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Which is the better 135mm for the Speed Graphic 4x5
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flashbulbman



Joined: 29 Jan 2009
Posts: 51
Location: California

PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:57 pm    Post subject: Which is the better 135mm for the Speed Graphic 4x5 Reply with quote

I have two Speed Graphics and a Crown Graphic. The two Speed Graphics both have 127mm Ektars on them. I want to trade in one of them at the local camera shop. They have a 135mm Optar and a 135mm
Xenar. Can you tell the difference between these two lenses by the images they make? Is one sharper than the other or does one have more or less contrast than the other?
Thank you in advance.
The Flashbulbman

"I LOVE THE SMELL OF FLASHBULBS IN THE MORNING"
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Dan Fromm



Joined: 14 May 2001
Posts: 1881
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 8:13 pm    Post subject: Re: Which is the better 135mm for the Speed Graphic 4x5 Reply with quote

flashbulbman wrote:
I have two Speed Graphics and a Crown Graphic. The two Speed Graphics both have 127mm Ektars on them. I want to trade in one of them at the local camera shop. They have a 135mm Optar and a 135mm
Xenar. Can you tell the difference between these two lenses by the images they make? Is one sharper than the other or does one have more or less contrast than the other?
Thank you in advance.
The Flashbulbman

"I LOVE THE SMELL OF FLASHBULBS IN THE MORNING"
With used lenses, reputation means little. You'll have to ask the actual lenses. If you're lucky the store will let you take test shots with each.
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glennfromwy



Joined: 29 Nov 2001
Posts: 903
Location: S.W. Wyoming

PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I'm not mistaken, they are the same lens. If I remember right, Schneider was the supplier of the Optar up until the redesigned 4.7 version came out. Then they switched to Rodenstock sometime during production. Both Tessar clones. Neither is likely to be as good as the 127 Ektar, though both will offer slightly more coverage. As Dan said, see if they will let you try them. The best lens is the one you are happy with, no matter what it is.
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Glenn

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flashbulbman



Joined: 29 Jan 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 2:42 am    Post subject: best 135 Reply with quote

I thoght Wollensack made the Optar.
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camz



Joined: 15 Apr 2004
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 4:59 am    Post subject: 135mm Lens Reply with quote

Zeiss also made a 135mm Tessar for the 4x5 Speed.
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glennfromwy



Joined: 29 Nov 2001
Posts: 903
Location: S.W. Wyoming

PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:13 am    Post subject: Re: 135mm Lens Reply with quote

camz wrote:
Zeiss also made a 135mm Tessar for the 4x5 Speed.


I stand corrected. You're right. I have more "senior moments" than I should these days. The Optar is a Wolly Raptar. That and the Xenar are still Tessar clones. The Schneider/Rodenstock lenses began with the 4.7 versions in later production. Maybe I got it right this time. They all had periods of quality control issues but when they're good, they're good.
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Glenn

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flashbulbman



Joined: 29 Jan 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 6:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will not be able to take the two lenses home to test them. I have to buy one or the other. I was hoping someone had experience with them, used them, and could tell me their characteristics, 135 Optar vs 135 Xenar.
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Dan Fromm



Joined: 14 May 2001
Posts: 1881
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

flashbulbman wrote:
I will not be able to take the two lenses home to test them. I have to buy one or the other. I was hoping someone had experience with them, used them, and could tell me their characteristics, 135 Optar vs 135 Xenar.
They are both tessar types and are functionally equivalent. Pick the one that looks better, or the one in the better-sounding shutter, or toss a coin.
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flashbulbman



Joined: 29 Jan 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Toss a coin? Once again, no answer to my simple question. I will ask it again.

Is there anyone outthere who has used these two lenses and can tell me the difference in contrast, sharpness and resolution?
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C. Henry



Joined: 13 Dec 2005
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Location: North East Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I read between the lines correctly, Dan Fromm is saying that there is as much (or possibly more) difference between individual examples of either lens than there is between good examples of the two lenses.
Which is better will depend on the individual lenses, the shutters they are in and the preferences of the photographer using them.

C. Henry
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glennfromwy



Joined: 29 Nov 2001
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Location: S.W. Wyoming

PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry I can't be more help. Though I have a dozen or so Speeds and Crowns, I've never had an Optar lens to my name. I have some Xenars but they are old uncoated variety, as are most of the lenses I use.
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flashbulbman



Joined: 29 Jan 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I decided to buy both lenses. That way I can see for myself which one I like. The one that I like the least, I will put on Ebay or trade it back to the big store where the salesgirls doesn't know an f stop from the end of her nose.

The two stores I dealt with for over 40 years went out of business due to the digital crap that turned photographers into bums and made bums into "photographers".

Real men use Speed Graphics and flashbulbs.
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Les



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 2682
Location: Detroit, MI

PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have made a living using a 135mm Xenar. I also have a gorgeous 135mm Optar.

I never did a side by side lens test on these. I just used whatever I had in the case at the time.

Both produce sharp color 8x10s which is all I printed.

I'm not a grain sniffer*. but my opinion is the difference in the performance of these lenses is smaller than the variation in shutter speeds, processing of both film and paper, film holder and enlarger registration, etc. so they are functionally the same (though I prefer the Graphex shutter over the syncrho-compur)


If original prices will help, the Xenar was put on the Crown Special and sold at a lower price than the same Crown with an Optar. Some people believe that makes the Xenar a cheap lens. Others, not knowing what was special about the "Special" believe the Xenar commands a premium because it was made by Schneider, in Germany and therefore far better than anything made in the US. I believe the Xenar is a very good lens that due to the Dollar/Deutschmark exchange rate at the time, made it a good value. I also believe the people that think US made material is junk weren't around in the post WWII 40s and 50s.

But these are MY lenses, not the ones you are looking at. LIke several of us have already said, quality control has a greater effect on lens performance than lens design or manufacturer. I've seen near mint Dagor lenses that couldn't focus the sun well enough to burn leaves, and I have an Ektar that looks like I dug it out of the basement of an outhouse, that as long as I keep it well shaded, performs magnificently.

*one who gets out a 10x loupe on a 16x20 to check the sharpness. ie one who gets so close to a print to check the quality, he can smell the grain
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flashbulbman



Joined: 29 Jan 2009
Posts: 51
Location: California

PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Les, Thanks for the fine info. I just got back from Sammies Camera and I bought the Optar.

Like you, I too like the Graphex shutter better than the one on the Xenar. I also love a bi-post better, like the one on the Optar, than a single flash input post that the Xenar has. The bi-post really holds the sync cord in place. I really liked the bipost on my big Ilex shutters which are on my Ektars I have on my 8x10 view camera.

Another plus for the Optar is that I can use my press on Kodak lens shade and series 6 filters with the Optar.

Grain? What's that? I never cared for 35mm so I never worried about grain. My minature format is my two Rolleiflexes which I used for fashion photography in the early 1960s. I really miss the Verichrome Pan black and white film Kodak made for those cameras. Also the Super XX I used to use for weddings with my 4x5. Oh well, I still walk on the clouds with a smile on my face every time I look in my basement and see those 19 cases (144 bulbs a case) of press 25 flashbulbs I bought for a song 40 years ago.
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Henry



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 1439
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Verichrome Pan was a great film; I used it in 127 rolls in various Kodak simple cameras as a kid. Another late lamented b/w emulsion was Panatomic-X; 8x10 blowups from 35mm negs were stunning, as good as or better than T-Max. In some respects, we are progressing backwards.
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