CARL ZEISS JENA TESSAR 50mm 2.8

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by ruilourosa, Feb 7, 2010.

  1. ruilourosa

    ruilourosa Member

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    hello

    I am aware of the optical quality of the design, i own some copies, but this lens comes cheap and i would like to give it a try, would it be that different from a super takumar 1.8, better? worst?

    Thanks
     
  2. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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    I don´t know the Super Takumar but this is a great lens! My first camera was equipped with this Tessar in the black/chrome version. Gave pretty sharp pictures. Give it a try!

    Greetz, Benjamin
     
  3. Alan Johnson

    Alan Johnson Subscriber

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    The only review I have seen of the 50mm Jena Tessar was in "Praktica Lenses" by AM Carlsson 1977.Of 3 50mm M42 lenses tested, at wide aperture the 6 element Pancolar was the best with the 6 element Pentacon next and the the 4 element Tessar the least good. Stopped down the difference between the 3 was less.
    I have not done the comparison but it seems likely that the 6 element Super Takumar would outperform the 4 element Tessar.
     
  4. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    One more vote for the Super-Multi-Coated Takumar in all its varieties.
     
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The f1.8 Super Takumar is very significantly better at all apertures, I've had quite a few Takumars in the past from f1.4 through to f2 and they are outstanding, I currently have about 4 or 5.

    The Tessar's OK I have two, one on an Exacta the other Pentax thread, but they are not as sharp until about f8/f11.

    Alan missed the infamous Meyer Domiplan that must be the worst of the Easy German 50mm lenses from a company whose lenses once equalled CZJ in quality. The Pentacon was the later name for the Meyer lens the Oreston.

    Try the Tessar it might be fine, just don't expect too much.

    Ian
     
  6. lightdreamer

    lightdreamer Member

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    Lets start this way:

    The 2.8/50mm Tessars are good lenses.

    I compared several 50mm lenses on my 24.6 MP digital FF camera last year.

    Among some others there were

    M42
    Super Multi Coated Takumar 1.4/50mm
    Pancolar 1.8/50mm
    CZ Tessar 2.8/50mm (Contax from my Grandpa)

    Minolta AF 1.4/50mm
    Minolta AF 1.7/50mm

    The best performers in far distances were without any doubt
    mostly because of the best flat field correction the 1.4 lenses.
    For my examples the Minolta AF delivers the best sharpness up
    to the corners.

    The Minolta AF 1.7 and the Pancolar wheras very good in center
    sharpness too need more stopping down to catch up in borders.

    The Tessar shows good sharpness in center, but needs f11
    to show acceptable border sharpness and there never really
    reaches the resolution of the 6 and seven lens constructions.

    So it is nice to have such a Tessar but against the competition
    the design shows its age.

    Best Regards
     
  7. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I picked up one of these last week in M42 mount in a collection of stuff but I haven't used it yet so it's interesting to read the comments. I also got a Zeiss 135mm f3.5 - any thoughts on that?


    Steve.
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The Zeiss 135mm f3.5 Sonnar is an excellent lens, I have one somewhere with a 35mm Flektagon for my Exacta.

    Ian
     
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    That's typical of the Tessar design, with the Large Format versions the faster lenses have the weakest performance, the best performers I have are a pre-WWI (1912/13 f6.3 165mm and the late production Tessar type - 150mm f5.6 Xenar (2002 S/N).

    LF Tessar's are best at f16, or less, and edge and corner sharpness is lost quickly with wider apertures.

    Welcome to APUG BTW :D

    Ian
     
  10. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I'm glad this thread was raised. Last weekend I bought three camera bodies and about six lenses and a few other things for £10. Two of the lenses were a Zeiss Tessar 50mm f2.8 (as is being discussed here) and a Zeiss Sonnar 135mm f3.5.

    I have spent the last week thinking that the 50mm Tessar was a special lens and the 135mm is just a standard lens with no great reputation. After doing a bit of a search and receiving a some information from Ian, it would seem that I had it the wrong way round!

    I'm pleased about this as 135mm is my favourite focal length on 35mm.


    Steve.
     
  11. ruilourosa

    ruilourosa Member

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    well thanks about the info, i have 4 copies of the tessar design and found them reasonable lenses, minotar, tessar 7.5cm, xenar and ilex paragon, but i just don´t know this lens performance, well, i´ll stick with my smc takumar, but still! is there any pancake lens to m42???????

    best regards
     
  12. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Used with care a Tessar will deliver first rate images, but remember what's bad for landscapes or anything requiring critical sharpness might be ideal for portraits etc.

    For critical sharpness then f11 for a 50mm on a 35mm camera, and f16 on larger, but then you need to decide when you need overall critical sharpness. I use two Tessars regularly for LF work, one's an 1950's CZJ T coated f4.5 150mm the other a Schneider 150mm f5.6 Xenar (last production run) both are superb when stopped down, the results indistinguishable from my Symmr's and Sironar's, but they do lack coverage for movements.

    Ian
     
  13. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    I just shot a roll with a Contaflex (Tessar f/2.8). Looks pretty decent at f/8
     
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  15. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    I have found good Tessars to have more contrast than the good 1.8 Super-Takumars.
     
  16. elekm

    elekm Member

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    The Takumar is a different design -- probably a Planar design, although that's just a guess and not actual knowledge.

    The Tessar is a four-element design in three groups. For several decades, the Tessar was the premium lens for many German camera makers, so don't think that it's a mediocre lens. Far from it.

    Depending on your photography, the Tessar will be an excellent lens. Wide open to about f/5.6, you'll get round out-of-focus backgrounds when shooting at closer distances.

    Stopped down, it's very sharp.

    I've done a lot of shooting with many types of Tessars although not large format. I've never found the lens to perform inadequately.

    The Tessar name is a Carl Zeiss trademark, and you'll almost always see Carl Zeiss Jena, Carl Zeiss or Carl Zeiss Jena on the face ring. Rollei made the Tessar under license for its cameras, including the Rollei 35 and 35T, the A110/E110 and others. I can't think of any others that made the Tessar under license.

    The Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar is a Tessar design and performs similarly, if not identically. The (Color-)Skopar also is a Tessar design. I'm not sure the current Cosina Voigtlander Skopars are Tessar designs.

    And I recall reading that Zeiss reformulated the Tessar. Zeiss never made a big deal when it reformulated its lenses.
     
  17. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The Tessar design was re-formulated many times by Zeiss, basically when newer optical glasses became available, before & after WW1, in the early 30's, and later in the 50's.

    You can find the Tessar name used by quite a number of other companies such as Ross in the UK, B&L in the US, all manufacturing Zeiss designs under license.

    As Mike says in its heyday the Tessar was the top Zeiss lens fitted to many camera models, but emulsions where thicker, and less sharp and the degree of enlargement was also comparatively small. If you see contemporary prints from Brassai, Kertesz etc made before WWII the images are rarely printed larger than 10"x8" and in these circumstances the Tessar was a superb design.

    Ian
     
  18. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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  19. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I was thinking this morning of the Bausch & Lomb Tessars that I've seen. I have a very old brass B&L Tessar that was made for 5x7.
     
  20. T42

    T42 Member

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    Hello Forum.

    I have a 50mm f2.8 Tessar from a Practica FX, early 1950s. I agree with the assessment that it is soft at the edges, and especially so wide open, but performs much better stopped down.

    In the Tessars I have used, the contrast was quite good. Not bad for such an old lens design and without modern coatings. The same applies to the Color Skopar on my Voigtlander Vito II, and which I believe is also a Tessar design lens. The coating on both of these lenses is blue.

    I am thinking that the Tessar design has appeared in many different lenses since its creation in 1903. Wasn't the Leitz Elmar derived from a Tessar? The Soviets copied the design, as did the Japanese and Chinese. I think that even Kodak made Tessars under license. Think of all those affordable 35mm rangefinders from Japan in the 60s with 2.8 lenses. Like Yashica J, for example. Isn't Nikon's 45mm f/2.8 pancake which came out with the FM3a a Tessar inspired lens? I have read that it is quite good. Isn't the GN Nikkor 45mm f/2.8 also a Tessar design?

    If the Tessar was a bad lens, it would not have been copied so much, don't you think? Used wisely and within its design envelope, it is quite good, IMO.

    Happy Day.

    :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 11, 2010
  21. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Not all Tessars are equal.

    I've used the Tessar on my Rolleiflex TLR wide open (f/3.5) and at close range with absolutely outstanding results.
    I've also come across several especially good "Tessars" (Color-Skopars, Xenars, Soviet Elmar derivatives) which did very well, if not always completely wide open, then closed a stop or so - far from the f/11 some here suggest as necessary.
    As often, generalisations don't give an accurate picture (what a surprise?!?).

    The Tessar and its derivatives has been built for over a century, with many upgrades, changes, different glass types, tweaks, cost-cutting and with widely differing tolerance and quality control levels. They are certainly not equal to each other.
    A "good" Tessar is an excellent lens.
    More complex schemes often have the main purpose of guaranteeing minimum quality levels using less stringent production methods...
     
  22. T42

    T42 Member

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    Good Point, Rol Lei Nut.

    I wonder if this is true of the various "derivatives" of Sonnar, Planar, and others as well. I'm sure many of us believe that the fundamental designs of most of Zeiss's family of optical products are sound, and were not optimized to cater to the bottom-rung of the marketplace. But with so many derived products out there, it is not unreasonable to expect that some makers will not choose to meet Zeiss's strong quality standards.

    For example, I wonder about Japanese Zeiss optics. I understand that special equipment went from Germany to Japan to guarantee quality of manufacture. Was this just marketing, or was there a real and sincere concern that Cosina or others might not be able to meet Zeiss's level of quality without the German company's hands-on involvement to protect the integrity of their tradename?

    Now I see German names bantered about, showing up on Japanese and Korean cameras/lenses in the snapshot market. I wonder how the Japanese lenses with German product names actually relate to their German namesakes. My 50mm Summicron says "Leitz," but a certain Panasonic I saw says "LEICA" on the lens. I wonder what part Leica played in the creation of that Panasonic lens. Same with a Schneider lens appearing on a Korean dSLR I saw, Samsung GX-20. It is nearly identical to a Pentax lens appearing on a nearly identical Pentax dSLR. And, IIRC, the Schneider branded lens I saw was made in the Orient, but not in Korea or Japan.

    :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 11, 2010
  23. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Zeiss were very particular about the Japanese Contax lenses they were made to German standards and tolerances, same goes for the Cosina versions. It's not a matter of trusting other companies it's the Zeiss way of working before the name can be used, to ensure they have quality controlled.

    Any of those German companies will have a hands on part in the way their optics and name are used, the Leica lenses Panasonic use are full Leitz quality, as are the Zeiss lenses Sony use for Professional Video cameras.

    Ian
     
  24. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Lenses are designed around their manufacturer's ability to maintain certain specifications (or should be!).

    That is partly the reason why German lenses were traditionally so expensive: They tended to use simpler schemes built to higher specifications.
    Typically, by adding elements or changing the design, you can make the building tolerances less important and come out with a higher percentage of good performers. That was the "traditional" Japanese approach.

    I don't have any precise information on the subject, but I strongly suspect that the Panasonic "Leica" lenses have no direct involvement of Leica in their actual design, though Leica has probably given some parameters and minimum performance levels that need to be met in order for their name to be used.
    (And I do also use a Panasonic d***** P&S which has a surprisingly good "Leica" lens)

    That is a different case from where a lens design is licensed to or made by another manufacturer. In that case, if tolerances are equal, the result "should be" as good as the original. Otherwise, the design might be slightly "dumbed down" to make it easier to successfully produce...
     
  25. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Reading that, Rollei Nut, you would almost believe only German companies know how to produce high quality lenses to exacting standards.
    That is, of course, not so. In particular, the Japanese companies (having an as long and reputable tradition in lens making as their German counterparts) do know very well what they are doing and how to do it well, consistently.
    :wink:
     
  26. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    It says "LEICA" on all Leica lenses since the company restructured a long time ago.
    Having "Leitz" on it is a sign of already great age. :wink: