Last update: 03 March, 2006

Docter Optics Germinar and Tessar lenses

From left to right:
    150mm Germinar-W f/9
    300mm APO Germinar f/9
    240mm Geraminar W f/9
    210mm Docter Tessar f/4.5

In the photographic world, famous optical companies abound. Years ago it was Kodak with their much vaunted and still incredibly sharp Commercial Ektar series. In modern times companies like Schneider, Rodenstock, Fuji, and Nikon are well known and widely used by photographers who use large cameras. Lesser known manufacturers include Wollensak, Zeiss, Voigtlaender, Bausch and Lomb, and many many others. And then there are lens manufacturers practically no one has ever heard of. Docter Optics was one of these manufacturers.

Through the very kind knowledge and leadership of Kerry Thalmann, I have come to own four incredible Docter Optics lenses. They are the 150mm Germinar-W f/9, the 210mm Tessar f/4.5, the 240mm Germinar-W f/9, and the 300mm APO Germinar f/9 lenses.


Arne Croell has written about Large format lenses from Docter Optic. He has studied these interesting lenses over the years and has been published in places like View Camera magazine discussing the topic. For more information it's worth reading his materials.

Kerry has also written about Docter Optic lenses. Here is what he says.

150mm Germinar-W f/9

My lens is mounted in a Seiko #0 shutter. Configured in this way, the lens is extremely light at 135grams. Mounted in a nice Compur shutter would bring the weight down to 130grams (the same as an old Schneider 90mm Angulon f/6.8). It is by far the smallest modern multi-coated lens that I know of in 150mm's that covers 4x5 or 5x7. Mine is particularly sharp.

Kerry continues...

240mm Germinar-W f/9

I just picked up one of these lenses. It appears to be as small and light as Schneider's 240mm GClaron. I an anxious to try this lens for two reasons. First, it comes multicoated (which is something Schneider never did with their GClaron lenses). Second, I mounted this lens in a #1 Prontor shutter that came with a multi-blade aperture. The aperture opening is nearly perfectly round. If there are any effects on the out of focus areas due to the shape of the aperture, perhaps I will see some benefit from using this lens in the Prontor shutter. I'm also excited to try this lens as I might make a good companion when traveling overseas. It might be a replacement for the 200Nikkor and 300Nikkor combination. 240mm might "split" the difference nicely, and keep the lens kit weight to a minimum.

Kerry continues...

Docter Optic 210mm f/4.5 Tessar

This has got to be the craziest lens in my kit. It's a 210mm lens mounted in a huge #3 Copal shutter. The lens barrels themselves are not all that large. Docter Optic also made a 180mm Tessar lens that too was mounted in a #3 shutter. It's wonderful overkill for a Tessar. Most modern 210mm lenses come mounted in #1 shutters. Schneider's huge 210mm Super Symmar Xl is the exception. It too comes mounted in a #3 shutter. The other exception is Nikon's wonderously small 200mm M f/8. It comes in a #0 shutter. Perhaps Docter Optics needed a "clear" light path for their large aperture Tessar? This may be the case as Schneider's 210mm Xenar is limited to f/6.1 and is mounted in a #1 shutter.

Kerry continues...

image image image
210mm Docter Tessar f/4.5, 1/2 sec, TMax100 210mm Docter Tessar f/5.6, 1 sec, TMax100 210mm Docter Tessar f/8, 2 sec, TMax100

These images were taken to prove to myself just how sharp this lens could be at wider apertures. While the image at f/4.5 appears a little soft due to the lack of depth of field, there is nothing preventing me from using the Docter Optic 210mm Tessar f/4.5 lens for selective focus images. The resolution and contrast of the lens at f/4.5 is simply amazing. At f/5.6 this lens is as sharp and contrasty as anything I have ever personally used. I don't know what else to say, but I'm pleasantly shocked at the performance of this lens!

300mm APO Germinar f/9

The 300mm APO Germinar is very small and very light. It is lighter than a 300mm Nikkor. Mine is mounted in yet another round aperture Prontor #1 shutter. In use, this is one of my sharpest most contrasty lenses. Surprisingly it is only single coated.

Kerry continues...

How many of these in existance?

Reliable sources tell me that perhaps less than 40 300mm APO Germinar f/9 lenses are in existance. Less than 90 240mm Germinar-W f/9 lenses may exist. Less than 60 150mm Germinar-W f/9 may have survived the Docter Optic buy-out. I don't know how many 210mm Tessar f/4.5 lenses exist. But if it's any indication, a 180mm f/4.5 mounted in Copal #3 shutter turned up on eBay recently. However this all shakes out, very very few of the marvelous lenses escaped into the wilds to be used as regular photographic optics. In a way, the small number of examples are a crime against humanity. Or at least against nutter photographers. Docter Optics appeared ready to deliver lenses to large format practioners in areas not already covered by the competition. It's sad that we will never know how well these fine lenses would have been received.

Email if interested in providing comments or feedback: Christopher Perez