Zeiss Tele-Camera

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The Zeiss Tele-Camera for 9×12cm film plates was a great achievement. Its body was a leather-covered case measuring 8×5×6 inches. The lens had to be drawn out of the body before use. The lens tube then had a length of 9 inches. In 1908 The British Journal Photographic Almanac applauded the "triumph" of 17 inches from lens opening to focal plane, delivering an extraordinary focal length of 32 inches (800mm, angle of view like 192mm on small format camera) ! It must have been extremely much focal length for a hand camera of 20th century's first decade, and a giant step from oldstyle long-focus lenses towards modern telephoto lenses by lens maker Zeiss. The camera allowed ground glass focusing and had a Newton finder, but a 4× magnifying binocular field glass was mountable on top as tele viewfinder (the images here as well as ads show a prism monocular mounted instead!), and it had a Carl Zeiss Palmos focal-plane shutter. The Magnar f10 lens had a prettily round iris diaphragm and was focusable from 5 yards to infinity. The sensational camera appeared well-balanced when mounted on a tripod, and its weight was also well distributed when used as hand camera. It did cost only £40 in 1908.

camera name

The camera was introduced by photography journals as Zeiss Tele-Camera. In an antique advertisement of early 20th century by Carl Zeiss (London) Ltd., as well as in actual legends of pictures published by collectors and auctioneers, the camera is presented under the name "Magnar" Camera. Probably its maker Carl Zeiss Palmos did announce it as the new Zeiss Tele-Camera and sent the first unlabeled items for review to renowned photo journal editors. Finally they may have switched to marketing the product as Magnar Camera, made by Carl Zeiss Jena. Not many were made, maybe because Zeiss Palmos was merged into Ica company in 1909. Thus production of prototypes may have been in 1906-1907, and further production from 1908 to 1909. Of course sales were slower in those times, so that many of the cameras are dated 1910, the year when probably the most Magnar Cameras were sold.

Magnar lens

Later the Magnar f10 800mm telephoto lens was also built into the "Ballonkamera" of Austrian camera maker Georg Faltus. Like Zeiss's Magnar camera, it was advertised as balloon camera.

Another Zeiss Magnar camera lens, the Magnar 4× f10 450mm portrait lens (angle of view like 108mm on small format camera) had been produced by Carl Zeiss Jena for use with other cameras like Zeiss-Ikon's Ideal 250/7. Later an adapter for that lens was made by Rollei, to attach the Magnar 4× to certain Rolleiflex TLRs.

Main Source: The British Journal Photographic Almanac 1908