View Full Version : On Docter Optics... and "testing" 210mm lenses

Christopher Perez
14-Feb-2006, 15:47

I don't know where Kerry Thalman finds this stuff, but all he has to do is show me an item or two and I'm hooked. I'm a financially poorer man for it. But happier, I might add.

The most recent Madness revolves around Docter Optics lenses. I have taken delivery of a 150 Germinar W f/9, 210 Tessar f/4.5, 240 Germinar W f/9, and 300 APO Germinar f/9.

The 150 and 300mm lenses are brilliant. I just love 'um for their resolution and contrast. In the process of doing a real world "test of 200mm-ish lenses, I found the 240 Germinar W to also be brilliant from wide open all the way down, and the 210 Tessar to be shockingly good starting around f/5.6.

I have started compiling a page of Docter Optic goodies at: http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/test/Germinar.html

I believe Kerry still has a couple of the 150 and 300mm lenses, and perhaps more than a few 240's. It might be worth looking him up. The Germinar W lenses are what Schneider could or should have produced with the GClaron series of lenses; the Germinars are multi-coated and provide similar 80 degree coverage when stopped down to at least f/22. And the APO Germinar is such a delight that I don't care that it's only single coated.

Stay tuned for my 210mm "real world" Big Mash-Up test. Already there are a few surprises (to me at least, this from inspecting the negatives under a 10x loupe). I am feeling more confident than ever that lens aperture shape strongly influences the "texture", "rendition", and "smoothness" of out of focus areas. But more on that after I have had a chance to spend a few hours in the darkroom printing the results.

I thought y'all might like to know. There are some really great optics out there. :-)

14-Feb-2006, 16:21

Will/is the 203mm f7.7 Ektar among them?


Christopher Perez
14-Feb-2006, 16:43
Will/is the 203mm f7.7 Ektar among them?

Regrettably, no. I tried to buy a 203 Ektar just for this test. Alas, I couldn't find one in time. I was limited to "stock on hand", as it were. :-)

However, Larry Whatley did some aerial testing of a 203 years back and found it to be very sharp wide open. Given this, I feel that the Kodak 203mm Ektar will keep up step for step with the latest OMGThisIsABrilliantAPOModernStirFryEverything lens.

Looking beyond marketing fluff, Kodak made very fine LF optics. Current builders have a hard time bettering them.

In my "test" I looked at the followinglenses: 200Nikkor M, 210 Schneider Xenar f/6.1, 210 Docter Optic Tessar f/4.5, 210 Schneider Symmar Convertible f/5.6, 240 Docter Optic Germinar W f/9.

Christopher Perez
14-Feb-2006, 16:54
Let me rephrase this:

In my "test" I looked at the following lenses:<ul>
200Nikkor M f/8
210 Schneider Xenar f/6.1
210 Docter Optic Tessar f/4.5
210 Schneider Symmar Convertible f/5.6
210 Rodenstock Geronar f/6.8
240 Docter Optic Germinar W f/9</ul>

There are some "ringers" in there; lenses that are just sooooo good and incredibly inexpensive these days. And there is a "dog", but only by way of comparing it with other lenses. When used as designed, everything worked better than expected.

Christopher Perez
15-Feb-2006, 12:11
Docter Optics no longer exists and I have found these to be wonderfully sharp and a distinct pleasure to use. I checked with Kerry to see what he has left. He has three 150 and 300 lenses and around 10 of the 240s left. He also has some long lenses in barrel (which might be just the ticket for ULF work). He has three 600 APO Germinar and six 750 APO Germinars left.

On other fronts, how does this group feel about Schneider 210mm Xenar f/6.1 lenses? Compared, say, to an APOUltraWonderGlass? Yes, it's a loaded question. :-)

Mike Kovacs
15-Feb-2006, 12:46
I thought that Docter Optik does exist, e.g. as far as I know they bought out the binocular business of CZ Jena as well, and still make them. They must have not seen much of a money making market in large format.

Jim Rhoades
15-Feb-2006, 13:17
Christopher, I found your question on the 210 Xenar interesting. I had tried to buy one for a long time and nothing had come up. I went with a Rodenstock f/6.8. I do have a modern Xenar 150mm f/5.6. I find this to be a wonder lens. While it has little coverage it is very sharp and has amazing contrast. This Xenar and a 203 Ektar seem to outshine all my other more expensive lenses.

Christopher Perez
15-Feb-2006, 14:07

Docter Optic was split up after Herr Docter died. Some spun off to Rodenstock. Rodenstock purchased what was left of the DO lens line (that included large format) to gain access to DO's patents. If you look at Rodenstock's automobile headlamps you will see some of the end result of the DO buyout.

Rodenstock quite deliberately killed the DO large format line (if I read between the lines correctly). What Rodenstock did to the remaining stock of already constructed DO large format optics may have been a crime against engineering ingenuity and the human spirit to create fun and interesting things. I speculate that Rodenstock did not want to be bothered by a competing line of large format lenses.


After I publish my findings, you may be out looking for a 210mm Xenar to replace your Rodenstock 210mm f/6.8. :-)

Arne Croell
15-Feb-2006, 14:24
Mike and Cristopher: There are 2 sucessors of the original Docter Optic company: one is Docter Optics (note the additional s in the name) in Neustadt/Orla, making car headlamp parts and OEM optics. This company is held by a group consisting of the companies Rodenstock, Hella, and Bosch (not Rodenstock alone). The other one is the former binocular plant in Eisfeld which is owned by a company called "analytik jena". They use the name Docter Optic for the binoculars, but the symbol is an owl, different from the original Docter symbol. The plant in Saalfeld, which made the LF optics has been closed down for years. I actually doubt that Rodenstock had an active hand in shutting down the LF business, although they were certainly not opposed to it. The selloff of the company by the trustee after the bankruptcy took quite a while, and the production had stopped way before the Rodenstock/Hella/Bosch group took over.

Ted Harris
16-Feb-2006, 12:39
As an interesting aside to the Docter lure I have in front of me a Docter OIptic 8x loupe. It is a tiny thing, measuring 25 mm in diameter by 40 mm long. I have had it for 5 or 6 years and only recall that I paid a very small sum forit (maybe $10)t but was interested in buying it because I was using a couple of Docter lenses. I don't recall where I ourchased it but do recall that it came new and sealed in Bogen packaging. I remember that distinctly as I was surprised. I have never seen any other reference to Bogen importing/distributing any Docter products in the US.

I jsut thoought of the loupe as it was sitting here right by my hand.

Paul Schilliger
17-Feb-2006, 09:27
I just sold one of the recent DO Tessar 4,5 210mm in Copal 3. I used that lens for table tops when I needed confined sharpness and a blurred background. It was crisp even wide open and covered enough to allow Scheimpflug effects. Very nice lens when a Copal 3 is not a problem. But digital is handy, unno. I also own a Xenar 210, probably the lightest 210mm for backpacking besides the Nikkor M 200. Very sharp lens too. However, the crisper image I saw is from the Nikkor W 210 one of my friends owns. Nothing scientific though, just appearances!