CZJ Tessar lenses on vintage compact cameras. Any difference?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by christos_theofilogiannakos, Jun 2, 2013.

  1. I 've been considering getting a Rollei 35 for some time now and I faced the usual dilemma: 35S or 35T? I'm a fan of Tessar designs, my 2.8/50 Tessar in M42 is one of my favorites for sharpness achieved (at a very low price too!).
    While considering the matter, a question formed in my mind: Are all CZJ Tessar lenses found in all those compact german cameras from the 50s - 60s equally competent (other than differences attributed to different coatings perhaps)? What I mean is, if camera size is not a concern, should one spend 100+ euros on a Rollei 35T, or would (for example) a Zeiss Ikon Contessa LKE provide the same results at 1/4 the price with the added benefit of RF focusing?
    Any ideas / suggestions on cheaper Tessar-equipped alternatives to the Rollei 35T?
     
  2. I have Tessars from Jena on my Beltica 35mm and my Welta Welti 35mm, both folders with early Tessars, possibly from late 1930s. They seem as good as the M42 Tessars I have on the Exaktas and Prakticas. I don't know if this is any evaluation, except for some personal perception. I have posted pictures taken with my Beltica in this Forum, if you are interested. Best, SP.
     
  3. Christos, they should be comparable, but be aware than Carl Zeiss West Germany recomputed
    the Tessar in the 50's. The MF Rolleiflex T got the new formular from the late 50's. It is said that
    The Contaflex series got the new Tessar from the early 60's.
    Regardless, the Tessar on my 50's Contaflex is a jewel.
     
  4. Some collectors seem to prize the Sonnar, but I have the Tessar on my Rollei 35 and have never had cause to regret it (see http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00YZKs ).
    But, neither of those lenses on the Rollei 35 have anything to do with Zeiss Jena in the DDR except their history.
     
  5. I imagine that the Contessa would deliver very similar photos. It would just depend on which camera is better suited to your needs and budget. While I admire the engineering on both the Rollei and the Contessa, their ergonomics are not for me.
     
  6. Typically the designs are good (if sometimes prewar) but the construction materials and labor are more variable. You will
    find people who swear by them (because they have a good one, or can fix them themselves) and you will find people who
    swear AT them because they got a bad one. It's something of a crapshoot but the price is generally right. Even the West
    Germans sometimes used materials that needed a service after so many years, so having them serviced if you can will
    usually put them in usable order. I bought a Leica clone once that didn't have enough space between the body and the
    pressure place to load film. My tech (reluctantly) work on the camera and fixed it. It worked very well afterward.
     
  7. Purely in terms of lenses, there is no difference whatsoever between a Contessa LKE and a Rollei 35T (provided, of course, that both lenses are clean and clear with not defects). In terms of overall photographic performance, the Contessa has the upper hand due to the coupled rangefinder - but the 35T has a superior metering system, particularly in low light conditions. Beyond that, the strongpoints of the 35T are mostly linked to its compact size and cult status.
     
  8. I forgot to mention: neither the Contessa LKE nor the Rollei 35T have a "CZJ" Tessar. By the time these cameras were in production, the designation CZJ was used but for some lenses manufactured in the DDR, and these had nothing to do with West German-produced cameras.
     
  9. Buy the Rollei 35 with front element focussing either German or Singapore produced. Stay away from mint, leave those for collectors with $$$. I've had and enjoyed many, priced realistically, you'll never look back and images will be fabulous. Use a zinc hearing aid button battery to ball park exposures as the originals use mercury cells banned long ago. Enjoy the little Rolleis!
     
  10. I think the note from Bonsiniore was right on. Take the Rollei for it'S features and the Contessa for its pluses. I have the Contessa and it's fine . I probably have at least 10 cameras with Tessars. I love them all. My mid 50s M42 is very unique. I often give the credt though to the early cc coating. The Contessa and a Contaflex of similar vintage are also nice punchy and contrasty lenses. Tehy excel well with slide film and produce beautiful azure blue skies. I find the use of color film to show the most differences between the versions. All Tessars using the formula are nice and sharp with a broad flat field. If I wanted a Rollei.. I'd want it becasue it's a Rollei...AND... it's got a great Tessar lens. BTW the CZJ Tessars are still Tessars by any measure because they use the same formula and IMHO have every right to use the name Tessar.
     
  11. Chuck, there was never any real doubt about the right of the original Zeiss lens plant in Jena to use the Tessar and other Zeiss designations, except in a few places where West German courts held sway.
     

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