners who want to mount the Aero Ektar and want to experiment....Sorry, it won't work even if it is possible at all to get it mounted, you still will need a big black hat to control the shutter time. llllllllllllllll

Stainless steel

This is a Graflex 3x4 completely covered with stainless steel. This camera was made for a crime photographer for the Toronto Star News Paper. His name was Norm James. The camera he used had a CARL ZEISS LENS (TESSAR)1:4.5/2cm - Set in compur shutter, Leitz rangefinder.


From the 1940s and the latter days of World War II, shown here is a very rare Folmer Graflex 4x5 military combat press camera in excellent condition. Made by Folmer-Graflex of Rochester, New York, 1944 and 1946. This camera bears the serial number, 1969. The lens on this camera is a 127mm. f/4.7 Kodak Anastigmat Special with the serial number, EE1171. The “EE” prefix on the number indicates a Kodak manufacture date of 1944. The camera was the property of the U.S. Marine Corp. But it was apparently transferred to the U.S. Navy, because there’s a brass Navy i.d. plate.

Master Graf ???

Hybrid Camera? No way, just a Century Graphic (2-1/4x3-1/4). I must admit the anatomical grip is a nice add-on but at a price these days!
Modern plasmats can be used....


Pacemaker Speed Graphic 45
Also known as "Burnett Combo"

This is the Pacemaker Speed Graphic from the fifties with a WWII lens - Aero Ektar 178 In (1944).
The combination was successfully adapted and adopted by David Burnett (2004).
Takes 4x5 sheet film, Polaroid 5* series, 120 rollfilm.

Early Model

Got in an early Aero Ektar with a Serno EA350.
Assuming production started in 1940, I'm not so sure as this number is very low. Lens has a BF of 123.25mm, a non removable lenshood.
Glass is in very good state, though coated definitely not multi-coated.
Unfortunately the aperture is jammed by two loose iris blades, thus making a nice paper weight probably.....
However under Jo's tutelage I managed to place the iris blades back on their place... llllllllllllllll

Shown left the dismantled rear group.
Aero-Ektars are fairly easy to take apart. At least on the rear, the lenses use threaded collars with fine threads to hold the glass cells in place. The only "trick" to look out for is that Kodak liked to use very small locking screws to prevent the collars from rotating / unthreading. Old Schneider lenses tend have the same locking screws. So search for a very small screw on the side of the collar, remove first, then simply unscrew the large diameter collar.
Clearly you can see the yellowish/brownish hue on the rear group caused by radio aktive glass.. There's a cure though!!

View inside the Aperture housing from above.
First we had to find the correct place to refit the loose blades. As it was clear somebody else tampered with this before, we could not be sure the open holes were the correct place.
Actually we had to replace some notches to refit the loose blades in the proper sequence.

The Aero Ektar EA350 resuscitated after total CLA.
As I'm also from EA, I am pretty sure this lens will outlive me without problems...

Disassembled Aero Ektar (EA***)

Dismantling is quite straightforward, however...

Using the wrong tools and applying force can easily damage your unique Aero Ektar. If in doubt, don't even think about it! If you want to proceed be warned: You do these modifications and disassembling at your own risk!

If neccessary to clean the lens from the inside, the lens must be taken apart.
Of course I know, a little dust on- or little glass bubbles in - the elements won't do much harm or interfere at all with actual image making but....I want my lenses as clean as possible and my Makers Mark without ice.
Dismantling the elements is not a walk in the park due to the bad state of the screws( Did not see any screws not tampered with!) .
I persevered however and managed to get the lens elements and the diaphragm tube apart.
Look for tiny screws - one on the back barrel and one in front. These are just screws to avoid movement on the front and back part of the lens.
If you are very lucky the screws are not damaged by pre owners...

Once removed it is not neccessary to replace them though... I don't plan any rides in a B-25 shortly so there is little danger the elements will getting loose due to bumps and rocking while airborn in a flying fortress.
Modern plasmats have their front and rear lenses only screwed in the shutter also. Of course you can use the screws to lock the barrels, but most of the time they will be damaged badly. Eventually, the lens will come apart in 3 parts i.e Front lens, aperture barrel and back lens.

Click image left to get a clear view of the location of the screws.
To access the screw at the front element you have to unlock the black aperture ring beforehand!
The screw in front is partially hidden by the aperture ring and must be removed. Two screws are in here also, take them out and turn the ring till it clears the screw in front.
Hence, replacing the aperture ring might be tricky, you have to find the holes in the brass ring underneath. Making marks before you start will shorten assembling considerably!


We only can give the specs from the model we have EE.
One thing we know is that the lenshood in the earlier versions is not removeable. Note the numbering around the lens is closer to the glass elements as with the later versions. Also the aperture plate is not available on the earlier models.


  • Overall Length: 113 mm
  • Width front Ø : 120 mm (With shade)
  • Width front Ø : 084 mm (Without shade)
  • Width back Ø : 074 mm
  • Weight : 1500 gram 120 mm
  • Back focus : BF 122.8 can differ....lens specific.

Mounting the Aero Ektar
The # 1 Solution ("Burnett Combo")
#I Spacer and retaining ring

The whole project was discussed by extensive phone and E-mail communication with Jo Lommen  (Jo is an expert on restoring Press Cameras and much more.)in Roermond (NL).
This was a very important start after buying the Aero Ektar EE*****. We looked over different possibilities to mount the beast. In our pursuit we've found images of David Burnett and came in contact. As David kindly shared photographs of his own configuration, we decided to go for this solution.

In our minds this was not extremely difficult to do but...
Jo's contact needed time and the machines had to be programmed in between huge commercial contracts. The right material had to be chosen etc.. The waiting payed off, resulting in very nice crafted rings.
Only one word.. jumps to our mind...AWESOME!
The rings were not made of steel but bronze instead. As the lens tube itself is made of bronze, steel on bronze could easily oxydate and could result in sticking a few days short of foreever...!

In progress....
#II The lensboard


The material used was brushed aluminium with a thickness of 1mm
The hole to be drilled must be 78mm . The backside was covered with black Decifix.
Eventual reflection should be absorbed now.
Comprehensive workout at Jo's Site


Alternate mounting solution.
Second best choice...

By now you will have read any syllable about the mounting of the Aero Ektar, but there are more ways...

We have found this construction consisting of an original Graflex lensboard with a mounted tube.
Actually this machining is done the way Steve Grimes did on Frank Petronio's camera.
The tube accepts any Aero Ektar directly by means of a threaded collar inside.
As the total weight is in front of the lensboard now, it is mandatory to use a support.
Though the solution is very good and stable, we find it difficult to tilt the lens occasionally.
Notice the short bellows draw , which makes it extremely difficult to handle the knobs on the front standard.

N O T E :: There is one big advantage though on using this setup. Changing lenses is much easier and faster with this tube!
Ideal would be two cameras - One for the Aero Ektar and another body for the rest of your glass.
N O T E :: From Les Newcomer (Graflex org) we learned thes tubes actually was made by Graflex.

In this shot, the difference in bellows draw is clearly visible. As we own and worked with both we can say there is of course no difference in the actual image making.
The distance from the filmplane to the center of the AE is 178mm at infinity.

With this knowledge under your belt and our tips, please feel free to pick your choice.
It is the final image that counts...L'homme agit comme il voit!

Alternate mounting solution. part II
Detailed view

Detail of the .above construction:
Front and rear assembly on original Pacemaker lensboard.

Mount the lensboard the usual way...and screw in the Aero to the end stop.
Checking GG for infinity while pulling out the front standard and lock.

We mentioned this before, this is the second best solution
It ressembles the mod and machining of Steve Grimes.
Ours is and remains the # 1 choice.
Part of the weight of the lens is behind the front panel. Also much more bellows draw for easier tilting..

Image I

Image II
The Perfect Fit     U N D E R - C O N S T R U C T I O N
Detailed view

Working with the two types above and evaluating the movements and weight on the front panel, it crossed my mind there must be another possibility to mount the AE.
Actually there is the ultimate solution if you don't mind some alterations on the lighttrap itself.
As the AE measures about 78mm (Including thread)and till now was allowed to penetrate only 4mm to stay within the original lensboard. The opening square and light trap measures 74.7mm, thus we need to remove from each side 1.7mm to allow the lens to penetrate completely.
You don't have to to this everywhere but only on the marked white lines as you can see in image II.
What are the benefits?

  • Much better weight placement does not stress the front standard that much.
  • No need for a spacer ring
  • Ideal placement of the lens to accept movements more directly. (Aperture is much closer to the lensboard).

  • Just one! We have to make surgical incisions with a Dremel on the original lighttrap, thus altering the original state of the camera.

N O T E ::
Speaking for myself I think this is a minor nuisance, however collectors may feel different!.
For us Photographers the only thing that counts is that it does not harm any functionality with other lenses at all.
In my view the Aero Ektar can compete only on f2.5 with the modern plasmats. Modern lenses can perform much better when uniform sharpness and contrast is required.

Original Filters

These filters are for the 178/2.5 according Ebay seller! Kodak Aero-Ektar lens . Filters of this size usually cost around $300-$400.00. They are used for B&W photography to cut glare and add contrast. They are solid colored red and yellow glass. The glass diameter is 6 inches and the thickness is about 1/4 inch. They come in the original individual metal drawers and the metal case. Shown here is a package for the Aero Ektar.

This is the Aero Ektar 12 In f3.5 The Filterset seems more appropriate for this lens.
The Diameter is much to large to use on The Speed Graphics, however if you own a 8x10 camera it could be a real image catcher :-)

Filter Holder ??

The filters above measured 6In and were also meant for the Aero Ektar 12In.
However the diameter of the front shade is about 4,6 In.
Probably needed a filter adapter as be honest it still does not make sense to me.
Can anybody shed some light on it? llllllllllllllll


The real McCoy...

Can anybody shed some light on it? Yes, Oliver Kruse could, thank you Oliver!
This is the original filtermount for the K-24 Aero Ektar 7In.
Actually the glass drop -in filter has a diameter of 4 1/4 Inch.

The mount consists of two parts holding and securing the drop-in filter.
The thumbnails below can be enlarged telling the rest of the story...

Working with the Aero Ektar f 2.5
A few notes

After you did mount the Aero and adjusted your Kalart RF you're ready to shoot!

Remember the Kalart when properly adjusted will focus to 6ft as the shortest distance.
Utilizing your Aero for the greatest fun,is working wide open i.e f2.5 - f2.8 If you stop down to f16 you can use any other lens...

Beware of the the very small dof at all times. To give a little understanding see our Palm screen. If you focus within 6ft you need the GG and of course a tripod.
Focusing at 1.50 meter see the tip of the styli.
You will have an ample 4cm ....but an irresistible bokeh!

A second screen dump will show the Values for a distance of 10 meter.

If you use a palm already read below:

Pcam description:
David Eubank - 1st Camera Assistant - developer of pCAM, pCINE and Eubank's Log. ... Pcam is shareware.

One more thing, even mounted on a sturdy tripod, try to avoid camera movement by using a long cable release.

Have fun!

Radio Activity

The rear elements of the Aero-Ektar lenses are famous for having thorium glass that is a mild gamma radiation emitter. This lens element does, indeed, emit gamma radiation, approximately 3 mR/hr. according to my Geiger counter. I looked into what exactly this means to the timid photographer. My brief web research indicates that if you put this lens in your (big) pocket for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, after six months you would have been exposed to the 5000 mR maximum permissable annual occupational exposure. So, don't grind it up and eat it, use it for a pillow, make it part of your uniform, or put your body in contact with this device on a regular basis. Beyond a couple feet away, the detected level of radiation disappears into the background. llllllllllllllll
Exerpt from Michael S. Briggs

See our link for Mr Briggs for more information on Radio Activity!

I want a Combo like this...:

Burnett Combo

What do I need to build the Aero Ektar - Speed Graphic:
  • A Pacemaker/Anniversary Speed Graphic with good working FP shutter.
  • Aero ektar 7" Lens
  • Retainer ring
  • Spacer
  • Lensboard with a 78mm hole
  • Mask no 2
  • Adjusted Rangefinder for 178mm

As you probably understand by now, this shopping list is not intended for your local Mall. Instead you have to google and search for the Speed Graphic, the Aero Ektar as well the Mask no 2.

The spacer, retaining ring and drilled lenshole will add some more difficulties, look out for a good machinist... It takes a while to get it and a long while to get it right...

Looking for an Aero Ektar or Lensboard?
Jo Lommen can help you, right now he offers a lensboard, retainer ring and the spacer aswell. E-mail >>>>>> Jo Lommen.

Need Help?
Want info on how to do it yourself ?
Use our TalkBack button!
Have an Aero yourself, want to mount it?
Need a Lensboard?
Use the TalkBack button!

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