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On July 12th 1896 Alexander Heinrich Rietzschel founded the Optische Anstalt A. Hch. Rietzschel in Schwabing, a suburb of Munich. Rietzschel was an optician and precision mechanic from Dresden who had learned his professions at Carl Zeiss Jena and had worked some time for Rodenstock and Steinheil.

The company's first products were lenses. In 1910 the company offered a symmetrical anastigmatic lens, the Linear, with 8 elements in only two groups. With this arrangement there were only two groups between which reflections could appear. A similar anastigmatic lens was made by E. Suter.

In 1900 Rietzschel produced its first camera, the Clack, and went on to make many subsequent cameras of various types with variations on this name. Rietzschel's cameras included models for amateurs as well as studio cameras for professionals. In particular, there are many folding cameras with names that are variations on Tip, which are often simpler models corresponding to one of the 'Clack' cameras.

In 1921 the company was bought by Bayer (of Leverkusen), which handed it over to the film maker Agfa in 1925, as part of the merger of both in the IG Farben conglomerate.



  • Apotar; a double-anastigmat; each half is a cemented group of three elements (Agfa later used this name for a simple triplet lens).
  • Dialyt; four single elements.
  • Linear; a double-anastigmat, each half is a cemented group of four elements, as illustrated here.
  • Prolinear[1]
  • Sextar[2]
  • Solinear; like Agfa's later Solinar, a Tessar-formula lens.
  • Telinear; tele with adjustable focus
  • Trilinear; a simple triplet.
  • Weitwinkel Apostigmat


  1. Japanese collector 'ksmt' shows a 13.5 cm f/1.9 Prolinear, made for a Mentor 6.5×9 cm Mentor camera. It has four single glass elements, and is essentially a triplet, with the rear element split into two parts, like one version of the Taylor and Hobson Speedic lens. ksmt shows a lens diagram, and photographs of the lens dismantled, and mounted on a DSLR; also sample photographs.
  2. Kosmo-Clack stereo camera with 65 mm f/6.8 Sextar lenses; a lot in an auction by eleventh Westlicht Photographica Auction, in May 2007.

Camera industry in Munich
Agfa | Deckel | Eder | Enna | Friedrich | Kilfitt | Leitmeyr | Linhof | Niezoldi & Krämer | Perka | Rex | Rietzschel | Staeble | Steinheil