Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: [1]   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: Zeiss 'C' Lenses  (Read 2878 times)
John R Smith
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1357


Still crazy, after all these years


« on: April 29, 2010, 08:23:40 AM »
ReplyReply

I did promise, a little while back, to update everyone on my findings relating to the performance of the old Hasselblad Zeiss lenses on the CFV-39 digital back. Having shot a few hundred frames, I am now in a position to give you my first impressions. Perhaps first I need to explain the context for all this.

My camera system is also a camera collection. In my particular case, I have gradually built up a representative example of a Hasselblad 500 system from what I would term the “golden era” - roughly from 1957, when the 500C was introduced, to 1972, when the ‘C’ lenses changed from silver to a black finish. So I have all the bodies, finders, magazines and accessories from that period, and a set of all the Zeiss lenses which were supplied in the silver finish. Besides being a collection which gives me a great deal of aesthetic pleasure (I can just sit and look at this stuff), it also gets used every weekend as my shooting gear of choice.

Over the years, I have of course got very comfortable with these old lenses on film, but a 39MP digital sensor is a much more unforgiving judge of their quality. So, in no particular order, this is how they fare –

• The 80mm Planar. This of course is the “standard” lens for the 500, and I have two examples. The one I have been using is the relatively rare silver finish lens with the T* multi-coating. The quality of this lens on the digital back is outstanding. When I manage to get it focused correctly (!) it is razor sharp, very contrasty, and with virtually no CA visible even in the corners. It is also well corrected for both the near field and distant shots, unlike most of the other lenses in the range. So one can go from a distant landscape to a close-up shot with confidence.
• The 120mm S-Planar. This lens is optimised for the near-field, and I use it mostly for still-life work on a tripod. I was amazed by its performance on the digital back. I have always rated it highly with film, but with the 39MP files it is truly stunning. Obviously close-up the DOF is limited, but it will stop down to f45 if required.
• The 50mm Distagon. My “best” wide-angle lens. It’s a big, heavy brute, though. The digital back emphasises its strengths and weaknesses. Providing that you are further than 15 to 20 feet from your subject, the 50 is crisp and very contrasty. Closer in, though, and performance falls off quite rapidly, with detail getting mushy and the corners become very soft. There is a quite a lot of CA, too, especially towards the corners of the frame. But this is still my favourite lens for architectural work.
• The 60mm Distagon. This is the most disappointing lens of the bunch, really, which is a shame because I used it a great deal on film as it is small and light. It has the same problems as the 50mm on digital, only they are more pronounced – soft corners, very poor quality in the near-field, and some CA (though not as much CA as the 50mm). However, let’s be fair, it is the oldest Zeiss WA design and the oldest lens in my collection, too, at almost 50 years old. And if you choose your subject with care, it can produce a nice shot.
• The 150mm Sonnar. The classic “portrait” lens, although I rarely shoot portraits. This one is a great performer on digital, especially at infinity when it is tack-sharp. I’ve done some plant “portraits”, too, which show great internal contrast and a nice soft bokeh. But for really close work, the 120mm is a better choice. I use the 150 most often for coastal work and harbours, when you need a little more “reach” than the 80mm offers.
• The 250mm Sonnar. So far, I haven’t tried this one with the digital back. It is supposed to be at its best wide-open (at f5.6). On film, it has always been OK, but in my opinion not the equal of the 150.

All this, of course, is a work in progress, and my opinons may change in time. Be nice to know what others with the old Zeiss lenses think about all this.

John
Logged

Hasselblad 500 C/M, SWC and CFV-39 DB
and a case full of (very old) lenses and other bits
gwhitf
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 820


« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2010, 08:36:06 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote from: John R Smith
When I manage to get it focused correctly (!) it is razor sharp

Quote from: John R Smith
So one can go from a distant landscape to a close-up shot with confidence.

The first quoted sentence is the most important sentence in the entire post, and it's almost funny to compare to the second quoted sentence. In my opinion, manually focusing these lenses, (or most any MF lens of any brand) is a scary proposition, (unless you're tethered or using some kind of LiveView).

Maybe if you're shooting alone, on a tripod, and there's time to bracket focus, you might feel "confident" about those lenses, but otherwise, I'd be inserting the word "doubt" and "fear".

It's not the lenses fault -- it's how they interact with the tiny tolerances of using them with a digital back. But nonetheless, this factor needs to be emphasized, no matter whose fault it is. Proceed with caution. In the end, it's about coming home with sharp images, and while you're shooting, it's about shooting with a reasonable assurance that your focusing screen is rendering accurate focus. I suggest it is not.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2010, 08:38:22 AM by gwhitf » Logged
KLaban
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1743



WWW
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2010, 09:07:19 AM »
ReplyReply

I was recently given a series of test files using various V series lenses combined with a 39MP back. One file was so sharp it hurt and all the rest had focussing errors.

Summed it up for me.
Logged

neilwatson
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 25


« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2010, 10:06:03 AM »
ReplyReply

I had to do the following to  get the focus sorted.

Sent the camera to a Hasselblad service center and got the screen and body calabrated.
Use a Horesman 6x lupe  on the screen
or use a prism viewfinder HC 3/70 which gives 4x magnification
or use a magnifier hood 4x4 DPS ( but you cannot see the corners fully )

Using one of those I get focus.

For the C lens at a near range I found the corners to be sharp if I stopped down around 3 or 4 stops.

C 100 -  stop down to f11
C 120 -  stop down to f11
C 50 - stop down to f16
C 60 - stop down to f16

The CFV39 is pushing these lens to the limit.  If you stop down past f16 I noticed diffraction kicks in and the images go soft.

There seems to be a lot of Hasselblad equipment on the used market and you can pick up lens at bargain prices.
The price/performance ratio is very good.
Logged
yaya
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1150



WWW
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2010, 04:21:48 AM »
ReplyReply

Shot this yesterday with an old T* 80mm C lens (the one with auto aperture/ shutter speed dial):

Aptus-II 10R on a 503CX with a wobbly viewfinder, f11:

[attachment=21752:10R_PU_00043_1.jpg]

And a 100% crop from top-right, minimal sharpening added in LC11:

[attachment=21753:10R_PU_00043_2.jpg]



Logged

Yair Shahar | Product Manager | Mamiya Leaf |
e: ysh@mamiyaleaf.com | m: +44(0)77 8992 8199 | www.mamiyaleaf.com | yaya's blog
tom_l
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 218


WWW
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2010, 06:07:05 AM »
ReplyReply

thanks for taking your time for all theses tests.

Nearly all my glass is now CF and CFE (50, 80, 120, 180), a few years ago I had a silver 60mm C lens because I still planned adding a 40mm to the set.
Anyway, just wanted to say that I can confirm your thought on the 60mm with digital: it was by far the weakest link in my set, and I sold it.
Good to hear that other C lenses perform better.


Tom-
Logged
John R Smith
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1357


Still crazy, after all these years


« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2010, 08:35:10 AM »
ReplyReply

Yair - not too much wrong with the focus on that shot, is there? Thanks for a counter-argument to those who dare criticise the mighty Zeiss Planar  

Tom - interesting that you have the same impression of the old silver 60mm. The strange thing is that sometimes I have had cracking shots from this lens. But it seems most inconsistent, and I really can't imagine why this should be so. Both of these shots are on the 60mm, but on film - the trawlers on HP5, the chapel on 400 Tmax. In the trawler shot I can see every detail of the houses in the background at 100% (I'm afraid this jpeg is pretty poor, so you'll just have to take my word for it). And I have an A3 print of the chapel picture beside me on the wall here, and it is absolutely sharp and punchy.  But on other shots the lens has produced rubbish for no good reason. Still, I can't sell the old girl, really, otherwise there would be a gap in the collection . . .

John
« Last Edit: April 30, 2010, 09:08:03 AM by John R Smith » Logged

Hasselblad 500 C/M, SWC and CFV-39 DB
and a case full of (very old) lenses and other bits
Pages: [1]   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad