Glaukar 3.1: A Lens Reborn Promises To Liberate Your Portrait Photography

When a pair of German photographers, whose clients include Rolls Royce, Redken, and Chopard, set out to create the perfect portrait lens, they turned to their history lessons for inspiration.

Benedikt Ernst and Firat Bagdu, present-day professional photographers who specialize in portrait, wedding, and fashion photography, recently launched a Kickstarter campaign aimed at bringing the “mother of all lenses” into the modern age.

Students of photography history will recognize the name Emil Busch, a turn-of-the-century German camera and lens maker who in 1910 was responsible for developing the Glaukar 3.1 — the world’s first anastigmatic lens for portrait photography. The original Glaukar, which corrected for spherical aberration coma and astigmatism, offered breakthrough sharpness and usability in low light, ushering in a whole new world of capabilities for the artistic photographer.

More than 100 years later, Ernst and Bagdu have recreated the classic portrait lens with historically inspired styling and mechanical precision.

glaukar 1910 lens and new one

While the new Glaukar 3.1 will look very much like Emil Busch’s original, including its brass appearance and silhouette, the reborn version has been retooled for today’s high-tech demands.

According to its designers, the Glaukar’s specially coated lens produces a mixture of sharpness, strong colors and, along with 12 aperture blades, wonderful bokeh effects.

“The shift from focus to fuzziness in the background needed to be just right,” they explain on their Kickstarter page. “At open aperture the lens must liberate the subject from the background and with a closed aperture the image must have an even sharpness. At the same time the skin tone must be most natural to avoid or reduce the necessity of post production as much as possible. All these features are reborn in the reinvented Glaukar.”

The Kickstarter campaign for the Glaukar quickly eclipsed its $60,000 fundraising goal needed to propel from prototype to production, which will take place in Germany.

glaukar 3.1 97mm lens

While early bird pricing is no longer available, you can still reserve a Glaukar for under $800 through August 11. When the lens is released in summer 2018, it is expected to retail online for $2,000. The hefty price tag, say the project founders, is largely due to the small quantities in which it will be produced and the amount of manual, handmade pieces involved in its construction. To ensure that the goal of achieving the “perfect portrait lens,” production will include exclusive use of Schott and O’Hara glass.

The Glaukar lens will be available with mounts for the following brands: Nikon, Canon, Sony E, Fuji, MFT, Leica M, Leica T, and Pentax K.

Even if you opt not to shell out for the mother of all lenses, it’s worth three minutes of your time to watch the stunning product video.

Lens specifications:

  • Focal length: 97mm
  • Maximum aperture: 1:3.1
  • Aperture range: 1:22
  • Image circle: 43mm
  • Field of view: 25°
  • Electronic contacts none
  • Closest focusing distance: 1.5 m
  • Filter thread: 37mm
  • Max diameter: length 73mm/80mm (DSLR), approx. 85mm mirrorless
  • Weight: 410 g