Your Worst LF lens

Discussion in 'Talk About Large Format Gear' started by Ian Grant, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2017
    Messages:
    590
    Likes Received:
    94
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    West Midlands
    Home Page:
    About 3 years ago I acquired a Carl Zeiss 150mm f4.5 Tessar in what appears to be near mint condition, for the cost of postage from Australia. I can't trace it's purchase history and the previous owner passed away not long after, However it's a Linhof large format lens made specifically for them by Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen around 1955/6.

    [​IMG]
    It's just not remotely sharp at any aperture, which was why it was free for the cost of postage. I've tested it on a camera and even at f22 it's way off sharp. Yesterday I mounted on an enlarger lens board and focussed a 5x4 negative, only the centre part of the negative was slightly sharp, I tried unscrewing the front cell in case there was a spacing issue but that made no difference. The lens doesn't appear to have been tampered with.

    The frustrating part is these sell for over £500 in poorer cosmetic condition :D

    Now Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen, began making lenses because there were quality issues with the Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar lenses being supplied to Rolleiflex, in the mid 1950's both sides of Zeiss thought they'd soon re-unite. CZJ had issues getting regular supplies of specialist optical glass and had to tweak the Tessar to suit what was available. The West German Carl Zeiss lenses were initially marked Opton Tessar to differentiate.

    Ironically I also have a 1953/4 East German Carl Zeiss Jena 150mm f4.5 T (coated) Tessar from about 1954 and this is a superb lens very sharp at f22, I bought just the cells and put them in a pre WWII Compur

    [​IMG]

    There's a touch of Schneideritis (paint loss on the edge of the rear cell) but this had no effect on image quality, I've now fixed this anyway.

    Ian
     
    Tom Everett likes this.
  2. Tom Everett

    Tom Everett New Member Registered User

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2017
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Sussex
    Thanks for posting Ian. Your posts are very educational for people like me new to LF.
     
  3. David M

    David M Active Member Registered User

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2017
    Messages:
    872
    Likes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    South London
    You'd think that anything with Zeiss and Linhof on it would inevitably be excellent. I have heard of people replacing a damaged cell with something that looked similar externally and could be screwed in, but was optically mismatched. But I'm only guessing.
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2017
    Messages:
    590
    Likes Received:
    94
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    West Midlands
    Home Page:

    Because I have the two 150mm Tessar lenses I've been able to compare the front and rear cells and optically they are very similar, also the coating on the front and rear cells are definitely the same so it's highly unlikely the rear cell isn't original.

    With other manufacturers Linhof would be given batches of lenses and they'd test them optically only selecting the best, this started I think because of quality issues with early 90mm f6.8 Angulon, this was actually an issue with the Compur shutter tube length not being consistent to the standard, ironically Compur and Linhof had a common partner (owner). I have a couple of Linhof select Super Angulon lenses. But these Carl Zeiss Tessar lenses were made specifically for Linhof and not supplied to any other company so the quality issue does seem odd.

    Ian
     
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2017
    Messages:
    590
    Likes Received:
    94
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    West Midlands
    Home Page:
    Just been in my darkroom and did a quick test, apart from the two Tessars I also have a 150mm f4.5 Xenar.

    I tried to focus the strip light on the enlarger baseboard with the CZ Tessar, only sharp in the middle as I expected, then the Xenar sharp all the length of the projected strip light. Then Xenar front cell on the CZ Tessar (rear cell & shutter) -sharp, then the same with the CZJ front cell - sharp. Seems to indicate that there's an issue with the front cell of the West German Carl Zeiss Tessar.

    Now the Tessar design is two single elements in the front cell, a doublet in the rear, I've had some apart and cleaned them in the past, however the way this one is made it's impossible to place (fit) the two front elements the wrong way around. It's a well known trick to flip the rear element in the Tessar front cell to create a soft focus lens. But something else is wrong here.

    Maybe I should send the lens to Zeiss :D

    I'm a bit of a Tessar fanatic, they are lenses you either love or hate:

    These are most of my LF Tessar (or type) lenses:

    [​IMG]
    I've sold the one to the top right of the camera (an Agfa Solnar - Tessar type) but acquired a couple more, Top right is a 50mm CZJ Tessar for a Praktica the only non LF lens.

    There's a rare 165mm f5.3 CZJ Tessar, also Illex Paragon's, Kodak Anastigmat (Tessar type). Kodak Ektar (Tessar type), Commercial Osaka (Congo -Tessar type a Commercial Ektar clone).

    I have a love hate relationship with Carl Zeiss lenses, some of the sharpest and most tonal 35mm negatives I've printed were made with an Exacta Varex 1000 and 50mm Pancolar, 35mm Flektagon and 135mm Sonnar lenses, My own CZJ 1500mm f4.5 Tessar is excellent never let me down optically despite it's early 1950's coatings, it;s fine where my Canon Zooms flare badly.

    I recently acquired a 50mm f2 Biotar with a Praktina FX, this is an LF forum but this was the first pro 35mm camera system, two different motor drives and a bulk film back, huge range of lenses from quite a few high end manufacturers, around 1952 - 7 years before the Nikon F. Exakta's never had motor drives but were the first system cameras. The lens was copied by the Russians as the Helios for the Zenit's but a recent over subscribed Kickstarter project is making new copies at eye watering prices, and made by Meyer ?????

    Ian
     
  6. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Messages:
    1,054
    Likes Received:
    214
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Doncaster (Yorkshire)
    Home Page:
    Ian, whats the one on the from row, 3rd from the left
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2017
    Messages:
    590
    Likes Received:
    94
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    West Midlands
    Home Page:
    Ian, that's a rather rare Carl Zeiss Jena 165mm f5.3 Tessar, they don't appear in any Zeiss catalogues or adverts, the only 2 others I've come across have been fitted to Kodak roll film cameras a few sizes up from 120, maybe 110.

    Ian
     

Share This Page