View Full Version : 210mm f 3.5 Schneider Xenar - 1951 vintage: sharp?

tor kviljo
9-May-2005, 05:29

I have searched a little on this lens, but most of the info I found on 210/3.5 Xenars were either about even older, uncoated units in barrel, or (possibly) comparable lenses of other brands (Jena Zeiss-tessar 210/3.5 seems to be common). Question is: I recently got a Linhof selected Schneider Xenar 210mm f 3.5 with serial nr. 2721828 (produced in 1951) together with a 4"x5" deal. I have used newer 150mm Xenar (f 5,6 I belive it were) with good result when stopped adequately down, but I am unshure if these fast f 3.5 Xenar lost some of their good behaviour to gain the extra speed?. Thus, I would very much like to have feedback from anyone using this lens, preferably a unit of of comparable vintage. I shoot mostly landscapes & details, and could do with the speed if contrast & resolution is reasonable stopped 2-3 stops down. Would be nice to have responses from others before wasting film testing it.

Ole Tjugen
9-May-2005, 06:59
You're right, Tor.

There is very little information to be found about this lens, and I don't really have anything either! But my experiences with Xenar lenses of all possible designations are all good - even the quaint old Type D 150/3.5 (from 1928) is nice and sharp.

I suggest you waste one sheet at f:8, landscape with lots of details all over, to see if it's any good. I think it is - if it isn't, give it to me :)

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
9-May-2005, 07:52

I have a slightly longer 240/3.5 Xenar also from 1951. I have found that this lens, when stopped down to f/8 and beyond, is nice and sharp within a limited circle just enough to cover 5x7, so yours should do nicely on 4x5 with some movements. My lens produces a slight focus shift between 3.5 and 8, so I currently frame at f/3.5 (nice and bright) and focus the camera at either the taking aperture or f/8, which ever is larger. I have had some flare problems with this lens, so be sure to use a hood.

Eric Woodbury
9-May-2005, 10:25
I had a 210mm Xenar, although I don't know which one. I know it was a little more modern than '51. Anyway, it was a good lens, but on 4x5 it exhibited soft corners.

9-May-2005, 15:16
I own a 210 3.5 Xenar that my father used in barrel in a Speed Graphic. It is soft wide open and sharp stopped down. Interesting lens. I've also used it for night street shots on a tripod with no flare from the street lamps evident. I like the brightness of the GG with this lens! Best, Emile/www.deleon-ulf.com.

tor kviljo
10-May-2005, 02:10
Thanks alot folks! - seems to be good reason to give it a try on film then. Using it on 4"x5" and at f 11 or smaller, I would imagine I could get the most out of it & still be able to benefit from decent shutter speeds.

Scott Sharp
10-May-2005, 08:17
I own that same lens as a Linhof select version with a slightly higher serial number of 2816xxx. It throws a beautiful bright image on the ground glass. I haven't really experimented with this lens but the couple of Polaroids I shot came out ok. My front element is compromised with coating scratches so my version may be a future portrait lens. I have also found very little information on this lens. The Schneider website does not list it. This may have been an early experiment by Schneider with a fast lens with the Xenotar as the next developmental step up.

13-Mar-2019, 18:07
I recently got one of those lenses, which was made in 1928. Haven’t tried it yet.

Ken Lee
13-Mar-2019, 18:39
People ask about lens sharpness but often forget to mention how large they plan to print. Differences between lens designs are often invisible until we reach the limits of our processing chain,

You might find this article helpful: Is Newer Always Better ? (http://www.kennethleegallery.com/html/lenses/index.php#newer)

The Xenar is a Tessar design and the Tessar was invented in 1902 by Paul Rudolph, likely using a slide rule to make the calculations. It's still in use today: the Nikkor M line for example.

What newer implementations offer is modern coating and modern manufacturing techniques, but sharpness can be very good.

Armin Seeholzer
15-Mar-2019, 05:24
I have a f 3,5 250mm Xenar the former user was a portrait photog which was not happy with the lens, for him it was to sharp in the center so he did some scratch in the center to kill the sharpness a bit and make it more even. It still gets sharp at f11 but it was a hard core action in my opinion, which I do not really understand! But still like the lens!

Pere Casals
15-Mar-2019, 06:44
to have responses from others before wasting film testing it.

Are you joking ? Having a 210 xenar and not wanting to know what this jewel is ?

It is a really good lens, with great bokeh.

See Xenar section in this review:

You are not the first one in this situation, se what Ken says in a similar situation:

It would be single coated, but as having 3 groups only this has less impact, and flare can be anyway be controlled with a compendium shade that you will need anyway if wanting to control well flare even with a multicoated lens.

The xenar is crazy sharp in the center-mid, but the tessar desing is less perfect than a plasmat in the corners, anyway the 210 has a circle that is larger than you need, so with 4x5 you can take the center of the circle. The 150mm xenar needs to be stopped to f/22 to get sharp corners, but as said, with the 210 you can take the center-mid of the circle that's crazy good even at f/16 or f/11.

Then you have the Linhof selected stamp, this is a nice stamp. In the production run of LF lenses of the era there was a sample to sample variability, that stamp tells that this glass is not a dog at all.

I've tested the xenar 135, and I'd like to have a 210.

IMHO for portraiture it's a remarkable excellent choice, for landscape it depends a bit on flare control and the YMMV.