The Pentacon Six System
by TRA

Lens Data Summary

Introduction to the Novoflex System
&
Review of the 240mm Noflexar Lens


The Novoflex system

Novoflex “follow-focus” lenses can be separated into two components, which the manufacturers call:


In this picture, the grip - together with the rifle stock - is on the right,
while the 240mm Noflexar and the 500mm Tele-Noflexar “lens heads” are on the left.
The lens cap shown is for the 500mm Tele-Noflexar.
[griphead.jpg]

The lens head has the full optical section in its barrel, together with the aperture and aperture control ring, the lens hood (if provided) and the lens cap.  The front element of the 240mm Noflexar is so deeply recessed within the mount that no further lens hood or shade is required with this lens.

The pistol grip provides the focussing mechanism and has on the back the appropriate camera mount.  The grip with the Pentacon Six mount has the manufacturer’s code name “TISPIGRIFF”.

Changing the lens heads


The lens head is released from the pistol grip by pushing the little button arrowed in this picture towards the front of the lens
and then rotating the lens head anti-clockwise about 1/6 of a turn to remove it from the bayonet mount inside the pistol grip.
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If swapping the two lens heads, it will be necessary to re-focus, even if the lens pistol grip has been locked onto infinity with the previous lens.
 

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When one removes the lens head from the pistol grip for the first time, one may have a surprise.  On the rear end of each lens head there is a male filter thread that will accept a 49mm filter.  In the photograph on the left there is a UV filter mounted on the back of the 500mm Tele-Noflexar.  No filter is necessary for the correct optical operation of either lens.

For 35mm cameras at least three different lenses were available (280mm, 400mm and 640mm) but for 2¼ square cameras there were originally just two lens heads: 240 mm and 500mm.  Both lenses have a maximum aperture of f/5.6.  (See comments on a 400mm Noflexar for medium format cameras on the next page, here.)

A much wider range of lenses from Novoflex and Schneider was available for use with the Novoflex bellows:

  • 105mm f3.5 Noflexar
  • 150mm f4/5 Schneider Xenar
  • 180mm f4 Schneider Xenar
  • 200mm f4 Noflexar
  • 300mm f5.6 Noflexar
I do not know if these lenses permit infinity focus when used on the Novoflex bellows.  See the section on the Novoflex bellows here but it does not include pictures of the Novoflex bellows lenses.

Aperture control

This is manual aperture lens: there is no auto diaphragm stop-down operation, nor even a “pre-set” lock, as is normal with lenses from Meyer-Optik and some other manufacturers; there are détentes at each full stop position, so you just count the clicks to stop down:

Focussing

Focus is achieved by squeezing the trigger in the grip.  Focus can if required be then locked in place by turning the round knob that is visible just above the trigger.  There is an equivalent knob on the other side of the lens so that the focussing grip can be held in either hand, and focussing can be locked with the other hand.  Then you need to stop down and then fire the shutter.  With three things to do and only two hands, you can choose which two are critical in the particular shooting situation:

Novoflex made a point of stating that these lenses were indeed designed to be used at maximum aperture.  Obviously, if you are shooting at maximum aperture, then you only have two things to do, and operation is easy and fast.  In fact, focussing with the pistol grip is much faster and easier than with the rotating focussing helical grip that is found on most lenses, and can be continuously varied as required when tracking a moving object such as a bird or other wild life – or even a footballer or players in other sports.

My measurement shows the minimum focus with this head and the standard rifle stock as 2895mm (approx 9½ ft), measured from the focal plane of the Pentacon Six.  This is reasonably similar to the distance quoted by Gillespie, which probably comes from Novoflex literature.
However, it is necessary to remember that, in consequence of the different thicknesses of the camera mounts used, Novoflex lenses may focus "beyond" infinity.  This is not a problem, given the easy focussing mechanism with these lenses, but it does mean that statements of minimum focus distances are approximate.
Friedrich-W Voigt writes in the "Novoflex Pocket Book", "distances expressed in figures are average values due to mechanical tolerances."  (p. 70)
Quoted from the English edition of the book, which was published by The Focal Press: London and New York, 1963.  Author: Friedrich W Voigt

To the right, the original German edition, title: Novoflex Taschenbuch © 1961 by Heering Verlag GmbH
My thanks to Martin Grahl of Novoflex for supplying the image of the German edition, which was available in 4 consecutive issues, in 1961, 1964, 1966 and 1970.

Far right: the French edition, "Livre de Poche Novoflex"
Published by Heering-Verlag, 1963

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Size and weight  
The 240mm Noflexar is larger than some other 240-300mm lenses, although perhaps the comparison in the illustration to the right is a little unfair, for two reasons:
  • I have photographed it with the smallest of the lenses in this focal-length range, the 250mm f/5.6 Arsenal Telear or ARSAT lens
  • in practice, one is not likely to use this Novoflex lens with the rifle stock - unless one had just made a quick change of lens head when otherwise shooting with the 500mm Tele-Noflexar.
A more realistic comparison would be with the 250mm Schneider-Kreuznach Tele-Xenar or the 300mm Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar.


[novo240_2.jpg]
This 240mm Noflexar lens and pistol grip display some differences, compared with the one in the image to the right:
  • The Novoflex logo is on the barrel of the pistol grip, in white, instead of on the handle of the grip in relief
  • The pistol grip is shown here in its basic form, without the ring that holds the tripod plate that is visible in the other images in this section
  • The lens head and pistol grip are shown without the rifle stock, which is unlikely to be used with a 240mm lens on a medium-format camera.
It is thus seen to be much more compact.

It is possible to see the tripod socket that is in the base of the pistol grip.





Comparison of 240mm Noflexar with 250mm f/5.6 Telear/Arsat
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To see this lens with the TISPIGRIFF-U, click here and scroll down.

To go on to the next section, the review of the 500mm Tele-Noflexar, click here.

To return to the overview of Novoflex lenses, click here.

To go back to the beginning of the Lens Data section, click below and then choose the range of lenses that you want to read about.
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© TRA January 2012, revised June 2017