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Wollensak was an American company, based in Rochester, New York, which manufactured lenses and shutters from 1899. The company was founded by Andrew and John Wollensak.[1] Andrew Wollensak previously had been shutter developer for Bausch & Lomb. There he had invented the Iris Diaphragm, one of the first modern leaf shutters, and other shutters. In 1909 he invented the versatile Optimo shutter for the Wollensak company. The firm was bought by Revere Camera Co. in the 1950s,[2] itself absorbed by 3M in 1960,[2] and shut its doors in 1972.[3][1] Anson Intruments bought the company in 1974 and closed it in 2001. A company named Surplus Shed currently holds the Wollensak factory building as well as some surplus.

Over the years, Wollensak produced a wide variety of lenses for still and movie cameras, projectors, enlargers, microfilm equipment, and military uses. Their better lenses were often labelled "Velostigmat", and their best lenses were labelled "Raptar". The Raptar name was selected as the winning entry in the company's 1946 "name-the-lens" promotion: it won Templin R. Licklider of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan $1000 in Victory Bonds.[4]

Like the Kodak Ektars, Raptars were often Tessar designs, though other formulae were used, particularly in wide angle and telephoto lenses.

At least one camera was sold with the Wollensak brand: the Wollensak Stereo 10 is a version of the Revere Stereo. In addition, Wollensak produced cine cameras, such as the Wollensak Fastax 16mm camera.[5]

Many OEM productions of shutters were made by Wollensak, for example all the shutters of Conley which were rebadged as Conley.[6]

Cameras with Wollensak lens and shutter

Cameras with a Wollensak lens


  • Alphax
  • Pi-Alphax
  • Alphax Synchromatic
  • Automatic
  • Betax (1912-
Available in sizes #0 to #5
  • Heavy Duty Betax
  • Duo
  • Junior
  • Optimo (US)/ Velosto (UK & Europe)
  • Rapax
  • Regular
  • Senior
  • Winner


  • Raptar
  • Velostigmat


  1. 1.0 1.1 History of Rochester Companies, by Kingslake.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Revere history at Audiotools.com.
  3. 3M history at Audiotools.com.
  4. "Coming! The NEW Wollensak Raptar Lenses" (advertisement). Inside back cover, Popular Photography magazine (US), April 1946
  5. Wollensak Fastax
  6. Conley's shutters were made by Wollensak. A sample can be seen on page Conley Model XIV.


photography related industry in Rochester (New York)
American Camera | Bausch & Lomb | Blair | Century | Crown Optical Co. | Elgeet | Folmer & Schwing | Gassner and Marx | Graflex | Gundlach | Ilex | JML | Kodak | Milburn | Monroe | PMC | Ray | Reichenbach, Morey and Will | Rochester Camera and Supply Co. | Rochester Optical Co. | Seneca | Sunart | Walker | Webster Industries | Wollensak
and in Rochester (Minnesota)
external links
graflex.org - Rudolf Kingslake's
"Optical industry in Rochester (N.Y.)"