View Full Version : Pre war Collapsible Tessar 2.8-5 cm
About a month ago I bought a beautyfull Contax II made in 1937, fitted with a collapsible Tessar 2.8 5 cm. The camera body needs repair so I´m not using it, but the lens apart of a little fog has (fortunately) no scratches nor any other visible damage.
I´ve heard that this lens is just a 3.5 Tessar "disguised" as a 2.8, but I´m in doubt ZI would do that only for marketing purposes.
The reasons supporting this statement were that this lens isn´t on a par with the expected performance it would have in respect to the Tessar 3.5 which it was said to be the replacement or a newer improved version, and that ZI launched it to compete with Leitz.
Now, does any one of you have an opinion about this lens? or perhaps pictures taken with it to show?
I still didn´t shoot any film through it, but I´m starting now.
Any advice, opinions, pictures or comments will be welcome!
I´ll post the pictures as soon as I get them from the lab.
Thanks a lot!
I've read that the F2.8 aperture pushed the traditional Tessar too far. Zeiss reformulated the F2.8 Tessar 1959 for the Contaflex III using newer glass. I suspect with the 1930's glass, the design was past its optimal limits at F2.8. The introduction of newer glass in the newer Tessars and Tessar copies since 1960 or so gives them their better reputation. The 1960's Nikon 45mm F2.8 "GN-Nikkor " is a Tessar copy and is quite good.
The short answer is that the general consensus is that the Zeiss engineers were pushing the limits of the Tessar design by making a f/2.8 version (same goes for their Leitz competitors & their f/2.8 Elmar). I have a few of the pre-WWII 5cm/2.8 Tessars & yes, performance @ f/2.8 is not very good by modern standards, but it is there if you need it. With the advent of coatings, etc., better performance @ f/2.8 became possible, but even then, the post-WWII W. German Zeiss-Opton/Carl Zeiss didn't bother to produce an f/2.8 Tessar because they figured users would just get an f/2 or f/1.5 Sonnar instead (before WWII the Sonnars were comparatively more expensive) & even the E. German Carl Zeiss Jena didn't produce very many f/2.8 Tessars.
There was a good discussion of these issues on photo.net's Classic Cameras forum:
Here are some shots taken w/the uncoated 1930s 5cm/2.8 Tessars, in both Contax RF mount & mounted on the Super Nettel & Nettax cameras (same lens):
A word of advice--if you're going to be shooting the Tessar @ f/2.8, avoid strong light sources in the frame or you're going to get some extreme flare!
Thanks a lot guys!
It was really good to see some examples of what this old lens can do.
I´m sure this one would not be on a par with other of same specs regarding actual standards, but I´m unable to forget this one was made and designed almost 70 years ago.
So, comparing this lens with another one made within the past ten years is like comparing apples with oranges...
Anyway, I like both!
Aside from its tendency to flare, I was very impressed with this lens. I didn't take any shots wide open, but in general I found results to be sharp and typically Tessar.
The Tessar was REALLY stretched at f/2.8 and it wasn't really all that good at f/3.5 (I've had both): I have a much higher opinion of the Elmar (I still have one from 1936). . The only really good Tessar I have ever owned was a 150/6,3, which was one of the finest lenses I have ever used. I am not the only one of this opinion: Sir Kenneth Corfield agrees. But like a fool I sold it 30 years ago...
The f/2,8 Elmar didn't come out until new glasses were available -- it was introduced in '54 -- so even the earliest versions were much superior to the original f/2,8 Tessar.
But even before interchangeable lenses were officially introduced, Meter was selling f/1.5 Plasmats for the Leica and in 1934 the British Journal of Photography Almanac (1935 edition) noted the availability of 50/1,5 Plasmats in Leica and Contax coupled fit.
If you need to fix your camera, go visit www.zeisscamera.com :)
As long as I read your posts, I´m slowly arriving at the conclusion that Zeiss was really compelled to offer a 2.8 Tessar to avoid, if possible. reducing it´s market share.
The type of glass available at the time it was marketed would probablyly preclude any further Tessar developement or improvement, and stretching it to 2.8 was perhaps beyond the "safe limits" of the original design.
This lens unfortunately doesn´t have any thread for filters or hoods, so flare is something to take extreme care of.
The only Tessar 2.8 50 mm I did use before was from the former DDR, marked Carl Zeiss Jena and in M42 mount (obvious it was Pentacon). The test shots revealed an excellent performance in regard of it´s age (late ´50s or early ´60s and of course, just "coated"), and I´ve heard that those made by Zeis Ikon in W. Germany were far better, never tasted ... er... tested any one of those unfortunately.
The pictures I´ve seen suggest my expectations will be fulfilled.
Again, thanks a lot to all of you for the valuable opinions and advices
You are right in saying that Zeiss Ikon had to offer a lower-cost lens option for the Contax so as to stand a change to compete against the Leica; even fitted with comparable lenses, the Contax was more expensive than the Leica at any moment in time, at least before the war.
The introduction of new glasses facilitated the Tessar to gain greater performance in its f/2.8 form and both Jena and Oberkochen did just that; Jena stuck to the same recipe til the end, as far as I know, that applies to your 50/2.8 mounted for the M42 Praktica, which, in all fairnessness, is a competent performer. However, some time in the 50s, Oberkochen redesigned the f/2.8 Tessar from the ground up and further pushed the performance; this new formula Tessar is seen in Stuttgart's later versions of the Contaflex cameras, and the rather rare standard lens for the Contarex, and others. Pity Jena did not feel the need to follow suit in redesigning the Tessar likewise, but there again on the international market, the Meyer Oreston 50/1.8 was cheap enough to be affordable to most people anyway.
I have to agree with your observation that the original 1902 Tessar, i.e. f/6.3 version, is rather good; I have several and at one time two of the 15cm specimen, one made in the mid 1920s at Jena and an identical one made postwar by B&L with coating, but sold the later one. Still not sure if I did the right thing selling a f/7.7 version but there is also something quite appealing about the 165/4.5 as well
But as most things, when used within its intended scope, the pre-war Contax Tessar should still be fully satisfactory, just do not expect it to be "better" than anything else; horses for courses.
Thank you very much for your opinion. I didn´t check any Zeiss Tessar which wasn´t a good performer, unless you asked the lens to do something it was unable to provide, it is in regard of the production date.
The newer glasses gave new life to what would be the father of all lenses, as long as it is and guess would be for a long time to come, the most copied ever lens design.
The basic design of the Tessar wasn´t drastically changed until Zeiss Oberkochen recalculated it with new types of glass and coatings.
I agree with you that the people at the former Zeiss Jena works did more or less the same with the new glass available and brought the new Tessars with coatings, and better correction for 2.8 than the pre war model had. As far as I tested it, this is a very fine performer.
The GN Nikkor 45/2.8 is a good example of what a new glass type can bring to the traditional Tessar design, but perhaps not tied too tightly to the original recipe.
I´m just shooting with my Kiev with the Tessar fitted... just test shots... couldn´t wait to see the pictures...
I swear I´ll post some examples of what I´ve got!
Best regards to all!!
I've used a number of Tessar lenses over the years, some pre-war and some post-war. They include 50mm & 75mm f/3.5, 50mm & 80mm f/2.8 and 105mm f/4.5 (IIRC). I don't know that any of them have ever disappointed me but I also rarely use them at their maximum aperture.
The attached pictures were taken with a pre-war, uncoated 75mm f/3.5 Tessar and orange filter. The camera is an Ikoflex TLR model II/III. I can't complain about the performance of the Tessar in this case.
If you need to fix your camera, go visit www.zeisscamera.com :)
I hear second hand that you had better not be attending to any ill children for 24 hours after Mr Scherer sends his emails or you may be blackballed from his service forever. Maybe there are two sides to this story but this is a pretty rude way to treat a customer, and believe me, this is a small community of Zeiss Ikon Contax users.
Uh sorry Mike, I'm not fluent enough in english to make the sense of your words, but you are certainly better placed than me to know about this person. I thought the link and work provided seems serious enough. Anyway, I am looking forward to get a pre-war Contax II :)
I was not entirely satisfied with some work that mr S did for me. He told me an expensive item needed replacing, or at least that it was a Russian fake; I didn't actually think it was so, but I bowed to his experience; he told me he would send the suspicious item back so I could see for myself. Then told me he'd binned the item by mistake. I am sure it was all above board, and that he was being perfectly honest. But... if this had been a garage, replacing a part on my car, I would have refused to pay.
His reputation is such that I took his word for this - but I didn't appreciate being obliged to do so.
I understand your meaning here. I am lucky to be able to check if a camera is operating at least "correctly" here when I go to the main shops of cameras in Prague. The people are used to see me around so if there's anything that could seem wrong on a camera they will warn me in advance, but it doesn't hurts checking all, and I prefer have one checked thoroughly, even if then there are minor fixes or CLA needed, than to trust blindly a seller.
In the case of Mr. S. , it seems to be as with these talented artists who aren't very sociable maybe .. :)
Sorry, I can see that I used a lot of slang rather than clear writing.
1. Email comes from HS offering service to buy, overhaul and sell a postwar Contax camera after earlier inquiries.
2. Gentleman does not attend to email because his kid is sick.
3. 24 hours later HS writes back and refuses to do any business with him, forever.
End of story, at least the gentleman's side of the story. Maybe he was giving HS the run-around, I don't know but it seems a very mean-spirited way to conduct one's affairs. Bad word travels fast in such a small user base.
Indeed, I do understand. Usually, a 72 hour delay seems to me a normal thing. There might be weekends and other things that can distract us from the internet. The user base is small, I hope I will count among it soon. :)
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