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06-11-2010, 02:11 PM   #1
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Interesting Kilfitt Lens

Purchased a very old and odd Kilfitt lens a few days ago. For anyone who has never heard of Kilfitt, they were a very good lens manufacturer based in Italy and later Lichtenstein for many years. They've made some excellent lenses, including the venerable 40mm f2.8 macro. I believe that lens is at least 40-50 years old and the later D versions could reach 1:1 magnification.

The one I've found is the Heinz Kilfitt Munchen Kilar 90mm f3.5. There isn't much info on that lens except from a Japanese blog, where someone used it on a Sony A900. It's a 39mm screwmount (m39) and requires an extension tube as well as an m39-m42 adapter for use on a Pentax camera. Check photos below to see how long the extension tube is. The aperture control is completely preset, much like a lens from a 16mm film camera.

I don't have any extension tubes on hand or an m39-m42 adapter so I used business cards and tape. I had suspected that it was a Leica screwmount but that would mean it would have had a shorter registration distance, not a significantly longer one. I believe there was an extension tube that was sold with this lens, but I could be totally wrong. I hope someone here can enlighten me on this curiosity.



Jesus Christ, that's a lot of aperture blades!






Awesome extension tube:


Wide open at f3.6 with make-shift extension tube:


Great rendering.



These were taken without my makeshift extension tubes. So I just positioned the lens in front of the camera by an inch or two. A lot of light got in and images are quite soft as a result.


Giant flare on the upper right corner from light leaking in without an extension tube. The lens was also tilted a bit.


This is as sharp as I could get the image to be without an extension tube, there is a lot of light leaking in.


Flare again from light leaks. Sharpness seems good and CA control is terrific for a lens that's twice as old as I.


Overall, a very interesting lens. It can't compete in the sharpness department even with extension tubes but it has other things going for it. I might create a hard rubber tubing for it as an extension tube, that would also act as a shift/tilt device.

I should really measure the distance of the extension tube in order to buy some...


Last edited by hangu; 06-11-2010 at 03:25 PM.
06-11-2010, 03:07 PM   #2
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Posting replies to specific posts on the mobile iPhone app has been hit and miss. Had trouble yesterday, just did one successfully, but can't do it here.

My question is, M49???
06-11-2010, 03:41 PM   #3
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Obviously, I meant m42. Got 39 and 42 mixed up into 49....

With it's long registration distance, I plan on adding some sort of flexible metal tubing to the middle, rendering it a tilt/shift lens, which would be very interesting for portraits.

So far my best idea is to use this with a flanged m42 adapter at the end:



No clue on where I can get one at 1.5 inches long and with an inner diameter of 39mm... hm.

Last edited by hangu; 06-11-2010 at 04:09 PM.
06-11-2010, 03:56 PM   #4
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I get that flexi tube from a local engineering suppliers ( not a lot of good for you I know ) but there's gotta be one around somewhere, or maybe a muffler shop ?

I have also brazed threaded fittings into that type of stainless flexi pipe without destroying the flexi, so I guess it's an option.
I've got some in my workshop, you've given me an idea.

06-11-2010, 04:25 PM   #5
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I work with a mechanical engineer, and I'll try to remember to ask him Monday.
06-11-2010, 05:14 PM   #6
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Very interesting indeed. A little Googling suggests that this lens is intended for rangefinders with a reflex mirror in between, which accounts for the very long register distance:

Manual Focus Lenses :: View topic - A Kilfitt Question
Leica Camera - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Look for the section on Visoflex)

Slightly OT: I was poking around the kilfitt.org site (which doesn't list your lens, incidentally) and ran across this beast:

Zoomatar 1.3 / 180 mm

180mm f/1.3, weighs 15 lbs. Oh yeah, baby.
06-11-2010, 05:33 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
I work with a mechanical engineer, and I'll try to remember to ask him Monday.
Thanks, Ira.

QuoteOriginally posted by Quicksand Quote
Very interesting indeed. A little Googling suggests that this lens is intended for rangefinders with a reflex mirror in between, which accounts for the very long register distance:

Manual Focus Lenses :: View topic - A Kilfitt Question
Leica Camera - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Look for the section on Visoflex)

Slightly OT: I was poking around the kilfitt.org site (which doesn't list your lens, incidentally) and ran across this beast:

Zoomatar 1.3 / 180 mm

180mm f/1.3, weighs 15 lbs. Oh yeah, baby.
Thanks for the Visoflex tip, I'd never have been able to guess that. That pretty much explains the mystery of the long focal distance. I'm really liking the lens, it may not be ultra sharp but the rendering is phenomenal. Exactly what I've been looking for from a portrait lens. Now to find an extension tube....

It's odd that this lens is almost non existent on the internet. Chances are, this thread is going to be #1 real soon when people search for this lens.

The 180mm f1.3 lens design just shows how good Kilfitt was at one time. Now, to get an Angenieux lens....
06-11-2010, 09:18 PM   #8
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Screwmount bellows with an M39 to M42 adaptor at the end should work well to fine tune the registration distance. Similar to using an M39 enlarger lens on bellows to obtain focus from infinity to multiple times life size.

06-11-2010, 10:03 PM   #9
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Not sure a bellows is a good idea. They're pretty big and unwieldy. I just have to measure the infinity focus distance and I should be good.

I think the greatest thing about the excessive register distance is the possibility of tilt/shift fun.

Not to mention the fact that this lens is TINY! Look at how big my hand looks holding it. When I first got it, I freaked and thought it was a 16mm C-mount lens. It's the smallest and lightest 90mm I've ever seen.
06-12-2010, 08:03 AM   #10
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Holy crap, I just did some preliminary tests and it seems that the Kilfitt lens is SHARPER than my Super-Takumar 85mm f1.9 at f3.5. Already, it has better out of field rendering, but better sharpness? What the hell?

I have two Super-Tak 85mm so I will test to be absolutely sure. This is quite extraordinary for a 50 year old lens to be this sharp without any hint of CA. Unbelievable.
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