Quick discussion on optics
Just curious to know what everybody's opinion is here. I've got, currently, 3 medium format camera's that I use and countless other's I've bought, sold, traded, re-bought and re-sold over the years.
All have given me results better than I could hope, for the most part. But here's my question...for those with experience, and/or knowledge in these things which optics do you think are the "best" in terms of sharpness, color accuracy, and anything else that really matters, between the Rokkor lenses of the Minolta Autocords, and the more modern optics of Bronics ETRS series cameras? My other is a Hassy, so we'll leave that out.
Personally I like the 'cord's optics better, but is this just me? Aside from not being interchangable, it's almost definitely my go-to medium format shooter.
Waiting to hear what y'all think
I've also bought, sold, traded a huge number of cameras over the years.
Least favourite medium format lens -- Rollei 2.8F Planar. High resolution, but low contrast and lacklustre colours.
Favourite TLR lens -- Yashica LM Yashinon 3.5. High resolution, medium contrast, lovely colours.
Favourite SLR lens -- Bronica ETR MC 75mm/2.8 (I have the PE lens as well, but the MC is just great.) Good resolution, excellent microcontrast and great bokeh.
Third place -- Zeiss Super Ikonta B with 80mm/2.8 Tessar. Sharp, smooth bokeh.
I hear good things about the Rokkors and the Autocord. I would definitely add one to the collection, but I don't have experience with them now. I do have a top-grade AGFA Super-8 camera that sports a Rokkor sourced from Minolta. Image quality (relative to Super 8) is superb.
My other camera is a Pentax
Having used a variety of TLRs, one important factor I have seen is sample variation and camera condition. I've seen Yashinons that are great and some that are pretty pedestrian. So many Yashica-Mats were made, and the focus rails and such are not the best, so alignment could be a major factor.
Since the Rolleiflex Planar is generally considered an excellent lens, I bet something was wrong with the 2.8F. Bad coatings, haze, alignment? There are even cases where lens elements have been swapped by people trying to hide problems, leading to mismatched sets and such.
I've had mediocre Tessars on a Rolleiflex, and excellent Xenars. Lumaxars on a Yashica that were great.
And then there is the 2.8 Xenotar on a Rolleiflex C. Its look is fantastic for me. If I could only figure out how to carry it everywhere without worry, it's the one camera I would use.
I've used a Bronica ETRSi with a 50 MC, 75 EII, and 105 MC(non-macro). All were very good. None made me say that the lenses were something special, but I never felt as if they let me down.
I've had a few Autocords. Yes, sample variation is an issue. A couple have been wonderful, close to the Xenotar. A couple have been very good. Equal or better than the Bronicas. The focus alignment of the Minolta camera is much stronger than Yashica or Rollei. So the odds of getting a good lens at the least is much better.
I can't say for certain why I sold the Bronica setup. TLRs and I get along. So maybe I didn't give the Bronica lenses a chance? Maybe this is part of it for the OP- the Hassy gives him a look with the mirror slap, and the Minolta does it without the slap, so why hold on to the Bronica?
Generally hold on to the Bronica for simplicity. Sometimes I just want to go shoot without lugging around 10 pounds of camera, meter, and film. Plus, there's the factor that, well, Hassy stuff is expensive. If I scratch, dent, ding, or destroy a Bronica lens I'm not too likely to have to sell my car to replace it.
One of my favorite medium format lenses is the Pentax 55mm wide angle lens (like a 28 for a 35mm) for my Pentax 6X7. Great lens. I've used a lot of tlrs. The Autocord is really nice, but the body feels kind of fragile despite the great optics. I have a Yashica 24 and I am always pleased with the results, as well as using 120 in a camera that is only suppose to use 220. I've had a couple of Rollies and I liked them but I didn't hold on to them. I recently obtained a Kalloflex tlr and that is definitely a keeper, bitingly sharp lens and a very tough solid body. Haven't run a roll of color through it yet. Another surprise is the Ikoflex IIa, not the most convenient when loading, but great results. Two surprises: The Kodak Reflex II 620 tlr, very good to excellent lens and I've been using a couple of early century Kodak folders (old 116 format) shooting 120 and getting sharp images.
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I seem to have a different philosophy when it comes to film cameras. When I want something really really sharp, with saturated color, and high contrast, I just use my pro Nikon digital camera and lenses. Sometimes that's just not the look I want though. I want something with more "charecter," and go after a vintage look. I have only been buying pre-war uncoated lenses, and have a 1937 Bessa and 1914 Kodak Special (6x9 folders.) I just splurged and bought a 1931 baby Rolleiflex 4x4. I love the soft look I get, and make images that have a timeless feel to them. I also use lenses from 1900 to 1928 (Heliar, Dagor, Tessar) on my Chamonix 4x5 along with Petzvals as old as 1847. Select your camera gear based on what you do with it, and which system works best for that. Don't get caught up in worrying about the details of it--concentrate on using the Light.
Kent in SD
Dan, my judgement on the Rollei Planar is purely personal/aesthetic. It performed well. The camera was CLA'd, the lens was in good condition. The photos, to most folks, would be perfect. Indeed when scanning the photos from that Rollei showed more detail than any camera/lens combination I've ever used. But every lens has a "feel". And I didn't like the feel. I did get the impression that these negatives would make superb optical prints, but I never went that route.
I also agree wholeheartedly about sample variation. In Yashica's, I have had an EM, two LM's and a 12. All with Yashinons. The EM and the 12 were fine, nothing spectacular. Both LM's were great, and my current LM is superb. It was my current LM that convinced me to sell the Rollei :-)
My other camera is a Pentax
My Rolleiflex T, and Minolta Autocord. Both make great "travelling" cameras. Unbeatable "on the move" quality, and no battery worries. You take less pictures than with 35mm, but you concentrate more on each frame, therefore better pictures.
I never found my Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar to be anything special either, and prefer the rendering the Xenotar gives with my current Rolleicord V. I never bonded with Hasselblad and their lenses and when I came around again to buying another 'system' MF I got a Bronica SQ/B and three lenses that are terrific. And to add to my growing belief that something cheaper can have as good a lens or better as something pricier, I am kicking myself to find that my Lubitel is amazing when I bought it for £7 thinking/hoping it would be awful. I can't win.
Rolleicords came with Triotars and Xenars (and a few Tessars at the very end). Not Xenotars. The Xenar is a basic Tessar-type design. A very nice one in my experience. Certainly the best Tessar-type lens I have used on a Rolleiflex was a Xenar on a model from about 1949. That might be the one lens I have had that gave the Xenotar I love a run for the money. And I sold it to someone who I see around, and I keep asking to buy it back, but she just won't let it go.
Originally Posted by 250swb
So many factors go into what makes a lens and camera work for someone. Film, developer, light. Whenever I see threads like this I wonder why certain lenses left me cold and others worked. Did I have a bad sample? Did I not know how to use it? Was I fool to sell it???!! The nice thing about all the experiences and favorite lenses is that it means that we aren't all bidding on the exact same lens on Ebay because it is absolutely *the* best lens! Vive la différence.
Last edited by Dan Daniel; 06-28-2012 at 09:56 PM. Click to view previous post history.