Any experiences with "old" LF-lenses - like TESSAR, SKOPAR, TRIOPLAN : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hi all,

I would like to knew your experiences (in b&w) with the old lenses (for 4x5 bzw. 9x12): Zeiss Tessar 4,5/120 mm Voitglaender Skopar 4,5/135 mm Meyer-Goerlitz Trioplan 4,5/135 mm I knew these lenses are not coated - it is a problem sometimes... ;-)

Sometimes I use the Skopar for landscapes (b&w) - it is sharp like a modern Schneider Xenar (is it the same type of lense?).

I have the opportunity to buy same older Tessar (about 1940) in Compur-Shutters. Should I take the chance?

Thanks a lot.

-- Mark Kallfass (, May 07, 2002


Hi Mark,

the Tessar-lens design is still one of the best in its class. Apart from coating and quality control, new glasses gave significant improvements after World War II. The lenses you mention are all "normal" lenses with about 50 degrees angel of view. So 120 mm for 4x5'' is extremely thigth. I've experiences with pre-war lenses in 35mm, MF and LF. Tessar-types are good, sharp in center. Triplets like the mentioned Trioplan are not not up to that grade of corretion and a little bit softer. Modified Triplets like Heliar are different: sharp on edges but loss of fine details. Because speed was a problem at that time, every lens faster than f4,5 is a softer compromise, f4,5 is normal and slower is best. To answer your final question: if it's your hobby to play around with old lenses an the prices are very low, buy. Remember that "budget" lenses (mean Tessar-type coated post 1950) are cheap to buy too. Look out for working shutters, fungus in cemented lenses, scratches.

-- Thomas Vaehrmann (, May 07, 2002.

I would go further back. You can get great results-as did generations of photographers-with Rapid Rectilinears and the first generation of antistigmats. My large format site will have some of these.

-- David Stein (, May 07, 2002.

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