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Choosing between a 250 Sonnar and 250 Superachromat


I have the opportunity to acquire either a Sonnar 250 or a 250 Superachromat. Both are CF versions: the Sonnar is a user lens in good condition; the Superachromat is in truly mint condition. I can trade-across a lightly used 150 CFi for the Sonnar 250; to similarly trade for the Superachromat will set me back an additional $2200 U.S.

I am well aware that the Sonnar 250 isn't a slouch of a lens. Whichever I go with, I intend to use a 1.4XE teleconverter to extend the lens to 350 mm. on the odd occasion, and maximizing sharpness is a concern as I intend to eventually produce poster size prints once I can afford a MF scanner and an Epson 9800. Correspondingly, would images created using a Superachromat stand-up noticeably better than those created using a 250 Sonnar (all else being equal)?

As to why I am considering trading a relatively new 150 CFi? My principle subject matter is close-in landscapes, and the 150 is generally too short for what I wish to accomplish at times. Using the teleconverter provides the equivalent of a 210, and that works reasonably well most of the time; but in other instances a 350 mm. focal length would be ideal. Given that I also have a 100 mm., replacing the 150 with a 250 would result in a fairly versatile economical kit that provides focal lengths of 100, 140, 250, and 350 mm. As such, trading in the 150 for a 250 isn't all that bad of a deal.

In general 75% of my work is shot using a 50 FLE or SWC/M; the 100 covers roughly 20%, and telephotos cover the remaining 5%. I don't forsee this ratio changing much once I have a 250: as such, does the potential quality provided by the Superachromat warrant the additional $2200; or would the 250 Sonnar be quite sufficient?
How much is enough?
Difficult, that.

If you are happy with the results your 50 mm produces, i'd say the 'plain' 250 Sonnar will be fine too.
If, however, you like the best of the best, get the 250 Sonnar-Superachromat.

Then again, you're happily using a teleconverter...
Get the 'plain' Sonnar.

Your points are well taken; as was your corresponding reply to my simultaneous query on Though the SA is quite tempting, going for the 'best of the best' is not necessarily the most economical nor suitable choice at times. Given that I will likely be using a 250-1.4XE combination more often than a 250 by itself, and that the edge provided by the SA would likely be correspondingly negated, it appears that the 'plain' Sonnar is the ticket.

Moreover, if 350 turns out being the cats meow focal length for me at the tele end, down the road I may well consider acquiring the 350 SA and matching Apo 1.4X if warranted by need. The 350 SA has actually always been of greater interest to me than the corresponding 250; it is just that, in this instance, the latter so rarely show up used that one's gear acquisition lust cannot help but be incited until such time reason takes over again. Thank-you for the dose of reason
In my similar thread on someone suggested that I consider the 180 and the Mutar 2X. This never occurred to me since 2X converters are notorious for providing poor results; when used with a 180, would/does the Mutar 2X actually provide results similar to those of a 'plain' 250?

If it is, then this would provide an economical means to test whether, in the long run, a 250 SA and/or 350 (SA or Tele-Tessar) is an actual necessity for me. I rarely use a short tele at present, but the 180 would fit the bill nicely when I have need for a prime in that range. This is not to disparage the 150: it does provide excellent results, and its comparative lightness can be advantageous at times -- it just doesn't fit my current needs, and when combined with the 1.4XE the results are noticeably soft.

I have done some checking around, and have located a 180 CF and a Mutar 2X in a condition similar to my 150. A corresponding trade-in would require a payout that is less than half of what the used 250 SA would require, and therefore would not leave me close to a financial precipice.

Feedback on the viability of the 180/Mutar 2X would therefore be greatly appreciated, particularly as I need to make a final decision tomorrow (05/30).
Wayne, I thought that Hasselblad (or Wildi) had said that it was the XE 2X converter that had been designed as an ideal match for the 180mm Sonnar.
Wayne, the 180mm CF lens is well recorded by users are being superbly sharp with its optimal aperture not far from wide open. It's commented that the 180mm is brutally shrap throught high resolution because it is one of the most "modern" (read recent) new designs - having been introduced later than all other focal lengths. My personal experience with the CF 180mm is consistent with those views.

I know that with the 1.4X E my 180mm is a wonderful performer and on its own the 180mm produces amazingly sharp chromes.

Personally I never buy extenders to achieve a focal length that I'd get fairly regular use from - nothing beets the prime. But, horses for courses means that I own a 1.4x E when weight/cnvenience are an overriding priority.

My most recent portrait shoot was of a 55 year old woman making a comeback in a singing career and necessitated a Softar filter because the unfiltered shots were so high in resolution I could nearly see "what she'd had for lunch"!

I've never used the 2.0X because I have always found in other systems and formats a 2.0X to be a slight bit soft especially when compared to the 1.4x E. However that should not suggest that the Hassy 2.0X is necessarily a bit soft and given how sharp the 180mm is it's unlikely to matter much.

My 180mm is my favourite long Hassy lens among my 120, 150, 180, 250mm kit of longer lenses due to its sharpness and angle of view.
The E extenders come into their own with the 200 series FE lenses which are much faster maximum apertures to start with. 110/2FE becomes a 220/4FE with the 2XE while maintaining all data bus functions. While maximum sharpness isn't it's forte', the pictorial qualities are quite wonderful, and minimum focusing distance is maintained.

Like with the CF lenses + Extenders, these provide a convenient method of diversifying ones kit with minimum space requirements and reduced costs.
Wayne, a late post-script, for what it's worth - Wildi stated that the Hasselblad 2 XE converter produces the best quality with short telephotos, the very best with the 180mm Sonnar. The earlier 2x Mutar was optimized for the 350mm Tele-Tessar. But he goes on to say that, while any 2x converter will double the faults of the basic lens, this is not something you have to worry about with Hasselblad lenses!
Thank-you everyone for steering me towards the correct 2X teleconverter as I almost went with the Mutar. This morning I finalized the deal and will soon have a CF 180 and the 2XE converter in hand -- both are users but in top condition. Including the 150 CFi being traded-in, I will 'only' be shelling out $650 which is quite doable. In all, a rather unexpected turn of events from where this thread began

Simon: normally I would go with a prime over using a teleconverter -- better quality and less cumbersome; but in this instance, I am uncertain as to whether a 250 or a 350 best suits my needs. At least shortly down the road I will be able to make a correspondingly informed judgement. And besides, having both the 1.4XE and 2XE will provide a fair degree of flexibility to whatever set of tele primes I finalize on.
I understand your very sound logic Wayne - this place is wonderful to "debate" your plans and help make an informed decision.

Yes, for me the opportunistic purchase of my 1.4XE at a ridiculously low price for a mint lens was to add versatility to my kit - should I need to stroll a distance and prefer to say take 1 or 2 lenses only, I can think of my choice with the added flexibility aid of the 1.4XE.

While it does not replace a prime I know I can take high quality images eg at 350mm with my CF 250mm and the 1.4XE. If a 350mm ever became a regular focal length for me, then I'd consider adding that lens as well.

WE should remember that any extender produces an image (to varying relative degrees) sub-optimal to the prime (2.0x always more sub-optimal than 1.4x): different horses for different courses!

Interestingly I see Nikon has a current 1.7X extender offering high magnification at only 1.5 stop loss of light and maybe little image degradation. Users will no doubt comment as sales take foot.