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Thread: Balsam separation (affect on second-hand price/opinions)?

  1. #1

    Balsam separation (affect on second-hand price/opinions)?

    Apologies if this is not the right forum, I'm new

    I'm considering a Schneider 110mm SS XL, but it looks like there's significant (?) balsam separation around the edges. How much consideration to price should this bring? I've done some general reading (here and elsewhere) and the consensus seems to be that separation should have at worst a mild decrease in contrast / flare resistance and that a well maintained lens should have no separation throughout the life of the lens assuming properly stored. It sounds possible to repair it as well but I believe that approaches the cost of the lens itself, so I'd rather get one in good condition and continue to maintain it well over fix it up.

    I have pictures of the lens in question here https://imgur.com/a/R2zyrAK, any advice would be appreciated.

  2. #2

    Re: Balsam separation (affect on second-hand price/opinions)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh K View Post
    Apologies if this is not the right forum, I'm new

    I'm considering a Schneider 110mm SS XL, but it looks like there's significant (?) balsam separation around the edges. How much consideration to price should this bring? I've done some general reading (here and elsewhere) and the consensus seems to be that separation should have at worst a mild decrease in contrast / flare resistance and that a well maintained lens should have no separation throughout the life of the lens assuming properly stored. It sounds possible to repair it as well but I believe that approaches the cost of the lens itself, so I'd rather get one in good condition and continue to maintain it well over fix it up.

    I have pictures of the lens in question here https://imgur.com/a/R2zyrAK, any advice would be appreciated.
    This looks like the known issue that afflicted many early 80mm XL and 110mm XL lenses. I'm not sure the cause was ever officialliy explained properly but it isn't balsam separation (there are only three air-spaced lens elements in the front element group). The most logical explanation was outgassing but also heard it was an attribute of the coating. Those lenses under warranty had the front element group replaced by Schnieder. Those days are gone of course.

    However, I understand that the haze inside the lens can be cleaned, akin (but not the same?) to Leica lenses that also suffer from 'hazing'. The haze occurs on the inside of the front element, so this must be removed to have this done.

    The price should take into account the cost of cleaning by a competent repair outfit (Schneider, for example, may still do this for its lenses and I guess they will be more expensive than a third party).

    This is assuming I've interpreted the images correctly.

    Cheers,
    Duff
    Last edited by duff photographer; 2-Sep-2018 at 15:07.

  3. #3

    Re: Balsam separation (affect on second-hand price/opinions)?

    Interesting, thanks Duff. Do you have any more links or resources about this? I imagine the affect on image quality is the same as separation?

  4. #4

    Re: Balsam separation (affect on second-hand price/opinions)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh K View Post
    Interesting, thanks Duff. Do you have any more links or resources about this? I imagine the affect on image quality is the same as separation?
    No official links/resources I'm afraid. Schneider didn't advertise the issue and just dealt with it on an individual by individual basis.

    Googling "Schneider super-symmar 110mm XL haze" will produce the usual forum discussions but I haven't seen anything firm. My info came from the people I bought the 110mm XL from, which then developed the haze. It was returned to Schneider under warranty and received back with a new front lens group - no problems since. That was over 10 years ago.

    From what I gather, the effect of the haze is to reduce resolution at its worst (a search of the forums, including this one, may give an idea). Some have likened the haze to a photo effect for dreamy portraits but have not tried this myself, nor want to, for obvious reasons. Might be interesting to experiment though but perhaps only if you know that the lens can be be properly cleaned afterwards. As in my last post, this is assuming that it is indeed haze shown in the images you provided By the way, ignoring the haze, I'm also assuming the highlighted specks in the photos are highlighted dust particles and/or small isolated patches of haze.

    By the way, a good/mint 110mm XL goes for between 600 and 1000 ($780 to $1300) - price depends on who's looking for one, not necessarily on condition. I see one with haze sold for 470 ($600) on ebay a couple of months ago.

  5. #5

    Join Date
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    Re: Balsam separation (affect on second-hand price/opinions)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh K View Post
    Interesting, thanks Duff. Do you have any more links or resources about this? I imagine the affect on image quality is the same as separation?
    Here is some reading for you:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=lens...nt=firefox-b-1

  6. #6
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Balsam separation (affect on second-hand price/opinions)?

    Schneider made some defective 80's and 110's. You need to avoid them. There is probably a data base giving the serial numbers of the earlier ones affected. It's a different issue than ordinary benign peripheral "Schneideritis".

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    1,132

    Re: Balsam separation (affect on second-hand price/opinions)?

    I would avoid that lens and find another one if you are the buyer. If the seller, then starting at half a normal one's value seems about right.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    21

    Re: Balsam separation (affect on second-hand price/opinions)?

    Back to topic.
    It is not a balsam separation that affects early batches of Super Symmars, it is a haze on the inner surface of the first element. I presume it is a redeposit of glue used to fix front element to the front group housing. Why Schneider decided to glue the front element instead of just putting the front element into the precisely machined housing as usual I do not known.
    The solution is obvious, the front element has to be taken out to do the cleaning and due to the fact the front element is glued, it is not trivial as you also have to solve the exact position of the front when glueing it back to the housing (hence the requirement of the Schneider that it can be done only at Schneider's).
    How do I know? I bought a Super Symmar 80 with quite heavy haze for a good price and decided to solve the problem by myself.
    The best solution how to remove the front cell is to use hot air oven (u I used the common kitchen one). 1 hour at 100 C softens the glue and the front element can be pry open using wooden stick. Then remove any residues of the glue using the same wooden stick. It is easy, just reheat the front element or the housing again if needed to soften the glue. You can also boil it in the water, but in this case I did not want to disamantle the whole front group as you would have to remove the water form innner spaces.
    Then clean the haze. Microfibre cloth did the job without any problem. The blackening of the front element should be fine and without any damage.
    Now comes the tricky part of reglueing the front element back. I was thinking about using some sort of optical bench, but in the end after some experimenting I put my camera into vertical position so the front element can be easily moved in the housing (it lies in the housing as on the table) and aligned the front element using high magnification loupe and lens test patterns. I was lying on my back on the floor, camera screen just above my head and the resolution pattern was on on the ceiling 3m away. It was quite obvious when the element was in the right position as the increase of the resolution and contrast was very high. Then I just applied the optical glue (as Schneider did) into the space between the element and the housing using syringe and hypodermic needle. After 2 hours ( I did not use UV curing glue) and screwing back the retaining ring of the front elemetn it was done. If I had to do it again, it would take not me more than 1 hour of labour (not counting the time in the oven) as I know how to do it of course. I also checked the final position of reglued element. It was exactly the same as before removing it and in fact element lies is in the geometrical centre of the housing.
    I can imagine that the cost of repair as it has to be done manually when done by Schneider would be quite high taking all the overhead and other costs into account.

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