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Zeiss Planar vs. Sonnar


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#1 Tim Carroll

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 07:13 PM

I am slowly accumulating lenses for an Arriflex 2C and am looking at a couple of old Zeiss lenses in the 50mm and the 85mm range.

One 50mm is a Zeiss Sonnar T1.5 with a serial number in the 950,000 range and one is a 50mm Zeiss Planar T2 with a serial number in the 3,340,000 range.

In the 85mm, one is a Zeiss Sonnar 85mm T2 with a serial number in the 3,640,000 range and one is a Zeiss Planar 85mm T2 with a serial number in the 6,290,000 range.

What is the difference in the Planars and the Sonnars? In both cases, the Planar lenses have higher serial numbers than the Sonnars, which makes me think they are probably a newer design. But what would have the better image quality, assuming all four lenses are in the same state of repair?

Here are images of the four lenses:

Zeiss 50mm Sonnar T1.5
Posted Image

Zeiss 50mm Planar T2
Posted Image

Zeiss 85mm Sonnar T2
Posted Image

Zeiss 85mm Planar T2
Posted Image

Any and all input will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
-Tim
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#2 John Sprung

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 07:34 PM

Google around for some references on Zeiss serial numbers. Here's one I found:

http://photo.net/bbo...g?msg_id=00AAam

3,340,000 appears to be circa 1951.



-- J.S.
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#3 Tim Carroll

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 09:53 PM

Thanks John.

Do you know the difference between the Sonnar and the Planar lenses?

-Tim
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#4 Patrick Tong

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 10:42 PM

Hey Tim

Some info here
http://en.wikipedia....ki/Zeiss_Sonnar


Pat




Thanks John.

Do you know the difference between the Sonnar and the Planar lenses?

-Tim


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#5 Charlie Peich

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 11:29 PM

Thanks John.

Do you know the difference between the Sonnar and the Planar lenses?

-Tim


Hey Tim!

From Wiki:

The Sonnar is a photographic lens design originally patented by Carl Zeiss, notable for its relatively light weight, simple design and fast aperture. The name "Sonnar" is derived from the German word "Sonne", meaning sun. It was given this name because its large aperture (f/2.0) made it considerably brighter than many other lenses available at the time.

The first production Sonnar was a 50mm f/2.0 lens with six elements in three groups created for the Zeiss Ikon Contax rangefinder camera. In 1932, it was reformulated with seven elements in three groups allowing a maximum aperture of f/1.5.

Compared to Planar designs the Sonnars had more aberrations, but with fewer glass-to-air surfaces it had better contrast and less flare. Though compared to the earlier Tessar design, its faster aperture and lower chromatic aberration was a significant improvement.

The Sonnar has proven incompatible in shorter focal lengths with SLR cameras due to the space taken up by an SLR's mirror. For this reason it has been used most commonly with rangerfinders, though Sonnar lenses with longer focal lengths still appear on single-lens reflex cameras, most notably the 150mm and 250mm lenses for the Hasselblad V-system. Some portrait Sonnars were also made for large format cameras, presumably the press cameras - like Sonnar 250/5.6 for 9x12cm (4x5") format. Though these lenses were quite heavy (> 2 kg) and large, they were optimised for working on a full aperture with the same sharpness and contrast as on smaller apertures. The coverage of these lenses was also not too good for LF lenses, but the camera movements are not too important for portrait work.

The Sonnar design has been extensively copied by other lens manufacturers, due to its excellent sharpness, low production cost and fast speed.

The Zeiss Planar is a photographic lens designed by Paul Rudolph at Carl Zeiss in 1896. Rudolph's original was a six element symmetrical design.

While very sharp, the lens suffered from flare due to its many air-to-glass surfaces. Before the introduction of lens coating technology the four-element Tessar, with slightly inferior image quality, was preferred due to its better contrast. In the 1950s, when effective anti-reflective lens coatings became available, coated Planars were produced with much-improved flare. These lenses performed very well as normal and medium-long focus lenses for small and medium format cameras. A classic Planar design is the 105mm f2.5 Nikkor produced from 1971 to 2006.

A 1961 Arri price list I have lists the 50mm Planar F/2 and the 85mm F/2 Sonnar.

In the mid 70's, Arri offered the (for 35mm or 16mm) 50mm Planar F/2 T/2.2 and the 85mm Planar F/2 T/2.2 in the standard mount. This was just before T* coating. Also during this time, Arri offered a 24mm Distagon F/2 T/2.2 (list price $1050) and a 25mm Planar F/2 T/2.2 (list price $600).

The last version of the Zeiss/Arri "standard" lenses in PL mount (the series just before the Ultra Primes), 10mm thru 28mm were Distagons, 32mm thru 135mm were Planars, and the 180mm is a Sonnar.

If you have a chance, shot a test with your 16S and see which one looks the best. Or, put them on a projector and compare.

Charlie
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#6 Max Jacoby

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 04:16 AM

Planar and Sonnar merely refer to different designs. None is really better than the other. The Sonnar design is used for longer focal lenghts than the Planar.
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