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  1. #1

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    An unusual Tessar 150/6.3 from 1939?

    Hello friends,

    recently I got a nice gift from my friend Vitaliy, a camera repairman. He gave me an old uncoated Tessar 150/6.3, mounted in rim-set Compur, in a very good state. It dates to 1939, according to its serial number. Both cells of the lens are marked "Verkleinerung" and "Vergrosserung", probably indicating the right position of the lens for normal and macro shoots. The lens itself is VERY, very good, sharp and contrasty - here's the example of portrait taken with it at f/8 (http://img523.imageshack.us/img523/8622/yu83rr.th.jpg). I can't find any info on this series of Tessar, probably it was made for some technical shooting purposes (f/6.3 series was the first line of Tessars, if I'm not mistaken)? Wasn't it too late for f/6.3 lens in 1939, unless it's, say, apochromatic or repro? The rear element has a relatively (1 mm or more) thick factory-made shim between the shutter and cell rim, that's puzzling too - the cells were obviously made for a thicker shutter? The shutter aperture scale has two series of numbers, apparently for f/4.5 and for f/6.3 cell sets. A very strange yet very nice lens... maybe someone know what for it was originally made by Zeiss?

    Cheers, Zhenya

  2. #2

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    Dear Zhenya,

    You are a very lucky man. This is only the third such lens I have encountered.

    I had one myself, many years ago, when I knew a lot less about photography than I do now, and like an idiot I sold it for something newer and (as I thought) 'better'. It was a superb lens.

    A few years ago I was discussing this with Sir Kenneth Corfield, and he told exactly the same story: he very much regretted getting rid of his.

    I have never seen the attraction of most LF Tessars, but the late f/6.3 is another matter: I keep hoping I'll find another.

    On another topic entirely, is there any sign of Russia relaxing visa requirements? I'd love to come back to the country -- did you ever see my stuff in Foto Magazin? -- but the visas are just too much hassle. But now that they're floating the rouble I live in hope.

    Cheers,

    Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com)

  3. #3

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    Guys,

    I've recently acquired two 150/6.3 Tessars in barrel. One, made in 1911-2, via eBay.de, the other, made in 1936, as a gift (!) from Jim Galli. And I've asked around about them.

    The news from Charlie Barringer and Arne Croell, both quoting H. Thiele, is that f/6.3 Tessars were made to a 1911 design as recently as 1941. So, Roger, pre-WWII is early, not late. According to Arne, an unpublished manuscript by Wandersleb in the Zeiss archives reports that his 1911 redesign was to improve ease of manufacturing, not to improve performance.

    I'd expect that post-WWII f/6.3 Tessars from CZJ were made to a more modern design.

    The 1911-2 one is great, test shots from Jim's gift haven't been processed yet.

    Zhenya, Jim's gift has Vergroesserung engraved on the rear cell's barrel, nothing on the front cell's barrel. Charlie tells me that he has a 1939 165/6.3 Tessar with the front cell's barrel engraved Verkleinerung and the rear engraved Vergroesserung. When I tried out Jim's gift, I shot it at distance front cell front and rear cell front, so we'll see what difference reversing it makes. FWIW, the image on the GG with the lens wide open was very good both ways, but we know that its very difficult to evaluate sharpness on the GG with the naked eye.

    A propos of f/6.3 Tessars in shutter, I recently came by a 130/6.3 CZJ Tessar in Compound made no later than March 1911, i.e., before the redesign. Not tried out yet. I've dismantled all three of my f/6.3 Tessars for cleaning, no shims anywhere.

    Cheers,

    Dan

  4. #4

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    Deat Dan,

    Thanks for the further information, and I envy you your lenses, but I'm slightly confused. You must have mistyped somewhere, or I must have been unusually unclear, because if 'as late as 1941' is correct, than WW2 (or indeed immediately pre-WW2) is indeed late compared with the pre-WW1 design. Surely pre-1911 may be taken as 'early' and post-1911 as 'late'? Or have I enjoyed too good a lunch? (Onion, tomato, courgette and cheese omelette with a couple of glasses of Costieres de Nimes).

    I have to confess I am not familiar with the post-war Jena f/6.3 Tessars, but they sound like fun.

    Cheers,

    Roger

  5. #5

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    Roger,

    From late 1911 through 1941 or so, there was just one f/6.3 Tessar design. All the same curves, all the same glasses. One made in, say, 1912, should be identical to one made in 1941, mechanics aside. FWIW, my 1911-2 and 1936 lenses are in very different barrels.

    So far so clear?

    Yes, there was a redesign in 1911. But, and this is the big thing, there should be no difference in use between 1902-late 1911 and late 1911-1941 or so f/6.3 Tessars, since Wandersleb's redesign was for manufacturing, not lens performance, purposes.

    One of those rare designs that was pretty much right from the start. I expect that post-WWII f/6.3 CZJ Tessars would be righter still, since they're coated (hardly necessary, but still ... ) and since more glass types were available than in 1902 and 1911. The significant change has to have come after WWII.

    Cheers,

    Dan

    I envy you your lunch.

  6. #6

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    Dear Dan,

    Thanks. A combination of lunch and semantics...

    Cheers,

    Roger

  7. #7

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    I heartily agree with Dan - I envy your lunch.

    Steve

  8. #8

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    Roger,

    I am really feeling lucky that I've got this lens - the picture it gives is very pleasing to my eye. Though I didn't try it on colour materials (wonder if I ever would ), I think that it would perform fine. On BW it's a song, really - today I tried to shoot my lab assistant on 4 ASA unsensibilized sheet film, you have to see the results when I scan it tomorrow - real twenties, dark skin and white eyes

    Frankly, I can't understand all this hassle with Russian visas - I hope that it would be easier soon... just let me know whether you would need something for your visa like an invitation letter, I would be glad to offer a helping hand

    Cheers, and thanks for your information - it's very interesting.

    Zhenya

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hicks
    Dear Zhenya,

    You are a very lucky man. This is only the third such lens I have encountered.

    I had one myself, many years ago, when I knew a lot less about photography than I do now, and like an idiot I sold it for something newer and (as I thought) 'better'. It was a superb lens.

    A few years ago I was discussing this with Sir Kenneth Corfield, and he told exactly the same story: he very much regretted getting rid of his.

    I have never seen the attraction of most LF Tessars, but the late f/6.3 is another matter: I keep hoping I'll find another.

    On another topic entirely, is there any sign of Russia relaxing visa requirements? I'd love to come back to the country -- did you ever see my stuff in Foto Magazin? -- but the visas are just too much hassle. But now that they're floating the rouble I live in hope.

    Cheers,

    Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com)

  9. #9

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    Dan,

    do the numbers on both cells match? I am unsure that Zeiss guys were so forgetful that they saved a pfennig on one cell? leaving it without a mark.

    My lens performs fine on f/6.3, as well as on other apertures - that means that the shim was made on purpose Maybe it's a good idea to photograph this lens and post here, just for everyone's information? My APUG membership has expired, so I can do it on Imageshack, for example.

    Cheers, and thank you - Zhenya

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm
    Zhenya, Jim's gift has Vergroesserung engraved on the rear cell's barrel, nothing on the front cell's barrel. Charlie tells me that he has a 1939 165/6.3 Tessar with the front cell's barrel engraved Verkleinerung and the rear engraved Vergroesserung. When I tried out Jim's gift, I shot it at distance front cell front and rear cell front, so we'll see what difference reversing it makes. FWIW, the image on the GG with the lens wide open was very good both ways, but we know that its very difficult to evaluate sharpness on the GG with the naked eye.

    A propos of f/6.3 Tessars in shutter, I recently came by a 130/6.3 CZJ Tessar in Compound made no later than March 1911, i.e., before the redesign. Not tried out yet. I've dismantled all three of my f/6.3 Tessars for cleaning, no shims anywhere.

    Cheers,

    Dan

  10. #10

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    Zhenya, the numbers match. I've no idea why the front of Jim's gift isn't engraved "Verkleinerung."

    About color, these lenses are very good with color. In addition to my f/6.3 CZJ Tessars, I have two B&L f/6.3 Tessars, one (Kodak Zeiss Anastigmat) made under licence before 1914 and another made in the early 1920s. I've had them longer, have shot them more than my echt Zeiss ones. Usual story. Color shots taken with an uncoated B&L Tessar and with my 1911-2 CZJ one, even against the light, can't reliably be separated from ones taken with a more modern coated lens.

    So much for more than a century of progress in the lens maker's art. Unless, of course, one wants a wide angle or a telephoto lens.

    Cheers,

    Dan

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