View Full Version : Quality of Schneider-Kreuznack Xenar lenses?

Rob Gaines
14-Nov-2004, 12:08
I have two old cameras (Gowland SLR and a Crown Graphic Super) and wanted to know if the lenses would be good fron scenic photography, both color and B&W.

The two lenses are:

Schneider-Kreuznack Xenar 1:4.5/240mm on the Gowland
Schneider-Kreuznack Xenar 1:4.7/135mm on the Graflex

Both lenses appear to be in good condition & scratch free.

Jim Galli
14-Nov-2004, 15:57
I'm surprised no one has answered. The Xenar is Schneider's version of the famous Zeiss Tessar. They are excellent with one caveat. You'll find that a Tessar is just incredibly sharp in the center of it's designed field of view and then the quality drops off rather quickly as you move out toward the edges. Since the 240 would cover (barely) an 8X10 plate, most of the time you'll never be using the edges. They'll be out beyond the picture that's reaching the film. The 135 is another story. Certainly good enough for about a million newspaper photographers from days past, but you might notice some edge fall off on it as it's image circle is just big enough to cover 4X5 with little movements. Schneider began their excellent coatings some time after WWII. I'm not sure exactly when. I have a 1952 Symmar that is beautifully single coated. But Xenar's span the war. If you check the serial number at Schneider's page with ages (http://www.schneideroptics.com/info/age_of_lenses/) and find that your lenses are pre-WWII and uncoated, there still would be many situations they would do an acceptable job, but being single coated was a huge advance.

Darin Cozine
14-Nov-2004, 18:16
The Xenars, as jim said, are quite sharp in the center but tend to get soft on the edges. The 240 will be an excellent performer as a long lens, and will be sharp throughout the image since the 4x5 is in the center of its coverage. The 135 will be sharp over most of the negative, and you probably not notice any degradation in the corners, but you wont have any room for movement.

For a normal lens, the the 135 or 150mm symmar convertable will give you much better coverage for little $$.

If you are doing scenics, you should really spend some extra money on a 90mm super-angulon or sironar.

Rob Gaines
14-Nov-2004, 19:14
Thanks Jim & Darin for your quick & very useful responses.

Ole Tjugen
15-Nov-2004, 00:27
Pre-WWII Schneider lenses didn't have a good reputation - at least compared to some of the other German makers of the time. From about 1950 the quality is exellent. The single coating they introduced about then is surprisingly good, and I would not (and indeed do not) hesitate to use them for colour photography. The only Schneider lens with which I have any kind of flare problem is a 1918 uncoated Xenar 180/4.5!

Jim Rhoades
15-Nov-2004, 07:43
I have the Schneider Xenar 135mm as the main lens for my Crown Graphic. I find it to be a wonderful lens, quite sharp. Yes even out to the corners. But as stated above the sharpness falls off soon after you move it. The lens throws quite a bit of light well past the corners and you may be tempeted to use it.

Test your lens, use all the rise you have, make a neg then print a 8x10. You will see that there is enought light at the top but the image goes very soft, very fast.

Now that you know the limits of the lens you can enjoy the high speed and light weight. For most photographers movements are highly over rated. Your typical landscape needs only a touch of tilt to bring everything into focus. The Xenar will handle that. Just stay away from jobs from Architectural Digest.