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  Moon Camera: Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f/0.7

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Author Topic:   Moon Camera: Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f/0.7

Posts: 243
From: UK
Registered: Dec 2010

posted 02-15-2016 10:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for holcombeyates   Click Here to Email holcombeyates     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone have any info on these lenses?

Its a Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f/0.7 - one of the largest aperture lenses in the history of photography. The lens was designed and made specifically for the NASA Apollo lunar program to capture the far side of the moon in 1966.

Stanley Kubrick used these lenses when shooting his film Barry Lyndon, which allowed him to shoot scenes lit only by candlelight.

In total there were only 10 lenses made. One was kept by Carl Zeiss, six were sold to NASA, and three were sold to Stanley Kubrick.


Posts: 396
From: Houston, TX, USA
Registered: Jan 2012

posted 02-16-2016 06:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Since it was made in 1966, The lens might have been designed to shoot the stars during the later Gemini EVAs. I know Gordon and Aldrin both shot the stars during their standup EVAs.

With an aperture that wide, they could have also used it to shoot the part of the moon that was lit up by earthshine. It would also be a great lens to shoot inside the spacecraft, but I think the main purpose was to shoot the stars.


Posts: 4437
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-16-2016 06:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unclear if these lenses made it on-board the Lunar Orbiters as it appears 80mm's were used for far/darkside lunar imagery.


Posts: 853
From: Danville, Ohio
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 02-16-2016 07:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for space1   Click Here to Email space1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Looking at Gemini Summary Conference, NASA SP-138, Gemini used a Canon f/0.95 lens for dim light photography on the 70mm Maurer camera. (No focal length mentioned here, page 231. However, page 301 mentions the use of a wide angle lens for Experiment S029, Libration Regions Photography. This could be 50mm, but again it would be the Canon f/0.95 lens.)


Posts: 1040
From: New Windsor, Maryland USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 02-16-2016 03:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Originally posted by holcombeyates: of the largest aperture lenses in the history of photography
Is this really an accurate description? Seems that combining any camera with a moderate sized telescope would transform the telescope into a camera lens with an aperture easily larger than the subject lens. However, the photographic speed of the telescopic system would be much slower than the Zeiss lens.

Seems the better way to describe it would be as one of the fastest lenses ever made, or a lens with one of the lowest focal ratios ever made.

On edit, if you want a fast lens with a truly large aperture, connect a camera to the Magellan telescope. Its aperture is a whopping 24 meters with an f/0.7 focal ratio.

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