Zeiss/Hassy 110mm Planar Lens Prices: WOW

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by Ricochetrider, May 27, 2020.

  1. Hi everyone.
    I was reading through some threads on F@ce b00k photography groups and came across some discussion on the 110mm lens.

    Until today, I had never thought about this lens. The one example image someone posted was indeed stunning. If it came across as that good on a social media site, I can only guess that in actuality the lens produced remarkable results!

    So, just for fun I ventured out to everyone’s favorite auction site to look at the 110 lens. All I can really say about what I found there, is: WOW. The prices people are asking for these things surpasses, by a wide margin, prices Ive seen on any other Zeiss/Hassy lens- except the superachromat 250mm or 500mm lenses.

    Is this 110mm Planar lens really THAT great?
  2. The Zeiss 110mm f/2 falls into the category of "lens with rabid cult following". Too few were made + too many people want one = prices remain high. The rise of affordable new and used non-'blad medium format digital bodies (Fuji, Pentax) that can adapt this lens has helped spike prices. Only a tiny handful of lenses were available for medium format cameras with a max aperture of f/2, this was the only Zeiss (so automagically add $700 just for the branding), and it does offer a unique rendering quality wide open.

    The 110/2 was not a mass market lens, and was fairly low volume even for Hasselblad: it could only be used on focal plane shutter 2000/200 series bodies, which was a niche business for 'blad (leaf-shutter lenses and 500-series bodies were their mainstream line). Approx 5000 of the 110/2 were made, a drop in the bucket vs the 20,000-50,000 typical of other 'blad lenses. When new it was not cheap (around $3K), so today's prices are actually a relative bargain. Also note there are two versions: one that is "dumb" (3000 made) and one with electrical contacts in the mount (2000 made) compatible with the scarce electronic-metering 200-series bodies. Naturally, there is also a cult that loves those rare 200 bodies, so the few compatible 110/2 lenses fetch higher prices (sometimes much higher) than the non-electronic version.

    So there's is a finite supply floating around, and its dwindling in utility: the Achilles Heel of the 110/2 is its extremely complex aperture mechanism with nested double rings of concentric blades (don't ask). Replacement parts are no longer available, and techs who can jury rig a cure are hard to find and expensive (even when official parts were available you had to send the lens to Sweden, and the repair approached $600).

    While capable of beautiful and sometimes unique images, the Zeiss 110/2 can take some time, experience and skill to master. It isn't quite the same as some other high-speed lenses that guarantee fabulous buttery bokeh in every single shot no matter how inept the photographer: it can unexpectedly create nervous, distracting bokeh that defeats the purpose of using it. Long-term owners develop a knack for knowing how to frame with it, what types of background will ruin the bokeh, and which apertures are best deployed with which version of the lens. The early version has an unbaffled rear element which behaves predictably wide open at f/2, the later version has a square baffle at the rear which can sometimes throw off the expected circular bokeh balls wide open, but sometimes combines with the aperture blades to make nicer bokeh at f/5.6 than the older version. Subtle differences, but such is what drives pricing and availability of cult lenses.

    Most people want the 110/2 for what it does at f/2 and never use it at smaller apertures. If you can make that workable for you, you could save some money by deliberately seeking an example where the seller declares upfront that the aperture mechanism is stuck at f/2, and discounts the price accordingly.
    Last edited: May 28, 2020
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  3. A nice selection of wedding photos, demonstrating several different types of foreground/background effect you can obtain with the Zeiss 110/2, can be viewed on this thread:

    Hasselblad 110 f2 lens - PentaxForums.com

    Also, I should have noted potential problems with the aperture mechanism are less frequent with the later lenses, which is another reason they're sought after and more expensive than the earlier. Hasselblad/Zeiss became aware of the issue and redesigned the mechanism to be more reliable midway thru the 5000 lens production run. The newer parts were often retrofitted to older lenses as they came in for repair, so it helps to buy from sellers with some idea of the history of the lens they're offering.
    Last edited: May 28, 2020
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  4. If you want similar results on a budget, and can make do with an f/2.8 maximum aperture; Mamiya's 110mm N Sekor C for their 645 series cameras is a very nice lens with a fairly unique rendering.
    orsetto and Ricochetrider like this.
  5. Another very good, less expensive lens is the Pentacon 6-mount Carl Zeiss Jena Biometar 120mm f/2.8. Zeiss-Biometar-120mm-f2,8.jpg
  6. The 110mm f/2 Planar is equivalent to something in the range of f/0.0 ~ f/1.1 in FF, depending on your aspect ratio crop - how much $ do good versions those lenses go for? Then add low production #s and the Zeiss label.

    On 6x6 film, I find the 180mm f/2.8 Sonnar has an equivalent look (although a longer focal length). The Vega-28 120mm f/2.8 and Bronica 100mm f/2.8 (and the a-for mentioned Biometar above) are pretty good as well (and obtainable). The other two f/2 6x6 lenses are rather difficult to get.
  7. I wonder if you remember any that I've long forgotten?

    Aside from the Hasselblad 110/2, all I can think of are the 80/2 for the Graflex Norita, the 80/1.9 for Mamiya M645, and 80/2 for the Contax 645 (which is fully electronic and thus not usable on any other camera, except the Leica S2 digital bodies via very expensive mount adapter).
  8. Although not 6x6, the Pentax 105mm f/2.4 is a fairly attainable lens that, on 6x7, gives wickedly shallow depth of field somewhat equivalent to an f/1.2 lens on 35mm.

    From what I've seen, it's one of the most common fast MF lenses out there, and it's one that you stand a decent chance of finding mated to a body if you want to go that route. That's how I got mine-mounted to the Pentax 67 that I was buying at the time.
    Ricochetrider and orsetto like this.
  9. Hmm. 4"/2.0 TTH Anastigmat as fitted to Vinten F95, Williamson F.134 and AGI F.139 aerial cameras? Covers 2x3. I have one for my 2x3 Pacemaker Speed Graphic, retired it in favor of a smaller lighter plasmat type because at the apertures I normally use the f/2er has no advantages. Uncommon these days.

    98/1.4 Wild Heerbrugg Falconar. Covers 6x6, originally fitted to the F95. Quite rare, but I b'lieve that there's one up on eBay right now.

    100/1.4 Boyer Saphir, covers 645. Unobtanium.

    4"/1.9 Dallmeyer Super Six. Very uncommon. Super Sixes are now cult lenses, sell for very silly money. I used to have a 6 incher, big heavy monstrosity not really usable on any of my cameras.

    If you can stand a little slower, the 100/2.5 Uran-27 from the former Soviet Union. I bought one for 1 Euro plus 25 Euros postage to see what it is. Same story as the 4"/2.0 TTH. Decent lens, not up to the TTH. These aren't that rare, I think that a least a dozen are up on eBay now.

    There's also the earlier 100/2.5 Uran-10. Poorly achromatised, so usable only with heavy filtration.

    If you can stand a little longer, 120/2.0 S.F.O.M. as flew on S.F.O.M. 680 and 681 cameras.

    If you can stand a tiny bit longer still, 125/2.0 Schneider Goettingen Xenon as flew on the Volk Handkammer. Most are uncoated with serial numbers < 60,000, but I once passed on a coated one with s/n 6xx,xxx. Should have bought it.
    Ricochetrider and orsetto like this.
  10. You have not forgotten anything - and you are right, the Norita is the only other true "6x6" lens,

    There are, ofcourse other rarer/adaptable optics, as mentioned.
  11. The same lens was available for the Rolleiflex SL66 and is even more rare. I saw one for sale on ebay for $18,000 a few years ago. A bit beyond my price range!
  12. Interesting! Never knew this existed: must have arrived very late, probably as a couple prototypes for the final SL66E updated body (at that price no way was it ever in standard production). There's one specific dealer who regularly pops up with ultra-pricey, ultra-rare Rollei prototypes on eBay: you probably came across it in one of their listings. Would love to see what it looked like on the SL66 camera with bellows racked out.

    Your post led me to Google, where I discovered there was yet another variation of the Zeiss 110/2: a PQ electronic AE version made for the Rollei 6008 and Hy6 system! THAT is one fast 6x6 lens both tom_chow and I missed! Standard production, but a very low volume rarity, so it sells for 2x - 4x the price of the Hasselblad version. Larger diameter, so very expensive filters ala Hassy's old 40mm Distagon C:

  13. I use the SL66 version of the old 40mm Distagon. The box that contains the original lens hood and one filter is bigger than my lunch box.
  14. Re: 110mm f/2 Planar - note there are 2 optical versions of this lens, a 7/6 and a 7/5 (element/group) construction. I consider the Rollei version the same lens in a different mount - both the SL66 and 6000 versions.
  15. Rubbish, the depth-of-field equivalent from full-frame to 6x6 is almost exactly one stop. So a cheap Samyang 85mm f/1.4 will give you the same bokeh effect. Spend more if you want to avoid LoCa though.
  16. I shoot my 180mm Sonnar lens periodically and my appreciation of it is renewed each time. Not sure why, by now, I am still surprised by this lens. Maybe I just need to use to more often.
    peter_fowler likes this.
  17. Hmm, obviously a fat figure type on ly part - should have said f/0.8

    If you crop square, 24mm x 24mm from FF is a crop factor of 2.3 from 6x6 (56mmx56mm). If you use the diagonal, the crop factor is 1.8.

    For square images, the 110mm f/2 is equivalent to a 50mm f/0.8 on FF. That is why it is "special".

    Extending the focal length to 85mm in FF does give you "similar" depth of field, but a different FoV - similar to comparing a 50mm f/0.95 with a 85mm f/1.4 in FF.

    Along the same lines, the 150mm f/2.8 Sonnar is a lot cheaper than the 110mm Planar, and gives a similar looking image, but not equivalent. Not rubbish either.
  18. While researching another topic entirely, I found my old 1997 B&H annual catalog. It contained two nuggets of some interest to this thread:

    The B&H price for the Hasselblad Zeiss 110/2 FE brand new in 1997 was $3,731.00 (USD). Ouch!

    The 110/2 for Rolleiflex 6000 they did not list at all, but they did offer a Schneider Xenotar 80mm f/2.0 for the 6000 series, priced at $3,199.00.

    So leaving aside mount variations, our list of specifically 6x6 format "fast" lenses jumps to three (Zeiss 110/2, Noritar 80/2, and now Schneider 80/2). Of these, the only one easily found and used today would be the Zeiss in Hasselblad mount. The Rollei-mount lenses are somewhat rare, and require an electronic Rollei 6000 body to operate (can't adapt to other mounts). The Noritar (aka Rittron) is mechanical, but AFAIK not readily adapted to anything but their native Norita/Warner/RIttreck cameras.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2020
  19. Hello
    is it possible to have same or near same with other system?
    I have 110F2.0 (and 80F2.0) for 6008 and you can find some example on my flickr.

    I prefer 110 to 80 by his narrow angle that increase effect.

    financially speaking, Hasselblad 200 + 110 FE is same as 6008 + 110 and hasselblad 2000 + 110 F is little bit less expensive but impossible to repair body...

    Other lenses that can be used with Hasselblad 2000/200:
    Leitz Hektor 125F2.5 visoflex
    KINOPTIK 100F2.0 Apochromat "barrel" with M65x1 mount (RAFcamera)

  20. Jean-phillipe, I remember when you cried poor. Congratulations on being able to afford such fine equipment.
    jean_philippe_amans likes this.

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