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Rollei lens tests, again



The following is a repeat of a posting I made back in October; a long
transcription of a series of lens tests from Modern Photography from the
fifties into the early eighties. I had hesitated to run them on the list
again, opting to instead send them to individual members.
Since making my offer I've gotten about a dozen requests for the tests, so
here we go again:

 <<From: "Andre Hassid" <ahassid  >
Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 17:24:45 -0700
Subject: Re: Rollei vs `Blad Planars

Can someone post the Modern tests on the Rollei TLR lenses as a JPG image
on this list?  It would be fun to see the tests. >>

My photocopies of these reports are not clear enough to scan and save as
JPEG files, so I'm just transcribing the following comments and charts.

Perhaps much more than you'd ever care to know. (I suggest that you print
now and read later.)

Enjoy.




Modern Photography, May 1952, pg. 57-98
The New Rollei
How Good is the New $385 Model 2.8C Which Incorporates Suggestions Made by
Photographers?...By Arthur Kramer

"The New Lens"

"The camera's most important feature is its new 80mm, air-spaced
five-element f/2.8 Schneider Xenotar lens. The f/2.8 lens on a previous
model was a four-element objective which often gave trouble when used wide
open. The makers of the Rolleiflex claim this trouble has been eliminated
in the Xenotar lens. Optical and practical tests (which we will get to
later) indicated that this was true - at least on the cameras tested."

"The Lens - How Good?"

"Finally we get to the most important of all the improvements - the lens.
This is not the first f/2.8 lens ever put on a 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 Rollei. Many
photographers who have used or tested the previous f/2.8 model, which this
new camera supersedes, felt that the definition was not up to their
acceptable standards. Wide aperture lenses which must cover comparatively
large film areas are often notoriously poor in edge definition at full
aperture. Practically all Automatic Rolleiflexes have up to this time been
supplied with four element Tessar or Xenar f/3.5 or Tessar f/2.8 lenses.
The new Xenotar is a five-element lens of the air-spaced type. It was not
until the advent of modern optical coatings that the full advantage of such
a design could be exploited."

"Bench Testing"

"The camera was taken to a well-equipped optical laboratory and placed on
an optical bench. The lens appeared to be free of astigmatism. It showed no
shift of focus when stopped down. There seemed to be the faintest trace of
flare at f/2.8 but this disappeared when the diaphragm was stopped down to
about f/3, a definite improvement in this respect to what we had previously
seen in other lenses of similar focal length and aperture."
"The definition at the edges was far above that of the old four-element
f/2.8. This individual Xenotar lens looked excellent in bench tests, but
that did not guarantee excellent pictures. Only extensive tests on actual
film could tell about that."

"Practical Testing"

" The camera was also checked for lens, film, and ground glass alignment.
Then it was ready for the film tests. An f/3.5 Rollei of known image
quality was used as a control unit The first test was made on a cross-lit
brick wall A series of shots was taken at various distances and apertures
with both cameras. Negatives were carefully enlarged to about 30x30 inches
and examined over the entire field. Results showed that the Xenotar f/2.8
lens wide open was equal in most respects to the f/3.5 lens wide open. It
did not noticeably lose definition when stopped down to f/22. A second
Xenotar tested actually had better definition at f/2.8 than the older type
lens had at f/3.5! The tests were repeated on various objects and at varied
distances with the same result. The next test was of a more practical
nature. Portraits of actor Jack Palance (!) were shot at full aperture with
the camera at its closest distance, about three and one half feet (page
59). The inset on the enlargement shows the entire negative area. The 11x14
glossy prints were quite sharp, and had excellent image quality. Twenty
rolls or film were used on a variety of subjects. Results were consistently
good."


(Imagine using a portrait of Jack Palance to test lens definition!)


Modern Photography, May 1956, pg. 50-132
Are the new Rolleis Really Better?
(3.5G [E] and 75mm f/3.5 Xenotar)

"Five or  four element lens?"

"Now lets take a look at that five element f/3.5 lens. It's no secret that
there was a cry from professional photographers for a Rolleiflex with an
f/2.8 lens and that these camera enthusiasts only got what they wanted when
a five element optical system was developed."
"With a maximum f/3.5 aperture in 75mm focal lengths, the story has been
quite different. The four element Zeiss Tessar and Schneider Xenar 75mm
f/3.5 lenses have long been standards of excellence for Rolleis and many
other cameras. What more can the new Xenotar five element offer? For all
but the most persnickety professional, a good Xenar or Tessar will do
nicely. Testing the new Xenotar against a good example of a Schneider
Xenar, the resulting picture definition with both lenses was almost
identical. This is not to disparage the new Xenotar but rather point out
that a good four element Xenar or Tessar can be a very good lens indeed.
Perhaps the Xenotar proved a shade sharper in the corners at full aperture
than the Xenar. However, in actual photographic practice we doubt that this
difference would be perceptible. Xenar or Xenotar? They're both fine
lenses."



Modern Photography, (1957), pg. 82-106
Great Cameras? Fact or Fiction
Rolleis have always had a great reputation. Do they still deserve it?

"Which Lens is Best? Four or Five Element, F/2.8 or F/3.5"

"A. 80mm f/2.8 Zeiss Planar is a five-element alternative to the Xenotar
(below) on the Rolleiflex 2.8E. Although the line-up of optical elements is
rather different from the Xenotar, performance is similar. It produces
excellent definition to the corners of the negative, even at full
aperture."

"B. 80mm f/2.8 Schneider Xenotar has five elements and can be had on the
Rolleiflex 2.8E. In extensive tests with this lens Modern found it
extremely sharp in overall definition. The five-element 80mm f/2.8 lenses
are considerable improvements over the discontinued four-element 80mm f/2.8
Tessars once available on the Rolleiflex 2.8."

"C. 75mm f/3.5 Zeiss Planar is a five element alternative to the Xenotar on
the Rolleiflex 3.5. It shows excellent definition even at full aperture."

"D. 75mm f/3.5 Schneider Xenotar with five elements has now completely
replaced the four element Xenar on all Rolleiflexes. Differences in
definition between the discontinued four-element Xenar and this
five-element Xenotar at f/3.5 are almost impossible to see, even with great
magnification of the negative corners. Definition, to say the least, is
excellent in the 75mm f/3.5 Xenotar."

"E. 75mm and 60mm Schneider Xenar are available on the Rolleicord Va and
Rolleiflex 4x4 respectively. The Xenar design is of a traditional
four-element Tessar-type construction. Performance at such moderate
aperture (f/3.5) and focal length (75mm) is excellent compared with that of
the 75mm f/3.5 five-element Xenotars and Planars."



Modern Photography, October 1963, pg. 103
Modern Tests
4 Different Rolleis, 4 Different Lenses


80mm f/2.8 Xenotar

f/2.8 (center sharpness) Acceptable (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/4 (center sharpness) Good (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/5.6 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Good

f/8 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Good

f/11 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Good

f/16 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Very Good

f/22 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Very Good


80mm f/2.8 Planar

f/2.8 (center sharpness) Acceptable (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/4 (center sharpness) Good (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/5.6 (center sharpness) Good (edge sharpness) Good

f/8 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Good

f/11 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) V.Good-Excellent

f/16 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) V.Good-Excellent

f/22 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Very Good


75mm f/3.5 Xenotar

f/3.5 (center sharpness) Good (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/4 (center sharpness) Good (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/5.6 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/8 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Good

f/11 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Good

f/16 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Good

f/22 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Good


75mm f/3.5 Planar

f/3.5 (center sharpness) Good (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/4 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/5.6 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Good

f/8 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Good

f/11 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Very Good

f/16 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Very Good

f/22 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Good



Modern Photography, October 1963, pg. 103-122
Modern Tests
Mutar Means More Lenses for Rollei


Carl Zeiss Rollei-Mutar 0.7X with 75mm f/3.5 Planar

f/3.5 (center sharpness) Acceptable (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/4 (center sharpness) Acceptable (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/5.6 (center sharpness) Good (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/8 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Good

f/11 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Good

f/16 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Very Good

f/22 (center sharpness) Good (edge sharpness) Very Good


Carl Zeiss Rollei-Mutar 1.5X with 75mm f/3.5 Planar

f/3.5 (center sharpness) Acceptable (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/4 (center sharpness) Acceptable (edge sharpness) Good

f/5.6 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Good

f/8 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Good

f/11 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Good

f/16 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Good

f/22 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Good



Photo Buying Guide, 1968
2 Different Rolleis, 2 Different Lenses


80mm f/2.8 Planar

f/2.8 (center sharpness) Acceptable (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/5.6 (center sharpness) Good (edge sharpness) Good

f/8 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Good

f/11 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Excellent

f/16 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Excellent

f/22 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Very Good


75mm f/3.5 Planar

f/3.5 (center sharpness) Good (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/4 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/5.6 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Good

f/8 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Good

f/11 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Very Good

f/16 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Very Good

f/22 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Good



Modern Photography
Modern Tests
Rolleicord Vb Can Doff Its New Hood

75mm f/3.5 Xenar

f/3.5 (center sharpness) Good (edge fall-off) Some

f/4 (center sharpness) Good (edge fall-off) Some

f/5.6 (center sharpness) Good (edge fall-off) Little

f/8 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge fall-off) Little

f/11 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge fall-off) Slight

f/16 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge fall-off) Slight

f/22 (center sharpness) Good (edge fall-off) Slight



Photo Buying Guide, 1968, p. 56
(Rolleicord Vb Test)

75mm f/3.5 Xenar

f/3.5 (center sharpness) Good (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/4 (center sharpness) Good (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/5.6 (center sharpness) Good (edge sharpness) Good

f/8 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Good

f/11 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Very Good

f/16 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Very Good

f/22 (center sharpness) Good (edge sharpness) Very Good


Modern Photography, (date?), pg. 100
Modern Tests
Tele-Rolleiflex: The New Long Look

"An interesting innovation in the Tele-Rolleiflex is a removable glass
plate within the camera, in front of the film. With such a long focal
length lens, it's understandable that the maker of the camera should want
to keep the film plane as precise as possible."
"You've got to inspect the glass each time you load. Beware of
thumb-prints, grease or dirt that sticks. These will cause greater harm to
the negative than if they were on the lens itself! However, we shot most of
our pictures with the glass in place and each picture we took came out
scot-free."
" We then took the Tele-Rolleiflex out on actual field tests. Besides
checking the lens, we were also interested in discovering how well the
glass plate kept the film flat - in terms of actual picture sharpness."
"With the glass in place, overall sharpness at f/4 was very good with only
the slightest fall-off in definition at the corners and a tiny amount of
flare. Maximum sharpness was achieved at f/8 - and this was sharp indeed.
This sharpness held right down to f/22."
"Curiously enough, when we removed the glass plate, the loss of sharpness
was almost too minute to notice. - H.K."



Modern Photography, (date?), pg. 88
Modern Tests
55mm Distagon Lens on Wide-angle Rollei

"Our tests made with the 55mmf/4 Carl Zeiss Distagon showed very good
sharpness wide open with some sharpness fall-off at the edges. At f/8
sharpness was excellent with only slight fall-off at the edges. Overall
sharpness remained the same at smaller apertures. Some of this corner
sharpness fall-off was caused by curvature of field. At all but moderately
close distances this effect is slight."



Modern Photography, (date?), pg. 70
Modern Tests
Electric Eye Rollei Adds Manual Control (Rolleimagic II)

75mm f/3.5 Xenar

f/3.5 (center sharpness) Good (edge fall-off) Some

f/4 (center sharpness) Good (edge fall-off) Some

f/5.6 (center sharpness) Good (edge fall-off) Little

f/8 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge fall-off) Little

f/11 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge fall-off) Little

f/16 (center sharpness) Good (edge fall-off) Little

f/22 (center sharpness) Good (edge fall-off) Some

"Some of the edge fall-off indicated with this test can be traced directly
to curvature of field, which is most noticeable at close-focusing
distances. At distant settings, however, this effect would be minimized."



Modern Photography, August, 1968, pg. 109-141
Modern Tests
Most Expensive SLR Ever - Is it worth it? (SL66)

80mm f/2.8 Planar, No. 4688517

f/2.8 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/4 (center sharpness) Acceptable (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/5.6 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Very Good

f/8 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Excellent

f/11 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Excellent

f/16 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Excellent

f/22 (center sharpness) Acceptable (edge sharpness) Very Good


120mm f/5.6 S-Planar, No. 4301626

f/5.6 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/8 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/11 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Good

f/16 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Good

f/22 (center sharpness) Very Good (edge sharpness) Good

f/32 (center sharpness) Acceptable (edge sharpness) Good

f/45 (center sharpness) Acceptable (edge sharpness) Good


150mm f/4 Sonnar, No. 4221295

f/4 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/5.6 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Very Good

f/8 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Very Good

f/11 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Excellent

f/16 (center sharpness) Excellent (edge sharpness) Excellent

f/22 (center sharpness) Good (edge sharpness) Very Good

f/32 (center sharpness) Acceptable (edge sharpness) Good



Modern Photography, (1977), pg. 100-107
Modern Tests
Rollei's SLX: Total Electronic Automation


(80mm f/2.8 Planar)

Resolution at 1:20 magnification

f/2.8 (center) Very Good (lines/mm) 40 (corner) V.Good (lines/mm) 32

f/4 (center) Accept. (lines/mm) 36 (corner) Excellent (lines/mm) 36

f/5.6 (center) Good (lines/mm) 45 (corner) Excellent (lines/mm) 40

f/8 (center) V. Good (lines/mm) 50 (corner) Excellent (lines/mm) 40

f/11 (center) Very Good (lines/mm) 50 (corner) Excellent (lines/mm) 45

f/16 (center) Very Good (lines/mm) 50 (corner) Excellent (lines/mm) 45

f/22 (center) Very Good (lines/mm) 45 (corner) Excellent (lines/mm) 40


Contrast at 30 lines/mm

f/2.8 (center) low (%) 34 (corner) high (%) 34

f/4 (center) low (%) 44 (corner) high (%) 54

f//5.6 (center) medium (%) 53 (corner) high (%) 58

f/8 (center) medium (%) 53 (corner) high (%) 58

f/11 (center) high (%) 53 (corner) high (%) 53

f/16 (center) high (%) 45 (corner) high (%) 45

f/22 (center) low (%) 38 (corner) high (%) 40


Modern Photography, August, 1967, pg. 95
Modern Tests
Rollei 35 Camera: An Ultra Compact

40mm f/3.5 Tessar

f/3.5 (center sharpness) Acceptable (edge sharpness) Acceptable

f/4 (center sharpness) Good (edge sharpness) Excellent

f/5.6 (center sharpness) Good (edge sharpness) Good

f/8 (center sharpness) Good (edge sharpness) Good

f/11 (center sharpness) Good (edge sharpness) Very Good

f/16 (center sharpness) Acceptable (edge sharpness) Good

f/22 (center sharpness) Acceptable (edge sharpness) Good



Modern Photography, (date?), pg. 110-112
Modern Tests
Rollei 35 S Has F/2.8 Sonnar Lens


Resolution Power
40mm f/2.8 Sonnar No. 2221791
At 1:52 magnification

f/2.8 (center) V/Good (lines/mm) 58 (corner) Exc. (lines/mm) 37

f/4 (center) Exc. (lines/mm) 73 (corner) Good (lines/mm) 41

f/5.6 (center) V/Good (lines/mm) 73 (corner) Good (lines/mm) 46

f/8 (center) Exc. (lines/mm) 83 (corner) Good (lines/mm) 52

f/11 (center) Exc. (lines/mm) 66 (corner) V/Good (lines/mm) 52

f/16 (center) V/Good (lines/mm) 58 (corner) Good (lines/mm) 46

f/22 (center) Accept. (lines/mm) 46 (corner) Accept. (lines/mm) 37


Image Contrast
40mm f/2.8 Sonnar No. 2221791
At 30 lines/mm

f/2.8 (center) medium (%) 52 (corner) low (%) 27

f/4 (center) low (%) 60 (corner) low (%) 35

f//5.6 (center) medium (%) 70 (corner) low (%) 48

f/8 (center) medium (%) 74 (corner) medium (%) 52

f/11 (center) high (%) 65 (corner) medium (%) 47

f/16 (center) low (%) 52 (corner) medium (%) 42

f/22 (center) low (%) 51 (corner) low (%) 33



Still awake?

I also have reports on the SL26 and A110, should anyone still care.


Regards,

M. Phillips



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