Rolleiflex Tessar vs Planar

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by puketronic, Nov 20, 2011.

  1. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    I'm thinking about getting a Rolleiflex, tessar- or planar- type f3.5 lens on a flexible budget.

    When shooting wide open, is there a noticeable difference in (from your experience)
    1) Center-resolution
    2) Bokeh qualities (is one smoother than the other)

    I'm thinking about a Rolleiflex MX-EVS or a Rolleiflex 3.5e because I've heard good thinks about both. If I do get one, I'd like it to be overhauled--where's a good place and what's the approximate price?
     
  2. piu58

    piu58 Member

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    Yes, there is a difference.

    I own a Rolleicord with a Tessar 3,5/75 and a flex 3,5F with a Planar 3,5/75.

    For critical work (brickwork that reaches to the corners) you need to stop down the Tessar to f/8. Half a stop wider open, f/6.7 may be accceptable, but you see a difference.

    The Planar can be used at every case at f/5.6 and may be at f/4.7, that is "one stop faster" for the same image quality. Wide open the Planar is slightly soft in the corners but quite sharp in the center. The Tessar is soft even in the center at f/3.4 and f/4. May be used for portrait work, but not for landscape or architecture.
     
  3. mablo

    mablo Member

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    You'll see a clear difference if you shoot both at f/3.5. Planar is quite sharp and Tessar (or Xenar) is a bit softer but not very much. I'd say that you yourself will notice the difference but your audience will not see it. Both lenses have a smooth, non swirly bokeh. At f/8 both lenses are very sharp.
     
  4. sandermarijn

    sandermarijn Member

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    I own both a Planar 3,5F and a Tessar. MY Planar is much sharper than MY Tessar at all apertures, not only wide open.

    Bokeh is fine with both, nicer than many other lenses in MF.

    There are other optical issues to consider, such as field curvature, where the Tessar is not so great.

    Overall I would go for a 3,5 Planar any time, finances allowing. Remember that you can also get the Tessar in a Rolleicord- that may be the best budget option.
     
  5. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    If I could draw a motor car analogy, I would say the Tessar is a Morgan and the Planar is an Aston Martin.
     
  6. GregY

    GregY Member

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    I've owned 2.8 Planar, 3.5 Planar Rolleiflex Fs. Its all true, the Planars are sharper. Stopped down both the Planars and Tessars are sharp. What doesn't show in the equation...is the character of the lens. When I'm not using my 5x7, my current favorite camera both handheld & on a tripod is a Rolleiflex T 3.5 Tessar from 1958. A new Maxwell screen & some love from Harry Fleenor, & i'd say it is probably better than it was in '58. I love the character of the Tessar lens. For any musicians in the crowd, it's like choosing an acoustic guitar because it is loud, without regard to its tonal attributes....then again I sold a very sharp Apo-Sironar S so I could buy some Dagors. So this is my subjective opinion. I think, if I were in your position, I would buy the cleanest,most affordable, one I could find & have Harry service it. My short answer is that t depends what you like, and great photos can be made with Planars or Tessars. If I shot color, I might be tempted by the Planars, but for B/W I prefer the contrast of the Tessars.
     
  7. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    interesting. I was expecting everyone to speak up in favor of the Tessar. If your camera is not misaligned I think you will be hard pressed to find the Planar obviously superior. My first Rollei was a T with the Tessar and it was every bit as sharp as my others. Right here in APUG there have been lots of people speaking up in favor of the T and it's Tessar. The Tessar is a very famous high quality lens design that has very little flare problem even without coating. Supposedly it is a bit soft at the corners wide open.
     
  8. Rolleijoe

    Rolleijoe Member

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    Re: Tessar vs Planar

    Each have their own look. I own Rolleiflexs with both, and for most things prefer the Tessar. It just has a certain look to it that I love. That particular camera was made during the war, in 1945, and those lenses are legendary. The Planar is a completely different look, although still has that Zeiss bokeh.

    One advantage of the Tessars, is that they are usually Bay I, and the filters & accessories are very reasonable. The Planar is Bay II, and being larger physically, the same accessories are not only more expensive, but also harder to find.

    I find the bokeh when shot wide open, to be softer with the Tessar, (more natural), but then I rarely use any lens wide open, except for portraits/head shots (etc). For landscapes I prefer a Tessar. Architectural, I use the Planar.

    You'd just need to shoot each, and then decide which YOU prefer, based on your style of shooting. Everyone is different. Some people are loyal to certain car names, or brands, the same holds true for lenses.

    I recently picked up a Rollei 35 Rangefinder made in Germany in 1969. It has the desirable Tessar collapsable lens, which produces amazing images. Still shooting my 2nd roll through it (color this time, in New England last month). I doubt it will disappoint at all.
     
  9. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    I've only ever used my 3.5f, which has a planar, and it is by far my favourite piece of kit. When everything else is going wrong, I grab my 3.5 for some "Rollei Therapy", and soon all is good with the world. That being said, I can't imagine you being unhappy with either lens.
     
  10. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Both are capable of being fantastic assuming both have had solid adjustments during a CLA from a solid technician(not a cheap one). If you can afford it get a Planar, if you're stretching get a Tessar and a good CLA and you will rarely if ever be disappointed (assuming you're after great photos and not peeking at Air Force test charts.)
     
  11. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    From my own limited experience, I'd say the Planar is decisively sharper off-center, somewhat sharper in the center, and has a certain "pop" factor the Tessar types lack---but it might fairly be accused of a certain modern, "clinical" look that isn't always what you want. But neither one will ever, *ever*, be accused of being a technically inadequate lens, except by someone who's got something wrong with them!

    We may lose sight of this aspect sometimes, inveterate gearheads that many of us are---it's easy to get caught up worrying about the difference between "really really good" and "technically better than practically anyone needs".

    -NT
     
  12. cjbecker

    cjbecker Member

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    I havea rolleifcord III and it is the xenar which is the schneider copy of the tessar. I really enjoy the lens it just has to have a hood on. At f4 I really like what comes out of the camera and at f11 it's the sharpest thing I have shoot in medium format. Compared to hasselblad 50 fle and 80. The images are lower contrast to more modern lens but I just print on higher contrast paper.
     
  13. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    I think the best thing for me to do is to try one and eventually get the other and then decide from there. I'll probably fall in love with both lenses anyways. You can never have too many rolleis...right?
     
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  15. ooze

    ooze Member

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    I'm quite surprised at some of the negative impressions about Tessars, as my Rolleiflex T with Tessar lens is pinsharp (could there be alignment issues with other cameras?) Having said that, I prefer the bokeh of the Planar on my 2.8GX.
     
  16. Matus Kalisky

    Matus Kalisky Member

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    I used to have the Rolleiflex T. Very nice close to wide open for portraits or stopped down a bit for landscapes. A few examples:

    wide open
    [​IMG]

    around f/4
    [​IMG]

    around f/4
    [​IMG]

    around f/16
    [​IMG]
     
  17. MDR

    MDR Member

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    Center sharpness and resolution never was a Tessars weak point quiet the contrary in the center a coated Tessar should be the planars equal.
    For portraits and subjects were I want to draw the viewers attention to the center of the frame I prefer the tessar. When I need corner to corner sharpness (some architecture and some landscape work) I use the planer (rarely). The Planar Rolleis are usually a little heavier than the Tessar Rolleis so for hikes and street the Tessar is the better choice. If I had to choose between the Tessar and the Planar I'd choose the Tessar because it's lighter and because the picture it makes draw the viewer in whereas the planar creates a uniform neutral image.

    Dominik
     
  18. cjbecker

    cjbecker Member

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    The images look great, i really like the first 3. What post did you do on the images?
     
  19. Frank C

    Frank C Member

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    The Planar will give you better sharpness to the edge for landscapes. However when shooting landscapes a tripod will allow you to close down to a small aperture making the difference between the two lenses less pronounced. I have a MX-EVS and love it, however given a choice I would opt for the Planar if the price is right.
     
  20. Matus Kalisky

    Matus Kalisky Member

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    Thank you. Pretty much all the processing was Levels, Curves and bit of edge burning. No "funky" stuff :smile: All were made on BW film (the teddy bear is PanF, the rest is FP4+).

    If one follows the link from the color image you get 4 Mpix Coolscan 9000 scan - gives some idea about the detail captured (it was sharpened).
     
  21. cjbecker

    cjbecker Member

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    Thanks for the info. When I scan my negs from the rolleicord they are not quite as sharp as your but I don't apply any sharpening. I do mess with levels and curves to give more local contrast. But now since I have a darkroom I don't do any scanning of negs. I scan the prints that I make. With the darkroom i prefer printing negs from the rolleicord because the image is actually bigger then the other cameras that I shoot. I also happen to like working with a rolleicord neg compared to a hasselblad negative because of the smoothness when large f-stops
     
  22. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    My experience like others is that the Tessar's aren't as sharp as the Xenotar or Planar until well stopped down. I use a lot of Tessar (or Tessar type) lenses and that's the norm across all formats.

    If you need critical sharpess other tahn well stopped down then a Tessar os not ideal, and the Planar is of older origin but until coating was prone to far more flare :D

    Ian
     
  23. binks

    binks Member

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    I am a newbie to analogue (or should I say a returnee!) My father has just given my son a Rolleiflex Tessar 1958 - he said there might be a film in it and I think there is but the number on the side reads zero, I opened it and there is light grey paper with holes and numbers covering where the film should go (I imagine)..I cannot wind the film through....all I want to do is remove the film and take it to someone for developng. Help please? Many thanks. My son is going to love reading your site.....but as he is doing his GCSE exams at the moment and needs to revise I am keeping quiet about you for the time being. He is doing A level photography next year using analogue so you will be a great resource.
     
  24. jochen

    jochen Member

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    Hello,
    if you don't have any experience with a Rolleiflex or other 6x6 cameras, it would be the best to look for an instruction manual (for this you should find out the exact model by the serial No.). There you can see how to load and unload the camera and how to use it. Perhaps you know somebody who owns a Rollei and can explain it to you. Rolleis are not complicated to use but there are some things to know.
     
  25. EKDobbs

    EKDobbs Member

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    That grey paper is the paper backing to the film. While I would check an instruction manual, close the back and attempt to release the shutter (I'm not sure how, but it will be the only soft button on the camera), then wind the film. Don't worry, you've already exposed the film to light, so you're not wasting it. It was probably so old that it went bad anyway.
     
  26. emmef2

    emmef2 Member

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    I own both lenses, they are both excellent with a different and distinctive signature.
    Planar has slight resolution advantage especially on wide apertures and perhaps more important, smoother transitions to oof areas and smoother bokeh too.
    Tessar has more contrast and a more punchy rendition on the focus plan, that gives its signature especially in black and white images.
    While the best would be having both so you can understand what lens suits you the best, I suggest doing a search online for images made by those lenses to get an idea of their different characters