Dr. Ludwig Bertele

Ludwig Jacob Bertele

 Ludwig Bertele

 Ludwig Bertele (1900-1985) :Young Ludwig  Bertele first became noteworthy when he began work for the firm of Ernemann in Dresden as technical assistant at the age of 20 in 1920. In 1922, he designed the then super fast F/2 Ernostar lens for the Ernemann firm for use on the Ermanox camera. Within a few years, he further improved this lens to an even faster F/1.8. This lens and camera combination became famous when used by famed German photojournalist, Erich Salomon use this camera to take candid or unsuspected photos of political events and celebrities not only in Germany but also in the United States and Great Britain.

Bertele became the major participant at the optical design department at Zeiss Ikon in 1926 when the major photographic firms of Germany united under the trademark of Zeiss Ikon.  His Ernostar lens also appeared on the professional level focal plane camerass as well as the amateur and professional cinema cameras of both Ernemann and Zeiss Ikon. Over the course of his career at the firm, he designed the fabulous lines of the groundbreaking high aperture Sonnar and wide angle Biogon lenses for the Contax cameras. In this effort, the patents for these lenses were assigned not to Carl Zeiss Jena but to Zeiss Ikon. Carl Zeiss Jena would be the sub-contractor who physically manufactured these lenses but they could only manufacture them for the firm of Zeiss Ikon and not for other firms. Bertele would work on other optical projects for Carl Zeiss Jena but only as an employee of Zeiss Ikon. This was a contractual arrangement to keep Bertele in Dresden to accommodate him at the insistence of Professor Emanual Goldberg who was the director of the Zeiss Ikon firm. He also worked on special aerial photographic objectives for another Zeiss firm, Zeiss Aerotopo who specialized in Photogrammetric photogrpahy. Since all these lenses were manufactured by Carl Zeiss Jena, you would not have suspected that he would be working for Zeiss Ikon.

He left Zeiss Ikon for work at Steinheil in Munich in 1942 during World War II.  Soon after, he left Germany to live and work in the relatively untouched and peaceful environs of Switzerland with the firm of Wild Herrbrugg where he continued his brilliant career  until his retirement from Wild in 1956. However, he continued his optical work on a consulting basis. While at Wild, he worked under contract to develop the Biogon ultra wide angle lens lenses for the Contax and the Hasselblad.  He also developed revolutionary photogrammetic lenses for which he won much praise and many awards.  These were the Aviogon and the Super Aviogon.  He was held in the absolute highest respect by his peers.  Bertele held the honorary title of Doctor of Philosophy but he never completed anything more than a high school level education.  He was, however, the greatest instinctual designer of lenses of his time.

In 1959, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (Federal Institute of Technology Zurich). However, prior to his work at Ernemann at age 20, he only had the equivalent of a high school education and yet, he delivered the Ernostar at age 22 with no formal optical training.

Contax II with Direct mount SOnnar 180 mmContax II with Direct mount SOnnar 180 mm

The Contax II camera with one of the exceptional  Bertele Sonnar lenses This is the  F/2.8 18 cm direct mount lens. 

The Very large Ernostar lens is shown on a Ermanox reflex model camera.

The last of the Ernemann catalogs from 1926 shows the F/1.8 Ernostar lens on the reflex version of the Ermanox camera.



Leave a Reply