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Thread: Pros and cons of tessar design lens???

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    stradibarrius stradibarrius's Avatar
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    Pros and cons of tessar design lens???

    I do not know much at all about lens design but I am curious about the good, the bad and the ugly of the tessar design.
    What are it's strengths and weaknesses.
    I am talking about a high quality Tessar like a Fujinon -W 150mm f/6.3 or other top maker.

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    Re: Pros and cons of tessar design lens???

    Google Ken Lee photography. Click on Ken Lee Photography-Photography in the Classic Tradition. Click on Tech at the top of the page. Scroll down about the middle of the page to Favorite Vintage Lenses for Portraits and Flowers. Ken gives some nice examples using Tessar lenses.

    Also check out Ken's other photos for some great inspiration!

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    stradibarrius stradibarrius's Avatar
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    Re: Pros and cons of tessar design lens???

    Thanks for that info Alan! His work is excellent!

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    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: Pros and cons of tessar design lens???

    The Tessar is one of the great classic designs for any format, but I feel like it fits large format especially well. Some are a bit limited in coverage, but not all. If you need "super-maximum" resolution, close down to f/22 or so, but I like them wide open.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

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    stradibarrius stradibarrius's Avatar
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    Re: Pros and cons of tessar design lens???

    I was going to sell my Fujinon-W 150 f/6.3 which is a Tessar design but I am re-thinking it now. I also have a Symmar-s 180 f/5.6 and they are really close as far as focal length but not in design

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    Drew Saunders drew.saunders's Avatar
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    Re: Pros and cons of tessar design lens???

    I have four LF Tessars: a 165/3.5 Zeiss Jena Tessar from about 1952, a 180/4.5 Schneider Xenar from 1960, a 250/4.7 Fuji Fujinar that I'm guessing is from about 1970 based on the type of Copal 3S shutter that it has, and a 200/8 M-Nikkor that I bought in about 2003 or so. The M-Nikkor is multicoated, the others all single coated. My sharpest lens of all the ones I own is the 200/8 Nikkor, my most "gentle focus" lens is the 165/3.5 Zeiss, but the 3 fast ones are all pretty sharp past f/8 or so. Of the three single-coated ones, only the Xenar is flare-prone, even with a hood. Even the fast ones are somewhat compact, especially in overall length, and the 200/8 Nikkor is barely larger than the shutter.

    I have a 250/6.3 Fujinon-W and although the 250/4.7 Fujinar is heavier by 100g, it's quite a bit shorter, so I generally carry the Fujinar, even though the plasmat-design W has a much larger image circle, they're both more than enough for 4x5.

    If the 150/6.3 Fujinon-W is indeed a Tessar, it'll have more limited coverage than a 150/5.6 plasmat design, but at a significant savings in weight and space. On the other hand, they don't go for a whole lot used, so keep it! Look here, about 1/3 of the way down, for information on your lens: http://www.thalmann.com/largeformat/mid-rang.htm
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/drew_saunders/

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    Re: Pros and cons of tessar design lens???

    Other than less coverage I don't know of a downside to Tessars. Even uncoated ones can produce extraordinarily sharp photos. The little uncoated Zeiss gem on 1930's Rolleiflexes, for example.

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    Re: Pros and cons of tessar design lens???

    The tessar design is pretty flexible--probably any design objective could be achieved, with a couple of exceptions.

    Those exceptions would include excellent lateral color correction at really wide apertures, and wide coverage. Of course, "normal" lenses for large format are plasmats, which are wide-angle designs derived from the dagor.

    So, the pros are: Wide variety (versions can be found that would be appropriate for most applications), compact size for the focal length and aperture, low price.

    And the cons are: Limited coverage, performance diminishes at edge of coverage (for older models), limited correction potential at very wide apertures (which is irrelevant for large format where the only lenses of such apertures are rarities).

    Since most examples are older, their rendering of detail is not as crispy-fried as newer models, but that doesn't mean they don't render detail.

    Rick "who owns a few tessars that are stinkers at some things" Denney

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    Re: Pros and cons of tessar design lens???

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Crisp View Post
    Other than less coverage I don't know of a downside to Tessars. Even uncoated ones can produce extraordinarily sharp photos.
    I was going to be even more brief than that... I know of no downside at all.

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    Re: Pros and cons of tessar design lens???

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Crisp View Post
    Other than less coverage I don't know of a downside to Tessars. Even uncoated ones can produce extraordinarily sharp photos. The little uncoated Zeiss gem on 1930's Rolleiflexes, for example.
    Yes, and they have a lovely character. In my experience the f6.3 versions are the best for large format, unless you want the look that the f4.5 versions give for portraits. The f3.5 coated version used on the Rolleiflex 3.5T was exceptional.
    One man's Mede is another man's Persian.

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