Chris’s words about this lens:
“Wollensak 35mm f/2 Raptar lens – converted to Leica mount with full RF coupling. The classic 35mm New York-cron!
This 35mm f/2 Raptar optical block was sent to us also by Brian Sweeney. According to Brian, these lenses would have been originally used for cinema capture by the US Military. They were made in Rochester, New York not far from the Kodak factory.
To get this lens adapted over to Leica RF, we used a donor Canon 35mm LTM helicoid lower to start with. A few custom brass and aluminium parts were fabricated to ensure the optical block was held concentric and collimated correctly inside the donor helicoid. Then, a custom chrome plated brass exterior shell was made, to close the gap between the Wollensak aperture ring and donor helicoid rear. Black leatherette was added to give a hint of uniqueness.
Optically, the lens is quite a marvel. I had long wondered why the Wollensak 35mm lenses in their raw optical block form sold for over a thousand dollars in used condition.
Once it was put to use on our test Leica’s, I began to understand why they are priced at these levels.
The rendering of the lens (this is a subjective opinion), appears to be a cross between two lenses I’m familiar with:
1) Leica 35mm Summicron v1 8-element
2) Carl Zeiss Jena 3.5cm Biogon
I can not decide if the lens is more Zeiss like, or Leica like… it seems almost a hybrid of the two classic formulas, rendering and character wise.
The optics “barely” cover the full frame. There is about a 5% corner clipping at infinity, since this lens was originally made for half frame. At closer distances, the corner clipping is mitigated, and appears to look more like heavy vignetting. Cropping to 5×7 or 3:4 aspect ratio all but eliminates the issue.
Even still, the vignetting can be seen as an artistic feature of this lens, which has the uncanny ability to isolate subject matter in the central image while slowly transitioning to darker corners as the frame edge.
The colours from this lens are extremely accurate, to the best of my observations, the optics appear single coated (light blue hue reflection). They remind me of the single coated Jena lenses from the 1940’s.”