THE LENS IN THE RUG

Jun 3, 2020  By Jim Lager
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During the late 1960’s into the early 1970’s the U.S. Navy used Leitz equipment. In the Proceedings of the Society of Photo- Optical Instrumentation Engineers Vol. 58 titled Small-Format Camera Systems dated March 17-18, 1975 (page 8), several unusual ELCAN-R lenses are mentioned. All featured apochromatic correction.

The ELCAN-R lenses mentioned are the 75mm f/2, the 180mm f/3.4, and the 450mm f/5.6. During my ongoing Leica research I had handled the 75mm and the 180mm but the 450mm eluded me. As my Volume II – Lenses was in the final layout stages in 1993, I received information that a 450mm had been obtained at a government auction. Further contacts were made and the owner said he was coming to a camera show in New Jersey. I asked if I could inspect the lens. Of course came the answer yes!

At the camera show I waited and finally the owner arrived carrying a rather dilapidated rug about three feet long wrapped around something. The contents were exposed, some dust and unidentifiable rug debris blown off, and the lens handed to me. I had NEVER seen this lens. I managed to get photos. The lens was cobbled together with what appeared to be a massive 180mm Elmarit focusing mount. This was a test unit for the U.S. Navy. It did not have to be pretty but it had to deliver the images required.

How many were prepared? I can guess probably less than ten. I can only guess as no official information has surfaced to my knowledge. The lens illustrated is formula 329, lens num- ber 0003. The 450mm and 75mm did not reach commercial production. The 180mm f/3.4 ELCAN-R became the 180mm f/3.4 Apo-Telyt-R in late 1975.











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