Zeiss vs Schneider on Roleeiflex TLR vs 6000 series

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by waterden, Jan 14, 2005.

  1. I have observed that Schneider Kreuznach lenses are preferred by
    user / collectors to Zeiss for the 6000 series SLRs, yet for the
    TLRs it appears that the reverse is the case. Can anyone shed any
    light on this dichotomy?
  2. Users prefer Schneider, collectors Zeiss. ;)

    Actually, as a user of both, there is virtually no difference.
  3. I always mix these lenses without bothering about the Rollei or
    Schneider brand. For techies there might be a measurable
    difference, but for photographers they are equally great. As a rule
    of thumb the Schneiders have a longer aperture-range where
    they perform best (mostly starting from f5.6 and ending around f
    22), while the Zeiss lenses perform best early in their aperture
    range (f4.0) but decrease rapidly in their plain field performance
    when being past f 11.
  4. cpj


    I've owned and used all variations of the Rolleiflex--3.5, 2.8, Planar and Xenotar--from
    the E-model to the final 12/24 F models (by Franke&Heidecke) since the late 1950's.
    There is no appreciable difference that I can see, at least up to 18 x 20 prints.

    The Schneider Xenotar was Rolleis first choice for its top class lens on the D model about
    1952 or so. When demand grew faster than Schneider could produce lenses, they turned
    to Zeiss for Planar lenses as well. (Both are essentially the very same lens formula.)

    When the Planar was introduced in America (about 1960) Zeiss had a strong advertising
    and Public Relations program going here and camera dealers were "pushing" the Planar so
    that it didn't get an "inferior" reputation and was supported by the hype in the photo
    magazines of the time. [This is when Zeiss was pushing Super Ikonta's, the last of the
    Contax, Contaflexes, etc.] So, combined with the advertising blitz for Zeiss cameras, the
    Planar took on a certain "cache" which had nothing to do with performance.

    Both the Xenotar and Planar were 5-element lenses of the same outstanding design
    (originating I believe prior to 1920 but not mass produced due to expense.) What little I
    know about optics is that there is more abberation correction choices for the lens designer
    with the odd number of elements 3, 5, 7 etc. except for some reason the 4-element
    Tessar design works remarkably well for its type.

    Later, in the early 60's Zeiss added a sixth element to the Planar for a few years as a "field
    flatener"--placed as the final element in the lens group. Independent testers finally
    agreed that it did NOTHING to add to the lens performance, except put another
    obstruction in the light path.

    The ultimate answer is not in the name but in the design. Both companies make excellent
    lenses and nobody has ever been able to state unequivocally that one is "better" than the
    other at all times. How large are you making your prints? If you are shooting
    transparencies and digitizing them with very high-end equipment (such as a Tango drum
    scanner and printing with a Lightjet laser or a Chromira LED system) you'll still see no
    appreciable difference in 30X40 prints from either lens.

    For what it's worth, NASA used a Xenotar lens in 1967 to take photos of the moon's
    surface from an Apollo spacecraft to see if they could determine whether it was firm or
    powdery before attempting a landing there in 1969. Personally, I had a Xenotar FIRST (and
    still have it on a Rollei E from 1958) so I am partial to the Xenotar since I have made some
    very huge B&W conventional prints with it. I just haven't gone as large with the Planar but I
    am convinced that it will hold up well. (I use Planars on my Hasseblads.)

    It is a matter of whatever is available at the price you want to pay at the time you want to
    buy, assuming "condition" of the lenses and cameras are the same. If buying a used Rollei,
    find one in a leather case that has been hanging in somebody's closet for 25 years. It will
    probably be like new. [Three years ago I did buy a NEW one, still in the original box with
    the outer cardboard protective sleeve and price sticker on it--a 2.8F.] Yes, I had to pay
    more than the price sticker!

    Good luck. Remember, Public Relations and Advertising were the only difference originally,
    and some of that may still hold true today. Same goes for the so-called "White Face"
    versions which are no different than regular Rolleis but will bring $200 to $400 more on
    the collector market.
  5. Some great information there, CPeter.
  6. I've never made super-enlarged prints from my Rollei-with-Planar, but I have super-enlarged a few scans. The quality is astonishing.

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