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View Full Version : Difference between 150 Tessar and 150 Xenar?



Michael Graves
31-Mar-2012, 14:07
They both appear to be the same, except the Xenar is slightly larger physically. Without having both in hand at the same time, I cannot be sure. I own the Tessar, and I have an opportunity to own the Xenar that's attached to a camera I want to purchase. I may be able to work out something where I don't have to take the lens. However, the cost differential isn't that much. I found information on the Xenar, but not the Tessar. Is there a difference in image circle at all? Does anyone have any specs on the Tessar? The one thing I can say from experience....it ain't got a heck of a lot of spare image circle for movements. Maybe an inch either way. But it gives a lovely image. Will the Xenar give a bigger image circle?

Mark Sawyer
31-Mar-2012, 14:12
Xenar is just Schneider's brand name for their Tessars. Nice lenses.

"Tessar" is originally a name for the 4-element/3 group Paul Rudolf/Zeiss lens design, but sometimes Zeiss used the Tessar name on non-Tessar designs.

Michael Graves
31-Mar-2012, 14:39
So they're probably going to be identical then? I may just take it with the camera and play with it for a few days. If I decide they're too close to one another I only have to get a hundred bucks out of it to break even.

Louis Pacilla
31-Mar-2012, 14:53
So they're probably going to be identical then? I may just take it with the camera and play with it for a few days. If I decide they're too close to one another I only have to get a hundred bucks out of it to break even.

Yep.

Dan Fromm
31-Mar-2012, 15:23
Not necessarily. It depends on the vintage and on the maximum aperture.

I don't have any of Thiele's Zeiss data books so don't know when the various Zeiss Tessars were recomputed, am not aware of any similar resource for Schneider lenses. I do know that in general the newer the Tessar the better and for Tessars of the same vintage f/6.3ers are better -- sharper, larger coverage -- than f/4.5ers are better than f/3.5er. Also, I believe, with no firm evidence to support the belief, that late 210/6.1 and 150/5.6 Xenars are the best of all.

Zeiss and successors (Docter) made Tessars for at least 90 years, starting in 1902. Schneider made Xenars from no later than 1931 until fairly recently. There are many of both around, and of many vintages. Generalizing about them isn't safe.

Michael, which focal lengths, maximum apertures, and serial numbers are you trying to decide between?

Michael Graves
31-Mar-2012, 16:09
Michael, which focal lengths, maximum apertures, and serial numbers are you trying to decide between?

The one I have and the one that is coming with the camera are both 150 f4.5. The Xenar has a Linhof marking on the shutter. My Tessar has a Compur shutter and I've used it quite a lot. But as I say, I find sometimes the lack of movements shows up (usually in vignetted skies).

Dan Fromm
31-Mar-2012, 17:45
Michael, thanks for the reply. Without knowing more (shutter engraved Linhof probably means 1950s-60s, Compur shutter isn't informative, serial number would have been), they'll have the same coverage. That's tessars' nature. For f/4.5ers, 110% of focal length is a safe slightly conservative bet. As I wrote, the 150 Xenar to want most is the late 150/5.6.

lbenac
31-Mar-2012, 17:54
As I wrote, the 150 Xenar to want most is the late 150/5.6.

I have one and it is a lens I really like. Coupled with the 210/6.These are great value. I shoot B&W only so cannot comment on color.

Cheers,

Luc

Drew Bedo
31-Mar-2012, 19:27
You already have the Tessar: Buy the camera WITH the Xenaron it. Test both lenses and sell off the one you don't want.

IanG
1-Apr-2012, 02:57
Which Tessar is it ? Not a stupid question as there's the earlier ones in a dial set Compur, pre WWII uncoated on the rimset Compur and coated from 1938 onwards still made by CZJ after WWII, and later the West German Tessars.

My 1950's CZJ 150mm f4.5 T (coated) Tessar is a great lens better coatings than the equivalent Xenars of the time but it's coverage is about the same as my late 150mm f5.6 Xenar, by f22 both are very sharp right to the corners. I found you need to be very carefull centering these lenses if using tilt as they quickly vignette the corners.

Ian

Michael Graves
1-Apr-2012, 08:23
I went down an picked up the camera yesterday. The Tessar in a rim-set Compur. I does not look to be coated, but that could just be that I don't know what to look for. The Xenar is a pretty little thing, It is also in a compur. I'm going to mount it on a lens board and take it out with my Chamonix and shoot the same photo with both and see if I can tell any differences. I'll also see if there is any difference in image circle based on pure observation. Now that I have them both hand in hand, I can say that the Xenar is only slightly larger than the Tessar. Looking at it in a photo when mounted on the camera made it look bigger than it was. It is, however a little larger. It is definitely coated. I doubt if I'll be able to get out this weekend, but I'll try to do a serious comparison of the two and post what I find out here. It should be fun regardless of the results.

jp
2-Apr-2012, 09:44
I'd also consider the smoothness/roundness of the aperture blades when comparing the two lenses. It's sometimes not desirable to see iris shapes in the background of photos when you could be seeing a smooth round bokeh like the Tessar style is known for.

Steve Hamley
2-Apr-2012, 10:28
Schneider made Xenars from no later than 1931 until fairly recently.

And Carl Zeiss still does! Check out the lens on the soon-to-be-released Nokia Lumina 900 - a Carl Zeiss Tessar.

http://stuffmideast.com/2012/01/12/122194/hands-on-review-nokia-lumia-900/

There are better images of the lens on the phone out there, but I couldn't find it easily. So the Tessar lives on.

Cheers, Steve

Dan Fromm
2-Apr-2012, 11:42
Interesting, Steve. I wondered whether Nokia's Tessars are the classic four elements in three groups design or just a trade name. It seems they're the classic type: http://lenses.zeiss.com/photo/en_DE/products/partners/nokia.html

IanG
2-Apr-2012, 12:11
There's a Schneider 120mm f4.5 Xenar in a rimset Compur with a SN 307** that was made 1929/30, most likely 1929 and there was an early one in a Dial set cCompr for sale recently from MW Classic a online UK store. My own 150mm f5.6 Xenar has a very late SN 1478**** which is possible 2002, however it's thought the elemenst were made in the mid to late 90's and assembled years later and sold off cheaply through a very small no of dealers Robert White & MrCad in the UK I think Badger Graphics in the US.

Ian

Emmanuel BIGLER
3-Apr-2012, 06:02
I does not look to be coated,

Hello from France, congratulations for your Tessar.

A few things that we can add here is that you should not pay too much attention to the fact that the lens migh be coated, multi-coated, or not coated at all. In a (4/3) tessar design you have only 6 air-glass interfaces and the maximum field angle never exceds 60. Both features tend to "naturally" reduce stray light whether the lens is coated or not, if compared to a 6/4 design covering over 70.
If you have the serial number of this tessar lens, most probably the resources available on this group will help you to find the year of manufacture.
After the 2-nd World War, most, if not all German photographic lenses covering 60 were coated. Apo-repro lenses for studio work covering a narrower angle of view, were less in urgent need of beaing coated, though.
Nevertheless, roughly speaking for a tessar or a xenar, before WW-II = not coated; after = coated, and last generation, Schneider xenars = (probably ??) multi-coated.
An interesting evolution of the design in the last generations of tessar-xenar lenses is that "fast" 4.5 apertures were eventuallly abandoned by some manufacturers.
The last Schneider Xenars for view cameras in 150 and 210 mm had a max aperture of 5.6 and 6.1, respectively. I have the vague idea that this evolution was driven by trying to slighty increase the image circle and overall image sharpness, as far as a 4/3 formula (1-st patent = 1902 !!) can go. And also to reduce size & weight (xenar 5.6 / 150 = 170 grams including shutter !)

Nikon had on catalogue the Nikkor-M series, tessar designs with a purposedly limited max aperture to f/9 like an apo-repro lens; the Nikkor-M lens being intended to be a long focal length and not a general purpose lens covering 55-60.

However I have an excellent 210 mm Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar of the sixties with the traditional f/4.5 max aperture.

Enjoy your tessars !