Super ikonta 532/16 (533/16) coated and uncoated versions

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by carlos_borges, Nov 8, 2004.

  1. Hello to you all.
    I really like those two cameras and I have them both with uncoated
    Tessar's. Compare them with Rollei's 3.5F Planar and with Rolleicord
    3.5 Xenar and unfortunatly the uncoated lens are NOT a match for
    those newer coated lens (not even for the Xenar) in sharp details.
    Both Super Ikontas rangefinders are spot on.
    My question is: are the coated versions much better the the uncoated
    ones ?? do ever you compare them ??? can some post pictures taken
    with coated and uncoated of the same subject ???

    Thank you all in advance.
  2. A few years ago I had a 533/16 with a (coated) Opton-Tessar. It was not comparable to my Rollei Planar or even my Ikonta 521 with an uncoated f3.5 Tessar. (Provided the sun was you behind you for the latter.) Lens coatings reduce flare and increase contrast - they cannot overcome fundamental differences in lens design. I believe the conventional wisdom is that the f2.8 Tessar is not as good as the 3.5 Tessar that came on the Super Ikonta III and IV.
  3. Zeiss was always bad about pushing the speed, DOF scale, and coverage of their lenses farther that other manufacturers. They used front element focusing when others used unit focusing, etc, and f:2.8 is too fast for the Tessar design and optical glass of those days. It was as though they thought being made by Zeiss changed the laws of optics. There isn't much difference in coated/uncoated Tessar performance if used with a lens hood and stopped down to f:5.6 or more.
  4. The Tessar lenses were redesigned several times, and the west german Zeiss redesigned them in the mid-50s. In an article about Tessars in a german collectors magazine it was stated that the redesigned f/2.8 Tessars were better than the earlier f/3.5 Tessars.

    Since all coated Tessars are post war ones, it is very probably that their great majority is the redesigned version.

    BTW I was disappointed by the performance of the f/3.5 75mm Xenar on a pre-war folder (the Xenar is basically a Tessar lens). It was not much better than a three-element Zeiss Novar of similar vintage.
  5. One thing to keep in mind is that the Super Ikonta 6x6 first began life in the mid-1930s. At that time, photographers didn't discuss things such as out-of-focus highlights. In the mid-1930s, a roll-film medium format camera with an f/2.8 lens was very impressive. Despite having separate windows for its rangefinder and viewfinder, the performance of the Tessar lens was excellent for that era. The camera was considered one of the most prestigious cameras of its time.
    Fast forward to the late 1940s. Zeiss-Ikon is trying to get itself back into business. The plans for its premier 35mm camera are gone, because of the destruction of its plant in Dresden. The Soviets are in the process of carting away the equipment at its Jena plant.
    The Stuttgart plant was the only plant available for mass production. Its medium format camera were among the first to be reintroduced on the market.
    By today's standards, the f/2.8 Tessar seems terribly out of place. A front-cell focusing lens that stretches the design too far.
    There is a slight design change from the uncoated to the coated lens, but not enough to change performance when shooting wide open. Results are typically Tessar. By the time you reach f/5.6 or f/8.0, you will have no complaints. And like all of the premium Zeiss-Ikon cameras, workmanship is impeccable. That's really the thing that separates a Zeiss-Ikon camera from the rest of the camera makers of its time.
    Some samples to follow of uncoated vs. coated (some of the photos are quite large -- sorry about that):
  6. another
  7. one more
  8. I'm not normally a fan of bird shots, but this one doesn't bother me too much.
  9. whoops -- last two are with the coated Tessar.
  10. What I've found is that the Tessar is very sharp for portraits work and when closed to f/8 also very sharp for landscapes. There is definite roundness to distant objects when shooting closeups. If that doesn't bother you, then the Tessar will be acceptable. The Planar does much better in this respect. I've found the Xenar to be comparable to the Tessar when shot wide open -- you get very round backgrounds. I shot some with the Xenar years ago, but can't find the negatives at the moment. This is my final image post on this:
  11. So anyway, concluding my thoughts on this:

    By mid-1930 standards, the Super Ikonta probably was one of the best cameras you could buy.

    By the 1950s, it was a very good camera that was still near the top of its class but obviously showing its age.

    Today in the 21st century, the 70-year-old design seems dated. But for those of us who use classic cameras, that doesn't really matter. When stopped down to f/8, it's still a great camera. Even at f/2.8 and f/4.0, in-focus items are bitingly sharp. And if you like that old-time look, you can't beat a Tessar.
  12. ... postscript: that last image post was from a contact sheet (a sheet of cut film laid on the scanner, so sharpness isn't optimal). The intent was to show that round background. OK, I'm done.
  13. I totally agree with Lynn and Mike (really nice images you both posted / linked).

    I have a range of these from earliest pre-war Ikontas through each iteration of the Super Ikontas bearing the more premium Tessar or similar lenses (not Novars). Every one produces beautiful images if you understand how to use them and the tips associated with different generations of glass / coatings.

    I'll diverge here and say I have seen consumer grade current version Nikon lenses that are a disgrace compared to some of these early MF folder lenses.

    Colour, detail and contrast are all very good. However, among all of these and my Rolleiflex 3.5F (Planar), the two best are the Super Ikonta III with 3.5 T coated lens and the Rolleiflex - just sensational performers. The ZI 533 with its 2.8 T coated Tessar is a very close second (pardon me if I have mixed the lens versions up.... long day). What the heck they are all great!!!!!! I don't fuss over them I just use them and ALWAYS marvel at the wonderful images they let you create - even from by baby 1939 Ikonta A (6x4.5).

    Here is a simple shot from my III. This shot was a test shot, rather that a shot I wanted - but, it was to see how effectively the lens resolves detail in extreme bright light and how sensitive it is to flare (85F; brighter than bright light; about f5.6 (to keep under or at 1/500 sec); no filter; no LENS HOOD and sun at about 90 degrees to the camera or maybe a bit less. From the full size data file, the detail in the shadows is excellent. The stone is a good subject for getting details.
  14. Sample of a 2.8 Opton Tessar Super Ikonta III

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