Replacing front element?
Hi, my name is Antje and I have a serious case of GAS. I haven't bought camera equipment in four hours (but it was just a strap and some fixer!!!). Anyway. Back to the point - my dad found a rather beaten Planar 80/2.8 C T* for free (almost, it cost him some beers) and it will be mine for Christmas. He says the shutter works flawlessly, but it has some cleaning marks on the front element. Before it breaks my heart to see that they impair image quality, I'd like to know if anyone has ever had to replace a front element, and how much will that cost me, if it should be necessary?
Trouble is, if I get that lens and it turns out to be soft, I'll most likely rush it to the nearest lens emergency room and do everything I can to make it better - I get attached to gear very fast. So I might be better off buying one off Ebay if it's more than, say, 300 Euros to repair the lens. What do you think? What is your experience with this?
Antje, I live about 4 km from Charlie Barringer. He's co-author of a little book Zeiss-Ikon Compendium. He has a small mountain of Zeiss and other lenses and camera bodies to use 'em on too.
Charlie has more than a few Zeiss lenses with rather ugly front elements. I have some other makes with hideous front elements. If our ugly lenses' performance is a guide, stop worrying. Try your new lens out first. If it doesn't satisfy and you must have an 80/2.8 Planar to use on your newly acquired 'blad, check prices for used ones at www.keh.com before running to a repairman or buying another via ebay.com or ebay.de.
And don't get hung up on T* lenses, the earlier coatings were just fine. For lenses with more air-to-glass surfaces than Tessars, any coating is better than none but multi-coating isn't worth much more than single coating. My 38 Biogon is single-coated and pretty flare resistant. And its got more air-glass surfaces than y'r Planar.
Don't misunderstand. Other things equal I prefer pretty lenses. But most ugly lenses are still better than good enough.
Good luck, have fun, don't worry so much,
Unless it's been cleaned with a hammer and chisel, there's no chance you'll see any effect on the pictures.
Relax and enjoy - it's a great lens!
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
Originally Posted by Antje
Look at it this way. Almost any lens is good for SOMETHING.
Replacing front elements is silly money. Getting them repolished (e.g. by Balham Optical in the UK) is not so bad, but still expensive.
But try the lens; use it for what it is good for (reputations have been built on badly cleaned lenses, such as portraits, or young girls with few or no clothes on); and the chances are that you will find you can use it for everything/ almost everything else as well.
R. (www.rogerandfrances.com -- where there's a whole module in The Photo School, though alas not free, on old lenses)
Since you are in Germany, it would be simple to send the front element to Arax in Ukraine for polish and recoat for equivalent of US $35. i have done this three times for Leica front lens elements and they came back flawless.
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Yes, ARAX is a good idea IF the front element isn't in a metal mount. ARAX will only take the glass, removed from the lens and out of any mount.
I once asked at Rollei (Franke&Heidecke now) for a replacement of the front element on my 4/50 Distagon (for my SL66, not a Hassy). It was 100 to 150 then, about two years ago.
The scar in the front element is still there as it does not make a difference. From time to time I think of sending it to Braunschweig just to get it right, but I always find better use for the money.
Thanks for the support, guys - I guess I'll just give it a loving home and not worry too much. Actually, ugly gear is just fine, isn't it. My Canon 300/4 is a real beater, it has more dings than paint and works perfectly (it was a photostore rescue, poor thing has been used as a loaner for decades).
Just to pour more fuel on my GAS: Regarding KEH - do you have any experience with their rating system? I'll be in the US again for a week or two in January and the Dollar being in favor of us Europeans, I seriously consider getting a working viewfinder. Is it worth getting something in EX shape? And how bad is "bargain"?
I've bought a few BGN lenses from KEH and they were all nearly as new.