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Astro Berlin 125/2.3 Pan-Tachar Leica RF Coupled

Astro Berlin was a quality independent German lens manufacturer famous for fast lenses, especially 300mm and longer lenses.  Successful before WWII in the 1930's, the firm somehow survived the war to continue lens production in the 1950's.  Apparently Astro Berlin was acquired by Tewe, another German firm by the 1960's.   This particular lens is extremely unusual, a 125/2.5 Pan-Tachar in RANGEFINDER COUPLED Leica mount.  The great majority of Astro lenses were in SLR mounts.  Much harder to find are the reflex housing short mount Astro-Berlin lenses, made for Astro-Berlin's own reflex housing to mount on Leica or Contax rangefinders.   The 125/2.3 Astro is hard to find in any mount, but is practically unknown in coupled Leica screw mount.  Its existence even surprised two Astro-Berlin experts, Klaus Rademaker and Randol Hooper. 

The  125/2.3 Pan-Tachar seems to have the title of "Fastest longer than 100 rangefinder coupled Leica screw mount lens," as far as I know anyway.   The question is whether it is a conversion, or a factory product.  Klaus Rademaker found a 1937 Astro-Berlin catalog offering special order "Leica Mount" lenses.  Due to the high level of craftsmanship, and the focus scale being unusually calibrated in feet rather than meters,  in my opinion this is most likely a special order factory product made for an American or English customer, not a post factory conversion.

While any Astro-Berlin lens is rare,  Astro lenses in coupled Leica Screw mount are extremely rare.



This lens is uncoated, probably produced in the late 1930's.   US Patent 1540752 dated June 9, 1925 by William F. Bielicke of Berlin, claims improved correction for spherical and chromatic aberrations with a large relative aperture with the Pan-Tachar optical design using  uses four air spaced lens elements, two separated elements on each side of the diaphragm.  With shade the lens weighs in at 1 lb 9oz.  Filter size is 60 mm.  The lens helical turns from infinity to close-up in a long throw of  approximately 350 degrees.  The leather lens cap conveniently fits over the lens hood.

The lens focuses to just under 7 feet.  

The lens, with original rear cap, lens hood, front cap which fits over the hood, and case

Size comparison: the 125/2.3 Astro Berlin mounted on a M6 TTL 999 Commemorative via Screw Mount to M Bayonet Mount adapter, alongside a 135/4 Leica Tele-Elmar

A 1937 Astro-Berlin brochure mentions that "Leica Mount" lenses can be specially ordered from the factory.  It does not specify Leica mount reflex housing lenses, rangefinder coupled lenses, or both.  Click here for pics of a rangefinder coupled 75/2 Gauss-Tachar Astro-Berlin Pan Tachar.

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Revised: November 25, 2003 Copyright  2003  Stephen Gandy. All rights reserved.    This means you may NOT copy and re-use the text or the pictures in ANY other internet or printed publication of ANY kind.  Information in this document is subject to change without notice.  Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.