Images taken with Schneider Xenotar 135 3,5 + Rodenstock Ysarex 127mm 4.7

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by pietro_chelli|1, Mar 6, 2008.

  1. Can anyone post images taken with these lenses.
    It would be of great help in deciding which one to purchase,
    as I am undecided between these 2 options, and technical
    aspects at the end will not help make my decisions.
    Anything from portraits, environmental portraits to
    landscape or close up work.
    Thanks to everyone listening!

    Kind Regards

  2. I would guess that you have not checked the lenes out as to their abilitys For me there is no choice I would take the Xenotar and run with it ,Before some one caught me with it!

    Good luck others c an tell you better , Just me:
  3. The Xenotar is legendary, the Ysarex pedestrian. Stopped down to f:22 you won't be able to tell the difference.
  4. Actually, Bill, reports on the Ysarex are intriguing. It seems to me to be a plain ordinary 5"/4.7 tessar type that shouldn't quite cover 4x5. Its proponents, however, claim that it has much more, whatever that means, coverage than the others. I don't know whether they have odd ideas about what "covers" means or whether it is a magic lens.

    The 135/3.5 Xenotar is similarly puzzling. If you look at Chris Perez' and Kerry Thalmann's lens tests (, I think you'll see that it doesn't stand out from the 135/5.6 plasmat types they also tested except perhaps near wide open, where they didn't test. Also, if you go to Schneider's site you'll see ( that the 135 just barely covers 4x5.

    Its all enough to make one doubt the common wisdom.

    Pietro, why don't you want a nice f/5.6 plasmat type?


  5. These 4x5 photos, ( Link ) , are taken with the Rodenstock Ysarex 127mm 4.7.
  6. Hi Pietro,

    sorry I can show an image as I don't have a scanner but: Ysarex is a very good and compact lens if you want to shoot hand-held. Maybe the Xenotar is a little bit sharper in the center. The Xenotar gives you even more speed that might be important for you. But consider that Xenotars are radioactive (gamma-ray), more than the Ysarex (mostly alpha-ray); the Apo-Lanthar mentioned in your earlier thread falls in this class, too. If you tend towards that lens you might consider the original Heliar, a lens I would prefer for people. And the Heliar isn't a really soft lens at all, it just lacks the very fine details compared to my Sironar. So if you already have a modern Symmar or Sironar, why don't try Heliar and Ysarex before hunting for the Xenotar?

    kind regards

  7. Noah! Thank you for your posting..... i like the images you took with the 127..... your posting is very helpful....seeing images, even scans of polas, bring you much closer to a real decision : )
    Bill! what do you mean by the Xenotar is legendary???
    Do you have images / knw where to see some or find some taken with a 135 or a 150 (I believe there is also a 150 Xenotar, or am I wrong?)

    Thanks for your help!
  8. Dan is correct, the 127mm Ysarex has quite a bit more coverage than a 127 Ektar. Not sure why that is, but I have put the Ysarex on a 5x7 camera, and the circle comes close to hitting the corners. So, it will give you some room for movements on a 4x5. However, the Polaroid shutter that comes with most 127 Ysarexes (or is it Ysarexi?) are awkwardly designed IMHO. The church photo was done with a Ysarex on Bergger 200.
  9. "But consider that Xenotars are radioactive (gamma-ray), more than the Ysarex (mostly alpha-ray); the Apo-Lanthar mentioned in your earlier thread falls in this class, too."

    Early Xenotars contain thorium glass and are radioactive, later ones no longer have the thorium glass. All Apo-Lanthars that I have measured have the thorium glass. One person has reported that very late Apo-Lanthars also were updated to omit the thorium glass. I have never measured a Ysarex. If they radioactive, I can't imagine what it would contain other than thorium glass (glass with uranium is green), so I doubt the distinction between gamma-rays from Xentotars, alphas from Ysarex. Naturally occurring thorium and its daughters emit many forms of radioactivity, including alphas and gamma-rays. The alphas aren't very penetrating, so gamma-emission will tend to be stronger at a distance from the lens.

    My webpage on Aero-Ektars has more information on thorium glass:
  10. rE 127mm Ysarex has quite a bit more coverage than a 127 Ektar

    This is an interesting statement for the old Polaroid lens. Maybe its Tessar design has less vignetting; ie more coverage for illumination; but worse performance in the corners than the ektar? It would be interesting to plot resolution and illumination falloff versus off axis distance for the 127mm Ektar and Ysarex as an exercise.
  11. Kelly, I doubt the two lenses vignette differently. I mean, cos(theta)^4 is cos(theta)^4.

    I can't help wondering whether the difference is in the, um, eyes of the beholders. In practice there's tremendous disagreement about what "covers" really means and about how to measure coverage. Noah's polaroids were interesting, nice to see that he's good at shooting as well as polemic, but I don't think any of his subjects put much fine detail in the corners ...


  12. Dan; What I am meaning is that two lens designs can be 127mm F4.7 Tessars and one has more vignetting added in the design purposely; as a optical engineering design tradeoff. ie the ill troublesome pesky rays far off axis are purposely clipped; dropping illumination but improving the image; ie a smaller spot size. This maybe done thru making an inner element or group a tad bit smaller in diameter; and or the design made with a greater element spacing. The Kingslake book on designing a Tessar section shows the method of inducing vignetting by reducing a smaller element/group.<BR><BR>I agree that the "difference" might be just in the eyes of the beholders; maybe not real with a rigid test. BUT it could be the one Tessar has less vignetting thru a slightly different design.<BR><BR>One would think that a Polaroid lens would not have a great need for sharpness.
  13. Kelly, thanks for the further explanation.

    About Polaroid lenses, one might indeed think that they don't need to be very sharp, but Type 55 rewards sharpness and in fact some of them are quite good. I'm very happy with the image quality my 127/4.7 Tominon, ex-CU-5, gives at all distances on 2x3. This is absolutely positively not to say that it would give good image quality towards the edges of 4x5, though.


  14. Hi Dan and the group;

    Rudolf Kinglake's comments about vignetting purposely being added to a Tessar design are on page 283 of Lens Design Fundamentals, copyright 1978.; the Academic Press. I errored abit in my comment; his vignetting is by the rear group on the figure; ie the F4.5 design examples rear group is made to just be large enough for the on axis F4.5 bundle; and thus it clips the off axis rays; the 17 degree rays on diagram Figure 164. (ie the rear group could be larger in an alternate design; the on axis F4.5 speed would still be F4.5; but less off axis rays would be truncated). The Figure 163 shows the clipped V-V off axis condition as a solid curve; the clipped off V to S regions. His comments are less coma; "without seriously reducing the image illumination".

    Thus one could have two 127mm F4.7 Tessars designed with different off axis goals; one might have a slighty wider illumination angle ; ie an image circle based on illumination; but probably more coma than the truncated design.
  15. If one had resolution data (tangential and radial) and percentage of on axis illumination data for lens A and B and C etc; the group here could still have different ideas of what "coverage" is because will all shoot different types of images. At least with a graph there would be less emotion! With a 4x5 press camera and a Kodak 127mm ektar; the coverage often is OK for 4x5 since one is not shifting; and enlargements are just modest. ie here several of my 127mm Ektars test in on axis in the 60 to 85 lin pair per mm range on film; but are "just" in the high teens to low twenties at the far corner of a 4x5 negative. The radial and tangential data are apart off far axis; even 16 line pair would be about say 5 on a 16x20 print; technically decent; but not great like say 7 on a paper print.
  16. I appreciate all responses, truly, has got way to technical. I am just a photographer and this post was more to see
    images shot with these lenses, and not about technical aspects....

  17. If you need faster than f4.7 then you don't have many choices. I'm pretty pleased by my Xenotar, but I'm in the Press Camera minority here. Here's a couple of 135mm Xenotar shots. I don't have a Ysarex available right now. [​IMG]
  18. I've had the 127 Ysarex on a 5X7 before out of curiosity. Lots of mush. It will cover a 4X5 about as adequately as the Kodak Ektar. It's an $85 lens. The Xenotar is a $585 lens. Cult stuff. I've had a couple. None of them endeared themselves to me enough to keep them instead of the cash they would bring. Xenotar's have an odd color cast. Remember the old turquoise "Kodachrome sky". Always makes me think it was done with a Xenotar. For my hard earned $$$ the keeper has been the sweet little single coated Fujinon 125mm f5.6. BTW, it's silly to think you can tell what you want from looking at a 45kb .jpg. [​IMG]
    Goldfield NV.

    135mm f3.5 Xenotar
  19. This may be a little off the subject--but on my super graphic I have the Rodenstock 135mm. It's quite a killer lens; mine stops down to f32. I've used it for portraits and landscape; I can't see any difference between it and my other good large format lenses.
    Even at f8 I use it for available light portraits (onn a tripod), and the eyes are plenty sharp at 11x14.
    One thing to consider is making sure the shutter is in reliable shape.
  20. All of my shots above are wide open.

    I suspect that if you are considering a specialist speedy lens for 4x5 that you want to use it wide open on occasion.

    Yes, there isn't much depth of focus at f3.5
  21. To lay out quickly 20+ years experience with the 127 Ektar, the 127 Ysarex,and the 135 Sironar-S, plus some occasional work with a borrowed 135 Xenotar of 70's vintage; The 127 Ektar shines for color work--it really is better corrected than most lenses of similar vintage, particularly if you get one of mid-50's provenance, or newer. In my experience, significantly better than the Ysarex, which in my specimens anyway, had a little less contrast in the midtones and darks than the Ektar did. (And yes, that little Ysarex/Prontor shutter from the Polaroids, with no Press Focus lever, is a pain). However: on both of these lenses the circle of illumination -- what you see on the groundglass--is deceptively bright. Actually sharpness and contrast in the film image both drop sharply if you exceed the 3x4 usable image area the lens was designed for. A second caveat: both lenses are best at f16, that is, the best compromise between sharpness and best contrast, but sharpness and contrast decline visibly already at 22, and at 32 -- Sheesh! Still, if an 11x14 from a black and white negative is what is contemplated, f22 is perfectly fine. At 32, I generally felt I saw a difference when all else was perfectly done (that happened about twice in the field in twenty years...). In the studio, all of these subtle differences become much more likely to be seen in the print. The difference? I think it's mostly a question of flare levels, and to deal with that, I use big square lenshades. Grotesquely big, actually, but they really help. Don't think you have to make a lot of experimental transparencies to see this. Put a good 8-10x loupe on a clear aerial image spot in the groundglass, and stop down gradually, and you can see these image factors go. It isn't subtle. There is a serious threshold for lower contrast between f8 and f11, That is, wider open equals less contrast. But practically speaking, you can rarely afford to shoot that wide-open... UNLESS you shoot 2x3 on a rollback, and now we are talking about where these lenses come into their own as budget lenses. Of course, carefully testing the rollback, for its agreement with the groundglass plane, is a giant pain in the Boston but it has to be done. Yes, lever-wind rollbacks are often better than their knobwind uncles, but not always. In early years I was very unhappy with my 127 Ektar until I masked the groundglass to 3x4 inches. (Notice, this is mighty close to the Polaroid's actual image dimension.) Then, great happiness. For little money, I mean. Now, to get serious, the Sironar is a plasmat, much sharper at medium to open apertures. Sironars at f11 are unmistakably sharper and less flarey than the Ektar or the Ysarex, either one. You will of course pay for the difference. Why do people pay that? In the real world of science photography or illustration, you often use movements with great precision to make critically focused shots at apertures like f11 or even f8 -- in the studio, where time and lighting and other things can be controlled. Out in the field -- any field -- it can be hard to manifest a great difference between tessars and plasmats, except when it comes to coverage. With these fast little Tessars, you must not ask too much of the coverage (code language for USE BACK SWINGS AND TILTS. Not Front swings and tilts.) Too, Sironars and their cousins, the Symmars, were designed to perform really well at wide apertures, and those little Tessar-types just weren't. NOw, the mighty Xenotar: a totally different breed of cat. Meant to work almost exclusively at wider apertures, from f4 to f8, in practice. Who does that? Aerial photographers come to mind. Industrial photographers come to mind. Not portrait photographers -- that kind of razor sharpness is rarely desirable. Large format portrait workers who want sharpness but value rich shadows and beautiful flesh tones tend to go for the Commercial Ektars, f6.3 Tessar types of legendary quality. But -- big shutters, no fun in the field. The Xenotar when I used it also delivered even illumination at those wider apertures...Tessars don't do that, they give dark edges and apparent fall-off until you get further down than f11. I am generalizing, I know, but I am talking the way photographers I have known actually talk when they want particular results, not the way they talk when they are exploring the limits of what lenses and formats will do. Whew! This got long. Rules of thumb for tessars: use f16 and f22 most of the time, use back swings and tilts, use a really efficient lens hood. Make a habit out of not stretching the coverage. Rules of thumb for plasmats (Sironars and Symmars): use any aperture from f8 on down if your magnifier says you have the focus nailed, still quite good at f22, you can count on even brightness from f8 on down (really shows in skies!) Rise, fall, swing, and tilt, you bet. To avoid nasty drops in contrast and brightness, however, I've made it a habit to use back swings and tilts unless there's a really good reason to use the front. The Xenotar: I see it as a specialty lens. Really good for what I used it for, shooting aerials from 500 or a thousand feet, from light planes. Not, to me, a general purpose lens. And I tried to make it one--I was, and am, in love with the Xenotar on my Rolleiflex. Final thought: at f32 or f45, they all look alike ... That's OK too, it really frees you up. So yes, I still keep a Dagor around, and I guess 90% of the pictures I make with it are shot between 32 and 45.
  22. One more, same specs, same day. A way of working, really --
  23. Rodenstock Ysarex 127mm f4.7 with converted 110B on 5x4" back Era film at f8.
  24. Rodenstock Ysarex 127mm f4.7 with converted 110B on 5x4" back Tri-X
  25. Rodenstock Ysarex 127mm f4.7 with converted 110B on 5x4" back Era film at f16

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