Rollei 2.8GX lens

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by greg_jones|1, Jan 3, 2001.

  1. I was just perusing the B&H web site, looking at the Rollei 2.8GX.
    There was a recent discussion about what was better, Planars,
    Xenotars, etc., etc. (One of those discussions.) The discussion
    included talk about the 5 element Planar as used in the TLR versus
    the 7 element Planar used in the SLRs. So in looking at the specs
    for the 2.8GX, B&H says that the Planar lens is a 2 group, four
    element lens. Is this correct? If so, what specifically is the
    difference between this 4 element version and the 5 element version
    (other than obviously one fewer lens element).

    Oh, I also noted that B&H refers to the lens as a "Zeiss Planar" over
    and over. I thought Rollei made the lens under license to Zeiss-but
    Zeiss did not actually make it. (Sorry to bring this up again, but
    it bugs me that they advertise Rollei made lenses as "Zeiss" lenses.
    Not that it makes any practical difference, of course....) Anyway, I
    am mostly curious about the lens design on the 2.8GX Planar. Thanks.
  2. It is my understanding that the original Planar design consisted of FIVE elements, and that an improved version was released for Rollei TLRs that was made up of SIX elements. (This may have only been in the f/3.5 version.) I think that most 50mm lenses made for 35mm cameras are based on this design. FWIW, Mamiya TLRs came with 80mm f/2.8 lenses that appear to be based on the five-element Planar design. I've owned two versions of this lens, either of which could take great shots, comparable to similar shots I've seen taken with Hasselblad 80mm Planars. I would expect that the Xenotar is just as good, for all intents and purposes, as the true Planars. They are manufactured by Schneider, and I know from experience---I own a 150mm Symmar-S---that Schneider can make truly-fine lenses.
  3. Oops! I failed to include the following.
    I thought that the GX had a five-element Schneider Xenotar lens. If they now have a five-element Rollei, or Zeiss, or manufactured-under-licence-from-Zeiss lens, I think you will still have an excellent lens with which you can take excellent photos.
  4. The 2,8GX features a five-element Planar design by Carl Zeiss. The lens is manufactured under licence by Rollei. The coating process is the original Rollei HFT multicoating. The older 2,8F and 3,5F are Planars or Schneiders in different designs but all with five elements.
    It's safe to say that the optical characteristics are different to the Rollei PQ Xenotars (6000 series, Schneider design) or Zeiss Planars (Hasselblad, Contax, etc) . Take a look at the MTF-charts of the Hasselblad CB (6-element Planar) and CF (7-element Planar) lenses ( get a first feel. Whether you prefer a five-element Planar over a seven-element design is a matter of taste. Either is near perfect. Perhaps someone can give a hint where we can find MTFs for the five-element design.
  5. I don't believe that ALL Planars in Rollei TLRs were five-element lenses. Several years ago Jason Schneider wrote an article devoted to Rollei TLRs in Modern Photography, and stated that one of the TLR models (E? F?) was eventually fitted with a six-element Planar. Anyways, I don't think it matters very much. Five-element, Planar-design lenses are still very good lenses.
  6. I should have been more to the point in my original submittal. My question was whether the B&H catalog and web site is correct when they describe the Planar in the Rollei 2.8GX as being a "2G, 4E" lens. I take this to mean "2 groups, 4 elements." Is it really a four element lens? I'd be willing to bet that B&H has it wrong.

    I certainly don't question the quality of the lens, as I have seen some incredible images taken with the Planar on the 2.8GX. And having owned almost every variety of Planar or Xenotar ever hung on the front of a Rollei TLR, I can also say that these are top performers too.
  7. I have a GX and am quite sure the lens is a 5 element Planar designed by Zeiss and built by Rollei. The 3.5s ended their production as 6 element Planars, but most 3.5s were also 5 element lenses. (The shorter 75 mm lenses had more trouble with the corners, which apparently became a more visible problem when people started shooting slides and seeing the bad results.)

    The 5 element Planar design is used by Hasselblad in the 100 3.5. It's considered better than the 7 element 80 mm Planar.

    The 7 element Planar is said by some to be needed on the SLRs because the 5 element version would not clear the mirror. One Rollei tech actually described the 7 element as a slight retrofocus design.

    I have a 7 element, multicoated Planar on my SL66 (I believe it is one generation older than the current 7 element Planar on the Hasselblad) and have compared it to the 5 element GX lens. The GX wins on flatness of field; the 7 element seems to win when a deep red #29 filter is used. The 7 element may also be slightly better at the very corners. Overall, I consider the GX lens to be the best medium format lens I've ever used. It can actually be shot wide open and have a flat enough field to be reasonably sharp. However, I'd assume the newest MF lenses by top manufacturers are all top notch.

    Paul Roark
    Solvang, CA
  8. Greg, the 2,8GX Planar is a 5-element design (4 groups btw). The original Rollei data sheet is lying in front of me. I can send you a scan of the design picture if necessary. Take a look at for a historical overview. (Oops, Craig is right. The late 3,5/75mm-Planars are 6-element designs.)
  9. I realize this is changing the subject slightly but it's just dawned on me that perhaps 75% of my favorite images were taken using a beat-up Minolta Autocord III that I picked up cheaply a few years ago. I stepped up to medium-format with this camera and have gone through a couple of other systems (Mamiya RB67, Bronica SQ-Ai) while trying to find one that "fit" me best. For various reasons, I ended up with a couple of medium-format view cameras (Galvin and Toyo) and while I'm happy enough with the results I get from them, I'm not sure I really enjoy the view camera routine all that much and I certainly don't enjoy lugging all that gear around on my back everywhere I go.

    As such, I've thought about simplifying my life a bit and shooting a lot more with my TLRs than I have been these past few years. I've also concluded that if I sell everything else, I could afford to buy a used Rollei 2.8GX or possibly even a new one. However, since I live in the desert, both literally and figuratively, I'd probably have to buy one sight unseen, which makes me nervous since I haven't spent much time with a Rollei and don't know whether this would be a good choice for my style of shooting or not.

    Obviously, the best way to find out is to buy one and play with it for a while but this means I would have to buy one used since I'd take too big of a depreciation hit if I bought one new and then sold it after six months or so.

    Do those of you who own one regret its purchase? Would you consider buying one again if yours were stolen? Is it your primary camera or one that's merely nice to have in the closet for when the mood strikes you?

    For now, I'm happy enough with my Autocords but the itch has definitely started and I want to do my homework while I can still think about the matter rationally and unemotionally. Any input will be greatly appreciated.
  10. I started this wandering thread, so will continue with my opinion on Rollei TLRs. I started in photography with an old Yashica D, and learned to "see" with that camera. Then in the 80's, I got more sophisticated and went with Rollei SLR and all the lenses and doodads that go with it. Cost more than my car. And I had to have 4X5 stuff too (which I actually like). Soon I found myself always looking over my shoulder to make sure the equipment wasn't being stolen, or I was spending valuable time trying to figure out what the best lens/doodad combo was. And I had to carry all this stuff! Last year I came across a really beat up Rollei MX, circa 1950's, with the Xenar lens. I got it in working order and then shot some pictures with it. I expected soft, and got astoundingly sharp images. Anyway, I found that my pictures benefit from looking down at a ground glass from about a foot or so. Put a prism on the camera, and I lose this "compositional sense." Of course, you can do this with a Hasselblad. But, to me, the TLR design is more compact and packs a lot of quality in a relatively small unit. Another enormous benefit is that there is no flopping mirror to shake things around at slow shutter speeds. And, IMHO, having a fixed lens forces you to work with the instrument and quit worrying about what lens to use, etc. I have moved on to more sophisticated Rollei TLRs, and if I ever had it stolen, I would get another one-or two...
  11. I was doubting about buying a new Hasselblad 501CM kit or a Rollei 2.8 GX.
    I'm an amateur and I like to shoot candid street photos. For this reason, I bought a new 2.8 GX last month and I've taken few rolls, some colour and some B&W.
    The results have been really good. Much more than I expected.
    I don't regret spending much money in it. If it was stolen, I think I would buy another one (If I has the money, of course...)

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