170-320mm f/4 lens for the Pentacon Six
This lens was made in the highly-esteemed Kilfitt factory in Munich in southern (West) Germany, apparently starting in the late 1960s. The Zoomar 170-320mm was the first zoom lens for a Medium Format camera. It has a total zoom range of not quite 2× (a little over 1.88×).
It is reported that when Heinz Kilfitt retired in 1968, the Kilfitt company was sold to the American Zoomar company that re-branded the lens range with the name “Zoomar”. However, it would appear that the lenses were still manufactured in Munich. This lens bears the engraving “ZOOMAR MUENCHEN RAPID-FOCUS-TELE-ZOOMAR F/4 170mm-320mm Nr. [and the serial number]”. “MUENCHEN” is a way of transcribing the German name for Munich, München, when the u-umlaut (“ü”) is not available on the keyboard (or in former times, with telegrams, for instance). The lens is also engraved “Lens made in West Germany” on the collar for the tripod plate.
Zoom lenses for Medium Format cameras have always been rare, expensive, large and heavy, and this lens is no exception to that rule.
This lens was available for a range of Medium Format cameras with focal plane shutters. For use on the Praktisix/Pentacon Six it requires the “WESI” mount on a WE base. The WE base is held in place with four screws, and both the base and the mount can be changed if required, in order to mount the lens on other cameras – always assuming that you can find the appropriate mount or can get one made.
The weight of this lens with the Praktisix/Pentacon Six mount in place is 3080g. Its minimum length when mounted on the Pentacon Six from the front plate of the camera is 31.8 cm (a little over 12 inches). Its maximum length on full zoom and closest focus is 46.8 cm (a little over 18 inches). Its largest diameter: is 101mm (approx 4 inches). To this must be added the size of the tripod-mounting plate or platform.
The four extremes
Here are the four combinations of the extreme
settings. Intermediate settings are of course possible.
How does this lens compare with other zoom lenses in the Pentacon Six mount?
There are a total of four zoom lenses for this camera, two from Kilfitt and the other two from Joseph Schneider of Bad Kreuznach. For a Medium Format system, this is exceptionally good.
Here are some of the key details for
The larger maximum aperture of the Zoomar lens and its greater focal length even compared with the longer of the two Variogons results in a lens that is significantly heavier than the two Schneider lenses
The Zoomar has a slightly shorter focal-length ratio than the two Schneider lenses, but it has greater reach than either of them. Both Variogons were made for a range of Medium Format cameras, including some Rollei SLRs. The 140-280mm Variogon was available for many years for Hasselblad cameras, both with a built-in shutter (for the 500C, 500C/M and other Hasselblads that required lenses to have a built-in shutter) and without it for the 2000F, which had a focal plane shutter. For decades, it was the only zoom lens available for Hasselblad cameras, apart from the Zoomar reviewed here, which could be used with a suitable mount on Hasselblad cameras with a focal plane shutter (the 1600F, the 1000F and the 2000FC).
The Schneider Variogons were made in the Exakta 66 (1984-2000) mount, which is compatible with the Pentacon Six mount, in the latter part of the 1980s and could therefore be 20 years newer than the Zoomar reviewed here.
This lens was a first for medium format cameras. It is also extremely rare. It is a worthy addition to the range of lenses available for the Pentacon Six.
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© TRA First published: April 2012 Latest revision: July 2019