The Pentacon Six System
by TRA

Lens Data Summary

Novoflex Lenses

The Novoflex Medium Format fast-focus system
The caption on the stand says “SHARP focus with the FAST focussing grip”.
Image courtesy of Novoflex.

The German company Novoflex (at the time a West German company) marketed over many years two lenses for medium format cameras, and these lenses were most often illustrated in their literature mounted on a Praktisix camera or a Pentacon Six.  Both of these lenses incorporated the Novoflex Follow Focus system, a spring-loaded pistol grip that is squeezed to focus.  Here are the details (from Gillespie):

Lens name Max aperture
& focal length
(feet & inches)
(pounds &
Noflexar f/5.6 / 240 9' 3" 3 lb 6 oz
Tele-Noflexar f/5.6 / 500 38' 9" 5 lb 8 oz

The exact maximum aperture of the 500mm Tele-Noflexar was disputed and in later years the lens was produced with the maximum aperture designated as f/6.3.  See the images to the right and below.

In both of these pictures, the older lens is on the right and the newer one is on the left.  We note that in addition to changing the maximum aperture designation from 1:5,6 (a common German way of writing the maximum aperture) to 1:6,3, the older lens indicates the focal length as f = 50 cm, while the newer lens has f = 500mm, in accordance with changes at that time in typical designations of the focal length of lenses.

Close-up view of the lens designation and the aperture ring.

When I tried out a Novoflex Follow Focus lens on a Pentacon Six many years ago, I did not find it easy to use, as it is a pre-set lens, so one has to open to maximum aperture for accurate focussing, and then
  • squeeze the trigger to focus
  • stop down the lens
  • fire the shutter.
Doing three things at once with only two hands was anything but easy!  It certainly did not speed up operation for me, compared with the standard Carl Zeiss Jena/Pentacon lenses (but I was not able to test it on a tripod, only hand-held, in a camera fair).

However, Novoflex made a point of stating that these lenses were designed to be used at maximum aperture, and in this case operation is indeed fast.  Over many years, sports, wildlife and celebrity photographers regularly demonstrated the effectiveness of this system in obtaining sharp results from great distances.


© Fotografenmeister Andreas Marx, 2022
Clicking on the image opens a larger copy

These photographs are reproduced here with the permission of the photographer.  Reproduction of them elsewhere without the photographer’s express permission is prohibited by international Copyright law.  (I remind visitors to this website that Copyright applies to all images on the website, as indicated on the title page.)

© Fotografenmeister Andreas Marx, 2022
Clicking on the image opens a larger copy

The two Novoflex medium format lenses in the spring-loaded pistol grip focussing mount, here on a smart Novoflex display stand.

The PIGRIFF focussing unit with the 240mm Noflexar lens head

The PIGRIFF focussing unit with the 500mm Tele-Noflexar lens head
My thanks to Novoflex company photographer Andreas Marx for taking these superb product shots and to Martin Grahl, Novoflex Sales Manager, for permission to reproduce them.

Novoflex final assembly.  In the foreground we see two Tele-Noflexar 500mm lenses for medium format cameras.
The man in the foreground is doing final adjustments for a lens for an Exakta 35mm camera.
We see three other famous cameras of the period (probably the early 1960s) on his workbench,
a postwar Contax from
Zeiss Ikon, Stuttgart, a Zeiss Ikon Contarex and a Leica.
Photo courtesy of Novoflex. Thank you!
Perhaps this photograph was taken through a window, which might account for some of the reflections in it.
Click on this image to see a larger copy of it.

The post-war Novoflex factory at Donaustraße 78 in Memmingen, Germany (at that time, West Germany)
As reproduced in the book “NOVOFLEX 70 JAHRE Innovation & Indeen aus Memmingen”
(See more information here.)
To see the current factory, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

The high prices of Novoflex equipment, both 60+ years ago and now, reflect not only its high quality but also the costs of employing highly-skilled staff to design the equipment and to ensure precision manufacture in western Europe, plus of course the cost of maintaining and heating a factory in a country that has cold winters.

For more great pictures from Novoflex of their equipment, click here.

Novoflex also sold lenses for use with their macro bellows on the Praktisix/Pentacon Six, namely the:

All three of these lenses were designed to give both infinity focus and macro focussing.

To go on to the review of the 240mm Noflexar, click below.
240mm Noflexar review

To see a review of the 500mm Tele-Noflexar, click below.
500mm Tele-Noflexar review

For the special pistol grip with bellows for the 240mm and 500mm lenses, see here:

For information on Novoflex Follow-Focus mounts and lenses for Hasselblad and other Medium Format cameras,
click here.

For information on Novoflex macro bellows and macro lenses, see here:
Novoflex macro

To go on to the next section, click below.
Next section (240mm Noflexar)

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.
Back to beginning of the Lens Data section


© TRA May 2002 Latest revision: February 2022