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Thread: Xenotar condition opinions?

  1. #11

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    Re: Xenotar condition opinions?

    One has to be careful with Xenotar's of this period, as the front glass of this time was very sensitive to "environmental" factors (such as moisture/fungus/calcification etc) that easily caused spots that can eat into the glass below the surface... Take a loupe and look at "spots" at an angle, maybe drag a mashed up point of a wooden toothpick across surface to see and feel if there is any roughness or pitting visible breaking the surface... Lenses with the above will not be able to just be polished and re-coated, but might be used for "special effect" uses...

    If one owns one in good shape, be careful with the storage as this can happen in the future, so kept airtight dry with silica gel as a dryer, and avoid use during damp weather (without through drying and through cleaning before storing again)...

    Steve K

  2. #12

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    Re: Xenotar condition opinions?

    Perhaps not directly relevant, but I have an 80/2.8 Xenotar that has the coveted "cleaned with sandpaper" look. Unusable. The OP's lens isn't nearly as bad. Even so, if I were the OP I"d send it back for a refund.

    OP, you might run across 150/2.8 Elcan lenses from aerial cameras. The ones whose serial numbers begin with 138 cover 6x6, no more, and have 1.6" back focus. Unusable, except perhaps to shoot 6x6 on a 4x5 Speed Graphic. The ones whose serial numbers begin 180 cover 4x5 and not much more, have 3.92" back focus. Neither has cells that can be put in shutter, neither is well achromatized. I've had a "138," sold it on.

  3. #13

    Re: Xenotar condition opinions?

    Thanks, everybody, for your insight - just sent the lens back. Had I paid less, I might have given it a shot but considering the current issues and potential future issues, it was best to return it.

  4. #14

    Re: Xenotar condition opinions?

    Aren't the Xenotar and Planar for large format somewhat overrated? People think Rolleiflex and Hasselblad and hope for the performance many times doubled on large format, so these lenses sell for high prices. But in the few tests I've seen the Planar and Xenotar were not any better than the common lenses like the Symmar. I have no experience with these lenses, so it's just a thought that popped up when I read this thread.

  5. #15

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    Re: Xenotar condition opinions?

    There was a time not that many years ago when large aperture LF lenses were not desirable in any way. Those were the days when Kodak 6" f2.5 Aero Ektars sold for about $50 USD. 150mm f2.8 Xenotars were not that much more. Fast forward some years, large aperture lenses on 4x5 became a fashion as did swirly bokeh and more.. The popularity of this appears to have originated in smaller imager formats digital or 35mm film or cinema or video.

    Regardless, this is a departure from the Group f64 idealogy of everything in the image "sharp" achieved by applying smaller image taking apertures.

    This current fashion of large aperture 4x5 lenses has driven the market value of these lenses WAY up. To extract the best out of large aperture LF lenses places specific accuracy and precision demands on the camera and film flatness in film holder due to the greatly reduced plane of focus.

    Never really been a fan of Planar-Gauss designs for LF as their out of focus rendition and transition from in to out of focus is not agreeable. What they do and can offer is large lens apertures with GOOD performance for what they do. Lenses like the Xenotar have become a cult lens today.
    Previously discussed:
    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...-f-2-8-Xenotar


    Bernice

  6. #16

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    Re: Xenotar condition opinions?

    I think Bernice is correct--the pricing on these lenses is less about its "planar" design, and more about a current trend on as shallow depth of field as possible. A few years ago, I saw a comment on a DSLR forum from someone to the effect that they didn't care that the aberration cleared up when stopped down to f2 because they "only shoot their lenses wide open." Nothing against that particular viewpoint, its simply the opposite of the f64 mindset of "everything in focus", but its not really my aesthetic. That has driven up the price of fast lenses--ƒ1.2 in 35mm land (or ƒ.95 for rangefinders), ƒ2.4 or ƒ1.9 in medium format, and ƒ2.8 on LF.

  7. #17

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    Re: Xenotar condition opinions?

    Using lenses at full aperture has been done for a VERY long time, going back to Petzval portrait view camera lenses circa abut 1840_?_
    Since then, lens image personality at full aperture became a "thing" for photographic image making. The cinema folks applied this lots, as did the video and still Photography folks. Notable was how Stanley Kubrick used the Zeiss/NASA f0.7 Planar in the production of Barry Lyndon. IMO, Group f64 altered this direction for view camera images preaching the ideology of "everything sharp" in the print image.

    With folks transitioning from smaller imaging formats digital or film into the world of view camera, their image making styles would like to be applied to sheet film view camera. This could be why the current market desirability for large aperture view camera lenses. Ideally, two sets of lenses for a given focal length can be applied to achieve this. The full to near full aperture lens set of Tessar, Heilar and similar related lens formula or Gauss-Planar lens formula offers good full aperture to about f16 working lens aperture. Taking aperture of f16 and smaller favors lenses like Dagor, APO process lenses, and similar with the modern Plasmat being biased to f22 and smaller.

    Given a GOOD view camera offers camera movement, allows MUCH greater control over where the actual plane or area of focus happens. This grants more creative control over areas of focus a fixed lens to box camera cannot achieve.

    The other possible solution to achieving thin plane or area of focus is to go up in sheet film size. Most popular being 8x10. Using a f4.5 full aperture / much longer than normal lens easily achieves that thin area of focus look.. Except long focal length lenses with large apertures (f4.5_ish) have become another high market demand item due to this and the alternative process contact print centric print making folks.


    Bernice



    Quote Originally Posted by abruzzi View Post
    I think Bernice is correct--the pricing on these lenses is less about its "planar" design, and more about a current trend on as shallow depth of field as possible. A few years ago, I saw a comment on a DSLR forum from someone to the effect that they didn't care that the aberration cleared up when stopped down to f2 because they "only shoot their lenses wide open." Nothing against that particular viewpoint, its simply the opposite of the f64 mindset of "everything in focus", but its not really my aesthetic. That has driven up the price of fast lenses--1.2 in 35mm land (or .95 for rangefinders), 2.4 or 1.9 in medium format, and 2.8 on LF.

  8. #18

    Re: Xenotar condition opinions?

    Aren't the Xenotar and Planar for large format somewhat overrated...
    It depends. If you are stopping down then yes, totally overrated and the wrong tool. If you need fast there are limited options, and Xenotar/Planar design lenses are the sharpest and least flare-prone readily available, which isn't saying all that much. If you want shallow depth of field, aberrations, and vignette there are also better options, as Bernice suggests.

  9. #19

    Re: Xenotar condition opinions?

    Ah, yes, I forgot about the "wide open trend" with shallow depth of field and, sometimes, interesting aberrations. I'm so used to stopping down at least a little even if I want a shallow depth of field to tame the worst aberrations somewhat.

  10. #20

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    Re: Xenotar condition opinions?

    One other important consideration if making images at large lens apertures are a requirement, accuracy and precision of the camera's ground glass to film in film holder distance must be held to a high degree of accuracy and repeatable precision due to the small area where the lens is focused. Tiny changes or shifts between the ground glass image to film in film holder will produce focusing errors.

    Goes back to camera choice needs to be driven by lenses needed to achieve a print image goal.


    Bernice

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