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Thread: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

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    Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    Hi all,

    I've recently taken the leap and bought the CFV 50c back for my V system. I'm very happy with it, but it exposed a few inadequacies in my lens collection. And it instilled a desire to go for much longer focal lengths for landscape and portraiture.

    The old 250mm synchro sonnar definitely is no longer up to the job. Ideally, I'd like to have a lens in a similar focal length to that, plus one that is very long. The 350mm superachromat lens is surprisingly expensive, hard to find one under $10k, while the tele-apotessar 500mm seems more reasonably priced.

    Does anyone own either of those two lenses, or both, and has an opinion and perhaps some sample images on their relative performance?

    I also have the Zeiss Mutar 2x which works beautifully, so the ability to get to 1000mm focal length is very tempting. But 700mm would be good enough as well, what really counts for me is image sharpness and contrast.

    Is the superachromat really 10 times better?

    Cheers

    - Balt

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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    The superachromat lens are the very best that money can buy. I had the cf ach 250 and found it to be just excellent using a p65 digital back. In terms of sharpness and contrast It was much better than the normal cf 250. But not 10 x better. The normal cf 250 should still be good.

    One lens that stands out in terms of price performance is the cf 180 f4 lens.
    Your back has a crop factor so considering that this lens offers around a 250 equivalent. You could use your 2 x converter and be around a 500 mm equivalent at f8 so diffraction would not have started.

    Be careful about the 2 x converters. I found the modern hasselblad 2 x converter to be substantially better than the zeiss 2x converters.

    If your not happy with the normal cf 250 lens your not going to be happy with the 500mm cf lens. Take a look at the mtf charts for the lens. You will be able to understand which lens are the best.

    I have used a fe 350 f4 lens which has an excellent mtf performance. But I could never get this level of performance from the lens. Technique becomes too difficult with the longer focal lens. I always ended up using the cf ach 250 mm or 180 mm with tele converter as I got much better results.

    Regards

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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    Hi Neil,

    thanks very much for your feedback, much appreciated! I think my 250 lens is not a "normal" CF lens, it's the really old one, Synchro-Compur, silver. I'm assuming the glass and baffles have seen several upgrades in the CF generation?

    If I read your comments correctly, you're suggesting that to get to 500mm, I'd be better off with a 2x converter and a CF 180 f4 lens? My crop factor with the 50c is about 1.25, so that would be just about right.

    Of course that won't let me get to 1000mm f/l for those awesome moon rising over a landscape shots... I might still invest in a Apotessar 500mm just to give it a try, at ~$1200 that is not going to break the bank and can be sold on if I don't like it.

    Cheers

    - Balt

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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    I found that the T* multi coating makes a big difference to image quality. I tried a few of the silver lens and found the black T* coated lens performed much better than the non coated silver lens.

    if you can afford it I would get the 250 ach cf lens and newer 2x converter.

    But given the much lower price the 180 cf lens and newer 2x converter, this seems a very good buy.

    There is also a 1.4 x converter which works well.

    I do have access to a 500 cf lens. If you want something tested I could try and borrow. You have sparked my interest again in these longer focal lens. ( But I sort of remember there are problems with chromatic aberrations and blooming at wider apertures and lens being very hard to use... But maybe worth a retest )

    Regards

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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    I'd say the vastly improved noise performance of the 50c back warrants operating it at higher ISO, hence stopping down the 500mm should be not a big problem. I try to shoot with all my lenses in their sweet spots these days (unless environment dictates otherwise or subject requires depth of field). So f/11 to f/16 it is with most of them, the difference in sharpness is enormous. My current favourite, the CFi 120, suffers a huge quality decrease when outside the central few stops.

    If you have an interest and are able to borrow the 500mm lens, I'd love to see a comparison of the 500mm vs your suggested combo of the 250 superachromat with 2x. Which back are you shooting on?

    Cheers

    - Balt

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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    I am using a hasselblad cfv39 and sometimes get to use a phase one p65+

    I found that all the hasselblad standard and telephoto lens are very good.
    Best at far distances but also ok at nearer distances if stopped down.

    For the wide angles they are good at far distances but at nearer distances corner softness is a real problem.

    Does this agree with what you found ?

    For example

    For near distances the cfe 120mm is ok from f8, best at f11 keeping good to f22.
    Interesting find is that the older black c 120 is ok from f5.6, best at f11 keeping good to f16. So the older lens is better wide open than the newer lens.

    I will try to test some of the longer lens

    Regards

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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    I tried the 180 mm cf lens on a test target 2.7 meters away.
    This lens focuses down to 1.5 meters. It must be designed as a portrait lens.

    Wide open at F4 it produces a sharp image, by f 5.6 it's very good.

    With 1.4 x tele converter and lens set to F 4 it still produces a good image and stopped down one stop to f5.6 on lens it's very good. Still has that biting digital back sharpness.

    With 2 x zeiss tele converter and lens set to F4 its ok but a little soft in corners and there is purple fringing. Need to process the image in software and it cleans up nicely. Stopping down to f5.6 improves. It does not have that biting digital back sharpness.

    The 2x hass tele converter is only a little better than the Zeiss 2 x. At f4 on lens image still needs processing in software. It's a bit sharper. Stopping down improves.

    The 250 mm SA lens needs an extension tube to focus on the test target at 2.7 meters away. The image it produces is good at f 5.6 and super sharp at F 8 better than the 180 mm.
    But with an extension tube and a tele converter I cannot get a sharp image.

    The 250 SA lens must be designed for far distances and the 180 mm for nearer distances.

    Both these lens are very good lens.

    I could not test far distances as its dark outside.
    Last edited by neil; 28th February 2015 at 07:42. Reason: Spelling

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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    I have the Sonnar Superachromat (Sa) CFi 5.6/250mm and the Tele-Superachromat (Sa) CFE 5.6/350mm and love both, and wish I could use them more often. When I do need a long lens, I want it really long, so I use the Apochromatic Teleconverter APO 1.4XE with the Tele-Superachromat. I tested with/without the teleconverter and saw no quality degradation. They work beautifully with the 503CW and PhaseOne IQ-160.

    Here's an interesting discussion on PhotoNet 15 years ago. Especially read the remarks by Dr. Kornelius J. Fleischer, lens guru at Zeiss. CFI 250 Superachromat vs CFE 350 Tele-superachromat - Photo.net Medium Format Forum

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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    Thank you Neil for testing this. My 250 Sonnar is quite symmetrical about f/11, open up more it gets worse, stop it down more and it gets equally worse. The difference really is in the glare which obviously increases as you open up, vs. diffraction fuzz starting to show when stopped down further. Sharpness decreases at about the same, at least in my estimation.

    That link by schuster is very interesting! Love this quote about the superachromat 250: "This lens is perfection for perfectionists."

    Cheers

    - Balt

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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    I also own the 250mm, 300mm and 350mm SA lens. Here is a portrait of my father taken with the 300mm stop down to F5.6 from F2.8.
    Last edited by PSon; 1st March 2015 at 18:09.
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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    Balt,

    To answer your original question, I remember reading from a Zeiss source that the Tele-Superachromat 350 with matched 1.4x converter is sharper than the Tele-Apotessar 500. The 350 is also more flexible since it gives you two focal length options.
    That being said, the 500 is still a very good lens, and it is relatively cheap used. You should run a test to see if it meets your expectations.

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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    Hi,

    thanks for your test image, and thanks also for the recommendation on the 1.4x converter with the 350 SA. I've meanwhile looked at the MTF charts of these lenses in more detail. There are of course no MTF charts available for the lenses when used with the Mutar 2x (or the 1.4x). I was surprised to see that the the 500 C A-T is performing about 10% better than the old 250, so I'll give that definitely a try. Of course the SA MTFs look simply spectacular...

    When looking on ebay for the 1.4x converter matched to the SA lenses, is there a specific model I'm looking for? Or will any Hasselblad 1.4x converter be ok?

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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    Quote Originally Posted by bindermuehle View Post
    When looking on ebay for the 1.4x converter matched to the SA lenses, is there a specific model I'm looking for? Or will any Hasselblad 1.4x converter be ok?
    Apochromatic Teleconverter APO 1.4XE

    This is what it should look like: Hasselblad Teleconverter APO 1.4XE 20613 B&H Photo Video

    Make sure it comes with the cover. That front element is not protected. The blue stripes indicate that it's made for the SA 350mm.

    Here's a good reference for differences among lenses and converters included in our discussion here. http://static.bhphoto.com/FrameWork/...slbmed_2b.html
    Last edited by schuster; 1st March 2015 at 16:45. Reason: Added link
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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    I got a chance to use the 500mm apo lens today with a 40mp phase digital back. (1.3 x crop )
    Took some pictures of an object 30 meters away

    It is a nice lens, has internal focusing which makes focusing easier. Razor thin focus plane so had to use live view to focus. Very sensitive to vibrations.

    Wide open at f8 it's sharp across the frame. Very good.

    With the normal 1.4 x converter, wide open its still sharp across the frame. Very good.

    With the normal 2 x converter, wide open, its still good, but there is purple fringing and corners show a slight softness.

    With zeiss 2 x converter, wide open it is also good but again some purple fringing.

    The zeiss 2x converter seems well matched to this lens. I preferred it to the normal 2x converter.
    This 1000 mm option is very usable.

    There are several versions of the 500 mm lens. The one I used is the newest version. You can identify the one I used as it focuses the closes. Close focus is 5 meters. The other versions have a longer close focus.

    I do not have access to the apo 1.4 x converter. Apparently it can be used with 500 mm lens so would be worth checking. It is a very rare and an expensive item. ( there are less than five hundred of the 350 mm SA lens in the world )
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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    That's excellent news Neil, thanks. Can you tell me please whether the serial number of the lens you tested is larger/smaller than 7075109 or 7147451?

    Cheers

    - Balt

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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    The 500mm Tele-Apotessar lens was serial 7434xxx range. It was a cf type.

    Closest focus mark is 5 meters on the scale.
    This is the newest type.

    I think that the 500mm Tele-Apotessar had a minimum focusing distance of 8.5 meters prior to 1989.

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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    Hey Neil,

    this is odd, the serial number you're quoting is earlier than one of the lenses on ebay, yet that one on ebay only focuses down to 8.5m, not 5m like yours.

    Did it change the other way around, i.e. longer distance in later models?

    Thanks

    - Balt

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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    I checked the serial number again. It's from 1994.

    7,434,xxx

    I think it is worth getting the version that focuses down to 5 meters. As even that is quite far away.

    Did you consider getting a 200 series body for your digital back ?
    I just read that the 350mm FE f4 lens focuses down to 1.9 meters.
    It sells relatively cheaply compared to what it cost new.
    The mtf graph at f4 looks excellent.

    I wonder anyone have any experience of the 350mm FE f4 len ?

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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    I was looking into a 203FE body at some point, but the general advice I received was to stay away, they seem to break a lot, and are expensive to repair when they do.

    I don't think the 350mm FE lens would perform satisfactorily from a colour perspective with a 50c back. Also, which aspect of the MTF curve do you find good? It's reasonably flat across the field, but the definition will not be anything to write home about at ~30% for 40lp/mm.

    Btw, is the hasselbladhistorical.eu website incredibly painfully slow only for me or for everyone else too? Takes about 10 minutes for the main page to load.

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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    Actually I managed to borrow a 350 mm FE lens and gave it a test run.

    It is a good lens as well. Very low distortion. Can be used wide open. It is sharp.
    Very versatile because it can focus very close. Easy to focus as its so bright.

    But I had a terribly hard time using it because of the vibrations introduced by the 200 series body focal plane shutter. As my digital back does not support high ISO I could not keep the lens steady. 95 % of my pictures had camera shake. My technique is not good enough.

    I could see the lens should be able to produce good results but I could not get them.

    The lens also has purple fringing, chromatic aberrations. I think it could be removed using software. But quite surprising for a lens that cost so much new.

    I do like the feel of this lens so I am going to see if I can work around the problems. I think it may have some hidden strengths, like produceing beautiful real world pictures even though it is not technically perfect.

    ( I also found the Hasselblad historical site to be slow to browse.)
    Last edited by neil; 3rd March 2015 at 04:22.

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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    Hi Neil

    The 350 SA would be the dream machine to own, but that's a little too rich for my blood at present.

    There's a 500mm Apo Tessar on eBay, serial 707xxxx that focuses down to 5m. Then there's another one serial 714xxxx that focuses to 8.5m.

    Where do you look up your lens age by serial number? The lookup on hasselblad historical.eu is broken.

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    Re: Hasselblad Tele-Apotessar 500mm vs Tele-Superachromat 350mm

    The 350mm SA and the 300 mm SA lens with matching converters are beyond my budget.
    That leaves the 500mm or 350 FE F4 lens

    The Hasselblad historical site gave me the lens date when I entered the lens serial number.

    I managed to resolve my camera shake problem. Heavy tripod with no center column and no moving head, weighted down with a heavy weight.

    The 350 mm FE F4 lens is spectacular for its strong points.

    Far distance needs stopping down to F11 to produce very sharp image.
    Near distance ( around 2 meters ) also needs stopping down to F11.
    Also needs a bit of chromatic aberration removal by software.

    But at near distance (1.9 meters) at F4 and F5,6 the 350 mm FE F4 lens has the most beautiful rendering of out of focus areas. Being able to focus on something only 1.9 meters away and open up to F4 gives a razor thin, in focus area with beautiful transition to out of focus areas. This is the strong point of this lens. Looks similar to Pson's image above. ( but of course not up to that level as that picture was taken with one of the best Zeiss lens ever made )

    If your looking for the best contrast and sharpness ( on a reasonable money budget ) for long distance landscape I found the 500 mm is better than the 350mm FE and also works well with the tele converters.

    I quite like the 350mm FE so will probably get that, as I am interested to explore the use at near distances. (The bokeh is the best of any lens that I ever used)
    Last edited by neil; 4th March 2015 at 06:06.

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