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what you guys think of the silver C Zeiss lenses


...what you guys think of the silver C Zeiss me they look great in silver, just wanted to know what they're like performance wise.....for example, the Distagon 50mm, the Sonnar 150mm, the Sonnar 250mm, the Planar 80mm CT*...these are the focal lenses I've most used....
Silver or black we are talking "C" lenses here.
Most designs have lasted a long time, some like the 250 going back till the 1600F and 1000F era.
From the earliest 250 silver for 500 cameras till the last CFi, all glass elements can be exchanged.

It comes down to the fact that during the production of 500 series cameras most lenses got a tune up,
some where redesigned from scratch.
That last group consists mainly of wide angles.
These could do well with new ideas for design like floating elements.

Besides the WA the 120 CF was redesigned.
CZ opted for a more general purpose lens instead of the pure macro design of its predecessor the 120 S-Planar.

Not considering the improvements for WA lenses and the different set up for the 120 CZ lenses evoluated slowly
into better lenses.

The 180 mm is worth mentioning.
That was a completely new design only meant for Hasselblad.
The design was not adapted for Rollei like quite a few other lenses.
The 180 stands out together with the later 40 mm IF lens.

It is a pity Hasselblad was not interested to ask CZ to give us a new
generation of lenses with improvements like the 40 IF.
It would have meant too much competition for the H series?

It will be quite difficult to tell which lens was used when comparing prints or trannies from different lenses.
T* coating did improve flair problems and was also responsable for better colour rendering.
Still a good effective shade means more in the battle against flair than T*.
I'd like to note here that Ansel Adams, in one of his books advised photographers to purchase the lenses to which you infer - chrome 50, 80, 150, 250. He went on to say that you'll never do any better with any other system.
Ansel Adams was one of the first American photographers to be asked by Victor Hasselblad to try the
1600F camera and report back what his findings were.

Victor was proud to have Ansel on his team of testers.
Ansel Adams continued to report on later Hasselblad cameras as well.
One of his comments on the first series 1600F was about the mirror construction.
In Sweden nobody realised that cameras are transported and used upside down whenever the need arises.
This lead to the mirror becoming free of its mechanism making the body inoperable.

Ansel Adams was indeed a keen user of Hasselblad cameras and lenses.
Victor Hasselblad saw the potential of his camera and made sure it was accepted in the US.
Thank you for the info. I am interested eventually in the macro. I will use it for close ups, almost exclusively, from minimum focus to perhaps three feet from minimum. Would, in your opinion (and others who may have experience with both generations) there be an advantage in buying the older "non-general" design lens over the latest?

I also noticed that the minimum focus distance on the macros is really far. Do people use extension rings to get closer?
Many early model macro lenses, not only Zeiss, but Nikon, for example, produced true macro lenses that perform best at close up ranges (usually optimum @ 1:10). These lenses performed mediocre at best at infinity. Beginning in the late 70's/early 80's, lens builders began using newer optical designs, often with floating elements that would improve distant quality. What has transpired in many designs is a more "universal" macro lens, one that performs well both close-up and at infinity, but is not superb at either end.
The Zeiss 120 lens is one such creature. The newer model will yield better results at the longer distances, but, sadly, at the expense of some close-up resolution. And this is not to be construed that modern macros are not good lenses, but are more of a compromise between macro and infinity. For portrait work, this was a good thing, improving the quality even in the 3-5' range. For the best quality in the macro range, using the 120mm lens, I would go with the older version - 120/5.6.
You are also correct in that the 120 does not focus very close, and extension tubes will be necessary if you want to get closer than 1:4.

Now, all this said, I'm going to make a personal recommendation -
I'd suggest, if true macro is your interest here, to purchase the Zeiss 135/5.6 Makro lens and a Hasselblad bellows. This outfit, which I once owned, will focus from infinity down to 1:1, and is a superb macro lens in any generation configuration. I see one on Ebay right now in mint condition with a CF lens for about $2000 US. If my money tree outback were in bloom, I'd buy it myself!
Here's a link to the auction, and also one of the last images I made with my own 135 bellows lens -


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Hello Michael,

An excellent resume of the development of macro lenses and a warm plea for older lens designs that are in fact more macro than later ones.

To me the possibility to reach infinity with the bellows is less important as I would not use th 135 mm C or CF for that purpose.

If a 135 mm C lens does not bother the user an auto bellows and this C lens can be found for about half of the price for the CF with bellows.
A manual bellows will do fro those that are used to take more time between exposures.
Manual bellows are in the 200-300 USD range.

Best buy for macro at the moment is the silver 120 mm S-Planar.
A clean one can be found for as little as 300 USD.
A bloody shame these lenses have fallen so deep as far as price is concerned.
MOD is 3 feet or 0.95 m.
A good set of extension rings brings 1:1 ratio within reach meaning a total investment of about 500 USD.
If that does not encourage prospective buyers to go for this kind of kit I am lost.

Seems there's always a trade-off. Either cost, convenience, or quality. They're like 3 sides of a triangle - as soon as you change one side, the others adjust accordingly.
The 120 S-Planar is the least expensive, with optical quality I would bet that matches the 135. But it falls short in its close focusing capabilities, and using extension tubes is somewhat inconvenient, especially when you're trying to compose a shot, and you're trying to figure out which extension tube will get you the comp you want, if any at all will.
The 135 + bellows is more expensive, but much more convenient to use, as you have continuous focusing capability, along with image quality as good as, and possibly better than the 120 S.

Of course, we can throw all this to the wind, buy a couple of Proxar's, and be in business!!:lol: