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The Tessar is a camera lens designed by Paul Rudolph, working for the Carl Zeiss Jena company, in 1902. It is normally used as a standard lens, and versions of it have been fitted to many millions of cameras.

The design consists of four elements in three groups; the front element is positive, bi-convex (with the rear almost flat), the central a negative bi-concave and, following an aperture, at the rear is a cemented doublet of plano-concave and a bi-convex elements. Though often referred to as a "modified Cooke triplet", the Tessar is actually a development of Rudolph's 1899 Unar (4 element in 4 groups) lens, itself a development of Rudolph's 1890 Zeiss Anastigmat (4 elements in 2 groups) lens.

The original design had a maximum aperture of f/6.3, but the developments in design allowed f/2.8 by 1930.

In addition to production by Carl Zeiss, the Tessar name and design (under license) was used in the production of numerous lenses by Bausch & Lomb (Rochester), Ross (London) and Krauss (Paris).

The Tessar design has been widely copied by nearly all major optics companies.

A very partial list includes:



  • Rudolf Kingslake, A History of the Photographic Lens, Academic Press, 1989


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