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Agfa Solinar or Schneider Xenar

Stan Blevins , Nov 27, 2013; 01:34 p.m.

My question calls for an answer from either practical experience, or formal testing, or advised opinion. Will I get the best B&W negatives from an Agfa Isolette III with Agfa Solinar 85mm f4.5 lens or from a Rolleiflex Vb with Schneider Xenar 75mm f3.5 lens (assuming same settings and all else being equal)? Thanks for your help!


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Robert Marvin , Nov 27, 2013; 01:50 p.m.

RolleiCORD Vb and, all else being equal, I doubt that you'd see a difference, other than the orientation of the negatives.

David Scott , Nov 27, 2013; 02:28 p.m.

It has been my experience that I get the best negatives from a TLR rather than from a folder. Let me quantify;
Cameras I have experienced and compared include AGFA Isolette, Zeiss Super Ikonta, and Moskva 5 folders; and Yashica LM, EM and 12, and Rollei 2.8F TLRs.
Purely judged on the colour rendition, contrast, resistance to flare, etc. I rate the Super Ikonta's Tessar 2.8 and the Yashinon 3.5 as most pleasing to my taste.
However, I consistently receive sharper negatives, with less motion blur and less issues with the lens plane, from the TLRs (Yashica and Rollei.) I find it difficult to fire the shutter in a folder without causing inadvertent shake. With a larger shutter (like the Moment in a Moskva 5) the folding mechanism may in fact not be sturdy enough to withstand the torque of the shutter firing. Having a solid lens board attached to the sturdy box of a TLR seems to withstand shake better, and the firing position of the shutter release promotes a gentle squeeze of the index finger with less twisting of the camera body from my hand.

Tony Lockerbie , Nov 27, 2013; 03:34 p.m.

Both lenses are pretty much identical in performance, but you would most likely get sharper pictures with the Rollei due to film flatness and alignment mostly. The TLR's are just better at it, that's all. Mind you, if the folder is well set up with a well adjusted RF and well aligned standard then it will give excellent results.
Mind you. both are quite different cameras, with the Isolette being very compact when folded...horses for courses.

Colin Carron , Nov 27, 2013; 03:41 p.m.

My experience is that the TLR will outperform a folder. I put that down to the better rigidity of the TLR along with more accurate focussing.

Robert Marvin , Nov 27, 2013; 05:09 p.m.

My favorite camera, by far, is the Rolleiflex 2.8E that I bought used in the early '60s and I use it for most of my work. That being said, I have a show hanging now with twenty-one 16 X 20 B&W prints. nineteen of them were made with the Rollie, on a tripod; two with my Zeiss Super Ikonta A (531), handheld (@ 1/250th sec.). No doubt the Schneider Xenotar on my Rollei is "better" than the Zeiss Opton Tessar on the Super Ikonta, but all these photographs were made at f11 or 16 and I'd defy anyone to pick out the two photographs made with the folder.

Peter Naylor , Nov 28, 2013; 06:25 a.m.

You guys have put it just so well, it's hardly worth commenting. However! We should bear in mind that the price ultimately paid for a compact MF folder like an Isolette or a Super Ikonta, is that either the bellows are suffering some age-related angst or that the lens/shutter assembly is now getting to be a bit wobbly.

These problems don't afflict TLRs of course. However, can you carry a 120 format TLR in your pocket? I think not ........... As one of the guys said, it's a 'horses for courses' issue - ie, portability vs practicality. (Pete In Perth)

Stan Blevins , Nov 28, 2013; 10:37 a.m.

THANKS EVERYONE! A wonderful, informed, experienced response. Just what I needed. Thank you for your time and expertise. Happy Thanksgiving!

A. T. Burke , Nov 29, 2013; 10:01 p.m.

Mr. Blevins...

Please see here: http://photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=997590

for a real world comparison. After the full frame view, the Agfa is the first pixel for pixel view. Tap on the picture for a full view. A Rolleicord V (not Vb, but the same lens and coatings) is the second to the last. I prefer the Rolleicord.

A. T. Burke

Julio Fernández , Dec 01, 2013; 11:00 a.m.

Both will do the job.
I have excellent experience with a Solinar in an Agfa Super-Isolette. If the bellows are light-tight, it is a question of what type of camera do you prefer - folder or TLR.
My father, who is now 92, made once a similar test with tripod shots on the same Solinar I am using and his Rolleiflex. It was a tie.

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