Richter Cine Collimators and Test Projectors

Richter Cine Collimators and Test Projectors

©2016-2018 Jorge Diaz-Amador, all rights reserved

Updated: 22 February 2018

Richter Collimator
Richter Autocollimator system owned by CinemaTechnic (Sold in 2009)

Above: Richter Cine R2 Autocollimator setup with 254mm Objective, LED Mini-Maglite, M2 Focal Plane Micrometer, ARRI PL Lens Standard on Model B Optical Bench.

Foreground items: Fiber Optic Light Guide Adapter, 60mm Collimator Objective, ARRI Standard and ARRI Bayonet Lens Standards.

This was the original CinemaTechnic collimator which we used for all our lens and camera service  from 2000 through 2006.

Richter Cine catalog cover showing Ken Richter with AMPAS Technical Oscar
Richter Cine Equipment

Richter Cine was an American company, based in upstate New York, that manufactured autocollimators and lens test projectors specifically designed for use in testing photographic and particularly cinematographic optics.

The company was founded by Kenneth Richter, who was a cinematographer and a filmmaker specializing in travelogue films. The Richter Autocollimator system is Richter Cine’s best known product.

By the 1980’s the Richter Autocollimator became very widely used in the motion picture camera and lens industry. In 1985 Kenneth Richter was awarded an AMPAS Technical Award (Technical Oscar) for his Autocollimator.

Production of the autocollimators and the Lens Test Projector were wound down by the late 1990’s. Richter Aero Equipment ended operations by October 1998. After Kenneth Richter’s passing two years later, the last remaining old stock was sold off.

Today used Richter Cine Autocollimators are highly sought after in the second hand market

Richter Collimator Reticle Image
Example of image observed with Richter Collimator while testing a very sharp lens (iBE Null)  at 18x magnification. This lens is resolving 900 lp/mm!
How Autocollimators Work

For photographic and cinematographic lens testing, autocollimators are primarily used to check focus. The autocollimator projects the image of a test reticle through the lens being tested and onto a simulated or real image plane. That image is reflected back through the test lens and the autocollimator and diverted to the eyepiece where it can be observed by the operator. With experience, the image quality of the lens being tested can also be judged.

Calibrating Richter Objective
Precision calibration of a Richter 275mm Objective using the Moeller-Wedel Autocollimator
Reconditioning and upgrades for Richter Cine Autocollimators
  • CinemaTechnic have developed a series of services and upgrades to the vintage Richter Cine autocollimators. This service brings the vintage Richter units up to today’s standards of accuracy.
  • Disassembly and cleaning of all components. Precision cleaning of optical components
  • Worn parts are reconditioned or replaced with newly fabricated parts
  • Flatness of objective seating surface on autocollimator block checked and if necessary re-machined
  • Precision fitting of internal post (which supports target reticle, grid reticle and beamsplitter) to bottom plug.
  • Precision alignment of beamsplitter position using a alignment collimator. Additional screws added to maintain calibration stability.
  • Squareness and alignment of components of collimator objective tubes checked and re-machined as needed. Loose fitting components are bonded in place with industrial adhesives while held in alignment fixtures.
  • Worn threaded surfaces coated with Emralon to restore proper fit, or in cases of severe wear replaced with newly fabricated parts.
  • Worn exterior surfaces stripped and re-anodized or coated with ceramic coatings
  • Collimator block internal components precision calibrated for for exact and equal focus on focus reticle and grid reticle assuring accuracy of the instrument for focus calibration of lenses
  • Objectives precision calibrated for matching focus ensuring interchangeability without re-calibration
  • Focal Plane Micrometer (FPM) reconditioned and tested for accuracy
  • CinemaTechnic upgrade for Richter FPM to allow quick and easy zeroing of micrometer thimble
  • Complete system is tested for accuracy against our Moeller-Wedel autocollimator and with test lenses calibrated on the Zeiss K9 MTF Tester.
Calibrating Richter R2 Block
Calibrating Richter R2 Block beamsplitter alignment on custom autocollimator setup
Pricing for the above service is by estimate. Without examining your Richter system we cannot quote  a price on the upgrade / reconditioning service. As a rough guide, our basic pricing is below.

Basic pricing for Richter Cine calibration (hours labor):

  • Focus calibration of collimator objectives – 0.5 hr each (includes element cleaning and dust blow-out)
  • Focus calibration and alignment of collimator block – 1.5 hours
  • Calibration of Richter M2 Focal Plane Micrometer – 1.0 hours
 Labor rate is $150.- per hour
Looking for a good used Richter Autocollimator system?

CinemaTechnic has one rebuilt and calibrated Richter Collimator system available for sale (see photos below). The system has been reconditioned and upgraded as described in the preceding section. It is priced at a fraction of what new autocollimator systems (Chrosziel, Gecko-Cam, Duclos) are being sold for today. The package consists of:

Richter Cine R2 Autocollimator with 130mm Objective and Light Guide Adapter, rebuilt by CinemaTechnic
Richter Cine Autocollimator with 275mm objective (same unit as above)
Richter R2, 275mm, FPM, PL, Null
Richter R2 Ccollimator with 275mm Objective, PL Mount, FPM, Test Bench, iBE Null test lens
Complete Autocollimator System
  • Richter Cine R2 Autocollimator Block,  rebuilt with CinemaTechnic upgrades
  • Richter Cine 130mm Collimator Objective, rebuilt
  • Richter Cine  254mm or 275mm Collimator Objective, rebuilt
  • CinemaTechnic Fiber Optic Light Guide Adapter for R2 Autocollimator
  • Richter ARRI PL mount Lens Mount
  • Custom Canon EF mount Lens Mount
  • Richer M2M Focal Plane Micrometer with Starret 468M micrometer head, .002mm accuracy, with CinemaTechnic upgrade for easy zeroing.
  • Richter Model B Lens Test Bench with lens support, 36″ rods
  • Halogen Fiber-Optic Illuminator with adjustable intensity, fiber-optic light guide.
  • Set of instructions
  • Calibration warranted for 1 year
  • Phone/email tech support for 30 days included, one-on-one training available at additional cost

Complete system: $7828.-

Compare to Duclos Lenses collimator system at $19,695.- or Gecko-Cam’s collimator system at € 31,700.- (currently $41,158.- plus shipping from Germany).

NOTE: You will need an Flange Focal Depth gage set to calibrate the Focal Plane Micrometer and an Optical Flat to check calibration on the collimator optics. These items will be at additional cost and quoted based on your requirements (number of lens mounts you want to be able to calibrate, etc.)

The complete system is well suited for serious users like camera/lens rental houses, production companies with their own equipment and in-house technical, and independent camera/lens technicians.

The complete system  is also the best choice for camera owners needing to calibrate FFD on cameras such as ARRI Alexa / Amira that use shims to calibrate FFD. A variable focus test lens is required for camera testing. We can provide advice on choosing a test lens and can provide modification and calibration of test lenses.

IMS Mount Upgrade

The IMS (Interchangeable Mount System) was developed by P+S Technik of Munich, Germany to be a universal and standard sub-mount system for both test equipment and interchangeable mount cameras. The IMS system is standard on the P+S Technik Lens Checker (lens test projector) and the Gecko-Cam autocollimator.

Available lens mounts in the IMS system: ARRI PL, B4, BNCR, C-mount, Canon EF, Canon FD, Nikon F, Leica M, Leica-R,  Panavision PV-35.

CinemaTechnic can also manufacture custom IMS mounts for lenses not listed above on a custom basis. The main requirement is that the flange focal distance (FFD) of the lens mount desired be 21mm or larger.

Options for Richter Cine Autocollimator (additional cost):
  • CinemaTechnic IMS Mount Adapter for Richter Cine – compatible with M2 Focal Plane Micrometer and S2 Focal Plane Microscope. A version for the Richter Cine test projector is planned.
  • CinemaTechnic Focal Plane Micrometer (replaces M2) with digital micrometer (.001mm accuracy) and Richter flange, upgradable to IMS.
  • P+S Technik IMS mounts (Interchangeable Mount System).
  • Additional new lens mounts with Richter Cine thread, custom made on request (C-Mount, Sony E, MFT, Leica-M, Leica-R, Canon FD, Nikon F, ARRI Standard, ARRI Bayonet, Aaton A50.
  • Additional Collimator Objectives (original Richter) 60mm, 130mm, 254mm.
  • Additional Collimator Objectives (built by CinemaTechnic, new production): 100mm, 400mm, 500mm.
  • CinemaTechnic Digital Camera Adapter for Richter replaces the eyepiece with custom optics and a compact SD or HD digital camera to allow viewing the collimator image on a monitor.
  • Back focus Master Lens (modified IBE Null) for checking autocollimator and testing/adjusting FFD on digital cameras
  • Additional length rods for collimator bench
  • FFD Calibration Kit for PL Mount
  • FFD Calibration Kit for EF Mount
  • Optical flat for autocollimator calibration check
  • Digital video camera to replace autocollimator eyepiece (customer to provide monitor)
  • Lens Support for collimator bench (for large heavy zoom lenses)

If you are interested in purchasing this system, or want more information please contact us at: cinematechnic@mac_com

The Richter Cine R2 Reflex Autocollimator

Richter Cine’s best known product is the R2 reflex autocollimator. The system was comprised of an autocollimator block (the reflex unit), a collimator objective, and light source. It was possible to see the image reflected by film in the aperture of the camera being tested when a lens and camera were tested together.

Richter Cine manufactured a series of interchangable collimator objectives for the R2, using a C mount thread for attachment to the collimator block.

Shorter focal length objectives (60, 130mm) were used to test shorter focal length lenses and longer focal length objectives (254 – 500mm) were used to test longer focal length lenses.

The following is a list of all  Richter objectives known to be available. The most common are 60mm, 130mm and 254mm. Part numbers beyond 500mm are unknown and the 650mm and longer objectives were special-order items produced in very limited quantity.

Standard objectives up to 650mm are refractor objectives using only spherical lens elements.  Objectives longer than 650mm are mirror lens objectives, using a combination of spherical mirrors (like an astronomical telescope) and spherical lens elements. The mirror lens design makes the physical length of those objectives much shorter than their focal length.

Richter Cine Collimator Objectives:

Focal Length | f# | Type | Test Lens Range | Richter Part #

  • 60mm  refractor objective  6 – 30mm  #117
  • 130mm  f4.3 refractor objective  13 – 65mm   #118  standard equipment for R2F
  • 180mm f3.7  refractor objective  18- 90mm  #119
  • 254mm  f4.9 refractor objective  25 – 127mm  #120  standard equipment for R2A and R2B
  • 275mm f8.3 refractor objective 27 – 138mm (part # not known, early model that was later discontinued)
  • 500mm  f9.6  refractor objective  50 – 250mm  #121

Special order objectives:

  • 650mm  f10  refractor objective  65 – 325mm (very rare)
  • 1000mm  f11  Maksutov-Cassegrain catoptric objective,  200mm tube length 100 – 500mm
  • 1250mm  f10  Schmidt-Cassegrain catoptric objective,  275mm tube length 125 – 625mm
  • 2000mm  f10  Schmidt-Cassegrain catoptric objective,  425mm tube length 200 – 1000mm

NOTE: Catoptric objectives are “mirror lenses” like modern astronomical telescopes.

“The rule of thumb is, to obtain the optimum collimator test image, the range of any lens to be tested should have a focal length not less than 1/10th or not more than 1/2 the focal length of the objective.”

Source: Instructions for Use of the Richter Cine Equipment Reflex Autocollimator Model R-2 ©1961 Richter Cine Equipment


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