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exkild1.jpg (100444 bytes)1st 35mm SLR MACRO LENS: Kilfitt Makro-Kilar of 1955: infinity to 1:2 or 1:1

From the mid 1930's to mid 1950's, you could buy virtually any 35mm SLR you could think of, as long as it was an Exakta.  Yes indeed, before the successful Japanese SLR onslaught, Exakta dominated the 35 SLR field literally like no make has before or since, capturing 95% plus of the 35mm SLR market.    You see, for all practical purposes, Exakta INVENTED 35mm SLRs in 1936, and had virtually no competition until the mid 50's.

Strangely enough, Exakta did not manufacture its own lenses, it looked to independent manufacturers to do that.  I'm fairly sure the first 35mm SLR Macro lens designed as such was the German Kilfitt 40/2.8 Makro-Kilar of  1955.   Two versions were made, the D which focused from infinity down to 1:1, and the E which focused from infinity to 1:2.   The optics were identical, a Tessar four element compound triplet, the difference being in the helicals.   

The most commonly found  mount is Exakta,  but Kilars  were also made in Alpa, Rectaflex, Praktina, and Praktica 42mm screw mount (which was later called Pentax screw mount).   Kilfitt  probably chose a 40mm focal length  to keep the lens small, but a longer focal length in the 50-60mm range would have been more useful.    Keeping up to date with the SLRs of the time, the Makro-Kilars use a Pre-set diaphragm.  That means the photographer has to stop down the lens to shooting aperture and then reopen again to focus.   Series V filters were inserted in a  unique cone shaped filter holder, which  fits inside the deeply recessed lens barrel. 

The Makro-Kilar was designed by Heinz Kilfitt's  Kilfitt Optische Fabrik of Munich Germany, but actually produced in the huge bustling metropolis of Liechtenstein by Kamerabau Anstalt Vaduz.       Performance?   It had an excellent reputation for its time as very sharp lens.   Variations?  Earlier lenses are f/3.5,   later lenses f/2.8.  Some lenses are  marked "Made in Liechtenstein,"  some are not. 

With a focus range from infinity to 1:2 or closer,  the Kilfitt  Makro-Kilar established the standard focusing pattern for today's modern  Macro lenses.  

exkild2.jpg (102519 bytes) exkild3.jpg (99265 bytes)

Makro Kilar D, in infinity position and 1:1 position.    Some of you might be wondering if I can spell "Macro" since I keep on writing  "Makro."   Well, I'm just following orders, since that is how they wrote  it on the filter ring!!


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Revised: November 25, 2003 Copyright  1998-2002  Stephen Gandy. All rights reserved.    This means you may NOT copy and re-use the text or the pictures in ANY other internet or printed publication of ANY kind.  Information in this document is subject to change without notice.  Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.