Rolleiflex T Tessar vs Flex 2.8E Planar

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by richard jepsen, Jul 10, 2000.

  1. Can anyone evaluate image quality between the two lenses. I am
    considering moving from a 2.8 Planar to a F3.5 Tessar. I shoot
    environmental portraits and landscapes. Most aperture setting for
    the portraits are F5.6 - F11.
  2. I have taken pictures with several different Rollei, and I don't see a difference in the quality of the negs on any of them--they are all great. the main thing is that the lens be clear and free of any inner problems, and that the focus be calibrated correctly so that the taking lens and the viewing lens are still on the same page. Rollei expert Bill Maxwell told me a good percentage of the Rollei's he works on are out of calibration. Rollei had a special screen that went in the film plane for calibration that bowed inwards to compensate for 120 film not being flat. If a repair person did not have that tool, and set the focus with a flat ground glass, they throw off the calibration. The reason I'm going on about this is that correct calibration and film flatness will haver more affect on image quality at wider apertures than the lens design. I personally like an old Rolleicord V I've had for years. It is small and lightweight, and the Xenar is superb. I've compared it with my 3.5 F with the famed Planar, and can't really tell any difference.
  3. I think in the range of f5.6 to f11 performance will be pretty much the same. The Planar is clearly better at f3.5/f4, especially out in the corners.
  4. Why do you consider moving from a Planar to a Tessar?
  5. What Mr. Hicks stated is exactly the issue I was referring to, that the corners are often soft at the wide apertures more due to lack of film flatness than optics. I did a test with my 3.5F and shot a roll of film facing a resolution chart. Not changing anything from a frame to frame, the resolution numbers were all over the place at the wider apertures(especially the edges) because of the way the film would randomly curve and bow.From f8 to f11, the negs didn't vary much, as the depth of focus covers the flatness problem. Try it for yourself.
  6. I have never tested a Tessar, but I have had the 3.5 Xenotar on an F model (said to be better than the Tessar) and the 2.8 Planar on the GX. The consensus on the Rollei user group list is that all the 2.8 Planars are the same (although I find this doubtful -- I believe newer versions of most lenses are usually better than the old classic versions of the same design). At any rate, comparing my 3.5 Xenotar (which was the best of 3 samples of Xenotars and 3.5 Planars I tried and tested) to my 2.8 GX Planar, the Planar is much better. The corners, of course, are where the difference is most noticeable. The 3.5's corners never, at any aperture, got sharp enough to give a good 16 by 20. With the 2.8 Planar, one can use the full frame. Additionally, the field of focus is much flatter with the 2.8 Planar. I've actually been able to take good shots at 2.8 that hold up at 16 by 20 (but I still recommend a tripod and f 11 for optimum sharpness).

    As to film flatness, as a starting point, shoot every other frame. That is, if you really want to see what the camera and lens can do, avoid using a frame that has sat on the roller for more than a few minutes -- the film "remembers" that sharp turn and will not lie flat. For testing, my procedure is to wind quickly through a blank frame and then let the film "relax" for two minutes to be sure the film is on the film plane. This works with most films and under most circumstances. The thicker film bases of Tmax 100 and Agfapan 25 will reliably hold that film plane for quite a while. The thinner film bases may not hold the plane for very long, especially in high humidity. I might add that the film flatness problems are sufficiently sever that even at f 11 they are relevant. As such, if you are a slow methodical landscape shooter like me, learning how to avoid the problem is a significant part of the game. (Fast protrait and wedding shooters don't seem to let the film lie on a frame long enough for the problem to be of much concern.)

    Good luck. All of the above aside, a Rollei with a Tessar at F 11 can certainly make outstanding 16 by 20s.

    Paul Roark,
  7. Since initiating this post I came across info which Rollei users may find interesting. Subject is Rollie Lens Tests and Comments. The URL is:

    This site provides testing results from Modern Photography during the 50s and 60s of 80mm f/2.8/3.5 Planar and Xenotar lenses. Also tested was 75mm f/3.5 Xenar and Rollei-Mutar 0.7X . The f/2.8 Planar and Xenotar tested better in the corners than the f/3.5 Xenotar. The f3.5 Planar was better in center and edge sharpness at f/5.6 - f/16.
  8. Richard, why do you want to switch from Planar to Tessar in the first place? The Planar is the more highly corrected of the two.
  9. I started this post thinking of selling my 2.8E type 1 for a Rolleiflex T. Several people asked why consider a Rollei T with a Tessar over a f2.8 Planar. The reason is cost, weight, and the removable hood allowing a chiminey magnifier to be mounted. I read the Tessar lens formula makes great environmental portraits and stopped down is just a hair softer in the corners than a f3.5 Xenotar. See Modern Photography May 1956. My 2.8E Planar has a slight lens coating irregularity which concerns me however it takes wicked sharp B&W landscapes.
  10. i have a grey baby... with a 3.5 tessar. Stunning at f/8. I don't care what
    anyone says about the planar... I've used both.. The tessar has only 4
    elements and is more 'pure' and 'close' to the subject. The contrast and feel is
    wonderful. I hope you understand my meaning.
  11. I have two T cameras with the reformulated Tessar made for this camera and a 3.5 with
    both a Xenotar (3.5E) and a 3.5F with a Planar. All are good but, I have to say, the Tessar
    on the Rollei T cameras give me better contrast images. I have tried testing them over and
    again the results always are the same. The Planars and Xenotars give a less contrasty
    image though both produce better corner images in terms of resolution. -- As
    result, i now use a gray T camera with a prism and shoot 6x4.5 (actually a little smaller)
    with a 16 on kit for standard picture taking. This way, i am using the best inner part of the
    negative. And I like the prism finder for more acurate focusing. And because the T is
    lighter, this works well. Altogether, I find the T just excellent and the Tessar is just
    excellent. But, i never shoot at less than f/8.
  12. The Tessar has fewer elements. Less surfaces mean less flair, more contrast. The other 3.5s
    have more elements, better correction, so across the field sharpness is better. If you're going
    to be shooting at f/11 anyway, the better contrast of the Tessar, combined with the inherent
    excellent performance of all these lenses at small apertures, might be just what you want.
    The T does have a "clunkier" feel to the shutter, as opposed to the silky F models.

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