The all-brass Astro-Kino VII 100mm f/1.4 was manufactured by Astro-Gesellschaft Bielicke & Co (Astro-Berlin) between 1933 and 1942. Originally marketed to be used on the Siemens Großraum Projektor, a high-powered 16mm projector for large-scale projections. This early version, with an 80mm barrel diameter, does not seem to fit this 16mm projector. An 80mm diameter barrel is mainly used for 35- and 70mm  film cinema projectors, so that’s the safest bet to guessing where this originally was used. A later version, with a smaller 62.5mm barrel, could have fitted this projector.

Hugh Ivan Gramatzki 100mm f/1.4 (1929)

H. I. Gramatzki 100mm f/1.25 (Astro R.K.) (1929)

Astro-Kino VII simple version (1933-1942)

Astro-Kino VII advanced version (1933-1942)

The Astro-Kino VII series features an improved pre-war German patent (D.R.P.) design, credited to co-founder, astronomer, and writer Hugh Ivan Gramatzki. Although specific patents are yet to be found, similar ones from 1933 (D.R.P. pat. 535 883 and pat. 552 789) exist. As you can see the Astro-Kino VII is closely related to the scientific lens Astro R.K. (Röntgen Kino) f/1.25. Optical design drawings are sourced from a Siemens sales brochure from the early to mid 1930s. There are actually two different optical designs for the Astro-Kino VII lens series. The Astro-Kino VII 50mm f/1.4 have two different versions and the Astro-Kino VII 65mm f/1.4 is the simpler version with only five elements in two groups. This simple version is very close to these original patents. Why they made a more advanced version, with a whole new group in the front we might never know. Comparing the two different optical designs seems to be more or less identical characteristics, from image circle to sharpness.

The brass version of the Astro-Kino VII 100mm f/1.4 has this advanced version, I don’t know which of the simple or advanced optical design was used on the other later slim black version of the Astro-Kino VII 100mm f/1.4.

The Astro-Kino VII differs optically from the 1950s West-German Astro-Kino-Color IV, designed for the Siemens 2000 projector, employing a more conventional 16mm projection lens design with two groups and four elements.

The pre-war Astro-Kino VII series included sizes: 35/50/65/85/100/120, all featuring an f-stop of f/1.4, with the 120mm possibly being f/1.8. However, information on the 120mm lens is scarce.

Discovered on eBay from a Berlin-based seller, whose family formerly operated cinemas across Berlin, this lens has had few owners over the years. Its survival through the bombings of Berlin and the war is remarkable.

From available sources, it appears the Astro-Kino VII series was expensive in the 1930s, catering to special-purpose uses like large-scale projections in cinemas and government institutes, rather than home cinema applications. This scarcity may explain the challenge in finding these lenses.

Some sources also indicate that the Astro-Kino VII lenses were used for scientific experiments by prominent German scientists, such as Manfred von Ardenne, in his early research into cathode-ray tube technology. The collaboration between Astro-Berlin and Manfred was extensive, leading Astro-Berlin to even create at least one custom lens for him—the Ardenne-Astro 50mm f/1 lens.


With a back focal distance of 52mm, adapting this lens is relatively straightforward on my GFX camera. With a 80mm barrel you can buy 80mm to M65x1 clamps from eBay, which allowed me to attach a beefy M65 to M65 Yifeng focusing helicoid. From this you can buy a simple M65 to GFX adapter.

This lens has threads, but it’s an uncommon size that no one is selling, so I modified a 82-86mm filter step-up ring to be snuggly fitted around the 80mm barrel. It’s only held there by friction, but it takes some effort to pull it off the lens, so for me it’s safe enough. This allowed me to get both a solid metal lens cap and lens hood.

Beyond this solid base adaptation, custom 3D printed parts, coated with wrinkle paint for aesthetics, provide a unique look.

Image Characteristics

The lens produces spectacular images with pronounced swirly bokeh, perfect for portraiture photography. Due to the field curvature, focusing outside the center can be challenging and can often produce unsharp images.

As expected, this 90-year-old lens falls short of modern sharpness standards. Despite never achieving 100% focus at its intended focus point, the overall effect remains sharp due to the pronounced out-of-focus areas. While sharpness may not be a priority for portrait lenses, I often add some sharpness in post-production to compensate.

Vignetting, contrary to expectations for a 16mm lens, is minimal due to the large image circle covering almost 6×7 cm format at infinity. Being uncoated, the lens should be used with a lens hood to manage contrast loss in strong light. Chromatic aberration is less than expected, with slight flare observed in high-contrast scenes.

The lens shares the same characteristics with the Astro-Kino VII 50mm f/1.4 and 65mm f/1.4. Scaling up the design from 35mm to 120mm appears to be the only variation apart from the two different optical designs you may find.


As probably my most rare lens, the Astro-Kino VII D.R.P. 100mm f/1.4 holds significant historical value. Unfortunately generally overlooked by the historical photographic community, likely due to the rarity and expense of pre-war Astro-Berlin lenses, it remains a unique lens with dreamy image characteristics.

In the future I want to adapt this lens to something with a bigger format than the GFX, but due to the relative short back focal distance the choices are slim if you don’t wanna guess focus with a rangefinder camera. From my horrible math skills I think a camera like the VP Exakta 127 film might be my best bet. The mirror should be small enough to clear the distance from the mirror to the back of the lens.


  • Big swirly bokeh
  • Big image circle
  • Sturdy brass build
  • Unique and historical lens and optical design


  • Heavy
  • Uncoated
  • Never completely sharp
  • Strong field curvature
  • Hard to adapt to MF due to short BFD