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  1. #1

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    Xenar versus Tessar?

    So I took a gamble. I bought a 1945 Rolleiflex Automat Model 3 (k4b2) in ugly condition from KEH. It was cheap, so I threw it in with some filters I was purchasing. They advertised it as having the tessar taking lens. It showed up today. Doesn't work (like they said), but other than that it's in very decent cosmetic shape - a little wear to the paint and leather here and there, but the mirrors are in excellent shape, focusing is smooth (but the front standard does show a bit of chrome around the outside edge all the way retracted on one corner), the focusing screen is crisp. The taking lens may have fungus I'll be dropping it off at my repairman tomorrow to get his verdict on getting it running.
    My one little complaint (very minor) is that it is not a Tessar. It's a Xenar. On the positive side the taking lens is coated (viewing lens looks uncoated). I know they're both a tessar design, but is that something I should even give a hoot about? In working condition, is their a difference in price between the Tessar and Xenar? I know there was when they were sold new back in the day.
    The nice thing is I have 2 weeks to have it looked at, and during that time I can return to KEH no questions asked.
    I like to turn a negative into a positive. Visit my website to see my work! www.awasos.com

  2. #2
    Chazzy's Avatar
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    Xenars are Tessar clones.
    Charles Hohenstein

  3. #3

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    Yup, I know that. Guess main reason I ask if there's any difference between two is for value pricewise and quality. I don't think there will be a difference in quality, but I'm curious. The reason I ask is that it was advertised as a Tessar Rollei. It's not, it's a Xenar.
    Last edited by mudman; 01-26-2012 at 12:24 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    I like to turn a negative into a positive. Visit my website to see my work! www.awasos.com

  4. #4
    BradS's Avatar
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    I don't know about the specifics of the Rollei market but in large format lenses, Tessars are, generally speaking, older, command lower prices and are considerd to not perform as well as the (generally) newer Xenars. One way of understanding this is that Schneider "modernized" the basic 4/3 design. They made improvements in design, materials and manufacturing.

    Personally, I greatly prefer the Xenars to the Tessars...

  5. #5

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    I've never noticed a difference. In fact, many of my best images were taken wiht a Rollei and a 3.5 Xenar.

  6. #6

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    I don't have a true Tessar to compare to, but the Xenar on my Rolleicord seems to behave and perform exactly the way one expects of a Tessar. I don't think I've ever heard anybody say there was a meaningful difference.

    Agreed, though, that KEH messed up in advertising it as a Tessar---I mean, what if you'd been buying it as a Zeiss collector? For user purposes I think it's a no-harm-no-foul situation.

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by BradS View Post
    I don't know about the specifics of the Rollei market but in large format lenses, Tessars are, generally speaking, older, command lower prices and are considerd to not perform as well as the (generally) newer Xenars. One way of understanding this is that Schneider "modernized" the basic 4/3 design. They made improvements in design, materials and manufacturing.

    Personally, I greatly prefer the Xenars to the Tessars...
    That's because Schneider stayed in the large format lens business longer than Zeiss. The Zeiss Tessars for MF were tweaked and reformulated as well, for instance the Tessar used on the Rollei 3.5 T models used rare earth glass and was a stellar performer, better than the Xenars of that era.

  8. #8
    mablo's Avatar
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    Xenar is a Zeiss Tessar clone made by Schneider. Obviously Schneider cannot use the name 'Tessar' but they can use the Tessar optical formula which was released to the public domain after the WW2. Both are fantastic lenses in good condition.

  9. #9
    Andy38's Avatar
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    I have Automat's with Tessar and Xenar and don't notice any difference.

    But the later Tessar on the Rolleiflex T is better.

  10. #10

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    I think you better pump a roll of fine grain film through it. I have a 3.5 F model Xenar that's everybit as good as the 80mm Planar on my 'Blad.

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