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  1. #21
    Whiteymorange's Avatar
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    Just my personal experience, but the Tessar on my MXV EV is much better than a later Xenar I had until very recently (sold it at Photographica). Both were very good, but the Tessar had better contrast and was sharper in the only test I ever ran on them. I understand that every single lens is a bit different, and that the history of my cameras may have played a part– neither was new when i bought it but each had been CLA'd in the recent past. Still, the pricelist of new Rolleiflex cameras from one shop in Prov, RI in 1956 showed a $40 difference between Xenar and Tessar lens models. Must have been some difference acknowledged by the company. $40 was not chump change in 1956.

  2. #22

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    Xenar vs Tessar... no advantage either way. It's up to the quality and optical centering of your particular lens. Both are good lenses computed by the giants of lens technology. Same for Planar vs Xenotar. Things like number of aperture blades can have an impact but it's going to be a tie optically on a general basis.

    Xenar/Tessar vs Xenotar/Planar, the planar type is going to win at anything wider than f/8. The tessar will be sharp in the center, but the Planar will be sharper and have much better edge sharpness. On the other hand, the Tessar won't be bad at all. It was the top of the line for decades, aside from maybe the Heliar type, and produces usable results at all apertures.
    Last edited by PaulMD; 01-27-2012 at 01:18 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  3. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Whiteymorange View Post
    Still, the pricelist of new Rolleiflex cameras from one shop in Prov, RI in 1956 showed a $40 difference between Xenar and Tessar lens models. Must have been some difference acknowledged by the company. $40 was not chump change in 1956.
    I don't have personal knowledge of the relative pricing schemes, but it's possible you were paying for the brand name or very marginal gains. Zeiss still does this today, for example the Zeiss 50/1.4 Planar is actually worse than the AF-Nikkor 50/1.4 on full frame wide open/near wide open performance (Photozone.de), but it costs twice as much. $350 isn't chump change even today, but that's the premium you pay for the Zeiss brand name and (in this case inferior) performance.

    Given that both lenses have a pretty much identical formula, I'd have to see proof to accept a claim that one was better, and it would have to be a statistically large enough sample to overcome unit variation. There's also the fact that these things are ancient, so the lenses can come out of sync, be repaired or realigned improperly, filled with fungus, reground, recemented, who knows what.

    From what I've seen, unit variation exceeds any broad-level performance variation, especially given the age and uncertain provenance.
    Last edited by PaulMD; 01-27-2012 at 01:21 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  4. #24
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulMD View Post
    From what I've seen, unit variation exceeds any broad-level performance variation, especially given the age and uncertain provenance.
    Back to the OP's question really because by 1945 CZJ were having to re-calculate the design slightly to suite particular batches of optical glass which lead to greater than normal variations.

    Ian

  5. #25

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    Well I got good news from my repairman. The camera only needs a little tlc to get running and it's not fungus! Should be shooting in 2 weeks.

  6. #26
    Richard Sintchak (rich815)'s Avatar
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    When it comes to older and particularly "user" grade Rolleiflexes, the overall condition of the camera and the lenses have a FAR more impact on results than the comparison of the different types of lenses. Many of these older/user cameras have front standards a little out of whack, or backs that do not close as tightly as they should, or focusing screens that are not altogether flat or straight, etc. that can make one lens seem to perform better than another. I have a feeling a large majority of these "I had this one and that one and that one was better..." comparisons are more the individual cameras than the actual indication of which lens is better.
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  7. #27
    John Austin's Avatar
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    Now that is sorted . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by mudman View Post
    Well I got good news from my repairman. The camera only needs a little tlc to get running and it's not fungus! Should be shooting in 2 weeks.
    Good, now that is sorted stop worrying and make pictures, which is what we should be about here - I shall take my own point and load our new-you-beaut-ute for pix tomorrow and Monday - I will even mount a 10x8" camera on the top!

  8. #28

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    jba - plan to. Only reason why I asked is that it was advertised as a tessar, not xenar and I wanted to know if there was a price difference between the two. Proof is in the pudding, and I'll definitely get to test it out and see how it does next to its younger, tessar mounted brother.
    I like to turn a negative into a positive. Visit my website to see my work! www.awasos.com

  9. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by rich815 View Post
    When it comes to older and particularly "user" grade Rolleiflexes, the overall condition of the camera and the lenses have a FAR more impact on results than the comparison of the different types of lenses. Many of these older/user cameras have front standards a little out of whack, or backs that do not close as tightly as they should, or focusing screens that are not altogether flat or straight, etc. that can make one lens seem to perform better than another. I have a feeling a large majority of these "I had this one and that one and that one was better..." comparisons are more the individual cameras than the actual indication of which lens is better.
    That is a valuable point that really deserves more emphasis. I mentioned earlier that I tested a lot of these lenses over the past year. That was largely to check focus (and camera function). In the process I got to see a lot of side by side comparisions at proper focus (and used up a fair bit of film). More than half of the Rolleis I checked needed at least slight adjustment (which was done).

    I'd also add that nearly all of the old Tessars and Xenars I saw had at least slight haze on the surfaces in the air space between the first two elements (which I cleaned).

    Because of all that (and more), casual observations about lens performance seem very unreliable to me.

  10. #30

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    One last thing. When I told my repairman that the cameras was rated Ugly by KEH, his simple reply? "KEH should know better, there's no such thing as an ugly Rolleilfex."
    I like to turn a negative into a positive. Visit my website to see my work! www.awasos.com

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