Steve Cushing Impresionist Fine Art Photography

Embracing imperfection, recording emotions, one impression at a time…

Noflexar 35 f3.5 Macro


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History

Novoflex is a German maker of camera accessories. It is now renowned for its macro bellows and makes tripods and tripod heads, flash systems, tilt-shift bellows, lens adapters and other parts. The company started in 1948. In 1950 it made camera bodies and camera lenses for Leica. The company's production of lenses was switched from Leica lenses to special lenses in the late 1950s, for example its its Novoflexar macro bellows heads.

Many of their lenses like this one were made by Staeble for Novoflex, Staeble was a German company founded in 1908 by the famous German scientist, physicist and mathematician Dr. Staeble, it made lenses for cameras, projectors and enlargers. It was based in Munich. 1944 it had to move to Schongau. In 1958 it belonged to salesman Otto Friedl and his wife, and was named Dr. Staeble, Friedl & Co. KG. It was also known as Staeble-Werk or Dr. Staeble. It was bought by Agfa in 1969.

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This Lens

The Noflexar 35 mm is very unusual in being designed as a macro lens. It is an amazing little macro lens which is really five lenses in one. It provides both 63 degree wide angle and macro picture opportunities in a single small lens without the need of extension tubes or bellows just bu extending the front element by pulling it forward. So it focuses from infinity to 5cm.

Note how the two from elements can move forward separating them from the rear two elements.


It was manufactured starting 1962 in Germany (by Staeble) and is no longer available from Novoflex. The lens became very popular due to its capabilities for UV photography. Until recently, the Novoflex Noflexar 35 mm f/3.5 was virtually the only accidental UV lens in this range of focal lengths known to work well for this purpose. It is a good performer at wavelengths down to 360 nm, but has as such become scarce and expensive in the last few years.

Lens In Use

Compact macro lens (1:2 without tubes/bellows) with a very peculiar barrel, that allows to separate the extension of the lens from fine focusing. Built mainly in Exakta and M42 mounts. Good for UV and IR photography. A similar Staeble Lineogon was sold in Leica screwmount, but with different register, probably for Braun cameras.

  • 4 element in four group construction
  • Weight 185 gram
  • Closest working distance 0.06m
  • 10 blade aperture

Positive

  • This lens, stopped down a little, is very sharp.
  • In addition to a rather short focusing helicoid that allows focus between infinity and 0.30 m
  • It is equipped with a built-in extension tube that allows the lens to be extended by four click-stops separated from each other by 3.5 mm.
  • Excellent for UV photography.
  • Compact and versitile.

Negative

  • The focusing helicoid is used to focus within each click-stop. Whilst this idea works better in theory than in practice as the extension range of the helicoid does not completely cover the focusing range between adjacent click-stops thus leaving small gaps inaccessible in the focusing range.
  • The odd design of the aperture ring means that the front filter mount rotates together with the aperture ring.
  • Cost as this is a very popular and rare lens.

Summary

The Novoflex Noflexar f/3,5 35mm (Macro) is a very peculiar lens, and a valuable one in my experience, despite its vintage. The bokeh is beautiful and as the lens is so small on a mirrorless camera the unit and lens is both light and small so easy to cary. For close-up photography, camera handheld, with a mix of available light and flash, it's very good. Perfect for walks in the woods, ready to shoot insects, mushrooms, or what else, cause it's small and not heavy.

Why use this lens instead of other recent, very sharp AF or MF 50mm macro's? Because of the bokeh and the way it renders, because of the beautiful subtly muted colours.

For images using this lens click HERE

For general information on lens design and lens elements go to the homepage HERE

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