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  1. #1

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    Rolleiflex Tessar vs Planar

    I'm thinking about getting a Rolleiflex, tessar- or planar- type f3.5 lens on a flexible budget.

    When shooting wide open, is there a noticeable difference in (from your experience)
    1) Center-resolution
    2) Bokeh qualities (is one smoother than the other)

    I'm thinking about a Rolleiflex MX-EVS or a Rolleiflex 3.5e because I've heard good thinks about both. If I do get one, I'd like it to be overhauled--where's a good place and what's the approximate price?

  2. #2
    piu58's Avatar
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    Yes, there is a difference.

    I own a Rolleicord with a Tessar 3,5/75 and a flex 3,5F with a Planar 3,5/75.

    For critical work (brickwork that reaches to the corners) you need to stop down the Tessar to f/8. Half a stop wider open, f/6.7 may be accceptable, but you see a difference.

    The Planar can be used at every case at f/5.6 and may be at f/4.7, that is "one stop faster" for the same image quality. Wide open the Planar is slightly soft in the corners but quite sharp in the center. The Tessar is soft even in the center at f/3.4 and f/4. May be used for portrait work, but not for landscape or architecture.
    ---
    Uwe Pilz

  3. #3
    mablo's Avatar
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    You'll see a clear difference if you shoot both at f/3.5. Planar is quite sharp and Tessar (or Xenar) is a bit softer but not very much. I'd say that you yourself will notice the difference but your audience will not see it. Both lenses have a smooth, non swirly bokeh. At f/8 both lenses are very sharp.

  4. #4
    sandermarijn's Avatar
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    I own both a Planar 3,5F and a Tessar. MY Planar is much sharper than MY Tessar at all apertures, not only wide open.

    Bokeh is fine with both, nicer than many other lenses in MF.

    There are other optical issues to consider, such as field curvature, where the Tessar is not so great.

    Overall I would go for a 3,5 Planar any time, finances allowing. Remember that you can also get the Tessar in a Rolleicord- that may be the best budget option.

  5. #5
    cliveh's Avatar
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    If I could draw a motor car analogy, I would say the Tessar is a Morgan and the Planar is an Aston Martin.

  6. #6
    GregY's Avatar
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    I've owned 2.8 Planar, 3.5 Planar Rolleiflex Fs. Its all true, the Planars are sharper. Stopped down both the Planars and Tessars are sharp. What doesn't show in the equation...is the character of the lens. When I'm not using my 5x7, my current favorite camera both handheld & on a tripod is a Rolleiflex T 3.5 Tessar from 1958. A new Maxwell screen & some love from Harry Fleenor, & i'd say it is probably better than it was in '58. I love the character of the Tessar lens. For any musicians in the crowd, it's like choosing an acoustic guitar because it is loud, without regard to its tonal attributes....then again I sold a very sharp Apo-Sironar S so I could buy some Dagors. So this is my subjective opinion. I think, if I were in your position, I would buy the cleanest,most affordable, one I could find & have Harry service it. My short answer is that t depends what you like, and great photos can be made with Planars or Tessars. If I shot color, I might be tempted by the Planars, but for B/W I prefer the contrast of the Tessars.

  7. #7
    dpurdy's Avatar
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    interesting. I was expecting everyone to speak up in favor of the Tessar. If your camera is not misaligned I think you will be hard pressed to find the Planar obviously superior. My first Rollei was a T with the Tessar and it was every bit as sharp as my others. Right here in APUG there have been lots of people speaking up in favor of the T and it's Tessar. The Tessar is a very famous high quality lens design that has very little flare problem even without coating. Supposedly it is a bit soft at the corners wide open.

  8. #8
    Rolleijoe's Avatar
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    Re: Tessar vs Planar

    Quote Originally Posted by puketronic View Post
    I'm thinking about getting a Rolleiflex, tessar- or planar- type f3.5 lens on a flexible budget.

    When shooting wide open, is there a noticeable difference in (from your experience)
    1) Center-resolution
    2) Bokeh qualities (is one smoother than the other)

    I'm thinking about a Rolleiflex MX-EVS or a Rolleiflex 3.5e because I've heard good thinks about both. If I do get one, I'd like it to be overhauled--where's a good place and what's the approximate price?
    Each have their own look. I own Rolleiflexs with both, and for most things prefer the Tessar. It just has a certain look to it that I love. That particular camera was made during the war, in 1945, and those lenses are legendary. The Planar is a completely different look, although still has that Zeiss bokeh.

    One advantage of the Tessars, is that they are usually Bay I, and the filters & accessories are very reasonable. The Planar is Bay II, and being larger physically, the same accessories are not only more expensive, but also harder to find.

    I find the bokeh when shot wide open, to be softer with the Tessar, (more natural), but then I rarely use any lens wide open, except for portraits/head shots (etc). For landscapes I prefer a Tessar. Architectural, I use the Planar.

    You'd just need to shoot each, and then decide which YOU prefer, based on your style of shooting. Everyone is different. Some people are loyal to certain car names, or brands, the same holds true for lenses.

    I recently picked up a Rollei 35 Rangefinder made in Germany in 1969. It has the desirable Tessar collapsable lens, which produces amazing images. Still shooting my 2nd roll through it (color this time, in New England last month). I doubt it will disappoint at all.
    If the lens doesn't read "ZEISS", then it just isn't.

  9. #9
    Toffle's Avatar
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    I've only ever used my 3.5f, which has a planar, and it is by far my favourite piece of kit. When everything else is going wrong, I grab my 3.5 for some "Rollei Therapy", and soon all is good with the world. That being said, I can't imagine you being unhappy with either lens.
    Tom, on Point Pelee, Canada

    Ansel Adams had the Zone System... I'm working on the points system. First I points it here, and then I points it there...

    http://tom-overton-images.weebly.com


  10. #10
    Richard Sintchak (rich815)'s Avatar
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    Both are capable of being fantastic assuming both have had solid adjustments during a CLA from a solid technician(not a cheap one). If you can afford it get a Planar, if you're stretching get a Tessar and a good CLA and you will rarely if ever be disappointed (assuming you're after great photos and not peeking at Air Force test charts.)
    -----------------------

    "Well, my photos are actually much better than they look..."

    Richard S.
    Albany, CA (San Francisco bay area)

    My Flickr River of photographs
    http://flickriver.com/photos/rich815...r-interesting/

    My Photography Website
    http://www.lightshadowandtone.com

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