Lens Database Introduction & Overview


Several years ago, in an attempt to find soft focus, barrel lenses that covered 11x14, I began acquiring a variety of catalogs, brochures, advertisements, and books that had detailed lens specifications. While I was most interested in lens coverage, I soon discovered that there was a wealth of other data available in these sources. To keep track of all this information, I created a database. As time progressed, and I acquired more source material, the database grew in both size and scope. What started as a search for a narrowly defined set of data, ended up becoming a rather large collection of information on slightly more than 2300 lenses.


The data is housed is a single monolithic database. However, for simplicity of display it is presented here categorized by lens type as specified by the manufacturer. The categories are:



Soft Focus

General Use



Wide Angle


There is some small amount of overlap of the data in a couple of categories.  For example, the Portrait category also contains the Soft Focus data since most soft focus lenses were categorized by the maker as portrait lenses.  However, not all portrait lenses were soft focus, hence the two categories.  And since the original intend of this effort was to identify soft focus lenses, I've kept that as a separate category.


I have included a table called Source, which lists the sources that I've employed in gathering this data.  The Source number listed in the various category tables can be cross-referenced with the number in the Source table to identify the data source for a specific lens.  All of the sources utilized were published prior to 1968, and go as far back as 1890.  No other sources have been employed.


The data items collected are listed the the table below.  Not every lens has data for each item.  I have only included those data that the source material listed for that particular lens.  Additional information has been included in the comments section if I thought that it was helpful in defining the capabilities of the lens.  Not listed in the table, bu include din the database, is whether the lens is convertible, wide angle, etc.

There are two exceptions to this data model, and thos are the Aldis Duo & Trio data, and the data from a 1920 Bausch & Lomb catalog.  In both of these instances, the quantity and arrangement of the data made placing it in the same format as the other data, without losing some interesting information, extremely difficult.  So, there two groups of data are presented in the format provided by the manufacturers.

In some instances, there may appear to be duplicate entries for a specific lens.  If, in comparing data on the same lens from two different sources, I found different specifications, then I've included both sets of data. This seems to be especially true for Voigtlander lenses, where catalogs published only five years apart list somewhat different spcifications for what appears to be the same lens.

The data is sorted by Maker, Model, and focal length in inches, since focal length in inches is by far the most common value provided by the manufactureres.  An artifact of the focal length being provided in fractional inches, rather than decimal inches, is that the data does not always sort in true ascending order.  This is, at most, a minor inconvience but needs to be mentioned.

Data Items



Focal Length (In)

Focal Length (mm)


Angle of View

Image Circle

Coverage Wide Open

Coverage Stopped down

Coverage 1:1


Data Source

Barrel (y/n)

Shutter (y/n)

Variable Diffusion (y/n)

Coated (y/n)

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.


Copyright 2008 Allen Rumme - No portion of this site may be reproduced in any form, included in any database, or otherwise electronically copied and reproduced without written permission,