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  1. #1

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    Lens names: How the heck do they come up with these things?

    Something that has baffled me ever since becoming involved with photography is the thinking behing naming lenses. I've read that Tessar comes from a Greek word which I do not know, but that has something to do with its four element design. Where do the names like Summicron, Summilux, Rodagon, Angulon, Raptar, Componon, Xenon, Claron. Noctilux I think I get, f/1 so it's good at night and the word nocturnal makes me think that Nocti- might be Latin, but where does the -lux come from? Anyways, just curious about all this! Thanks again,

    - Justin

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by cafeharrar View Post
    Something that has baffled me ever since becoming involved with photography is the thinking behing naming lenses. I've read that Tessar comes from a Greek word which I do not know, but that has something to do with its four element design. Where do the names like Summicron, Summilux, Rodagon, Angulon, Raptar, Componon, Xenon, Claron. Noctilux I think I get, f/1 so it's good at night and the word nocturnal makes me think that Nocti- might be Latin, but where does the -lux come from? Anyways, just curious about all this! Thanks again,

    - Justin
    -lux = light.

    Summar is perhaps derived from the same Latin root as 'summit' or other words denoting 'maximum' or 'top' (as in Fuji's Greek-rooted 'Acros'), and when you do something better you need a new name (Summitar, Summicron) while faster demands even more variation (Summilux). "Angulon' and 'angle' (implicitly, 'wide angle') seem reasonable, and as well as the Noctilux you have the earlier 'Nokton'. The first two letters of 'Elmar' reputedly derive from Ernst Leitz (and the prexeding lens was the Elmax, E.L. + Max Berek, the lens designer).

    Tesseres, tessera (sorry, can't easily do Greek characters) is Greek for 'four' so a four-glass Tessar derivative of a 3-glass original (Cooke Triplet) makes sense.

    Some are by analogy: the '-ar' ending seems popular, and some are just plain fantasy. You need to be pretty bored to try to work them all out: I think Hektors may have been named after Max Berek's dog. And I know that Pasinons were PAS-inons, Peter A. Sheen being the UK importer. You have to allow that many of the people who named lenses had the benefit of a classical education -- and that many others didn't!

    You will no doubt recall the prediction that no good could come of television, as it is a bastard word derived from both Greek (tele) and Latin (vision) roots. How right they were!
    Last edited by Roger Hicks; 08-11-2007 at 04:24 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  3. #3
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    "Lux" is latin and means "light". "Summi" might hint come from "summa", meaning "the highest" or something. So it's maybe at the peak of lenshood, that summicron? An "Angulon" might come from angulus, which is an edge. Something that is good at edges? "Xenon" might come from "alien" (whatever that might mean in a lens), while "Claron" might hint at "clara", meaning something is bright and distinct or famous. Hope that helps!

    Antje

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    Quote Originally Posted by Antje View Post
    while "Claron" might hint at "clara", meaning something is bright and distinct or famous. Hope that helps!
    Or indeed just clear/claire/klaar

  5. #5
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    This thread obliquely explains the Holgon.

    Regards, Art.
    Visit my website at www.ArtLiem.com
    or my online portfolios at APUG and ModelMayhem

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    How about the derivation for an Emil Busch A-G Rathenow "Glyptar" which I guess is a Tessar design.

    I have a 75mm f3.5 front mounted on an old compur shutter. Looks more like a small process lens. Picked it up on Ebay about 5 years ago with a bunch of other stuff - been sitting in the botton of my lens draw until I saw this thread.

    Mike

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    I think they just eat spicy food before they go to bed. Gives 'em bad dreams and such.

  8. #8
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    Pentax Takumar lenses were named after Takuma Kajiwara.


    -----------My Flickr-----------
    Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.

  9. #9
    Ole
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeK View Post
    How about the derivation for an Emil Busch A-G Rathenow "Glyptar" which I guess is a Tessar design. ...
    Glypto- has to do with paintings, tablets and suchlike, as in "glyptoteque", a collection of paintings. So a "Glyptar" could be a lens made for photographing paintings.

    The -ar suffix often denotes a Tessar derivative.

    In an obliquely related way, the -gon suffixe is derived from gonus, or angle. so most lenses ending in -gon or -on and wide angle lenses, or they are especially rectilinear reproducing angles correctly. Rodagon would then be a Rodenstock "gon".
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  10. #10
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    OK, so how do we explain the Lensbaby?
    Eddy McDonald
    www.fotoartes.com
    Eschew defenestration!

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