Round-up - Mounting the Aero Ektar 1948-2007

Ever since the invention of photography, serious photographers became interested in pieces of glass, that would help them to translate their thoughts and visions into hard copies, to share and exhibit. It is not very astonishing though, after years of computer designed available lenses, there would be a growing interest for classic lenses sooner or later. Oh yes, those Rodeschneidefujikons are superb and will deliver outstanding images, no doubt about that, but...
Images sometimes lack that special characteristic, that individual photographers wanted to express themselves.
For those, who are lucky to have a 50 year old Speed Graphic with a working focal-plane shutter, choices are myriad. In here, we are talking mainly about the Aero Ektar 7 Inch f 2.5 and maybe in the future the Pentac Dallmeyer 8"/2.9 or legendary Ernostar 858/7 f 1.8. For the moment however, we will concentrate on the mounting of the AE 7In. Many ways were found to attach this heavy glass on a small lens board.(From taping to Elmer's glued shoelaces). I must mention and emphasize, the serious designs and methods don't come from the USA anymore, but from the Netherlands.
Since 2005, Jo Lommen - Roermond is your premier source to get things going....


If you don't got the money, just tape it honey...:-)

Snippit from a forum:
Soak a black shoelace in water for a little while, run some Elmer's white glue along it with your finger (this is water soluble). Now wrap the gluey shoelace tightly around the shutter thread after the shutter is mounted to the board, five or six turns around. Put a rubber band on it til dry. Holds up for years, comes off with a few droppers full of water and careful work with a razor blade. Of course, a ten-inch Ektar in a #4 shutter is the biggest and heaviest I ever tried this with. A giant aero-Ektar -- might try a wet rawhide bootlace,they shrink as they dry. Works for stone axe heads....

We've also heard about some trials that were done with band-clamps or hose-clamps. (not recommended :-) Apart from looking not very professional, this won't work very well!

For really serious modifications to mount the Aero Ektar....please read on!


After WWII many Aero Ektars were offered at surplus prices (USD 5 instead of USD 800 the government paid in 1940).No wonder the AE found its way to many photographers.
The First use on a Speed Graphic was in 1948. Graflex offered a special lens board to accommodate its customers.
N O T E : Prices for Aero Ektar's 7 Inch have gone up dramatically these days. What could be the reason? :-) It is not uncommon to pay around USD 300 for a real nice one on E-bay.
Warning: If possible, check with the seller if the will be the same on front and back assembly. Many lenses offered are best consigned to the trash heap, due to the fact that threads are damaged and the retainer ring will stick somewhere in between, using force can make it remain there a few days short of forever!

Exerpt from Graflex Trade notes - august 1948:
Special Lens mount for Kodak Aero Ektar Lenses:
THE ITEM: Lens mount for 7"Kodak Aero Ektar f2.5 lens on Speed Graphics.
PROSPECTIVE USERS: Owners of Pacemaker Speed Graphic 45 and earlier model 4x5 Speed Graphic Cameras.
Cat No. 5518 - Lens mount for Kodak Aero Ektar Lens: List $17.50

Highslide JS MOD I

Showing a nice original lens board with tube from 1948.
The combination was in demand till around 1960 or so. Photographers were offered newer lenses at a lesser weight...
The lens however was well sought after by astrophotographers in their search for stars, nebulas and the like.(Astrophotography - photography involving astronomical objects and events)

Highslide JS MOD I

Early 2004, S.K. Grimes machined the lens board and tube again on commission base for several photographers a.o Frank Petronio (This was Frank's camera).
In between, I came to learn, Mod II was copied and done also....

Highslide JS MOD II

In the beginning of 2005 Jo Lommen started to experiment with home made lens boards machined from Alu and he was able to deliver precision machined spacers and retaining rings.
During 2006/2007, a lens board like the original graflex board was constructed. A complete package (lens board - spacer - retainer) was obtainable till late November 2007.

Highslide JS MOD II

This is a Aero Ektar mounted on a lens board with the nicest rings and spacers one could possibly imagine. Till today they work flawless and doing a great job holding the AE in place. Many customers around the world, were serviced by Jo and are enjoying the experience of making images with The SG and venerable AE.

Highslide JS MOD III

Aero Ektar on home-made Jo Lommen board (Mk I).
This was my personal approach for mounting the Aero Ektar similar as my other lenses. (without spacer that is)
You have to widen the Light trap substantially.

Highslide JS MOD III


  • Much better weight placement does not stress the front standard that much.
  • No need for a spacer ring
  • Ideal placement of the lens to react on movements more directly. (Aperture is much closer to the lens board as it should be!).

Highslide JS MOD III

  • Easy to change lens boards (no more fumbling). Likely you will notice the rear of the tube is never black, each time you change lenses a little more paint will scrape off, showing silver colored highlights. Internal reflections, also known as Image forming light, can occur at all times and reduce overall contrast even more.
  • You can tape the rear part now with black insulation tape. (Only possible with mod III)

Highslide JS MOD IV

The mod II (MK2) was in great demand and again all boards and rings were sold rapidly.
Jo got a new idea and after several drawings and calculations the JoLo Mk III (AKA mod IV) was born. This time, it resulted in a precision lens board, even more sturdy than the original Graflex board. The lens board and integrated threaded spacer and retainer were made from one piece aluminium. The AE is attached by means of turning the lens sofar no protruding threads will fall outside the retainer/board.(4mm) The white index on the AE should be on top, aligned with a hole and hex screw on the front of the board.
When everything is aligned and mounted on the SG, the hex screw should be turned in to secure and tighten the heavy assembly.

Truly a remarkable construction indeed.
Delivery started late december 2007.

Highslide JS MOD IV

The Aero Ektar mounted on the JoLo lens board. Nice thought, even the proper hex-wrench comes with it.
My view: This is the best solution ever...
I think this one will be a tough one to copy!!
Once ordered and received, following the instructions, the mounting of your Aero Ektar is a jiffy!
For more info and prices contact Jo Lommen -Roermond, Netherlands.

Highslide JS MOD IV

Close view of the proper aligment according the instructions.
Once aligned the hex screw can be tightened and will guarantee proper alignment under all circumstances.
I'm pretty sure it will even withstand bumpy rides in a B-17!

Highslide JS MOD IV

Comparison of Mod II and Mod IV
Showing the latest modification on the left.

From left to right :: Mod 1 (1948) - Mod 2 (2005) - Mod 3 (2006) - Mod 4 (2007)

Highslide JS
Modification I - by Graflex - 1948                         Dancing with speeds
Highslide JS
Modification II - by Lommen - 2005                         Dancing with speeds
Highslide JS
Modification III - by John - 2006                         Dancing with speeds
Highslide JS
Modification IV - by Jo Lommen - 2007                         Dancing with speeds

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