A Mysterious F1.4 Lens Gave the CIA Gear Lust and a Surprise

Declassified is an original Phoblographer series that digs deep into historical documents to examine how the government used photography.

I think most people reading this have never heard of a brand called Wild, but they made lenses that particularly caught the eye of the CIA. If you’ve been following the Declassified series, you’ll know the CIA’s issues with low light photography. High-speed film helped a bit, but there were more complications involving color vs. black and white. However, the 1960s saw significant optical progress for the Central Intelligence Agency. And one specific lens really made their jaws drop. Called the Falconar Lens by Wild in the document, it boasted an f1.4 aperture and a 4″ focal length. The CIA got wind of it from NATO, which convinced them to use it as well. In all my years in the photo industry, I’ve never heard of them before.

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