The Primes at Angénieux

First Fixed Lenses for Cinema

Someone as passionately interested in the seventh art as Pierre Angénieux could hardly fail to develop optical systems for cine cameras, where interest in the reflex view principle was all the greater. As the first cameras had the viewfinder on the top or the side, the point of view differed from that of the lens. This difference in framing, or parallax error, was all the more problematic in cinema, where the image projected was the one actually taken with no possibility of realignment. Moreover, interest soon arose in changing the lens so as to vary the angle of field of view. On a turret-front camera, these lenses must also meet further requirements, the diameter of the forward lens being limited by the need to fit in with the others. The first cine camera lenses were officially presented at the 22nd Salon de la Photographie et du Cinéma in March 1951.

While the amateur market (8mm) was in the hands of SOM-Berthiot, Angénieux aimed rather at the semi-professional (16mm) and professional (35mm) motion picture camera market. 1953, achievement of an f/0.95 aperture Angénieux mastered another fundamental characteristic of lenses in 1953 in response to the requests of directors wishing to film in available light in dark places like the corridors of the Paris subway. The previous limit of 1.00 for an aperture was superseded to reach f/0.95, thus increasing consequently the amount of light reaching the sensitive surface of the lens.

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