Would you buy a camera with lens coating issues?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by hidesert, Sep 30, 2010.

  1. hidesert

    hidesert Member

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    I bought an inoperative "UG" rated Rolleiflex 3.5E Planar from keh to see if I could fix it or at least use it as a parts camera. I did a CLA on the shutter and wind mechanism, cleaned it up, and repaired the meter. Now it works perfectly and looks very nice.

    As expected, the taking lens has defects in the coating - not major - but you can see small cloudy spots and tiny pits if you hold it just right. The viewing lens had some fungus on the rear surface which was easily cleaned but left some scarring in the coating. It also looks like some separation starting on the edge (only visible when the lens is removed from the camera).

    I took a roll of B&W indoors and can see no difference in sharpness from my almost mint condition 3.5F Planar whiteface. There may be a small loss in contrast.

    I'll probably sell this camera when I finish fixing it up. I need to replace a piece of leather on the viewfinder and a couple of fasteners. The meter cover is broken of course and it would take $50-$60 to replace it.

    My question is how much I should invest in this considering the lens defects. Would you even consider buying a camera like this and how much of a discount would you expect? You would be buying a Rollei in above average cosmetic condition in perfect working order, cleaned, lubed, and adjusted, but with a lens with issues.
     
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  2. domaz

    domaz Member

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    The coating will become an issue if you use it out of doors and the light is coming from the side or hitting the lens off-axis. However, if you are careful and use a lens hood it's probably not much of an issue. Your camera probably has no collectible value but it has a lot of user value left- I say just use it!
     
  3. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    No.

    Just my opinion. If I had replacement lens elements or I was on a tight budget.

    Steve
     
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  4. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Wouldn't be the first time.
    Even with damaged coating it could be a decent starter camera for some one on a budget.
     
  5. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I wouldn't worry about it. All my lens have cloudy spots, but that is due to my eyes!:laugh:

    Jeff
     
  6. Brian Legge

    Brian Legge Member

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    I'd like to say it doesn't matter but after purchasing a few lenses with 'some cleaning marks', I'm unlikely to do so again in the future. Both were so significant that the loss of contrast and the amount of glow dominated anything else in the picture.

    A few shots here: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=industar 22&w=59657594@N00

    I don't mind risking $20-40 a pop for FSU lenses but I wouldn't put down much more than that on a risk. One of these days I'll find an Industar 22 or 50 with a front element in decent condition. :wink:
     
  7. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    I kept mine:
    [​IMG][/IMG]
     
  8. mabman

    mabman Member

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    I, too, have had a couple of issues with buying lenses that had "small cleaning marks" and creative lighting that hid the ugly truth.

    If someone tried to sell me a camera with a lens that had "defects in the coating" I would be suspicious that these defects were caused by overzealous cleaning, and therefore there might be scratches the seller isn't telling me about. I'm aware aggressive cleaning isn't the only cause of coating issues, but it would raise a red flag.

    It still might be worth something to somebody, just not to me :smile:
     
  9. elekm

    elekm Member

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    To answer your question, I wouldn't buy a camera with lens coating issues unless I was planning to replace the lens.

    As others have said, lens issues are often visible in the image. So, when someone says that a scratch or something won't have any effect on the image, you should demand proof. Sometimes it doesn't. But sometimes it does.
     
  10. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    I think it really depends on the reputation of the seller and whether there is any trial period.

    For example, if someone here tells me that there is a small defect in the lens, but it has no noticeable effect on the image, I'm likely to believe them. And if I get the right to examine and return it if dissatisfied, then I would most likely take the chance. This is a small tight knit community, and nobody want the reputation of being a cheat..

    OTOH, if someone on evilBay says it's mint out of the box, but "I don't know nuthin about cameras man" then I just assume it got tested, doesn't work, and they're playing stupid. Or, in the lens example "It such a small defect I couldn't get a picture of it" then it may very well have a knife gouge across the front.

    So, yes, I might very well by a less than perfect lens, so long as it's disclosed and I'm not paying a premium price. In my case, the limiting factor is usually the photographer, not the lens.
     
  11. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    If a student came up to me and had a camera as you described and wanted to know if it was worth the $150 to $200 it was being sold at -- I'd tell him to go for it. At $300 I would want to do comparison tests like you seem to have already done with your other 3.5E..

    If the camera was originally mine and it had those defects in the taking lens, I would consider the defects as marks of strong character -- and would use the camera as if it were perfect. I use a lens shade all the time on my Rolleiflex, anyway. Buying such a camera to use as my main MF camera is questionable. The main question would be if I could afford a camera in such good condition and perfect glass!LOL!
     
  12. hidesert

    hidesert Member

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    Oh well, you can't have too many cameras, can you? :wink:

    This is the fourth Rollei TLR I currently own. I might keep it for a while as a house camera, loaded with fast color film, ready on a shelf for shots of the family. Then I'll have my Automat MX loaded with fast B&W film as my other house camera, my 3.5F as city rig, and my Rolleiwide loaded with Velvia as my landscape setup.

    If I thought I couldn't get $250 or so for it and have a satisfied buyer I'd probably strip it of the meter and sell that separately.
     
  13. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    When I lived in Pasadena I found a place called Pacific Universal who could do an amazing job of polishing and recoating.
     
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  15. epatsellis

    epatsellis Member

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    so, Brian, I guess that this lens would be total trash???

    [​IMG]


    Of course, it could be perfectly fine:

    [​IMG]

    (and on 8x10 film no less....)
     
  16. dehk

    dehk Member

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    Supposedly you should have issue, But i have a AIS Nikkor 180 f2.8, the coating on the front element looks messed up, never had a problem with it color or bw.
     
  17. phaedrus

    phaedrus Member

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    I'd be most worried about the fungus you think you cleaned off. I think it can come back unless removed totally (irradiation, perhaps?).
     
  18. Jeff Searust

    Jeff Searust Member

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    I am going to second Jeff's comment here, and just also point out that I have a ton of lenses and cameras without any coatings and I would think any scratches and or fungus would be a much different matter than coatings. If you are able to demonstrate that any faults in the glass are off center enough not to be an issue or that they can't be seen, then I would think there not to be so much of a problem selling it. --- Just point out the faults as well as the positives.
     
  19. film_man

    film_man Member

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    I don't mind lenses with some marks on them and I would probably buy something with coating issues or chips if it was cheap enough and I was looking for something like that for whatever reason. But I simply don't touch lenses with fungus, you can clean it and it comes back eventually but my main concern is that one way or another it will end up in some camera bag along with other stuff and it will just infect the rest of it.
     
  20. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

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    fungus is everywhere. it doesn't "spread"

    spores are in the air everywhere. One lens with fungus will not 'infect' others. They all have the spores. Storage condition determines whether they grow or not.
     
  21. guitstik

    guitstik Member

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    A friend of mine gave me a Canon Canonet QL17 GIII that he gave me because he was worried about the fungus that was infecting the lens. I took the camera and replaced the light baffles and cleaned it up and hit the lens with UV light and now it takes some of the best pics of all the cameras that I own. So to answer your question, no, I would not be afraid of a lens with issues as long as it wasn't falling apart (I had one like that).
     
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  22. Tony Karnezis

    Tony Karnezis Member

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    In the words of a well known large format lens purveyor, lens defects generally affect the user more than the lens. As Erie's example showed, obvious defects can be invisible in the final print.

    Two of my lenses have 3-4mm scratches near the center of the rear element with no apparent effect, except on the price. Hence I picked up a 240mm Sironar-S ($2300 new) that was in perfect condition except for the scratch for $500.

    I also have a 19" Red Dot Artar with significant cleaning marks on the front element that I picked up quite cheap. It looks like someone cleaned the glass with steel wool. I haven't done a direct comparison to a another lens, but it seems fine. If contrast is reduced, I haven't noticed. Unscientific to be sure (maybe I just have learned to develop longer), but it illustrates the point. Beyond that, common sense prevails. As mentioned previously, the price should reflect the defect, and a good return policy is your friend.

    Check out the image quality this damaged lens can produce.

    http://www.lensrentals.com/news/2008.10.30/front-element-scratches
     
  23. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    I would not buy a camera with coating issues only because I buy for the long term. I buy used gear in excellent condition and keep it.

    If I was on a budget and just wanted something to run 120 film through while I test the MF waters, coating defects wouldn't be an issue. I doubt a beginner would notice. The sheer image size/quality difference from 35mm would be an eye-opener.

    I used to use my Dad's 35mm Ciro rangefinder from the 1950s. I always swore it had great optics, and they were indeed good for a low-budget camera. When the shutter died for the final time, I took a close look at the lens, and it looked like a Brillo pad had been used to clean it. The last pictures it made were as good as any others it made during its lifespan.

    Peter Gomena
     
  24. John_Nikon_F

    John_Nikon_F Subscriber

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    Had a 200/4 Nikkor AI with a big spot of coating damage on the rear element. Looked like oily film on it. Yet, the photos that came from it were fine. No difference when compared to shots I've made with other 200mm Nikkors that I've owned.

    -J
     
  25. Brian Legge

    Brian Legge Member

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    epatsellis, does it work that well stopped down? If so, I'm impressed. Again, I use to be of the 'lens defects are less of a big deal than people think' camp until picking up a few lenses with a bunch of cleaning marks which had extremely poor contrast to the point of being usable for the shots I wanted to get.

    The impact on the negatives changes defect to defect. Without the ability to test it and be sure I understand what impact there is if any, I personally wouldn't be comfortable putting down a bunch of money on something blind unless I was confident I could sell it for the same price if it didn't work for me.

    Thats just me though. Everyone will have their own criteria.
     
  26. TimmyMac

    TimmyMac Subscriber

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    A lot of my lenses have slight glass defects. Never noticed the difference between them and the mint ones, so I have no problem saving a few hundred.