View Full Version : Xenar vs. Xenon

Don C.
12-10-2009, 04:09
This is a bit of a subjective question, but I am interested to know impressions of the differences between the Xenar and Xenon lenses.

Obviously, they are very different lenses optically (tessar-type vs. non-symmetrical double gauss if I remember correctly). I am more interested in impressions of their sharpness, bokeh, flare, and the other qualities that don't have specific terms. Is there a general favorite?

Also, does anyone have experience using these lenses on other cameras compared to the Retina versions? I know the Xenar and Xenon were available for many other cameras of the period (Exakta, M39 mounts, and M42 mounts). Were the other versions essentially similar or not?

Thanks all!

12-10-2009, 04:35
I know the Xenar was on several cameras of different makes and in both 35mm and medium format. I'm not sure about the Xenon -- at least three in 35mm, right? Kodak Retina, Leica and Balda. Likely others. I can't recall seeing a Xenon in medium format.

Both are Schneider-Kreuznach trademarks, and there is very little discussion of the Xenon. This is a Leica-centric board, so most of the discussions tend to be about Leica and Leica-compatible lenses and gear.

The Xenar performs as you would expect: Like a Tessar.

I've gotten some very nice shots with the Retina Xenon. Nice lens, although I don't specifically shoot wide open all of the time. Most of my shots were indoors, but you might expect it to flare at times with that big element right up front. I found the Retina's lens coatings to generally be very good (it didn't flake off like it did on my Summitar).

12-10-2009, 04:47
I should add that a 50mm Xenon was available for the Rolleiflex SL 35 cameras.

Brian Sweeney
12-10-2009, 11:35
The Retina 50mm F2 Xenon on the folding cameras is absolutely superb, and the 50/1.9 for the S-Series is even more superb. I find them sharper than the Xenars. The Xenar has a softer, low-contrast, pleasant look for portraits- but is not as sharp as the Zeiss Tessar or Leitz Elmar.

If you have an S-Mount camera, the 85/4 Tele-Arton and 35/2.8 Curtagon are also worth picking up. The 28/4 is soft, and 135/4 has a close-focus of 14ft.

5cm F2 Xenon on the Retina II
Stopped Down


I'll create an album with the 50/1.9 Xenon. I also have shots with the 45/2.8 Xenar on the Auto II

12-10-2009, 12:24
The Xenon was also available for the Akarelle camera. Some very nice lenses was made for this body. The lenses had a lot higher quality than the body. A shame the mount was so strange so it is probably impossible to use the lenses for other bodies. The Xenon lens is very nice. Xenar can be a bit different in quality but a good one is very good. I was surprised when I tried a Rollei 35 with Xenar......not many Rollei 35 was made with Xenar I guess.......

Brian Sweeney
12-10-2009, 14:21
50mm F1.9 Schneider Xenon wide-open on the Retina Reflex-S.


This is the later version that will focus to 2ft. It does not have an RF coupling, like the older version.

12-10-2009, 18:02
I should add that a 50mm Xenon was available for the Rolleiflex SL 35 cameras.

It is one of my favorite 50mm lenses for the 35SL system.

12-10-2009, 18:04
The Retina 50mm F2 Xenon on the folding cameras is absolutely superb, and the 50/1.9 for the S-Series is even more superb.


I have these two 50mm lenses. My two S cameras have stuck shutter releases though.

Brian Sweeney
12-11-2009, 01:45
I would go for a Retina IIIS. Most Retina Reflex cameras are locked-up. Getting them repaired is expensive, and the problem will re-occur. The reflex mirror puts too much strain on the gears, especially the rack gear. End result- lots of cheap lenses for the IIIS.

04-04-2010, 05:45
I've Xenar 5.6/150mm on my Linhof Kardan and love the lens too.

Brian, those pictures are really nice. I wish I can find a good IIIS someday.

04-05-2010, 22:23
It's true that most repairmen hate the Reflex as they do have neither spare-parts nor know-how. But be aware that the IIIs is almost the same construction just without the mirror-mechanics. Therefore repairmen hate the IIIs too:D.

Regarding the xenar - xenon discussion there are 2 morer I know about which can have a Xenon-lens: Diax and Wirgin Edixa (SLR). Further more I heard from a postwar Certo (Super Dollina II) using the Compur-shutter and a Xenon-lens.

I love the Xenon-lens producing phantastic images at any f-stop.


04-06-2010, 06:36
I've just found that my Welta Weltini have Xenon 50 f 2.0 too.

Tom A
06-07-2010, 20:52
Found this thread by "default". There are some Xenon 50mm f1.8 shots up on our Flickr site. Just use the tag "Zenon 50mm f1.9" and they should pop up. I got one last year on a Robot Royal III. Also works on my Royal 36. Nice lens, a bit softer contrast than the Xenar 45f2.8 - but works well in black/white.

06-10-2010, 09:28
And remember that the pre-war Xenon designs were (and are) different than the ones found on the Retina c-models.

The 2,8/50 Xenon on my pre-war IIa is a five element lens. Two meniscus and one double concave lens in front of the aperture, and a cemented pair behind it. Actually a five element Xenar and not a double Gauss.

My first post here. :)